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Werewolves of ShadeFrom Goodreads:

When the entire population of Shade go missing, investigative reporter Mila Watson knows this could be the big break she has been waiting for. Setting off into the mountains to the village of Shade, Mila soon learns that the village isn’t as deserted as she first believed it to be and that creatures lurk in the shades…

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WoS OneIt’s no secret that I LOVE Tim O’Rourke’s writing. Every single piece, be it novel or novella (and there are a ton–over 50 currently, I believe), has captured my attention from the very first page, and I’ve been drawn into the seamless, heart-pounding stories where the characters and landscape come alive before my very eyes.  And so is the case with O’Rourke’s latest serial, Werewolves of Shade, a 6 part story that is absolutely mind blowing.

Part 1:

Opening in the creepy, dismal town of Maze, we meet Mila, a young woman hell bent on finding out what happened to her parents when they disappeared so long ago, traveling to Shade, a town where everyone seems to have vanished.

Her uncle has been less than forthcoming, and as the first installment takes off, readers learn that a war between Werewolves and Vampires once plagued the lands, but since the ONE came, they have all disappeared.  But, have they?

The first novella, approximately 70 pages give or take, chronicles Mila’s abhorrence as the truth about her parents emerges, and I loved her characterization.  She is definitely the heroine of the story, but knowing O’Rourke, some terrible events are bound to take place for this young adventurer.  While her lover, Flint, seems to be another main character in this series, I am interested to see how their relationship pans out in the next few installments.  I like him, but I’m not sold on him yet.

And of course, there are O’Rourke’s sprinkle of creepy moments when the possibility of tragedy, horror, and death take the forefront.  I love how he keeps me on my toes, nervous for the characters, but always dying to know what happens next.

Five Stars for Part 1

5 starsGrab part 1 now for just 99 cents: Amazon


WoS TwoPart 2:

I made the mistake of starting the second installment in the Werewolves of Shade Serial late at night. I know better, I really do; I’ve read nearly all of O’Rourke’s work, and I know that the suspense and horror he places in his books means I should never, ever, pick these up at night–I have a rather active dreamscape fraught with nightmares–but I just couldn’t help myself. The first installment ends on an enticing cliffhanger, and I just HAD TO KNOW what happens next. So I started the second portion immediately, and I was not disappointed.

Mila has made it to her destination, the town of Shade, but something lurks in the darkness, and the few people she finds in the town are… less than forthcoming. I can’t decide who I like more: the sweet and sexy Rush or the frustrating and sardonic Calix. For those who’ve read O’Rourke’s Kiera Hudson series (and if you haven’t, please do!), I’d almost liken Calix to a younger version of Potter, and I just love Potter… so I’m torn between the characters.  But neither seem to be very truthful, and their sudden appearance, almost out of thin air, has me suspecting that they aren’t all that they seem… making me wonder just who they truly are, and whether they’re for or against Mila.

And, I am about to pick up the third installment right now, because once again there is a lovely cliffhanger, and I am dying to know what happens next. Especially as some events in this novel, such as a lack of blood where there should be blood, and that penetrating glare from what seems to be distant eyes–but are they?–has me on pins and needles.

Five Stars for Part 2

5 starsGrab part 2 now for just 99 cents: Amazon


WoS ThreePart 3:

The story just keeps getting better and better as the plot thickens.  Every time I think that I know what’s happening, or who these characters really are, O’Rourke throws another wrench into the story, and I find myself derailed yet again.  Truthfully, this is part of the allure of O’Rourke’s books for me–I love that he always keeps me guessing.

As I previously mentioned in my review of Part 2 of this series, Calix is indeed very much like Potter from the Kiera Hudson Series.  The similarities continue to abound, and I find myself falling in love with his cocky mannerisms, especially when it comes to Mila and his interactions. Do I trust him? Not as far as I can throw him, but as I get to know him, I’m really enjoying the banter and his overall self-importance.

