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Killer Instinct – Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Killer Instinct cover Killer Instinct
By: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Naturals – Book 2
Available Nov 2014

Description:
Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother’s murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance.

But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean’s incarcerated father—a man he’d do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer’s psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer’s brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?

This Blonde’s Review:
Cassie is a natural profiler and able to get into the mind of killers. She still struggles after what happened with her last run-in with a serial killer but she doesn’t want it the program to end. When another murder victim shows up looking like Dean’s father’s victims, even though he’s still in prison, they know that something is up.

This one was great. I can generally figure out the whodunit pretty quickly but this one threw a few surprises at me that weren’t expected but also weren’t so far off base as to make the story too unlikely for me. And the way this book gave us more of the history on the mysterious Dean was great too. It gave us so much more on both of the guys in Cassie’s life since getting to know Dean gave us a way to know to know all of the characters and helped us love them even more.

I couldn’t help but love this one and the way it all turned out. I would love to find out that there is another book since I’d love to get to know more about the others on the team but I don’t think that there is with the way it ended.

If you enjoyed the first book in this series you will not be disappointed with this one.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2014 in Around The World Tours, Book Review

 

Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless – Liz Czukas

Top Ten Clues You're Clueless cover Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless
By: Liz Czukas
Available Dec 2014

Description:
Top Five Things That Are Ruining Chloe’s Day

5) Working the 6:30 a.m. shift at GoodFoods Market

4) Crashing a cart into a customer’s car right in front of her snarky coworker Sammi

3) Trying to rock the “drowned rat” look after being caught in a snowstorm

2) Making zero progress with her crush, Tyson (see #3)

1) Being accused—along with her fellow teenage employees—of stealing upwards of $10,000

Chloe would rather be anywhere than locked in work jail (aka the break room) with five of her coworkers . . . even if one of them is Tyson. But if they can band together to clear their names, what looks like a total disaster might just make Chloe’s list of Top Ten Best Moments.

This Blonde’s Review:
Chloe is a list maker. She used to share lists with a friend, but that was before she moved and the friend stopped talking to her. Now she makes lists for her own comfort and peace of mind. It’s not like there is anyone else to really notice anyway since she doesn’t exactly have any friends where she lives. But maybe she can use her lists to help her get to know her coworkers. Just a few things here or there to get her started on the right foot. Or keep her from starting on the wrong foot.

I really enjoyed Chloe. She is awkward, a good girl at heart, and genuine. She may not tell everyone at work about her diabetes but she wants to do the right thing. When money turns up missing she doesn’t shrug her shoulders, she can’t help but try to solve the mystery. Even before the teenage employees are accused of being the culprits she felt compelled to try to figure it out.

When the teens are locked in the GoodFoods Market together waiting for police to arrive, essentially unsupervised, of course they are going to get up to some mischief, but mostly they talk. There is bickering but what I loved most was when it got serious. Hearing them discuss some of the bigger things and comparing their lives in ways that most kids don’t talk about was really great. The differences that kept them apart at the beginning of the book made the discussion broad and worth having.

The impressions they have of each other will change throughout the night. Some of them will become friends. While they will learn that some people aren’t who they started the night thinking they were.

If reading about a group of teens stuck in a store mostly unsupervised, accused of something they all claim not to have done sounds interesting to you then you should give this book a try.

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2014 in Around The World Tours, Book Review

 

Chasing Power – Sarah Beth Durst

Chasing Power cover Chasing Power
By: Sarah Beth Durst
Available Oct 2014

Description:
Lies, secrets, and magic — three things that define Kayla’s life.

Sixteen-year-old Kayla plans to spend her summer hanging out on the beach in Santa Barbara and stealing whatever she wants, whenever she wants it. Born with the ability to move things with her mind — things like credit cards, diamond rings, and buttons on cash registers — she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up a safety net, enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again. Well, that, and the thrill of using her secret talents.

But her summer plans change when she’s caught stealing by a boy named Daniel — a boy who needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Daniel has a talent of his own. He can teleport, appearing anywhere in the world in an instant, but he lies as easily as he travels. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel’s kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family — and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive… or survive.

This Blonde’s Review:
Kayla isn’t your typical teenager. She’s a thief, she lies to her mother, and she can move things with her mind. Her mother knows about the last part, but she doesn’t know about the first. Kayla needs to have an escape plan at all times, and that escape plan includes having some cash put to the side in case of emergency.

