Book Review: Break Us

Break Us – Jennifer Brown – Nikki Kill #3 – Katherine Tegen Books – Published 13 February 2018

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Synopsis

Nikki Kill doesn’t see the world in black and white. Her synesthesia shades everything in view, transforming numbers, words, and emotions into colourful clues. Which means she’s a dangerous commodity to anyone with something to hide.

Nikki has already taken on the Hollises—one of L.A.’s most powerful families—for murdering her half sister, Peyton. However, Nikki’s next steps are clouded by the grey of uncertainty. Before she knows it, Nikki is on the trail of a cold case that couldn’t be any more personal—the death of her mother.

But when the web of lies and secrets she uncovers leads back to the people who have tried to silence her, Nikki must pursue the sunbeam gold of justice, or everything—including her life—will be lost.

My thoughts

Break Us is the third and final book in the amazing Nikki Kill series. Mystery, suspense and just a touch of romance (finally!!) culminate in a brilliant conclusion.

This review may contain spoilers for the first and second book in the Nikki Kill series. If you are looking for mature YA mystery, with a daring protagonist and thrilling twists and turns, check out Shade Me.

Nikki has spent the last few months looking for answers. The world might have moved on, but Nikki knows a murderer is still on the loose. Meanwhile, Detective Chris Martinez is slowly recovering on an attack on his life. With Chris’ memories scattered, it is up to Nikki to encourage Chris to continue searching for answers, before they are both targeted again.

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Book Review: The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan

The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan – Gia Cribbs – Harlequin Teen – Published 29 May 2018

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Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Sloane Sullivan has survived witness protection by learning three important lessons: blend in, don’t let anyone get too close, and follow the rules.

After nearly eight years and countless identities, blending in is easy. Now that someone has confessed to the murder she witnessed, Sloane’s been given her final identity. All she has to do is turn eighteen and coast through the last two months of her senior year without any complications, and she’ll be officially released from WITSEC. Piece of cake.

Then on her first day she runs into Jason Thomas—literally the boy next door from her childhood. She knows she shouldn’t have contact with him, but she doesn’t expect the feelings that come with seeing Jason again. Feelings of finally belonging somewhere, of remembering who she really is, and of suspicion that there’s more to the crime she witnessed than she ever knew.

Sloane knows the rule for this situation, but telling the Marshals about Jason would mean getting whisked away to yet another new identity, leaving both Jason and the future she’s painstakingly planned behind. If she can keep Jason a secret, Sloane has a chance to take back her life in a way that she never imagined possible. But doing so puts both their lives at risk: the closer Sloane gets to Jason, the more she remembers and the clearer it becomes that someone is still after her.

My thoughts

The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan is a mystery thriller with some amazing twists that I never saw coming and it touches upon some pretty dark crimes, but on the whole it is quite a lighthearted book, focusing on interpersonal relationships, high-school drama, and romance. The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan is an easy book to read and enjoy, with a likeable main protagonist and some intense relationships.

Sloane knows how to stay hidden in plain sight. This move and name change will be her nineteenth in eight years, ever since she witnessed a horrible crime and was forced to enter witness protection. Now Sloane is restarting her final year of high school, counting down the weeks until she will be finally free, but is thrown when one of the first people she meets is her childhood best friend, Jason Thomas. Sloane is convinced she can maintain her new identity to prevent having to move again, but staying means putting Jason in danger and risking her own future.

The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan starts with a bang and a seriously awesome prologue. Immediately gripping and then downright clever, I was hooked right from the very first page and couldn’t wait to jump into the rest of the story. The details of Sloane’s life emerge slowly, woven through the story of Sloane starting yet another high school and through flashback snippets from the past eight years.

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Book Review: Liberty: The Spy Who (Kind of) Liked Me

Liberty: The Spy Who (Kind of) Liked Me – Andrea Portes – HarperTeen – Published 6 June 2017

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Synopsis

What is a hero? Paige Nolan knows.

Edward Raynes, the young man who exposed America’s unconstitutional spying techniques, is a hero, even if half the dum-dums in the country think he’s a traitor. Or her parents, journalists who were captured by terrorists while telling stories of the endangered and oppressed. They were heroes, too. Were. . . or are—no one has ever told Paige if they’re still alive, or dead.

Not heroes? Anyone in the government who abandoned her parents, letting them rot somewhere halfway across the world. And certainly not Paige herself, who despite her fluency in five languages and mastery of several obscure martial arts (thanks, Mom!) could do nothing to save them.

Couldn’t, that is, until she’s approached by Madden Carter, an undercover operative who gives her a mission—fly to Russia, find Raynes, and discover what other government secrets he’s stockpiled. In exchange, he’ll reopen the case on her missing parents. She’s given a code name and a cover as a foreign exchange student.