Of course, the already eerie series is beginning to take on a more gruesome feel as there is a death of a minor character, yet it’s jarring all the same, especially when the reader gets to the cliffhanger and realizes that not everything, or every DEATH, it what it seems…  I had chills as I read the final paragraph, and I am so excited to start part four right now.  This is just too good to put down.

Five Stars for Part 3

5 starsGrab part 3 now for just 99 cents: Amazon


WoS FourPart 4:

I’ve been reading each part of this series faster and faster through all the plot twists and turns, and I just can’t get enough.  The people of Shade are strange yet alluring, and while Mila seems to be second guessing herself and making some terrible decisions, I just can’t look away, even though I’m finding myself constantly yelling at her through the pages.  I’ve said, “don’t do that!” at least five times in this installment alone, and I can only imagine it’s going to continue and O’Rourke works up to the climax of the series.

O’Rourke always hits the ground running and completely takes me by surprise; in each of the installments so far, he’s left readers with a cliffhanger that has made me, personally, dying to read the next installment, and I love how he’s able to create suspense and terror in each one of these short novellas.  At approximately 70 pages, one would think that the story would grow stale, but such is not the case with the Werewolves of Shade series. I’ve been on pins and needles as Mila uncovers eerie truth after eerie truth, and while it doesn’t all make sense yet, I know it eventually will… though I’m seriously beginning to wonder if any of what Mila’s uncovered is real, or if she’s just imagining it all, like Calix and Rush keep asserting.

I feel I have a good handle on who, or what, the people of Shade are, but there are so many different directions this series is going that I’m just not sure anymore. On to part 5.

Five Stars for Part 4

5 starsGrab part 4 now for just 99 cents: Amazon


WoS FivePart 5:

Things are starting to get really out of hand in the town of Shade–who to trust and what’s real versus what’s fantasy have me, and Mila, scratching our heads as this roller coaster of a story unfolds.  But I’m loving it.  What I thought I knew has been thwarted by a few intense events that have happened in this specific installment, and I have to admit that at one point I was so confused that I was afraid to continue… but I know O’Rourke will bring it together for me in the end, because he always does, and when I look back at all the crazy that happened in this installment after I finish the 6th and final portion of this amazing serial, I just know it’s going to come together like a perfect puzzle.

Who are the people of Shade?  Where did they come from?  What’s with the strange writing in the textbooks and on Calix’s body? Who was this Julia they speak of, and why is there a werewolf stalking Mila–is there a werewolf stalking Mila? Why aren’t the dead in the grave? What of Magic? These are just some of the questions that have arisen for me while I’m reading, and though I know O’Rourke will eventually answer them all for me, the wait is killing me!  But the ride makes it so much fun.

I love the characters, the bit of sassy romance, the strange, sensual dreams, and trying to decipher fact versus fiction in order to understand the strangeness of the townsfolk in Shade… it’s just amazing. Part 6 is going to floor me, I just know it.

Five Stars for Part 5

5 starsGrab part 5 now for just 99 cents: Amazon


WoS SixPart 6:

This final installment of the Werewolves of Shade completes the Beautiful Immortals Series One, but it’s not technically the end of the story. It does answer many questions, but also leave readers with a jarring cliffhanger, one that they might have figured out through context clues given in parts 1-6 (I didn’t, though), but I guarantee there are still questions. And since there’s so much more of the story to tell, O’Rourke has thankfully begun work on the next series, Beautiful Immortals Series Two, which is aptly titled Vampires of Maze, again written in serial parts just like Werewolves of Shade. Part one is slated to release on September 8, 2015.

And I can’t wait!

O’Rourke’s Werewolves of Shade has been an amazing ride, and while I did figure out a few of the plot twists, O’Rourke kept them coming, and the revelation at the end nicely tied together a ton of my questions that arose in parts 4 and 5, but as I already said, there is so much more to tell; so much more I need to know.

