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: Deep Extraction

Deep Extraction

Deep Extraction – DiAnn Mills – FBI Task Force #2 – Tyndale House Publishers – Published 4 April 2017

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Synopsis

A pacemaker should have saved oil and gas magnate Nathan Moore’s life. Instead, it provided his killer with a seemingly perfect means of execution. A bombing at one of Nathan’s oil rigs days earlier indicates his death could be part of a bigger conspiracy, a web Special Agent Tori Templeton must untangle. But her first order of business is separating the personal from the professional–the victim’s wife, her best friend, is one of the FBI’s prime suspects.

Clearing Sally’s name may be the biggest challenge of her career, but Tori finds an unexpected ally in the newest member of the task force, recently reinstated Deputy US Marshal Cole Jeffers. As Tori and Cole dig deeper into Nathan’s personal and business affairs, they uncover more than they bargained for. And the closer they get to finding the real killer–and to each other–the more intent someone is on silencing them for good.

My thoughts

With DiAnn Mills’ trademark whip-sharp writing, Deep Extraction is a suspense novel with plenty of twists and a spark of romance.

FBI Special Agent Tori Templeton is called in to investigate the murder of one of her friends, Nathan Moore. She will have to balance her desire to bring the killer to justice with her need to support her friend Sally through the grief of losing her husband. Working the case with Tori are her partner Max and US Marshal Cole Jeffers, also a friend of Nathan and Sally. But as Tori, Max, and Cole dig into the case they find information that changes the way they view both the investigation and the victim.

This crime caught my attention right from the start. I thought it very intriguing. A man killed by his own pacemaker. But as the investigation continues more information shows the crime is far more complex. Usually, with DiAnn Mills’ books the reader is given an insight into who the killer is, with more details about the why and how revealed as the story progresses. But with Deep Extraction even this aspect is given a nice twist, leaving the mystery even more fascinating.

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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: If I’m Found

If I'm Found

If I’m Found – Terri Blackstock – If I Run #2 – Zondervan – Published 21 March 2017

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Synopsis

Casey Cox is still on the run, fleeing prosecution for a murder she didn’t commit. Dylan Roberts—her most relentless pursuer—is still on her trail, but his secret emails insist that he knows the truth and wants to help her. He’s let her escape before when he had her in his grasp, but trust doesn’t come easily.

As Casey works to collect evidence about the real murderers, she stumbles on another unbearable injustice: an abused child and a suicidal man who’s also been falsely accused. Casey risks her own safety to right this wrong and protect the little girl from her tormenters. But doing so is risky and just may result in her capture—and if she’s captured, she has no doubt she’ll be murdered before she ever steps foot in a jail.

My thoughts

If I’m Found picks up where If I Run left off – right in the middle of the action. Casey is on the run, pursued for a crime she didn’t commit. Dylan, private investigator, is on her tail, but he knows something isn’t right, especially with the two detectives who seem so quick to condemn Casey.

In If I Run, readers were first introduced to Casey, who discovered the murdered body of her friend. She ran, knowing that asking Brent to investigate her father’s death may have led to his murder. She has to keep running when she is publicly accused of his death. Dylan, also a friend of Brent’s, a returned solider, and now Private Investigator, is asked to help track down Casey. But he slowly comes to realise that Casey might have been framed.

As with If I Run, this book follows Casey’s story and Dylan’s continuing investigation but also includes a concurrent mystery, one that Casey helps solve. That’s what takes this book from exciting to edge-of-your-seat. There is nothing that gets me riled like an innocent wrongly accused, and in If I’m Found there are two such people.

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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: Justice Delayed

justice-delayed

Justice Delayed – Patricia Bradley – Memphis Cold Case #1 – Revell  – Published 31 January 2017

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Synopsis

It’s been eighteen years since TV crime reporter Andi Hollister’s sister was murdered. The confessed killer is behind bars, and the execution date is looming. But when a letter surfaces stating that the condemned killer didn’t actually do it, Detective Will Kincaide of the Memphis Cold Case Unit will stop at nothing to help Andi get to the bottom of it. After all, this case is personal: the person who confessed to the crime is Will’s cousin. They have less than a week to find the real killer before the wrong person is executed. But much can be accomplished in that week–including uncovering police corruption, running for your life, and falling in love.

My thoughts

Justice Delayed is the explosive start to a new suspense series by Patricia Bradley and it has all the features of a novel that keeps you guessing. Romance, a new cold case team, mysteries that hit close to home, flawed and relatable characters, and plenty of tension combine to keep the suspense high.

Andi Hollister is a journalist who takes risks to uncover the big stories. When a murder is linked to the death of Andi’s sister, Andi knows she has to help uncover the details, especially since the man convicted of her murder is about to be executed. Along with her brother, police Sergeant Brad Hollister, and family friend Detective Will Kincade, who has just joined a new cold case team, Andi puts her life in danger to find the truth about who really killed her sister and why.

Justice Delayed snagged my attention from the first page. Andi is a flawed but realistic character. She takes risks and usually jumps in head first to dangerous situations, so it’s no wonder her brother and friends worry about her and tend to hover. Andi is also battling an addiction to pain pills, but her major problem is denying she has an addiction.