Who is a hero? Not Paige Nolan, but maybe, just maybe, Liberty is.

My thoughts

Liberty – The Spy Who (Kind of) Liked Me is absolutely hilarious. It is a super fun, caper of a spy novel with an instantly likeable protagonist.

Paige Nolan’s parents, high profile journalists, are missing. They may be dead, Paige was never told. So when Paige is recruited from her (mostly) mundane college life by a spy (handsome, is younger than expected, and wears a suit very nicely), she is at first incredulous, then reluctant, but finally agrees knowing it might be the only chance of finding her parents.

The synopsis for this sounded fantastic, but it wasn’t until I started reading that I got an idea of just how awesome this book was going to be. I was captured from the first page and I didn’t not want to be released. The book is written in second person. Extremely hard to pull off and yet this book does it flawlessly. Paige is talking directly to the reader, warning them about the story to come, filling in a few details about how the whole thing came to be, and then providing commentary the whole way through the story. It is very well written, the reader is at once both in Paige’s head and right amongst the action.

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Book Review: Pretty Fierce

Pretty Fierce

Pretty Fierce – Kieran Scott – SourcebooksFire – Published 4 April 2017

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Synopsis

Kaia has been on the run her whole life. The daughter of professional assassins, she knows true danger—and she’ll do anything to survive. After her parents vanished during a job gone bad, Kaia’s spent the last year in hiding, trying to blend in as an ordinary teenager, and there’s no one who makes her feel more normal or more special than her boyfriend, Oliver.

But when she’s jumped by a hit man, and Oliver catches her fighting back, Kaia’s secret is exposed. In a split-second decision, she flees the small town, taking Oliver with her. With professional killers stalking their every move, can Oliver and Kaia protect each other long enough to uncover the mysteries of her past?

My thoughts

Pretty Fierce is a thrilling story, with plenty of action and drama.

It took me a few chapters to situate myself within the story, but the action soon grabbed my attention. But while this book has plenty of dangerous situations, high speed chases and guns to the forehead, it retains a sweetness and playfulness. The title is therefore apt, it is both Fierce and Pretty.

Eighteen months ago, while on a mission with her parents, Kaia and her mother were attacked. Her family was destroyed, her parents were both missing presumed dead, and Kaia put into action the plan that was only to be used if everything went terribly wrong. For the past 18 months, Kaia has been living with her ‘grandparents’, colleagues of her assassin parents. She has the most wonderful boyfriend, Oliver, and she is no longer endlessly plagued by nightmares. But all those fears resurface when she is brutally attacked and Oliver sees her take out her assailant. Now her secrets have been revealed and she isn’t sure Oliver will want to stick by the crazy girl who was raised by assassins.

Kieran Scott says this story was inspired by a dream starring Chris Hemsworth – I knew there was a reason I enjoyed this story. It’s fun, playful and still has all those elements of a high-speed, action blockbuster.

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Book Review: Vigilante

Vigilante

Vigilante – Kady Cross – Harlequin Teen – Published 28 March 2017

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Synopsis

It’s senior year, and Hadley and her best friend, Magda, should be starting the year together. Instead, Magda is dead and Hadley is alone. Raped at a party the year before and humiliated, Magda was driven to take her own life and Hadley is forced to see her friend’s attackers in the classroom every day. Devastated, enraged and needing an outlet for her grief, Hadley decides to get a little justice of her own. 

Donning a pink ski mask and fueled by anger, Hadley goes after each of the guys one by one, planning to strip them of their dignity and social status the way they did to Magda. As the legend of the pink-masked Vigilante begins to take on a life of its own, Hadley’s revenge takes a turn for the dangerous. Could her need for vengeance lead her down a path she can’t turn back from?

My thoughts

I have always loved Kady Cross’ series The Steampunk Chronicles, so I was very excited to read Vigilante – a change in genre but a book that sounded incredibly intense and with an interesting way to approach the subjects of sexual assault and a community’s response to rape.

Hadley’s best friend Magda was raped by four classmates. A few months later, Magda is dead, having taken her own life. Hadley is left with a drowning sense of grief and guilt. She has to see the four boys in her classroom everyday as the four of them were never charged. When a sudden opportunity arises, Hadley decides to create some of her own justice and plans to go after each of the boys who hurt her friend. But when a video of her going after the first guy in a pink ski mask goes viral, the Pink Vigilante is born and Hadley’s journey for revenge gets much bigger than she ever imagined.

Let me just say, some of the people of Hadley’s town and school totally deserved everything Hadley dished out to them, and more. Corrupt systems biased by influence and money are no doubt, sadly, very realistic in many cases. But I liked how so many people started to rally behind the Pink Vigilante. But that begs the question, did some people do that because they wanted to stop violence towards women or because it involved violence? This book will spark many important discussions, things that need to be talked about and not shuffled to the dark, hidden corners of our world.