Overall, the characters in this series are very well written.  While some are more of a static character, like Rush, Mila has definitely flourished.  She’s been at war within herself over the duration of the serial, and she’s really matured and come into herself.  She extremely real, as is Calix, and I’m excited to note that one of the characters from Part 1, Flint, makes another appearance in this portion, which ties together a few loose ties concerning romance while also throwing some wrenches into the entire story.  Full of suspense, horror, mystery, and intrigue, this is a series that you simply must read; fall in love with Mila, Rush, Calix, and Flint.  Come on, September 8!  I need more!

Five Stars for Part 6

5 starsGrab part 6 now for just 99 cents: Amazon




God's FormulaFrom Goodreads: It is 1939. The scourge that is Nazi Germany is trampling Europe as its scientists vie to deliver ever-increasing destructive power. Now physicist Walter Friedeman – a friend of Albert Einstein’s since childhood – has found a formula to enrich uranium in three months rather than the previously expected five years. Such a formula could deliver Germany the first atomic arsenal. But Friedeman does not believe in the Nazi cause. Friedeman wants the formula in the hands of America, but getting it to them himself will be nearly impossible. He sets into motion a plan to use his teenaged son, a Hitler Youth, to unwittingly do the job using a message Friedeman has encoded in the Elvish language created by J.R.R. Tolkien in his novel The Hobbit.

What follows is a quest across continents as Einstein, Tolkien, and MI-6 officer Ian Fleming work together to find Friedeman’s son, decode the message, and wrest control of the nuclear future before Hitler can steal it for himself.

Reuniting Tolkien and Fleming after their adventure in No Dawn for Men, God’s Formula is a heart-pounding thriller filled with history both real and imagined.

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James LePore and Carlos Davis are back with another riveting tale of espionage surrounding Nazi Germany and Tolkien’s famous novel, The Hobbit. If you’ve read No Dawn for Men, then you already know God’s Formula is going to be a riveting read. And riveting it is—told in chapter format specific to date and time, readers are whisked away to Germany, the United States, England, and beyond as we follow multiple characters through the pages, intertwining with their stories until they collide, leaving us breathless in anticipation as the plot thickens.

I truly love how this story builds suspense; jumping from character to character, situation to situation always leaves me on pins and needles, and I thought it was extremely easy to keep track of all the characters, since LePore and Davis do such a wonderful job fleshing them all out and making them realistic in my mind. The fact that the novel is peppered with real people—real famous people—such as Einstein, Tolkien, and Fleming also adds a bit of fun to it all, dire circumstances and all.

And while God’s Formula does bring together some old favorites from No Dawn for Men, God’s Formula is more of a companion novel, and not a sequel; it can definitely be read as a standalone if you so choose. Though I really do suggest reading both novels because they’re both absolutely intriguing, especially as they combine fact with fiction, leaving readers pondering the aged old question, “what if…” As the final chapter in The Hobbit saga readies for release in the theatric world, now is the perfect time to pick up God’s Formula and see how masterfully LePore and Davis weave fact and fiction together. Four stars.

4 starsI received this novel from the author and publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This title releases today, December 2, 2014

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

Read my review of No Dawn For Men HERE.

No Dawn for Men



FlashesFrom Goodreads: Risking his reputation and career, Detective Constable Tom Henson takes Charley to the scene of Kerry Underwood’s death. Charley is still convinced that what she has seen in her flashes proves that Kerry’s death was no accident but the work of a serial killer.

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In this second part of O’Rourke’s serial, the focus shifts from Charley, the girl who can see past events through a succession of flashes, to Tom, the young police recruit intent on finding the truth in time to stop a killer. Struggling to fit in and make the higher ups believe him, Tom makes a series of rash decisions, which costs him both his credibility and his standing within the police force, and as the story unfold, readers once again find themselves wrapped up in the mystery of it all. While all evidence seems to point to a single suspect, knowing O’Rourke’s writing, it’s safe to say that all bets are off when it comes to the truth, and while it may seem like certain people are guilty, I know O’Rourke is going to drop a bombshell on readers in the third and final installment, and I can’t wait. This second portion of the serial was indeed great fun, and I’m beyond ready to find out what happens next. Five stars.

