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Kiss Kill Vanish – Jessica Martinez

Kiss Kill Vanish cover Kiss Kill Vanish
By: Jessica Martinez
Available October 2014

Description:
Valentina Cruz no longer exists.

One moment, she was wrapped in Emilio’s arms, melting into his kiss. The next, she was witnessing the unthinkable: a murder in cold blood, ordered by her father and carried out by her boyfriend. When Emilio pulled the trigger, Valentina disappeared. She made a split-second decision to shed her identity and flee her life of privilege, leaving the glittering parties and sultry nightlife of Miami far behind.

She doesn’t know how to explain to herself what she saw. All she knows now is that nothing she believed about her family, her heart, or Emilio’s love, was real.

She can change her name and deny her past, but Valentina can’t run from the truth. The lines between right and wrong, and trust and betrayal, will be blurred beyond recognition as she untangles the deceptions of the two men she once loved and races to find her own truth.

This Blonde’s Review:
Valentina’s life was not what she thought. She always believed that her father was a kind and loved man, someone who was interested in art and worked in business. Emilio was her boyfriend who works for her father, doing whatever needed done. Her life was wonderful even if they were hiding their relationship from her father. Until the night that her father shows up at Emilio’s while Valentina is there. While Valentina hides in the closet her father orders Emilio to kill a man, and he does. Destroyed and unable to accept the truth of who her father and Emilio really are she runs. She gives up her rich and spoiled life and tries to disappear.

We meet her when she’s struggling to survive in Montreal and going by another name. Even though she knows she could go back to her father she can’t let herself now that she knows what he does. She’d rather let someone talk down to her as though she doesn’t know art and treat her like nothing than go back to her life of privilege provided the way her father did it.

When Emilio shows up and then she makes an unlikely ally, she doesn’t know what to think. All she knows is that somehow she has to get home and find out what is going on before something happens to her family. No matter what her father has done her sisters are the important thing.

This book was not what I expected it to be. Valentina’s strength was so great. I loved that even though she needed to run and hide she did find something there. She found people who were willing to be there for her and help her. A girl who loaned her things, someone who gave her chocolate just to be kind, and the lesson Valentina learned in receiving the smallest of gifts. I loved that she made friends with someone that she thought she couldn’t stand and that he ended up being the best friend that she could have.

You can’t run from your problems forever though. Valentina had to face hers and see the men she loved for who they really were and confront them for that. She also had to make a decision on the way to follow her heart and do the right thing. Could she betray her father? Could she let him get away with what he did? And Emilio? How was she supposed to deal with everything he did? The way everything worked out for her proved that she was the strongest one in the family even if they didn’t see it. Her moral sense of right and willingness to follow it gave her the steel backbone she needed that would get her through anything and I loved that about her.

 
 

Vivian Apple At The End Of The World – Katie Coyle

Vivian Apple At The End of the Wold cover Vivian Apple At The End Of The World
By: Katie Coyle
Vivian Apple – Book 1
Available January 2015

Description:
Seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple never believed in the evangelical Church of America, unlike her recently devout parents. But when Vivian returns home the night after the supposed “Rapture,” all that’s left of her parents are two holes in the roof. Suddenly, she doesn’t know who or what to believe. With her best friend Harp and a mysterious ally, Peter, Vivian embarks on a desperate cross-country roadtrip through a paranoid and panic-stricken America to find answers. Because at the end of the world, Vivan Apple isn’t looking for a savior. She’s looking for the truth.

This Blonde’s Review:
Vivian wants to understand what happened. One day her family is normal, and the next her parents tell her that they’ve suddenly become members of the Church of America and want her to believe what they do. Despite her seemingly easygoing nature I really loved her when she didn’t go along with what they wanted for her. She was willing to stand up and tell them no, she couldn’t believe what they wanted her to.

When her parents disappear leaving only two holes in the roof of their home on the night of the rapture she isn’t sure what to think. She still can’t believe that it could be true but she has doubts. Luckily she isn’t alone, she has her friends. Their race across the country reveals so many things about each of them and what really matters to them.