When a guy named Daniel shows up that she doesn’t know but claims to know her name and what she can do. Rather than asking for help Daniel jumps straight to blackmail, trying to force her to do what he wants. Kayla isn’t interested in that and doesn’t trust him. But when he teleports her from one place to another she knows that he doesn’t have the same power she does but Daniel isn’t exactly your normal teenage kid either.

Tere was quite a bit left unanswered for me that I would have wanted to know more about. I didn’t get to see what happens when people come back over here to Canada. There was no real explanation for why Kayla was told what she was for most of her life (GAH spoilers means I can’t tell you!!) if it isn’t true. But there as people who do that to each other all the kind. it is ridiculous.

Overall I did enjoy the book. If you like the idea of a girl who can move things with her mind and a guy who can teleport teaming up then you’ll want to read this one.

 
 

Not in the Script – Amy Finnegan

Not in the Script cover Not in the Script
By: Amy Finnegan
If Only… – Book 3
Available Oct 2014

Description:
Millions of people witnessed Emma Taylor’s first kiss—a kiss that needed twelve takes and four camera angles to get right. After spending nearly all of her teen years performing on cue, Emma wonders if any part of her life is real anymore . . . particularly her relationships.

Jake Elliott’s face is on magazine ads around the world, but his lucrative modeling deals were a poor substitute for what he had to leave behind. Now acting is offering Jake everything he wants: close proximity to home; an opportunity to finally start school; and plenty of time with the smart and irresistible Emma Taylor . . . if she would just give him a chance.

When Jake takes Emma behind the scenes of his real life, she begins to see how genuine he is, but on-set relationships always end badly. Don’t they? Toss in Hollywood’s most notorious heartthrob and a resident diva who may or may not be as evil as she seems, and the production of Coyote Hills heats up in unexpected—and romantic—ways.

This Blonde’s Review:
Emma is the kind of famous person we want to believe in. She’s famous but still manages to be down to earth. She isn’t really interested in all of the crazy fame and gossip side of things. She just wants to act because she loves it. Her best friend still seems to get caught up in people’s images and Emma does her best to steer her away from the impossible dreams

When Emma gets a role on a new show playing a part that is unlike her real personality she knows that it could be difficult and fun. What she doesn’t expect is the complications that can happen when her costars are the hot guy she had a crush on for years before she became a star and the hot guy from magazines that her best friend drools over and tapes to her wall.

Emma tries so hard to navigate what is right for her without upsetting the people who matter to her, like her best friend and her mother. Obviously you can’t make everyone happy at the same time, especially when those people are more interested in leading your life for you than letting you figure out what works for you.

Jake’s character was fantastic. He was a good guy who wanted to take care of his family, who wanted more for his life and was interseted in sales more than acting or modeling. He wants his brain to count for something.

Of course it wouldn’t be worth writing about if it all didn’t almost fall apart on Emma. Baggage from a past relationship, the old crush somehow becoming public knowledge despite being over it, her costars’ bickering, and knowing that her best friend wants Jake for his looks are all enough to make Emma think that the best thing would be to stay single nad not get involved. Of course that is easier said than done.

I really enjoyed this. If you like books about girls who fall for the nice guy even when they do their best not to, then screw it all up, then you’ll enjoy this one. Because Emma does so much to keep this romance from happening, both on purpose and through no fault of her own, that you know it’ll take a strong and awesome guy to stick around through all of that.

 
 

Mayday – Jonathan Friesen

Mayday cover Mayday
By: Jonathan Friesen
Available Now

Description:
Why’d I do it? I suppose it’s the only question that really matters.

Seventeen-year-old Crow will stop at nothing to protect her younger sister—even if it costs her her own life. But then she’s given a chance to come back and make things right. There are a few catches, though. First, she won’t come back as herself. And before she can set things straight, she’ll have to figure out what’s what—and things aren’t exactly as clear-cut as she remembered.

Powerful and hard-hitting, this is a compelling story about what it means to live your life—for your own sake—from an award-winning author.

This Blonde’s Review:
Sometimes when you start a book you don’t expect to connect with it. Then you realize that maybe you can understand her more than you expected to. Crow will do anything to protect her sister. She will fight any battle against any opponent. We meet her when she is in a coma and as good as dead, we don’t know the details, only that she is dying. Until she is given a chance to go back and make some changes. She can go back in a loaner body to any time to make some changes to her own life. She is supposed to focus on herself, so that her soul won’t turn out to be the damaged thing that they see when she’s in her coma.