5 stars

I purchased this novella from Amazon.

Kindle | Barnes and Noble

The full length novel encompassing all portions of this three part serial should be releasing soon.

Amazon 



I am extremely excited that Jennifer L. Armentrout’s DON’T LOOK BACK releases today!!

DON’T LOOK BACK is a young adult suspense being published by Disney Hyperion!

Don't Look Back RDL Banner

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Don't Look BackFrom Goodreads: Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all—popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it’s one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took “mean girl” to a whole new level, and it’s clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She’s getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she’s falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn’t just buried deep inside of Sam’s memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?
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Armentrout is quickly proving to be one of my “go-to” authors—everything I’ve read of hers over the past two months has been riveting, and I’ve really enjoyed them all, Don’t Look Back included.

I loved the suspense of this novel. Though Amnesia stories seems to be cropping up more and more in the YA genre, I found Don’t Look Back to be different enough that it really sparked my interest… plus, Armentrout is just an all around great writer. I could feel Sam’s fear, disdain, and confusion as I read, and the fact that I was able to connect with her made it all the more fun.

The characterization was amazing, and I loved watching Sam struggle to fit in, but ultimately deciding against it—choosing to make waves and change for the better instead. I also really liked the mystery involved in the disappearance of Cassie, especially because Armentrout opens up many doors in terms of what might have happened and whether a murder even occurred at all… and I really enjoyed the suspense of it all. I never suspected the ending, though I thought I had it pegged at least three times. Truth be told, I never saw the revelation coming until it was upon me, and by that point I was overwhelmed with tension! You think you know a person…

If you’re a fan of suspense novels, if you’ve enjoyed any novels that deal with amnesia stories lately, then I think you’ll really love Don’t Look Back. It has just the right amount of creepy and it definitely keeps you guessing, especially in terms of whether or not Sam is truly insane. Five stars.

5 stars

I received a free ARC of this novel from Disney-Hyperion during NCTE 2013.

This awesome novel releases today!!

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble | iTunes

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EXCERPT:

I didn’t recognize the name on the street sign. Nothing about the rural road looked familiar or friendly. Tall, imposing trees and overgrown weeds choked the front of the dilapidated home. Windows were boarded up. There was a gaping hole where the front door had been. I shivered, wanting to be far away from here…wherever here was.

Walking felt harder than it should be, and I stumbled off the chilly asphalt, wincing as sharp gravel dug into my feet.

My bare feet?

I stopped and looked down. Chipped pink nail polish peeked through the dirt…and blood. Mud caked the legs of my pants, leaving the hems stiff. It made sense, seeing as how I wasn’t wearing any shoes, but the blood…I didn’t understand why there was blood staining the knees of my jeans.

My vision clouded and dulled, as if a gray film had been dropped over my eyes. As I stared at the weathered asphalt under my feet, large and smooth rocks replaced the tiny stones. Something dark and oily seeped over the rocks, slipping through the cracks.

Sucking in a sharp gasp, I blinked and the image was gone.

Hands trembling, I raised them. They were also covered with dirt and scratches. My nails were broken, bloodied. A silver ring wrapped, encased in soil, around my thumb. Air froze in my chest as my gaze crawled over my arms. The sleeves of my sweater were torn, revealing pale flesh covered in bruises and gashes. My legs started to shake as I swayed forward. I tried to remember how this had happened, but my head was empty—a black void where nothing existed.

A car drove by, coasting to a stop a few feet in front of me. Somewhere in the trenches of my subconscious, I recognized the flashing red and blue lights as a source of safety. Elegantly scrawled along the black-and-gray side of the cruiser were the words ADAMS COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT.

Adams County? A flash of familiarity came and went.

The driver’s door opened, and a deputy stepped out. He said something into the radio on his shoulder before he looked at me.

“Miss?” He started around the cruiser, taking tentative steps. He looked young for a deputy. Barely out of high school and able to carry a gun seemed wrong somehow. Was I in high school? I didn’t know. “We’ve received some calls into dispatch concerning you,” he said gently. “Are you okay?”

