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One KickFrom Goodreads: Kick Lannigan, 21, is a survivor. Abducted at age six in broad daylight, the police, the public, perhaps even her family assumed the worst had occurred. And then Kathleen Lannigan was found, alive, six years later. In the early months following her freedom, as Kick struggled with PTSD, her parents put her through a litany of therapies, but nothing helped until the detective who rescued her suggested Kick learn to fight. Before she was thirteen, Kick learned marksmanship, martial arts, boxing, archery, and knife throwing. She excelled at every one, vowing she would never be victimized again. But when two children in the Portland area go missing in the same month, Kick goes into a tailspin. Then an enigmatic man Bishop approaches her with a proposition: he is convinced Kick’s experiences and expertise can be used to help rescue the abductees. Little does Kick know the case will lead directly into her terrifying past…

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First and foremost, I want to assure readers that, while this novel does deal with child abduction and pornography, there are no descriptions. This is not a graphic story—allusions are made, but readers never learn what Kick herself experienced, and there are no descriptions of the photos or pornography sites the characters reference. This, for me, was a godsend. I was interested in the story, but I knew going in that I couldn’t stomach any graphic imagery at all, and as this is a very sensitive subject, I was very happy that Cain tread lightly here. However, I must admit that I still didn’t really enjoy the story. Honestly, I’m a bit disappointed in the main character, Kick. Said to be the new Lisbeth Salander by the editor in the introduction of the novel, I was expecting great things, but Kick falls bit too flat for me. There is what I consider a lack of action in this novel—with all the hype surround Kick, such as her ability to kill a man 571 ways with just her left hand, I expected to actually see her fight. She rarely does, and, in most instances that she does, she’s actually bested by her opponent. For all the time and training she put in to the arts, self-defense, knife throwing, and the like, I was really looking forward to seeing her skills. But they were not noteworthy, and for me, that’s somewhat of the opposite of what I expect when a character is compared to another kick-butt character, such as Lisbeth Salander.

Kick is still in a fragile state of mind, though she tries to put on a tough front. Abducted and used in child porn for five years of her young life, this is expected. She does have a good handle on herself in most situations, and I admire her perseverance; I find her realistic, though she wasn’t essentially deep or fleshed out in the story. Perhaps one of the reasons Kick is bested time and time again as she hunts for the missing children from Portland is because of her background; freezing up in situations when action is key and she must push herself to survive. Thank goodness she has Bishop there to help her when the going gets tough.

Then again, Bishop is a jerk. The main reason that Kick continually freezes is because Bishop has thrust her back into the world of abducted children. Kick seems to function relatively well in the real world, but once Bishop comes charging in, her entire world shifts, and Bishop is none to kind in his treatment of Kick. In fact, he doesn’t do anything within the novel that redeems him in my eyes. So while the mystery aspect of the novel was indeed intriguing, I did not connect with any of the characters and I wasn’t spurred on to read the novel as much as I’d hoped I’d be, based on the hype surrounding this story.

The first chapter is indeed an attention grabber, but as the novel unfolds, much of the intensity tapered off for me. Overall, I’d say it’s an okay read for me, but it’s really just not my speed. Two stars.
2 stars

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HexedFrom Goodreads: If high school is all about social status, Indigo Blackwood has it made. Sure, her quirky mom owns an occult shop, and a nerd just won’t stop trying to be her friend, but Indie is a popular cheerleader with a football-star boyfriend and a social circle powerful enough to ruin everyone at school. Who wouldn’t want to be her? Then a guy dies right before her eyes. And the dusty old family Bible her mom is freakishly possessive of is stolen. But it’s when a frustratingly sexy stranger named Bishop enters Indie’s world that she learns her destiny involves a lot more than pom-poms and parties. If she doesn’t get the Bible back, every witch on the planet will die. And that’s seriously bad news for Indie, because according to Bishop, she’s a witch too. Suddenly forced into a centuries-old war between witches and sorcerers, Indie’s about to uncover the many dark truths about her life—and a future unlike any she ever imagined on top of the cheer pyramid.

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This was an interesting story filled with magic, murder, and mayhem; just what I like in my paranormal novels. However, the main character rubbed me the wrong way on many an occasion, which is unfortunate for me, as the novel is extremely well written. In my personal opinion, Indie is a less than likable, and my inability to connect with her made the novel a little less enjoyable for me. She begins as the token cheerleader who thinks she’s amazing and treats those less than “cool” like dirt, including her neighbor Paige, who she comes to rely on in many ways. Rarely is Indie sorry for the way she treats Paige, instead questioning why Paige isn’t elated that Indie is even talking to her, and I have a really hard time dealing with unlikable characters like this. While it is true that Indie slowly changes over the course of the novel, my initial impression stayed with me and we just never clicked. We are just too opposite.

Now, Bishop was an intense, fun character that I did connect with, and I enjoyed him immensely. He is swoon worthy and so aggravating, but my type of guy 100%. I felt the relationship between Indie and Bishop was a little too quickly developed, almost forced, if you will, but he does tend to being out the best in her as the story progresses, and I really liked that about not only the story itself, but also Bishop as well.

One aspect I have noticed in many YA novels lately is that many tend to have some big reveal or climax during a school dance. Hexed is no different in this aspect, but thankfully Krys adds some key elements that make her rendition stand apart from all the rest. I won’t say more because I don’t want to give it away, but this was definitely a plus that made it different from all the rest. In fact, the school dance was my favorite aspect of the novel as a whole. Magic plus papier-mâché just doesn’t bode well, and I just loved what Krys does in this scene.

Reader beware, this novel does end on a cliffhanger of sorts, and while I usually dislike them, this works. As there are a lot of unresolved conflicts in this first installment, the cliffhanger reminds readers that more is to come. Would I have like more resolution? Of course, doesn’t everyone? But the way this novel ends is sort of perfect, in my mind. Three stars.

I received this novel from the publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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