Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Catching Up on Reviews!


I fell behind in my reviews, but I finally caught up! I included my reviews of The Last Good Day of the Year, The Devil You Know, Hello, I Love You and The Witch Hunter in this batch.

The Last Good Day of the Year by Jessica Warman

Series: standalone
Genre: YA thriller
Pages: 288
Publication Date: May 19th, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
Goodreads Description: 
A new powerful thriller from the globally-embraced author of Between.

Ten years ago, in the early hours of New Year’s Day, seven-year-old Samantha and her next door neighbor, Remy, watched as a man broke into Sam’s home and took her younger sister, Turtle, from her sleeping bag. Remy and Sam, too afraid to intervene at the time, later identified the man as Sam’s sister Gretchen’s much older ex-boyfriend, Steven, who was sent to prison for Turtle’s murder.


Now, Sam’s shattered family is returning to her childhood home in an effort to heal. As long-buried memories begin to surface, Sam wonders if she and Remy accurately registered everything they saw. The more they re-examine the events of that fateful night, the more questions they discover about what really happened to Turtle.


Master storyteller Jessica Warman keeps readers guessing in this arresting page-turner. 
Source: I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I'm not exactly sure where The Last Good Day of the Year went wrong. It was one of those books I DNFed quietly--meaning that I had the book on my currently reading shelf for so long that my interest eventually fell to zero. The book was sorta interesting, but I ended up not caring much about finding out what really happened to the sister. It's never a good sign when you lose all interest in solving a mystery, so I decided to DNF this book shortly after I realized that's what had happened.

2015 challenges this book counts towards:
105 Challenge
Netgalley and Edelweiss Review Challenge

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller
Series: standalone
Genre: YA contemporary/thriller
Pages: 256
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Goodreads Description:
Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. They invite her and friend to join them on a road trip, and it's just the risk she's been craving-the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions. 

A road trip fling turns terrifying in this contemporary story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. 
Source: I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Devil You Know started out great, but it didn’t stay that way. It grew to be disappointing.

What I did like: There was a good family focus. The book was very sex positive, which is a big plus. The romance and chemistry were really good. It was a sexy read with some build up to the mystery and suspense. The pace was quick--the book went pretty fast. Also, I liked (mostly) how it ended.

The disappointing side: I LOVE a great thriller. They’re so, well, thrilling. There’s mystery and suspense and second guessing and WTF moments (even in the quieter thrillers). A great thriller usually makes me feel a rush of excitement. The Devil You Know didn’t do that. The "thriller" part left me unimpressed. It was very predictable and I felt meh about the book after it really kicked in. Things should have been more twisty. I felt like the author tried to make it that way, but it didn’t work.

The book also felt very . . . easy. There didn't seem to be much development--more complex development, at least. That combined with a lacking thriller aspect pulled down my rating quite a bit.

Overall, The Devil You Know was a great romance, but not a great thriller. The romance made the book fun in a way, even though it still didn’t make me LOVE it. Because of the big disappointing parts, I wasn’t hugely impressed with how the book turned out.
 

2015 challenges this book counts towards:
105 Challenge
Netgalley and Edelweiss Review Challenge

Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout
Series: standalone
Genre: YA contemporary
Pages: 304
Publication Date: June 9th, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Goodreads Description: 
A teen escapes to a boarding school abroad and falls for a Korean pop star in this fun and fresh romantic novel in the vein of Anna and the French Kiss.

Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.

She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can't stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can't deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol. 

Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she'll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write? Sweet, fun, and romantic, this young adult novel explores what it means to experience first love and discover who you really are in the process. 
Source: I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Hello, I Love You was really CUTE. I really liked the story and the romance. I also loved the setting. I started watching my first Korean drama the day before I started reading this book (my first impression of the dramas: addicting!), so it was perfect timing.

Even though this book was fun, I can't ignore how poorly the cultural aspect was handled. The main character started out pretty ignorant of the culture, but never seemed to gain a deeper appreciation for the place she was in. It seems like she should have, though.The KPop--well, musical because there wasn't much KPop-- aspect was disappointing because it ended up more Americanized than anything. Both of these things rubbed me the wrong way and it didn't seem right. And when you feel like that about a book and the culture represented in it, it's tough to remember the great parts of the rest of the book. 

Overall, Hello, I Love You was super cute, but the poor way the cultural aspects were handled overshadowed that cuteness and pulled my rating down quite a bit. If you're excited for this one because you like KPop or really like the idea of a South Korean setting, I recommend passing on this one.

2015 challenges this book counts towards:
2015 Debut Authors Challenge
Netgalley and Edelweiss Review Challenge

The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker
Series: The Witch Hunter #1
Genre: YA fantasy
Pages: 368
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Goodreads Description:
The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.


Your greatest enemy isn't what you fight, but what you fear.


Elizabeth Grey is one of the king's best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she's accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that's been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth's witch hunting past--if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she's thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.
Source: I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.


I was very satisfied with The Witch Hunter. It seems to be disappointing for quite a few readers (from what I can tell from other reviews), but this book didn't turn out that way for me. I had a great time reading it.

I grew to care for the characters! Elizabeth grew a lot throughout the book, which I always love to see. Through her journey, she found out what parts to her life were deceiving and got to a point where less illusions were involved--in other words, a place where she could be happy. John was a sweet love interest! The feelings between him and Elizabeth grew like a blooming flower. It moved slowly. Fifer and John were a delight! I loved getting to know both of them. They added humor to the book. I don't know about Caleb . . . I liked his role as the thing that reminded Elizabeth of her past, but he didn't make much of an impression. I liked the other characters a lot more.

The magic was great. Healing and illusions and visions . . . it was interesting and easy to get into. I didn't get bored! (That has been my issue with a lot of paranormal books lately.) 

I really liked the action scenes. It quickened the pace of the book. I also liked the dialogue and interactions between the characters. It felt more modern than I was expecting from a YA fantasy, which felt fresh.

I liked what was going on in the book: the traveling, the developments, the twists, the surprises, the worldbuilding. The plot was decent. I didn't just love the characters and hints of romance. I was intrigued by the plotline too!

Overall, The Witch Hunter was a solid, satisfying read. It felt like it was well put together. There was not really anything that I was disappointed by or put off by. I gave this book four stars instead of five because it wasn't AMAZING. Even though there wasn't anything that I didn't like, the book didn't reach the five star level for me. The sequel could get there, though! I'm looking forward to reading the next installment in this series!

2015 challenges this book counts towards:
105 Challenge
Flights of Fantasy
2015 Debut Authors Challenge
Netgalley and Edelweiss Review Challenge

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