I really enjoyed this book. Standing for your beliefs when the people you care about want you to believe a certain thing can be difficult. When you face a country full of fear and people who want to use violence against nonbelievers, it was easy for many people to cave. Vivian and her friends did not. They stood strong in their desire to know the truth rather than following the crowd. I had so much respect for that.

The more they did and found out the more I loved Vivian, Harp, and Peter. They were flawed and imperfect but they were supportive. They were a family for each other when their own family was unable to be what they needed for them.

If you think you’d enjoy a book about a country that is falling apart under the strain of being left behind during the Rapture and teenagers who are searching for the truth, then you’ll enjoy this book. I did and can’t wait to find out what happened in the next book. I hope that in the next one we also get to hear more about what the rest of the world thinks of what was happening. The things we find out were surprising yet also not, so I can’t wait to see what happens with Vivian and her people in book two.

 
 

Dissonance – Erica O’Rourke

Dissonance 
By: Erica O’Rourke
Dissonance – Book 1
Available Now

Description:
Delancy Sullivan has always known there’s more to reality than what people see. Every time someone makes a choice, a new, parallel world branches off from the existing one. Eating breakfast or skipping it, turning left instead of right, sneaking out instead of staying in bed ~ all of these choices create an alternate universe in which an echo self takes the road not travelled and makes the opposite decision. As a Walker, someone who can navigate between these worlds, Del’s job is to keep all of the dimensions in harmony.

Normally, Del can hear the dissonant frequency that each world emits as clear as a bell. But when a training session in an off-key world goes horribly wrong, she is forbidden from Walking by the Council. But Del’s not big on following the rules and she secretly starts to investigate these other worlds. Something strange is connecting them and it’s not just her random encounters with echo versions of the guy she likes, Simon Lane.

But Del’s decisions have unimaginable consequences and, as she begins to fall for the Echo Simons in each world, she draws closer to a truth that the Council of Walkers is trying to hide ~ a secret that threatens the fate of the entire multiverse. 

This Blonde’s Review: 
Del is part of a small group of people who are able to walk through the different branches of reality that are created each time a choice is made. She is still in school and learning about the ins and outs of keeping the universes in harmony. During an assignment she goes to a dimension that is suddenly in worse shape than it was projected to be and soon there is trouble that leaves Del and her sister in a very dangerous situation. Despite Del’s quick thinking managing to save their lives she still finds herself in trouble. She is suspended from school with only her sister to train her for her exams.

I really liked Del, she had a very out of the box way of thinking that appealed to me. She doesn’t live her life by the book, so despite being told she can’t Walk without supervision she still goes out exploring to find out what is going on. And she still meets a echos of the same guy all over the place. Simon Lane is a guy she normally wouldn’t think twice about in the key world, but after their connection in a parallel world it’s like they can’t seem to escape each other and suddenly key world Simon is interested in her too.

Of course Del’s family plays a big part in everything. She has her parents who are knee deep in some mysterious issue that the Council is keeping secret. Her sister acts like she’s perfect and plays everything by the book. Her grandfather is the one who taught her all of her tricks as they walked, the only one who seemed to have time for her while her parents were off on missions and her sister was learning to be perfect. Her grandmother disappeared on a walk many years ago and her grandfather has been obsessed with finding her ever since.

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2014 in Book Review

 

Magnolia – Kristi Cook

Magnolia
By: Kristi Cook
Available August 2014

Description:
In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.

But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.

This Blonde’s Review:
Jemma and Ryder’s mothers are best friends. Their idea of the perfect life for their children would be a life where they end up together so they do everything they can to maneuver them to make it happen. They are not having anything to do with it though. They put up with each other because they have to but that’s all. Until they find themselves caught in a hurricane together alone and other feelings start to come out.

Watching Jemma and Ryder try to figure out what they feel for each other without letting their parents find out was amusing. Most kids have to sneak around since their parents wouldn’t approve. Jemma and Ryder have the opposite problem. If anything happens between them it would make their parents’ dreams come true and they would never hear the end of it.

Jemma and Ryder have their friends that overlap and their families, so there is no way to stay away from each other. But when they get caught in the hurricane together when both sets of parents are out of town they find themselves seeking comfort in each other. That comfort opens the door for other things they wouldn’t have allowed themselves to feel otherwise.

