Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Riders by Veronica Rossi

Title: Riders
Author: Veronica Rossi
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: Riders #1

Hardcover, 384 pages
Publication: February 16, 2016 by Tor Teen

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

*Thank you Tor Teen for sending me a finished copy!*

Nothing but death can keep eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake from achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does.

While recovering from the accident that most definitely killed him, Gideon finds himself with strange new powers and a bizarre cuff he can’t remove. His death has brought to life his real destiny. He has become War, one of the legendary four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Over the coming weeks, he and the other horsemen—Conquest, Famine, and Death—are brought together by a beautiful but frustratingly secretive girl to help save humanity from an ancient evil on the emergence. 

Now—bound, bloodied, and drugged—Gideon is interrogated by the authorities about his role in a battle that has become an international incident. If he stands any chance of saving his friends and the girl he’s fallen for—not to mention all of humankind—he needs to convince the skeptical government officials the world is in imminent danger.

When I first heard about Riders, I was intrigued. I mean, who doesn’t know or love a tale about The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? I haven’t read any book tackling the Four Horsemen; so I was pretty stoked to start Rossi’s new YA series. It was a first for me, both in term of the mythology being used in YA and my first novel of hers. And I must say, I am impressed. This book was full of wonderful surprises.

The book opened with our main character, Gideon hooded and tied to a chair as he is interrogated by Agent Cordero. Something big and important just occurred and the only person with all the answers is eighteen-year-old Gideon. The first surprise for me was this book was narrated by a young man. I had no idea the point-of-view was going to be male! I had no problems about it but I guess I was just expecting a female narrative when it comes to YA. I can count all the times I’ve read YA with a male narrative on one hand. Yup, very few. Gideon was a great main character. I loved his voice/narration; he had that instant likability that is rare in YA (whether it be female or male characters). The second surprise was the way the narration was written. You know how in movies or shows when it begins at the end (like the shows Revenge and How to Get Away with Murder) just like that. Readers are dropped into the scene with Gideon held captive and then we rewind back to the beginning to learn/see all the events leading up to the present where Gideon is being held against his will. The book jumps back and forth between the present and past all the while Gideon is telling Cordero the story. It’s all very fascinating, this technique. I haven’t seen it done before till now (I may sound confusing, but you really must read it to understand).

As I mentioned before, I liked Gideon right off the bat. Sure, he was a tad cocky, impulsive, and had some anger issues but at the same time he was fiercely loyal and went the extra mile for the people he cared about. As far as anger issues went, there was a good, understandable reason behind it. So no, he’s wasn’t a typical angsty boy for no reason. The reason was a family matter and Gideon held onto a lot of anger and guilt at the beginning of the book. But as the story progressed Gideon learned to accept the past, to forgive and to channel his newfound powers/density towards saving the world from demons hell-bent on enslaving humanity. The secondary characters were just as awesome. Jode, Bas, and Marcus; the other three horsemen were an eclectic bunch. I loved them as individuals as well as a group. It was fun seeing everyone learn about their abilities and how/why they were chosen to be the embodiment of Conquest, Famine and Death. And you know the phrase behind every strong man is a strong lady….well, in this case behind these young men was Daryn, a seeker who is task with bringing the horsemen together. She’s an enigma and while she is constantly with the gang, she is very reserved and only discloses the need-to-know facts to the guys. I can’t really make heads or tails about her yet, so I hope we learn more about Daryn in the next book. (I just saw on Goodreads that the next book is titled Seeker, so looks like I will be getting my wish?!!).

That twist at the end was so unexpected! I was like...''Wow, totally didn't see that coming!''. And as far as climactic scene goes, it was pretty darn good. I was on pins and needles the entire time. All in all, Riders was an excellent start to a brand new series. It had action from start to finish, a lot of heart, and a harmonious balance of romance (bromance lol), humor and mystery. I love the world building, characters and the mythology and can’t wait to read the sequel, Seeker when it comes out! 

Monday, February 15, 2016

[Early Review] Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Title: Tell Me Three Things
Author: Julie Buxbaum 
Genre: Contempory Fiction, Young-Adult
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 336 pages
Publication: April 5, 2016 by Delacorte Press

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review/blog tour.


What if the person you need the most is someone you’ve never met?
Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short);offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

First and foremost, I should mention I rarely read contemporary fiction, adult or young-adult. But there was something about the cover of Tell Me Three Things that caught my eyes and I knew I just had to read it. And I’m so glad I did because I absolutely loved it! Let me tell you three things: 1) This book will make you laugh and cry in the best ways. 2) It is unequivocally heart-warming and will evoke every feeling imaginable. 3) You will love this book.

Tell Me Three Things is Buxbaum YA debut and it was amazing. While the basis of the plot has been done before, it is the writing and characters that makes this book standout. Buxbaum’s novel is part book, part email and part messenger/texting…and while I’m not usually into the whole emailing/texting thing (I’ve seen some books done in this style) Bauxbaum made it work and created a whole new experience when it comes to reading. Well, for me at least. The emails/textings just made everything feel more personal; like I really knew Jessie, Dri, Scarlett and SN…they all felt relatable and realistic.