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Book Review: The Hidden Memory of Objects

The Hidden Memory of Objects

The Hidden Memory of Objects – Danielle Mages Amato – Balzer+Bray – Published 21 March 2017

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Synopsis

Megan Brown’s brother, Tyler, is dead, but the cops are killing him all over again. They say he died of a drug overdose, potentially suicide—something Megan cannot accept. Determined to figure out what happened in the months before Tyler’s death, Megan turns to the things he left behind. After all, she understands the stories objects can tell—at fifteen, she is a gifted collage artist with a flair for creating found-object pieces. However, she now realizes that her artistic talent has developed into something more: she can see memories attached to some of Tyler’s belongings—and those memories reveal a brother she never knew.

Enlisting the help of an artifact detective who shares her ability and specializes in murderabilia—objects tainted by violence or the deaths of their owners—Megan finds herself drawn into a world of painful personal and national memories. Along with a trusted classmate and her brother’s charming friend, she chases down the troubling truth about Tyler across Washington, DC, while reclaiming her own stifled identity with a vengeance.

My thoughts

The Hidden Memory of Objects is a modern-day mystery with a grounding in American History, a touch of the paranormal and a bit of romance. But it is ultimately a story about a girl’s quest to uncover the truth about her brother, how he really died, and the events leading up to his death, and maybe even discover who she is outside of people’s, especially her brother’s, expectations of her.

Megan’s brother is dead. The police say he died of a drug overdose and Megan can’t reconcile the images she has of her fun-loving, positive brother with those from the story the police are weaving of a boy who saw no other option than to deliberately overdose in an abandoned building. Heartbroken and confused, Megan decides to do some investigating of her own, starting with the things Tyler left behind. But as Megan collects and then starts creating artwork from her brother’s things, she begins to have strange headaches and blackouts, triggering memories of her brother that she couldn’t possibly have.

Megan is an artist and it’s obvious in everything she says and the way in which she views the world, always noticing colours and patterns and endlessly collecting scraps of paper and small objects to add to her collages. It is her love of things that prompts her to turn to Tyler’s belonging to uncover what happened to him. But she is surprised to discover among his effects historical artefacts connected to Abraham Lincoln, a book on John Wilkes Booth and a roll of cash. Some seem to support the police’s theories while others suggest there is more to the story.

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Book Review: Proof of Lies

Proof of Lies

Proof of Lies – Diana Rodriguez Wallach – Entangled:Teen – Published 7 March 2017

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Synopsis

Some secrets are best kept hidden… 

Anastasia Phoenix has always been the odd girl out, whether moving from city to international city with her scientist parents or being the black belt who speaks four languages.

And most definitely as the orphan whose sister is missing, presumed dead.

She’s the only one who believes Keira is still alive, and when new evidence surfaces, Anastasia sets out to follow the trail—and lands in the middle of a massive conspiracy. Now she isn’t sure who she can trust. At her side is Marcus, the bad boy with a sexy accent who’s as secretive as she is. He may have followed her to Rome to help, but something about him seems too good to be true.

Nothing is as it appears, and when everything she’s ever known is revealed to be a lie, Anastasia has to believe in one impossibility.

She will find her sister.

My thoughts

Proof of Lies takes family secrets to the next level. The mystery is intriguing and I’ve got to say I had no idea what was going on or what was going to happen next. The big reveals were made all the better by the surprise. High-speed boat chases, gelato, iconic European scenery, kidnappings, and numerous bad guys, Proof of Lies combines action, romance, and mystery with a touch of history.

If I had to liken Proof Of Lies to a movie combo I would say Taken meets the Italian Job meets The da Vinci Code meets Spy Kids .

Three years ago, Anastasia lost both her parents in a horrific car crash while they were on one of their research development trips. As top scientists at an engineering firm they took a lot of trips and moved Anastasia and her sister, Keira, around frequently. Three years on, Anastasia is living with Keira who has become her guardian. But one morning, Anastasia discovers her sister has disappeared and the bathroom filled with blood. The police seem to be doing nothing and, consumed by grief, Anastasia isn’t sure what to do until her sister’s friend and roommate (and amateur hacker) discovers that maybe there was more to Keira’s disappearance. Anastasia begins a globe-trekking hunt for clues, that reveals her parents weren’t who she thought them to be.

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Book Review: Dare You

dare-you

Dare You – Jennifer Brown – Nikki Kill #2 – Katherine Tegen Books – Published 14 February 2017

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Synopsis

Nikki Kill didn’t realize that trying to find out who killed Peyton Hollis would tangle her in a web of dangerous family secrets that would rock her identity to the core. But now that Nikki knows the truth, the all-powerful Hollises want to frame her for Peyton’s murder. 