Except Crow’s priority has always been her sister. So she continues to make choices based on saving her. But the changes you make can ripple, some of those changes are positive and some of them are not. The author didn’t make a big point of most of the changes, they were things that you noticed as you read but they were clearly there. Because as she made these changes some of them seemed almost like they were things that changed in her memory as well. It was really interesting the way it all tied together.

As someone who was once willing to do whatever I needed to protect someone I cared about I can definitely relate to the idea of Crow. I’m not sure that I was ever capable of going to the lengths she did. I was more likely to stand up and demand someone else believe and help and protect us. But I can definitely see where she was coming from.

One of the things I liked best is something I can’t really share without giving more spoilers than I care to. Adding one new person to the equation can change things so much. It can make the things that happen into something bigger and scarier, which seems worse. Yet the bigger thing may be something that makes someone else notice and do something about it. Or it may make things happen sooner, when you aren’t expecting it, which would give less time for other plans. It is all balanced in life so that in theory you can’t change things too much, but if you do things just right, in theory you could change everything.

If a book about someone who is willing to sacrifice anything for someone she loves, even though she can’t seem to love herself enough to try to save herself, sounds like an interesting book to you then I think you’ll enjoy this one. It was not the usual kind of thing and there were a few parts that I’d have to say were a little weird, had me reading it again to be sure I understood what was going on, but it was worth the read.

 
 

Blind Spot for Boys – Justina Chen

Blind Spot for Boys cover Blind Spot for Boys
By: Justina Chen
Available Now

Description:
Shana has always had a blind spot for boys. Can she trust the one who’s right in front of her?

Sixteen-year-old Shana Wilde is officially on a Boy Moratorium. After a devastating breakup, she decides it’s time to end the plague of Mr. Wrong, Wrong, and More Wrong.

Enter Quattro, the undeniably cute lacrosse player who slams into Shana one morning in Seattle. Sparks don’t just fly; they ignite. And so does Shana’s interest. Right as she’s about to rethink her ban on boys, she receives crushing news: Her dad is going blind. Quattro is quickly forgotten, and Shana and her parents vow to make the most of the time her father has left to see. So they travel to Machu Picchu, and as they begin their trek, they run into none other than Quattro himself. But even as the trip unites them, Quattro pulls away mysteriously… Love and loss, humor and heartbreak collide in this new novel from acclaimed author Justina Chen.

This Blonde’s Review:
Shana is one of those girls who can get all the guys with ease. She’s beautiful, confident, and just does her thing. So it’s easy for her to use them and lose them. Until the one where it doesn’t go that way. Her friends don’t know about that one, the one who haunts her. When she meets Quattro she never expects it to mean anything, he’s a random guy but he’s interesting. But he’s quickly forgotten when she gets life-changing news about her father losing his eyesight.

They family obviously struggles with the news but rather than hunkering down they decide to take a trek to Machu Picchu. Those kinds of trips are bound to teach you something about the people you’re with and who you really are. When Quattro shows up on the trip as part of another tour she doesn’t know what to think except that it is the worst timing. Especially since he blows so hot and cold himself.

The women in this book were really the ones I loved the most. The things that they taught Shana, the things that they helped her to see and learn for herself, all of it was so great. It also reminded me about the things I had learned and the ways I learned them. That made this book into something I could connect to and feel something for perhaps more than some.

I actually ended up pulling over and finishing this book in a parking lot a few hours from home because I didn’t want to wait until I got home to finish it. And seeing the way things were with her family was enough to make me want to cry. I wanted to cry the sad tears when they struggled and the happy tears when they were able to rebound and be strong for each other.

My favorite person in the book is the one everyone would have counted out, the one who was able to surprise them all with the spirit to bare it all for everyone. And she was so great. I don’t think you can read this book and not love several of the characters with their determination, personalities, and flaws.

Shana and Quattra are both damaged people who are hoping to heal. This trip can help them start on the path to get there, but they aren’t there yet. The only question is what will it take to get them to see that they’re clearly going to be able to help each other and what kind of relationship or friendship they need to have.

I really enjoyed this one. And despite how exhausting it all sounded and the danger presented it made the idea of that kind of trek sound appealing to me. Not because I think it would be easy, but because it made me think about the way I’m sure people really can discover things about themselves when they reach for something outside of their usual comfort zone the way these characters all did.

If you enjoy reading about characters who have their world shaken up by life and then by relationships, who get to figure out how to stand again, then you’ll enjoy this book. Because despite everything else that’s what this book felt like it was about to me, two people learning to stand again when life knocked them off their feet.

 
 

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.

 
 
 
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