I tried to respond, but only a hoarse squeak came out. Clearing my throat, I winced as the motion scratched and pulled. “I…I don’t know.”

“Okay.” The deputy held up his hands as he approached me, as if I were a skittish deer about to bolt. “My name is Deputy Rhode. I’m here to help you. Do you know what you’re doing out here?”

“No.” Knots formed in my belly. I didn’t even know where here was.

His smile strained. “What’s your name?”

My name? Everyone knew their name, but as I stared at the deputy, I couldn’t answer his question. The knots started twisting more. “I don’t…I don’t know what my name is.”

He blinked, and the smile was completely gone. “You don’t remember anything?”

I tried again, concentrating on the empty space between my ears. That was how it felt. And I knew that wasn’t good. My eyes started to tear up.

“Miss, it’s okay. We’ll get you taken care of.” He reached out, lightly taking hold of my arm.

“We’ll get this sorted.” Deputy Rhode led me around the back of his cruiser. I didn’t want to sit behind the Plexiglas, because I knew that wasn’t good. Only bad people sat behind the glass in police cruisers. I wanted to object, but before I could say anything, he settled me into the seat and wrapped a coarse blanket around my shoulders. Before he locked me in the bad part of the car, he knelt and smiled reassuringly.

“Everything’s going to be okay.”

But I knew he was lying, trying to make me feel better. It didn’t work. How could everything be okay when I didn’t know my own name?

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING:

“This engrossing thriller packs a heady atmospheric punch with plenty of theatrical scares,” Kirkus Reviews

“Armentrout has written another winner. From the first page to the last, she builds both terror and confusion to the point where readers will be hooked and on the edge of their seat. This standalone contains all of Armentrout’s usual trademarks– a strong and determined heroine, witty comments and hot guys–but she adds in an extra layer by ratcheting up the suspense to the highest degree and follows it up with an ending no one will see coming.” RT BOOK REVIEWS 4 1/2 Stars TOP PICK

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Author PhotoAbout Jennifer L. Armentrout:

# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV.

She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

Links:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Jennifer L. Armentrout Goodreads

DON’T LOOK BACK Goodreads



Flashes Part OneFrom Goodreads: Charley has flashes in her mind, psychic snapshots of terrifying events. After the death of her best friend, Charley’s flashes become more intense as she sees images of the murder of a teenage girl. But how will Charley ever convince Tom Henson, the new detective in the town of Marsh Bay, to believe she can help him solve the case?

** Part Two releases 1st May, 2014 **

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Flashes is Tim O’Rourke’s latest serial, sectioned into three parts that are set to release over the next two months. In this first installment, we meet seventeen-year-old Charley, a young woman who suffers from intense headaches, followed by flashes of murders in the act. Because this has plagued her for much of her life, Charley is a loner with just one friend, a friend who recently died in a train accident. But was it really an accident?

Tom Henson is new to the CDC, and as the newest addition to the police force, he feels he has something to prove. When another young woman is torn apart in a train accident, Tom’s suspicions are raised when he stumbles upon Charley near the scene of the crime. Together, they must learn to trust one another and put their differences aside if they’re going to solve the mounting train murders before both of them wind up dead.

For those who have read The Kiera Hudson Prequels, both one and two, Tom Henson is someone we already know a little bit about, but in O’Rourke’s serial, Flashes, readers now get to see him at the forefront of his very own series. I have liked Tom since the get go, and now seeing him interact with a new cast of characters has been extremely fun. Though I wish Flashes was released all at once and not in a serial format, it’s definitely worth the wait. Tim is a master storyteller and I’m on pins and needles waiting for part 2, which releases May 1. Five stars.

5 stars

I purchased this serial from Amazon.

Kindle | Barnes and Noble

The full length novel encompassing all portions of this three part serial should be releasing in June

Amazon



The Here and NowFrom Goodreads: An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

From Ann Brashares, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now is thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking—and a must-read novel of the year.
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This was unlike any other time travel novel I’ve ever read, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Traveling back in time, Prenna, her mother, and a few survivors have come to the present, though they have no intention of trying to stop the plague that runs rampant in their own time.

