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{September 30, 2014}   {ARC Review} Schizo by Nic Sheff

SchizoFrom Goodreads: Miles is the ultimate unreliable narrator—a teen recovering from a schizophrenic breakdown who believes he is getting better . . . when in reality he is growing worse.

Driven to the point of obsession to find his missing younger brother, Teddy, and wrapped up in a romance that may or may not be the real thing, Miles is forever chasing shadows. As Miles feels his world closing around him, he struggles to keep it open, but what you think you know about his world is actually a blur of gray, and the sharp focus of reality proves startling.

Written by the New York Times bestselling author of Tweak, Schizo is the fascinating, and ultimately quite hopeful, story of one teen’s downward spiral into mental illness as he chases the clues to a missing brother.

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I’m sorry to say this novel didn’t really speak to me. It’s a fairly quick read, but Miles and I never really connected. Going in, I knew that this is a book about a schizophrenic young man, I knew he probably wasn’t going to be a reliable character, but truthfully, I found the story sad more than anything else. Watching him go through his episodes, listening to him and his thought process, knowing that others were afraid of him–was just so sad. And knowing that he knew he wasn’t reliable was difficult to watch. He worries, he’s upset, he wants to fix everything, but his illness won’t allow him peace, and watching him go through everything, only to realize that some of his most prominent wants in the world would never be realized, were never real, well, that was rather difficult for me as a reader. I can’t imagine living with this illness, and Miles really wore me down. His last ditch efforts at the end had me in tears, and all to find out the truth, well. It was difficult. I just wanted him to get better.

The writing is good, but the reality of the story was too heavy for me, so while I liked it overall, I can’t say I really enjoyed it.

3 stars

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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The Things You Kiss GoodbyeFrom Goodreads: Bettina Vasilis can hardly believe it when basketball star Brady Cullen asks her out, and she just about faints when her strict father actually approves of him.

But when school starts up again, Brady changes. What happened to the sweet boy she fell in love with? Then she meets a smoldering guy in his twenties, and this “cowboy” is everything Brady is not—gentle, caring, and interested in getting to know the real Bettina.

Bettina knows that breaking up with Brady would mean giving up her freedom—and that it would be inappropriate for anything to happen between her and Cowboy. Still, she can’t help that she longs for the scent of his auto shop whenever she’s anywhere else.

When tragedy strikes, Bettina must tell her family the truth—and kiss goodbye the things she thought she knew about herself and the men in her life.

Leslie Connor has written a lyrical, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about family, romance, and the immense power of love.

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Connor captures the essence of a low self-esteemed, smitten teenaged girl traversing her first-ever relationship in this novel, and as we all know, love is “blind.” Thus, Bettina makes excuse after excuse for her abusive, sexually aggressive boyfriend, and she continually goes back to him time and time again, even after her hurts her in ways that no person should never allow. On the outside looking in, it’s easy to judge. I judged Bettina, and I’m sure any and all readers are going to do the same. We don’t understand her choices; we are screaming at her to wake up, to break up with Brady, to listen to Cowboy and pull it together. But sometimes it isn’t as easy for the person actually in the relationship to do that. If it were, I feel like there wouldn’t be as many domestic violence cases in the news—that no woman/man would allow it to happen to them, but think about it. There are many, many women in Bettina’s place right now. Why?

This novel is very realistic, and it’s not a happy story. There certainly is no happy ending, Bettina’s home life isn’t the best, her psyche is damaged, and she’s looking for love in all the wrong places. And though we may not want to acknowledge it, this is true for many teens out there in the world. It’s also true that there are teens out there with great families, great high schools, great relationships, and happy endings. This story isn’t one of them, though, and that’s okay. Even though it’s depressing and really not necessarily enjoyable for me as a reader, it’s real, and that’s why it’s so powerful. Perhaps that’s also why we don’t like it? No, I didn’t love this story. But I didn’t hate it, either. It’s somewhat eye opening for me as a reader, and makes me want to be even more vigilant and less condemning of others who are in situations that I just can’t understand. It also makes me want to help—to keep my eyes open and intervene when I can. Perhaps that’s the point of the story? Three and a half stars.

3.5 stars

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

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The Kiss of DeceptionFrom Goodreads: In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

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This novel is fairly intense; although the beginning had a bit of a slow start, as the novel evolved, I found myself completely wrapped up in the world that Pearson has created in this fantastical novel. Lia is a well-written, layered character, and as the story progresses we learn so much about her. She is strong-willed, compassionate, devious, and good-hearted all in one, and getting to know her was an absolute joy. Her plight is one that, while I don’t identify with from personal experience, I completely understand—if you’ve ever found yourself in a situation with no decent possible outcomes, then you, too, will be able to connect with Lia’s thoughts and feelings as this novel unfolds.