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Book Review: Maybe It’s You

Maybe It's You

Maybe It’s You – Candace Calvert – Crisis Team #3 – Tyndale – Published 3 February 2017

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Synopsis

ER nurse Sloane Ferrell escaped her risky past–new name, zip code, job, and a fresh start. She’s finally safe, if she avoids a paper trail and doesn’t let people get too close. Like the hospital’s too-smooth marketing man with his relentless campaign to plaster one “lucky” employee’s face on freeway billboards. Micah Prescott’s goal is to improve the Hope hospital image, but his role as a volunteer crisis responder is closer to his heart. The selfless work helps fill a void in his life left by family tragedy. So does a tentative new relationship with the compassionate, beautiful, and elusive Sloane Ferrell. Then a string of brutal crimes makes headlines, summons responders . . . and exposes disturbing details of Sloane’s past. Can hope spring from crisis?

My thoughts

What would you do for a fresh start when you don’t think you deserved one? Maybe It’s You is the heartbreaking and hopeful story of second (and third and fourth) chances, facing your past, grace and love. Maybe It’s You has Candace Calvert’s trademarks of romance, medical tension, drama, action, and heartwarming stories of the people who give of themselves to keep others safe.

Sloane is a character grounded in the reality of a broken world. Sloane has faced trauma from her childhood right up until her last post at San Diego Hope Hospital. We first met Sloane in Step By Step. Acerbic, alcoholic, with a shame-filled past that she wishes she could bury and yet to which she just keeps adding, Sloane pushes people as far away as she can get them. But in Step By Step a serious car crash leaves Sloane hospitalised and a colleague fighting for her life and Sloane decides to start turning her life around. But shaking her past won’t be easy, especially when an ex-boyfriend with ties to the Russian mafia resurfaces and seems determined to involve Sloane. 

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Book Review: To Catch A Killer – Teaser

To Catch A Killer

To Catch A Killer – Sheryl Scarborough – Tor Teen – Published 7 February 2017

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Synopsis

Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father’s identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother’s best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past.

Fourteen years later, Erin is once again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. When questioned by the police, Erin tells almost the whole truth, but never voices her suspicions that her mother’s killer has struck again in order to protect the casework she’s secretly doing on her own.

Inspired by her uncle, an FBI agent, Erin has ramped up her forensic hobby into a full-blown cold-case investigation. This new murder makes her certain she’s close to the truth, but when all the evidence starts to point the authorities straight to Erin, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) Journey Michaels to help her crack the case before it’s too late.

My thoughts

To Catch A Killer lands the reader right in the middle of the action from the very first page. To Catch A Killer promises to be an exciting and suspense-filled murder mystery, with a touch of romance, a strong friendship, and likeable main character.

I was fortunate to receive a sample copy of the first 80 pages of To Catch A Killer. This book was already on my radar as a must-read YA mystery-thriller, and now that I have started reading I don’t want to stop.

Erin will always be known as the girl who was found next to her mother’s dead body. As a toddler, her world changed and she has grown to accept that as she grew up with her mother’s best friend as her guardian. But Erin has always wanted to know what happened to her mother. The killer was never found and Erin was never given answers. It has fueled her interest in forensic science and police procedure. Erin’s life is thrown into chaos when she discovers the body of her beloved science teacher, who was helping Erin find answers about her never-identified father. Erin sees classmate Journey Michaels fleeing the scene, but it is Erin herself who is the prime suspect. Erin determines to do some investigating for herself and is shocked to find a link between her teacher’s death and her mother’s murder.

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Book Review: The Edge of Everything

edge-of-everything

The Edge of Everything – Jeff Giles – Bloomsbury Children’s – Published 31 January 2017 (9 February 2017 UK, AUS and NZ)

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Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Zoe is still reeling from her father’s sudden death and her neighbors’ mysterious disappearance. Then on a terrifying sub-zero night, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods—only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.

X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He’s from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe’s evil attacker and others like him. Forbidden to reveal himself to anyone besides his victims, X casts aside the rules for Zoe. As X and Zoe learn more about their different worlds, they begin to question the past and their fate. But escaping the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for both of them.

My thoughts

What was that? That cannot be the end? I can’t even. It’s resolved and yet totally unresolved. It’s not quite a cliffhanger but it left me just as desperate for the next book. And there has to be a next book. Got that Jeff Giles? Because I want more X, more Zoe, more Jonah, more of their tough mother, more Ripper and I would really like to see certain heads roll. Edge of Everything is part love story, part supernatural adventure survival story and part heartwarming tale of family. Once I started reading I didn’t want to stop.

This is a good old paranormal, reaper story. A boy locked in the bowls of the Lowlands and forced to reap souls. He has never questioned his role until he meets Zoe. The girl who wasn’t supposed to see him. The girl who fights to save herself, save her brother and even, maybe save him. Zoe knows she and her brother wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for the guy who mysteriously appeared and saved them from their attacker. She takes him home, makes room for him in her grieving little family, shares her hurt, listens to his story without judgement and, unknowingly, brings all the terror of the Lowlands down on them.

The romance in this story is pretty good but it was the characters, that incredible sense of family that really drew me in. Jonah, Zoe’s younger brother, was my favourite character. But then I also loved Zoe’s colourful friends, Zoe’s mother, vegan, believer in all faiths and fiercely protective, X’s Lowland cell mates, and, of course, X and Zoe themselves.

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