Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











The Rules for BreakingFrom Goodreads: Anna Boyd almost lost her life to get what she wanted most in the world: freedom.

But just when it seems that her family has finally escaped Witness Protection, the illusion that Anna could resume a normal life comes crashing down.

The deadly man Anna knows as Thomas is still on the loose, and now he’s using her as a pawn in a dangerous game with the drug cartel determined to silence her forever. When Thomas and a mysterious masked man capture not only Anna but also her fragile younger sister and her boyfriend, Anna decides it’s time to break all the rules-even if it means teaming up with the lesser of two evils.

Anna will do whatever it takes to protect the people she loves and win her life back once and for all. But her true enemies are hidden in plain sight. Before long, Anna will learn that putting her trust in anyone may be the last mistake she ever makes.

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Somehow I keep missing the fact that the books I’m picking up are indeed sequels and not the first in a series. Luckily, like Elston’s novel, I didn’t need to read the first novel in order to understand the second from the get go. While I do wish I’d read the first, mainly because Elston does such a great job writing this intense heart-pounding story, you don’t need to (though I eventually will because this one was so awesome).

Elston introduces readers to her characters and paints the entire background for readers without even letting on that she’s doing it. I actually read 25% of the novel before I began to wonder if maybe it was a sequel, and that right there is a testament to Elston’s sheer writing capabilities.

When Anna, Ethan, and Teensy are abducted by Thomas, a trained assassin that’s been on their tale for far too long, the plot thickens immensely, and it isn’t obvious who should be trusted. While a serious jerk, Thomas has qualities that make Anna question whether or not he really intends to harm them, and I have to admit, I was on his side for a while, too. Someone is not telling the truth, though, and it could be any number of people, from Thomas, to Tyler, to any of the FBI agents… someone is not to be trusted, and Elston takes readers on a ride while it all comes to a head.

I really enjoyed the characterization, and while I certainly didn’t agree with half the decisions Anna makes in the novel, I have to admit that I probably would have been in the same boat had it been me. I found that all the characters reacted in a real way throughout the novel, and that really made it even more scary. Imagine being kidnapped and knowing you were most likely going to die. Yikes.  I highly recommend this one to any and all YA readers out there looking for a heart-pounding adventure.  Four stars.

4 starsI received an ARC of this novel from the publisher during NCTE 2013 in exchange for an honest review prior to its release tomorrow, May 20, 2014.

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13617804From Goodreads: Dane Washington is one suspension away from expulsion. In a high school full of “haves,” being a “have not” makes Dane feel like life is hurtling toward one big dead end. Billy D. spends his high school days in Special Ed and he’s not exactly a “have” himself. The biggest thing Billy’s missing? His dad. Billy is sure the riddles his father left in an atlas are really clues to finding him again and through a bizarre turn of events, he talks Dane into joining him on the search.

A bully and a boy with Down syndrome makes for an unlikely friendship, but together, they work through the clues, leading to unmarked towns and secrets of the past. But they’re all dead ends. Until the final clue . . . and a secret Billy shouldn’t have been keeping.

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This is the story of an unlikely relationship that blooms from a bargain.  Dane is a hothead loner from the wrong side of the tracks that hates the world. Billy has down syndrome and just wants to find his father and learn to protect himself. Together, through clues left in an atlas, they begin to decipher the mystery that is Billy’s world, and they end up on some wild adventures, some of which seemed a little far-fetched to me, but then again, I was never the adventurous rebellious type, so I have limited experience when it comes to the run ins these two find themselves in. Honestly, this is a very intriguing story, but I never really connected with either of the characters.

I have to admit I was very intrigued by Billy’s cunning, though. I liked that very much and I feel that Lange works to dispel a lot of stereotypical thoughts through his character, which is great. I also liked the mystery surrounding the atlas, though the final revelation was somewhat disheartening. Of course, novels with their happy endings aren’t the norm in real life, as it were, and I feel like Lange is actually presenting a very real look at life in presenting the truth about Billy’s father.  It’s a little jarring, but one that many readers will probably figure out relatively quickly based on the foreshadowing, but it’s not real for the reader until the final blowout and Billy’s admittance.

Overall, this is a coming of age story, though, in the end, nothing is really resolved, leaving readers with just a small glimmer of hope. I was also left with some questions concerning legalities within the novel, but overall it was a good, clean read. Three stars.

3 stars

Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on September 3, 2013.



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