Reader beware, tissues are a necessity. I was not expecting it in the least, but Pearson definitely made me ugly cry on multiple occasions as I read. There are some awful situations that leave the characters destitute and destroyed, and as Pearson wove the story, I found myself caring for even those I thought I hated. Thankfully, the novel is not too graphic when it comes to the gruesomeness that is war, and the novel is 100% clean as well, which is an added bonus, but know going in that when you least expect, Lia’s world will come crashing down on you. I wept more times than I can count, but I loved it just the same. Pearson has created a poignancy that permeates the story, and it’s amazing.

In terms of other characters, I found myself falling hard for Rafe almost instantly. It’s the tragic “what if” scenario—if either Rafe or Lia had to have submitted to their impending marriage, none of the tragedy would have ensued, but at the same time, neither would have the love. For Lia and Rafe’s sake, I wish they would have gone along with the pressures of their society in this one instance, but I loved their story just the same. Pearson really draws the reader in with her characterization and pacing, and I highly recommend picking up this novel.

I will admit that the cliffhanger in this one made me angry, though. It’s such a great story, and about 80% in I knew there weren’t enough pages left for it to have a satisfactory conclusion—and it didn’t. We are left with an awful cliffhanger that just isn’t fair—I need book two now. Four stars.

4 starsI received this novel from the publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.  This title releases July 8.

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15746031From Goodreads: This short story is a companion to Untraceable and is 5,000 words.

When Mo sees a strange girl in the woods, he follows her. He soon realizes they are both in a dangerous position and may not get out alive.

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This is very short, approximately 16 pages in length, but it’s so worth the read.  I LOVE getting the perspectives of other characters, and that’s what Johannes provides as we learn what two scenes in the novel look like through Mo’s eyes. It’s very well written and leaves the reader hanging in a way that makes them want to read those scenes in Untraceable all over again.  I actually think that this novellete should/could be read PRIOR to reading Untraceable, even though it’s labeled as 1.5, because it really piqued my interest and I think it might generate even more interest in Untraceable should it be read prior.  It’s currently free on Amazon and 99 cents on Barnes and Noble, so if you’re interested in reading Untraceable, but aren’t completely sure yet, then definitely pick up this short novellete.  It’s awesome.

4 stars

I downloaded this novellete with Amazon when it was FREE.



12731861From Goodreads: 16-year-old Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival.

When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he’s dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him.

One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from danger by Mo, a hot guy with an intoxicating accent and a secret. As her feelings between him and her ex-boyfriend get muddled, Grace travels deep into the wilderness to escape and find her father.

Along the way, Grace learns terrible secrets that sever relationships and lives. Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to save everything she loves.

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I really thought I was going to dislike this novel because, for a majority of it, I found the pacing to be slow, and Grace drove me absolutely insane. Grace cannot make a good decision to save her life, and I mean that quite literally. I yelled at her the entire book, and because I felt that not much was happening in terms of plot aside from treks through the trees, I was really thinking that this was going to be a two star review at the most. And this, dear readers, is why I always finish my books, because around 60% the novel really picked up; the mystery became extremely intriguing!  I suddenly couldn’t decide who was good and who wasn’t, and then my interest piqued to the point that I couldn’t put it down, instead reading far into the night.  In other words, read it.

I never did come around to liking Grace—I found her decisions to be stupid, childish, and mortifying all the way to the very end. While I understand she’s going through a lot, and that she’s highly independent, she constantly pushes everyone away from her and instead decides to put all her trust into a stranger she meets in the woods, the very place her father disappeared.  Ignoring the glaring holes in Mo’s story, she trusts him completely, even though he’s a 17 year-old college student living in the wild, unbeknownst to anyone, to study rocks, a revelation that should put Grace on edge.  It doesn’t, though it did put me on edge enough for the both of us, so I guess that evens it out a little bit.

Mo is a mystery, and as the pieces begin to click together, and Grace continually choose the wrong path (a path that constantly puts her life in danger and sends her back into the very woods where she knows deranged animal murderers reside), I have to at least admire her gumption, even though I’m not really a fan of hers in the least.  She definitely doesn’t allow anyone else’s thoughts or words to influence her decisions, and she’s hell bent on finding her father.  As the only person still convinced he’s alive, she has her work cut out for her, especially as the police and her own mother seem to thwart her at every turn.  So, it makes sense she doesn’t trust the people of her town, but at 16 I would expect just a little more common sense.  I mean, the fact that she constantly stumbles on evidence to back her claims, but fails to ever take a picture with her phone drove me batty…

My biggest issue with the novel, aside from Grace’s awful decisions, is the timing and occasional holes that crop up in the story. For instance, in a gun battle between two people, it doesn’t make sense to me that there’s time for other characters to stop running away, turn around, and have a conversation with the person who was just shot.  For starters, what about the person who shot the character?  They’re still in the picture, but for some reason, do nothing… I probably just confused you… it’s like when you watch a movie and right at the climax the bad guy stops and divulges his entire plan, giving the good guys more than enough time to hatch a plan and save themselves.  Does that make more sense?  Well, basically, there just seemed to be too many instances where everything was hitting the fan in the novel and yet Grace had time to stop and talk to people and try to figure out what to do next when bullets are flying all around her, and that made the story a little less believable for me.