With technology beyond the current times dreams, the elders run a strict regiment, one that Prenna is intent on defying for the good of society.
It’s scary how efficient the elders are, and one must question why they choose to do nothing to alter the future or save the time they come from. As I read this novel, I was never 100% certain who was truly right—Prenna and Ethan in their suspicions, the homeless man, the elders… Brashares has done a superb job keeping the reader guessing as the novel unfolds, and as events come to a head, the truth, a stunning truth, is revealed to all.

I really enjoyed the characterization of this novel, though truth be told, Prenna was a little weak in my eyes. She must go against the grain, and that is hard for anyone, but there were times that I really wanted her to take control, only to have her rely on Ethan when I wanted her to care for herself. And yet, it works for this novel. Having been brainwashed for much of her life, it makes sense that she is not as strong as some female leads we see in novels, and in retrospect, her reactions help drive the novel onwards. Overall, this is a great read that I highly suggest. Four stars.

4 stars

In exchange for an honest review, Random House Children’s and Delacorte Press have been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on April 8, 2014.

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17887925From Goodreads: Perfect people aren’t just born. They’re made.

The first time she is blindfolded and kidnapped, star-athlete and posh boarding school newbie Sadie is terrified. She wakes up in a dark room surrounded by hushed whispers, hooded strangers, and a mysterious voice whispering not-so-sweet nothings in her ear.

But once the robes come off, she realizes it’s just an elaborate prank designed to induct her into the group that’s been pulling the strings at Keating Hall for generations. The circle has it all–incredible connections; fabulous parties; and, of course, an in with the brother society’s gorgeous pledges.

The instant popularity is enough to make Sadie forget about the unexplained marks on her body, the creepy ceremonial rituals, and the incident that befell one of her teammates the year before. So the next time Sadie is kidnapped, she isn’t scared, but she should be. The worst of Keating Hall is yet to come.

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Sadie has just received a scholarship to the prestigious Keating Hall, the boarding school of the elite.  It sounds innocent enough, but the real reason behind the scholarship has yet to be revealed, and Sadie has no idea what she’s about to get herself into as she accepts the lavish gifts bestowed upon her, or how it all relates back to her dead mother…

I went in to this novel thinking that it would be similar to other novels I’ve read that have to do with secret societies, and while it is, in a way, it’s also vastly different.  I can’t say much more than that without giving away pieces of the plotline, but know that this society delves deep in its sinister plans, especially when it comes to the lives of its members.

I really like Sadie, though she drove me a bit nuts at times.  I do understand being sworn to secrecy, but I also understand gut feelings, and if something just doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.  In other words, it’s better to tell someone than to try and go it alone.  Sadie struggles with this throughout the entire novel, which actually makes her extremely real.  Working with high school students, I see this often—many teens would rather go it alone or tell someone their age than deal with an adult, which fits Sadie’s M.O. exactly.  I loved that she was snarky and real, but as the story went on, some of it did seem a bit far-fetched to me.  Now, I’m also not rolling in money and I’m not famous, so it is quite possible that the people Sadie runs with do have the means to do much of what they do in the novel, but as a regular everyday person, I still feel like some of it is just beyond real.  I mean, if I was Sadie, I wouldn’t have been able to do some of those things… but that’s okay, because regardless, the story itself was extremely interesting and I enjoyed it overall.  And if you’re even the tiniest bit interested in secret societies, mystery, and suspense, then this is a novel that I highly suggest you read. Four stars.

4 stars

F+W/Adams Media and Merit Press have been extremely gracious in allowing me to read this novel, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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16006117From Goodreads: Sixteen year old Taylor Oh is cursed: if she is touched by the ghost of a murder victim then they pass a mark beneath her skin. She has three weeks to find their murderer and pass the mark to them – letting justice take place and sending them into the Darkness. And if she doesn’t make it in time? The Darkness will come for her…

She spends her life trying to avoid ghosts, make it through school where she’s bullied by popular Justin and his cronies, keep her one remaining friend, and persuade her father that this is real and that she’s not going crazy.

