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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Book Review: The Fixer

The Fixer

The Fixer – Jennifer Lynn Barnes – The Fixer #1 – Bloomsbury Children’s – Published 7 July 2015

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Synopsis

When sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick is sent to live with her older sister, Ivy, she has no idea that the infamous Ivy Kendrick is Washington D.C.’s #1 “fixer,” known for making politicians’ scandals go away for a price. No sooner does Tess enroll at Hardwicke Academy than she unwittingly follows in her sister’s footsteps and becomes D.C.’s premier high school fixer, solving problems for elite teens.

Secrets pile up as each sister lives a double life. . . . until their worlds come crashing together and Tess finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy with one of her classmates and a client of Ivy’s. Suddenly, there is much more on the line than good grades, money, or politics, and the price for this fix might be more than Tess is willing to pay.

My thoughts

Once again Jennifer Lynn Barnes delivers with a book that has fantastic mystery, twist after twist, politics, power, high-tension drama, and one hell of a tough protagonist.

I’m so glad I finally got to read this book. There is just something about Barnes’ writing that makes her books so readable and her characters so loveable.

Tess has lived with her grandpa on his farm since her parents died when she was young. But as her grandpa ages she has had to work harder to make sure no one notices his increased confusion, strange moods and memory loss. When her sister, the one who Tess hasn’t seen for three years, turns up and whisks Tess away from her home, Tess will learn what her sister does exactly and how it will entangle her in the dangerous world of politics and secrets.

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Book Review: Overdrive

Overdrive

Overdrive – Dawn Ius – Simon Pulse – Published 13 September 2016

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Synopsis

Gone in Sixty Seconds meets Heist Society in this edgy novel about a crack team of teenage criminals on a mission to learn to trust, build a life, and steal a wish list of exotic cars.

Jules Parish has screwed up. After three years of boosting cars, she got caught. She’s too goodto get caught, but she let her (ex)-boyfriend talk her into a questionable job. And now she and her little sister, Emma, will be kicked out of their foster home, left to survive on the unforgiving streets of Las Vegas alone.

Unless.

Eccentric, wealthy Roger Montgomery wants to open up his mansion to Jules and Emma. The only catch? Jules must steal seven of the rarest, most valuable muscle cars in the world…in seven weeks. Even worse, she’s forced to put her trust in three complete strangers to help her do it.

First there’s Chelsea, the gorgeous redhead with a sharp tongue and love for picking locks. Then there’s Mat, who hasn’t met a system he couldn’t hack. And finally there’s the impossibly sexy car thief Nick, whose bad attitude and mysterious past drive Jules crazy.

With nothing in common and everything to lose, can Jules and her amateur crew pull off what could be the biggest car heist in history? Or will things spin out of control faster than a Nevada dust devil?

My thoughts

Any book that claims to be similar to Heist Society is an immediate must read for me, and this book sounded fantastic. While it did not live up to my adoration of Heist Society, Overdrive is an exciting novel of car chases, stakeouts, cool gadgets, family, friendship and romance.

Four teens are brought together in a foster home. But their rich and eccentric foster parent doesn’t plan on providing a roof and food for nothing. He has hand-picked these four teens to help him track down and steal seven of the most famous, elusive muscle cars. The teens have seven weeks to find and boost these cars.

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