But, Grace’s characterization and plot holes aside, the mystery of her father’s disappearance was great once the story began to pick up, and the end kicked me in the gut. Reader beware, Johannes doesn’t believe in happy endings, that’s for sure, and I found myself sitting in my room at 3am freaking out as the major climax of the story comes into play, killing off a number of characters, which was the last thing I expected to happen, to be honest.  And I cried I good bit then too, so I suggest you have tissues somewhere on the premises as your get closer to the ending.  But, to juxtapose the bloody end of some characters, there is a small shred of hope, even after all the tragedy, that makes me yearn for the sequel because, as much as I really dislike Grace, I really am invested in this story and the remaining characters.  Three and a half stars.

3.5 stars

All Night Reads had been extremely gracious in allowing me to read this novel via Netgalley.



17638282From Goodreads: One pint-sized girl. Ten supersized crises. And it’s high noon.

They call her “Twigs,” because she’ll never hit five feet tall. Although she was born early, and a stiff breeze could knock her over, Twigs has a mighty spirit. She needs it, as life throws a whole bucket of rotten luck at her: Dad’s an absentee drunk; Mom’s obsessed with her new deaf boyfriend (and Twigs can’t tell what they’re saying to each other). Little sister Marlee is trying to date her way through the entire high school; Twigs’ true love may be a long-distance loser after a single week away at college, and suddenly, older brother Matt is missing in Iraq. It all comes together when a couple of thugs in a drugstore aisle lash out, and Twigs must fight to save the life of the father who denied her.

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This is certainly not an uplifting book.  Going in I knew that Twigs was going to be dealing with some difficult situations, but her life keeps going from bad to worse, and I came out of the novel a bit depressed.

Personally, I didn’t really connect with any of the characters, let alone like many of them. Twigs is a tiny girl, size 4’9.  I’m 5’1, so we’re close in height and I understood a lot of the angst that she felt about her size and how people referred to her size all the time.  The fact that she also has a baby face and is mistaken to be a child on multiple occasions is also something I experienced a lot at her age, though I never lashed out as Twigs does because it didn’t bother me as much as it bothers her, so I didn’t understand that part, I guess.  I feel like, in retrospect, that was her way of coping with everything else that was going on in her life, fighting back about her size since she couldn’t fight back against anything else, but even so, it’s not something I could personally connect with. I’ve also never lived through the hellish nightmare she does, so I think that may be why I don’t connect on the same level about the height issue, etc.

I have no respect for anyone in Twigs’ family, least of all her mother who sleeps around all the time, neglects Twigs (but not the other children), and keeps secrets.  Every time she came into a scene, my stomach recoiled because she’s an all around terrible person, and I don’t care if she tells Twigs how much she loves her in the end, or not.  Words can’t undo all the damage she’s done to Twigs’ psyche, and I have no love for her.

Twigs’ father is another lowlife.  Drunk or not, you don’t run out on your kid because of something that isn’t her fault, that she never had any control over.  It takes a while, but once readers get to the point where Twigs’ mother finally reveals the reason dad left in the first place, well, it’s stupid, especially as he blames Twigs and it’s not her fault in the least.  I’m sure, as you read, you realize that the dad Twigs has been idolizing has been extremely two-faced, and there is no excuse for his reactions towards Twigs, although everyone seems to think there is, which really irked me as I read.

Marlee wasn’t my favorite for sisters, either, but on the plus side, I didn’t note her trying to date the entire high school.  There seems to be only one man in her life, and the relationship seems quite strong, so I was confused as to what the synopsis was originally talking about here.  Maybe I missed something early on in the novel.  Perhaps?

Basically, Twigs has to deal with some terrible things in her life, and nothing has been easy for her.  Watching her go through crisis after crisis was difficult, and I’m glad she’s strong, but she also needs a break.  Thankfully, that seems to come in the form of crazy Helen and Coop, a boy from college, but not enough time was spent on either of those characters for my liking.  I don’t mind a true to life story, but I also need some more uplifting pieces along the way to keep my sanity.

While some of the events in the novel didn’t seem real to me, I’ve never been in any of the situations that Twigs finds herself in, so I’m not able to make a judgment call on them. This novel doesn’t have much in it in terms of happiness, though, and it created a gloomy mood for me as I read.  I have to pick up something a little lighter with a happy ending, I think, to counteract it.  Two stars.

2 starsF+W/Adams Media has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its official release on September 18, 2013.



et cetera
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