I loved Jessie, she was so all-around great heroine. Jessie’s life gets turned upside down when her mom passes away and her dad remarries; picking up and leaving everything behind as she and her dad moves to the suburbs of Los Angeles. Describing Jessie’s life as chaotic might be an understatement; between dealing with her mom’s death, moving in with people she’s barely met and navigating junior high as the new girl is stressful and overwhelming but I thought Jessie handled her situation perfectly. Her best friend, Scarlett describes her as a ninja/fighter and it certainly fits. Jessie is strong, independent, brave, funny, and most importantly she knows who she is and doesn’t let others define her. She’s confident as heck, and I love that about her. As it is typical of high school, there’s always a group of mean girls and bullying, and Jessie isn’t immune to it as two girls constantly pick on her. Never once did Jessie let it get the best of her and never once did she stoop to their level or ratted them out. Jessie never pretends to be someone else or conform to the likes of her peers (In this case, rich private school kids). For a sixteen-year-old she is extremely mature, an old soul as her dad says.

Tell Me Three Things was everything I looked for in a novel; it had a great story, realistic and lovable characters, a heroine with a great voice and personality, and an enthralling mystery (Yes, I kind of figured out who SN was but I was still at the edge of my seat as their meet-up came closer and closer)! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Tell Me Three Things! I know my review can’t do it the justice it deserve , but trust me when I say this you don't want to miss this one! We’re a little over a month and half till Tell Me Three Things hit shelves and I can’t wait for everyone to read it. I know it’s going to be a hit! I highly recommend this fun, sweet and heart-warming novel. It is, hands-down the best YA contemporary I’ve ever read. E-V-E-R. Pre-order the book now you guys, I’m that confident that you’ll love it as much as I did! L-O-V-E. I will definitely be checking out Buxbaum’s other books and I can’t wait to see more YA books from her. World, get ready because Buxbaum’s YA debut is going to make waves!

*Side note: That cover is so perfect for the story, it all made sense after read it! ♥ My new favorite word is Waffle lol. 

Monday, February 08, 2016

Portrait of Rage by Cynthia H. Wise

Title: Portrait of Rage
Author: Cynthia H. Wise
Genre: Fiction, Paranormal
Series: The Marcel Experience #1

Paperback, 426 pages
Publication: October 31, 2015 by BookLogix  

Source: I received a review copy from the author in exchange for a honest review.


Soon after Thomas Shear buys a house for his art gallery, the spirits of a killer’s child victims haunt his dreams. Believing they were conjured by stress and a vivid imagination, Tom hopes to vanquish the nightmares that leave him shaking and sweat-soaked by creating a series of life-sized portraits portraying;the suffering of each little girl.

When news of his portrait series spreads, however, Tom is confronted by the lead investigator for the missing children, Detective Mark Winward. Realizing he has become involved in something more sinister than he could ever have imagined and the detective’s number one suspect, Tom races to find the real killer before he is framed and someone Tom loves becomes the killer’s next victim.

Portrait of Rage was a big, big surprise. I knew it was going to be good but it went beyond my expectations. I was captivated within the first few pages and it had me hooked till the very end. The story is centered on an artist and a murder investigation. Thomas Sharp, our main character, recently purchased a perfect house to showcase his art, but what he didn’t except was it to be little girls all under the age of sixteen. The girls’ terrorizes his dreams and his waking hours, urging him to find their murderer and it is through his art that readers follow along Thomas as he discovers what happened to the nine little girls and the identity of the killer.

Wise’s Portrait of Rage is impressive. The writing was natural and the story flowed seamlessly. The plot /structure was perfect and the pacing great. I can tell the author took time and consideration in everything she did, from how the story was setup to the words written on the pages. Everything from the setting, characters, and paranormal elements served its purpose and made the book come alive. For example, Thomas used painting as a medium to interpret the girls' messages. I thought this was clever and visually detailed that I can picture it perfectly in my mind. Another reason why I thought it was notable is because this is the author’s debut novel. If I didn’t know that already, one would have thought a seasoned author with multiple books under her belt wrote it.

Portrait of Rage is told through multiple POVs which gave readers an in-depth look at the characters and a wider perspective on the situation. I love seeing the story from Thomas, the detectives, and the killer’s point-of-view. Wise is a natural storyteller and she did a great job creating the perfect combination of mystery, thriller, suspense, and romance with a touch of supernatural. While the story is filled with tormented specters, there was an interesting turn of events with some of the characters possessing unique abilities. Portrait of Rage kept me at the edge of my seat the entire time. The story had so many twist and turns that when the big reveal came…I was speechless! I thought I had the killer pegged but I was so shocked when I found out who it was. Definitely didn’t see that one coming! I loved Portrait of Rage and I think it’s an excellent start to a new series and I can’t wait to see what the author has planned for The Marcel Experience. I highly recommend Portrait of Rage. I think it will appeal to a lot of people, as there is something for everyone. Read it, you won’t be disappointed!