I liked the way they were able to encourage each other to do what mattered to them, that those things were able to bring them closer together instead of further apart. It was a cute book and one that I breezed through pretty quickly and happily.

If you enjoy reading about a couple whose only thing keeping them apart are the things they think they know about each other then you’ll enjoy reading this one to watch them learn they don’t know each other as well as they think.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 27, 2014 in Book Review

 

Talon – Julie Kagawa

Talon
By: Julie Kagawa
Talon – Book 1
Available October 2014

Description:
Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they’re positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon’s newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember’s bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

This Blonde’s Review:
Ember and Dante may look like normal teenagers but they’re actually dragons in hiding. They’ve spent their whole life in training in a compound and are finally being given a summer to try to blend in. Dante is the one who is good and always does the right thing. Ember is the one who finds the idea of freedom exhilarating and can’t wait to see what life is like outside of the compound they grew up in. She has a hard time not turning or flying, but at least she can surf and get something close to it.

Ember and Dante have always been close, but when they are separated for training they find themselves drifting apart. They learn different things at different times as their instructors believe they need to know it. Ember’s trainer puts her through hell, forcing her to fight and trying to make her lose touch with her humanity. Her trainer wants Ember to attack humans without pause. When she finds out what job she’s been assigned to she doesn’t know if she can handle it.

During everything she has met two guys. One, a rogue dragon, who appeals to her dragon side and encourages her to fly and break rules. Another is a human guy who appeals to her human side, who is secretly a member of St George, the group that tracks and kills dragons. She never though a dragon would be attracted to a human but somehow she is attracted to Garret. We also see the guys’ points of view, the way they see Ember and what they want from her. But throughout it all, Ember is primary and her viewpoint is the important one. These guys are going to lead Ember to some important decisions and realizations about herself and the world around her. And at the same time, she’ll help them see the things around them in a different way too.

When I started this one I wasn’t sure that I’d like it. We were supposed to hear the way that Ember thought about dragons and it almost seemed like she thought of herself as part of a larger unit rather than as herself. And it would have been irritating to hear her describe herself in terms of dragons as a group throughout the whole book. But as the book went on that got to be less of an issue. While I was reading it I took it as the author describing things and irritating me with the way she was doing it. But as the book went on and more of Ember’s human side came out less of that descriptive side was present. So it may have also been something to do with the way she thought about herself, in the beginning she was part of this larger unit while later she was simply Ember, dragon and human at once.

The relationships were complicated the way they always are. We don’t want to give up on the people that everyone else can see aren’t capable of being there for us the way we want them to be. At the same time, in some ways they weren’t as bad as it could have been. There was of course attraction and a bit of a love triangle, but nothing so overwhelming that they didn’t come together when needed to fight together on more than one occasion, before and after they knew each other’s true identities.

At first I wasn’t sure I’d care for the writing style, but by the end of the book I was really enjoying Ember’s story. I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 27, 2014 in Book Review

 

Perfect Couple – Jennifer Echols

Perfect Couple
By: Jennifer Echols
Superlatives – Book 2
Available January 2015

Description:
Perfect Couple is #2 in the Superlatives series about seniors at a Florida high school who are selected for their class’s superlative categories in the yearbook, and how the labels change the way they view themselves and alter the course of their lives.

Can your heart be put to a popular vote?

As yearbook photographer, Harper is responsible for capturing those candid moments that make high school memorable. But her own life is anything but picture perfect. Her parents’ bitter divorce has left her wondering what a loving relationship would look like. And ever since the senior class voted her and star quarterback Brody the “Perfect Couple That Never Was,” her friends have been on her case to ask Brody out.

Brody doesn’t lack in female admirers, but Harper can’t see herself with him. He seems confused about why they were matched together, too. They’re total opposites—the last people in the world who would ever be compatible, let alone the “perfect couple.” Yet ever since the class paired the two of them, they’ve found themselves drawn together–first by curiosity, then by an undeniable bond.

The trouble is, though they’re very attracted to each other and both of them admit this, they have a hard time getting along or even communicating clearly. If they’re the perfect couple, this shouldn’t be so difficult! Soon it becomes clear their class was wrong, and they throw in the towel. But after they walk away, both of them feel so changed from making the effort that they can’t forget each other. What if that means this match made in hell is the perfect couple after all?