But then Justin is murdered and everything gets a whole lot worse. Justin doesn’t know who killed him, so there’s no obvious person for Taylor to go after. The clues she has lead her to the V Club, a vicious secret society at her school where no one is allowed to leave… and where Justin was dared to do the stunt which led to his death.

Can she find out who was responsible for his murder before the Darkness comes for her? Can she put aside her hatred for her former bully to truly help him?

And what happens if she starts to fall for him?

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This novel was phenomenal!  I was enraptured from the very beginning, watching Taylor walk into the depths of a violent gang to pass on the mark, noting her vast courage and fortitude as she attempted to trap a killer.  With her “them or me” mentality, drilled into her from a young age, Taylor runs the gauntlet of danger throughout this entire novel trying to stave off the Darkness, keeping it at bay one murdered soul at a time.

Enter Justin and his teenage followers: the popular crowd who enjoy nothing more than to plague Taylor at every turn.  They don’t know about the Darkness; they don’t know Taylor sees the dead, or that the murdered’s touch is the reason she wears gloves, hoping to cover the ever deepening black mark death leaves on her hand.  All the populars know is that she’s different.  And “different” in high school terms means the end of all social acceptance.  The brunt of their spiteful attacks and malicious slurs tend to fall on deaf ears, however, as Taylor is a strong female lead; she’s more interested in saving her soul than fitting in.  And I loved this about her.  She’s not afraid to assert herself or speak up against her tormentors, though it never brings about much good.  Yet when faced with the death of the most popular of her tormentors, Justin, Taylor has to do more than fight back—she must fit in in order to figure out the truth before it’s too late, before the Darkness comes for her.

The fact that her scientist father doesn’t believe anything Taylor says about her curse, chalking it all up to a disease he’s intent on curing, only adds another barrier that she must overcome in order to continue roaming the streets in search of murderers, attempting to keep away the Darkness and also convince her father she’s not crazy.  I can’t imagine being in her situation and having a parent disregard my words and insist on extracting my blood in attempts to heal me, but Taylor bares it quite well, following in her deceased mother’s footsteps, so it seems.  Now, there’s a story that’s highly intriguing!  Learning all about Taylor’s family curse, passed down from her mother’s side, was fascinating.  I loved the glimpses and stories we’re given as Taylor reads from her mother’s book, the one that explains how it all began and sets the stage for the upcoming fight with the Darkness that readers know is bound to come.

This novel is unlike anything I’ve read before, and  I loved the sleuthing Taylor undertakes, as well as learning the truth about Justin, the V Club, and watching Taylor risk her life in order to impede the Darkness. It’s very well written, and as I said before, I just adore Taylor and her inner strength.  Regardless of all the obstacles set before her, she diligently tries to do what is right and protect others.  Justin grew on me too, though I really hated him in the beginning, even though his side-kick James is actually the more threatening of Taylor’s tormenting group, made all the more sinister by the revelation of the V Club.

The whole idea of the V Club was fascinating, and it made me think of all those underground clubs that are rumored to have been in hiding for centuries, which only adds to the fun of it all.  Of course, V Club seems a lot more sinister than the underground clubs I’ve heard of (but then again, I wouldn’t really know because I’m not privy to their societies and all they do), and it was awesome watching Taylor attempt to infiltrate.  Likewise, we eventually learn more about the Darkness and, in this case, it’s interest in the V Club, which filled me with trepidation as we get an up-close and personal view of what lies beyond—which then begs the question, if all the murderers are sucked into the Darkness, what, exactly, are all these evil murderers going to be used for in the future?  Because… the Darkness is not hell, as one might assume.  So, what is it?  Five stars.

5 stars

Angry Robot and Strange Chemistry have been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this awesome novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on August 6, 2013.



et cetera
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