And now Nikki’s only chance at escaping the cold black bars of prison or the crimson grip of death is teaming up with the enigmatic Detective Martinez and relying on an ever-shifting kaleidoscope of clues….

My thoughts

Fantastic. Addictive. And now I so very desperately need the next book in this series. Right. Now. I can’t wait to read what happens next and get back to Nikki and Detective Martinez. Ahhh. When can I have book three??? But first, let me tell you about my love for this book.

Dare You picks up where Shade Me left off. Nikki knows who killed Peyton, she just can’t prove it. So she finished school and is about to graduate. But that’s it when it comes to plans, and she is unsure about what to do with her life. She hasn’t heard from Detective Martinez in months. But when she is arrested she knows that those who killed Peyton haven’t forgotten about Nikki and they intend to see her jailed or dead.

It’s great to return to the world of Nikki Kill. Where emotions, words, letter and numbers are colours. Where her senses have helped reveal a classmate’s killer but infinitely complicated Nikki’s world. Dare You and Shade Me are the very best kind of mystery stories, plenty of suspense, a strong protagonist, seemingly impossible odds, and just the barest hint of romance that keeps you desperately hanging on for more.

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Book Review: The Row

The Row

The Row – J.R. Johansson – Farrar, Straus, and Giroux – Published 11 October 2016

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Synopsis

A death sentence. A family torn apart. One girl’s hunt for the truth.

Seventeen-year-old Riley Beckett is no stranger to prison. Her father is a convicted serial killer on death row who has always maintained that he was falsely accused. Riley has never missed a single visit with her father. She wholeheartedly believes that he is innocent.

Then, a month before the execution date, Riley’s world is rocked when, in an attempt to help her move on, her father secretly confesses to her that he actually did carry out the murders. He takes it back almost immediately, but she cannot forget what he’s told her. Determined to uncover the truth for her own sake, she discovers something that will forever change everything she’s believed about the family she loves.

My thoughts

Who suffers in the aftermath of a horrible crime? The victims? The victims’ families? The man who may have been wrongly charged and imprisioned? The perpetrator’s family? The Row gives an inside look at the cost of defending your family, even when the world says they are unworthy, when the world judges you along with the guilty.

Riley’s father is on death row for a series of murders he says he didn’t commit. Riley has never doubted his innocence. To her, he is her father. The smart and kind man who taught her chess during her weekly visits and wrote her a letter for everyday she couldn’t visit him. But with his execution date drawing near, Riley’s father unexpectedly confesses to Riley. He retracts his confession, tells Riley it was only to help her move on, but the only thing Riley knows now is that he has lied to her – she’s just not sure if the lie is about being guilty or innocent. When she meets Jordan, the son of the man responsible for putting her father in jail, Riley is surprised to find she enjoys spending time with him. Together they attempt to discover the truth about Riley’s father once and for all.

It is interesting to have a story told from the guilt party’s family’s perspective. If you are looking for a book that supports the victims’ families then look elsewhere, because this is Riley’s story. She is just as much of a victim in what appears to her to be a faulty justice system and a world in which people seek to punish her along with her father.

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Book Review: The Long Game

the-long-game

The Long Game – Jennifer Lynn Barnes – The Fixer #2 – Bloomsbury Children’s – Published 7 June 2016

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Synopsis

The Kendricks help make the problems of the Washington elite disappear…but some secrets won’t stay buried.

For Tess Kendrick, a junior at the elite Hardwicke School in Washington, D.C., fixing runs in the family. But Tess has another legacy, too, one that involves power and the making of political dynasties. When Tess is asked to run a classmate’s campaign for student council, she agrees. But when the candidates are children of politicians, even a high school election can involve life-shattering secrets.

Meanwhile, Tess’s guardian has also taken on an impossible case, as a terrorist attack calls into doubt who can—and cannot—be trusted on Capitol Hill. Tess knows better than most that power is currency in D.C., but she’s about to discover firsthand that power always comes with a price.

My thoughts

Wow. I think this book almost killed me. I’m not sure how I survived the tension, the heartbreak. I think Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ mind must be a very scary place most of the time – absolutely brilliant, but scary.

Wow. Again. I really can’t think of a better way to describe my reaction to this book. Seriously. Wow. Wow. Arhhhhmmbahmsihuggtybi

Deep breath.

Tess is back at school. Life is back to normal, sort of, after she helped uncover a conspiracy within the government, was kidnapped and had her world turned upside down when she learned who her parents really are. She’s back at school and doing what she does best. Fixing things. But when a friend calls in a favour and asks Tess to help her win the school president elections, Tess starts to uncover a very serious chain of events that are linked to the real president’s mid-term elections. Things get deadly, fast.

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