This Blonde’s Review:
Harper and Brody are not a couple you’d normally put together. But apparently their classmates see something that Harper and Brody never did and voted them to “Perfect Couple That Never Was.” Once the idea is in their heads they can’t seem to keep from considering it, despite already being in other relationships.

I really liked Harper. She was smart and creative. She was a kind person who I would have wanted to be friends with in high school. She’s cautious and wants to play it safe ever since her parent’s divorce. Brody is the star quarterback, popular and outgoing. Everyone loves him and all the girls like him. So why would he waste his time with a girl like her?

Yet apparently he’s been looking back her her curiously too. And when one thing leads to another, soon they decide to give a relationship a go. Maybe their friends see something they don’t.

Seeing them try to figure out if this is something they can make work was great. Because we can’t help but like both of them and want them to be together. They’re great together even though it isn’t as easy as they seem to think it should be.

And when they find out some surprising news Harper can’t help but want to run. So it becomes if they can make it work or not.

If you enjoyed the first book in this series then you’ll enjoy this one. You’ll enjoy the chance to get to know more of the characters you got to know in the first book.

I was also looking forward to this one because of my personal history. When I was a senior in high school I was also voted as half of a perfect couple that never was. In our case we just side eyed each other on the meeting where it was announced, I wondered about it a little, and that was the end of it. I was looking forward to a chance to see what Jennifer Echols had her characters do with it.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 21, 2014 in Around The World Tours, Book Review

 

Get Even – Gretchen McNeil

Get Even
By: Gretchen McNeil
Don’t Get Mad – Book 1
Available Sept 2014

Description:
The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars in Gretchen McNeil’s witty and suspenseful novel about four disparate girls who join forces to take revenge on high school bullies and create dangerous enemies for themselves in the process.

Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.

This Blonde’s Review:
They don’t seem to have anything in common and they don’t talk to each other. Their lives only intersect by attending the same school but in no other ways. At least that’s what they want the rest of the school to know. In reality Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot are part of a group called Don’t Get Mad. They created it to get back at the bullies that no one seems to do anything about, the ones in positions of power.

Those same people in the power positions are the ones who want the group publicly known as DGM stopped. They torment students they think are part of the group, trying to bully and threaten them into confessing their part. The principal of the school has even allowed the formation of a group who mission is to take down DGM, claiming that DGM are the bullies who are causing problems. Again, because the ones DGM goes after are the power players, such as a gym teacher who mistreats the out of shape students.

I did enjoy this book but since we were bouncing between all 4 girls I didn’t feel that I really go to know them very well. I got glimpses of what they’re like and impressions about certain parts of their lives. They were great at working together until something terrible happens and a body turns up. Someone they had planned to target for taking advantage of a drunk student was found dead with one of their cards. Since they had no other connection besides the group it was too easy for them to start doubting each other and wondering if one of their own was doing it.

They were receiving mysterious pictures and packages about each other. We assume from the person who really did the crime. What I think is awesome is the part where it wasn’t just about HEY here’s a threat. Or Hey, here’s what i know. Each envelope contained a clue about another girl in the group. Which gave us more insight but also created so much doubt for the others. Some of them gave us motivation for why they would have joined DGM, while others gave more reason to believe they’d betray each other.

I enjoyed this one. At first I wasn’t so sure, but one they started getting the packages and everything got my mysterious with multiple treasure hunts going on at the same time I got more interested. I didn’t want to step away and try to remember who was doing what and what each thing meant. Then end was a bit of a shock to me though. I was really hoping for more info about what was going on, so that we as a reader could have an idea of who could be doing everything. Instead I felt that I was being given a suspect based on the DGM girls’ opinions of what it could be, but I didn’t really feel that. IT could have been but there were a lot of gaps too. I kind of expected a surprise reveal that Ta Da look who you didn’t expect. Except now I have to wait for the next book to find out more. The downside to reading a book that is not a standalone is that I don’t get all of the answers when I want them.

If you enjoy reading books where your characters get led on a fun chase to figure out who they can trust and if the puzzle pieces they have create a picture or more questions, then you’ll enjoy this one.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 16, 2014 in Around The World Tours

 
 
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