Book Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog#1) by Anne Blankman

17668473Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog#1) by Anne Blankman

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Genre: Historical Fiction and Young Adult

Release Date: April 22, 2014

Pages: 401 (Hardcover)

good good

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Balzer + Bray for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

It’s extremely important for everyone to understand our pasts so that we can hopefully never repeat them again or at least to the same extent. Prisoner of Night and Fog is a great novel in the sense that it’s a retelling of most of World War two and the build-up towards it. This series is pretty much going to be the WW2 part of any history class (hopefully) and I actually enjoyed it a lot. Not only did I like the fictional, but the non fictional ones as well. I’ve never been a fan of historical fiction and much less of anything non fiction yet I couldn’t put this book down.

Although it takes a lot of work working with non fictional characters, Blankman does a great job. However,  in the beginning with the Jew that her brother wanted to beat up. The whole incident felt really forced to get the story going. Another thing that felt forced is the second half of the novel where the romance is so clichéd and contrived that I wanted to puke. Gretchen went from this badass girl who was uncertain about her family and willing to get answers to this girl who needed her ‘man’ almost all the time. The mystery aspect of the novel is actually really boring, there’s a lot of planning and searching but not enough of anything else until the end of the story.

Prisoner of Night and Fog is still an excellent book. The relationship between Gretchen and Hitler is very well done and shows the decline of their trust in one another. Moreover, Blankman did a lot of research for the story and it really shows. Small details that most people overlook play big roles in the not only this story but the actual war. Despite disliking Gretchen during the last quarter of the story, I really liked her. She was strong and brave, using her clever wit to get past the people who stand in her way.

Overall, I do recommend this book to everyone. It’s historical fiction yes, but it’s also about one of the worst cases of genocide the world has ever seen. It’s not all that gory but it’s intense and I have a lot of faith in this author to get really in-depth with the whole series.

3.5 Interesting Clouds
3.5 Interesting Clouds

 

For quotes from this book, click here.

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Book Review: The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer

18635076The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Genre: Mystery and Young Adult

Release Date: May 13, 2014

Pages: 304 (Paperback)

good good

Growing up in a house of female morticians, Lily Graves knows all about buried secrets. She knows that perfect senior-class president Erin Donohue isn’t what she seems. She knows why Erin’s ex-boyfriend, hot football player Matt Houser, broke up with her. And she also knows that, even though she says she and Matt are just friends, there is something brewing between them—something Erin definitely did not like.

But secrets, even ones that are long-buried, have a way of returning to haunt their keeper.

So when Erin is found dead the day after attacking Lily in a jealous rage, Lily’s and Matt’s safe little lives, and the lives of everyone in their town of Potsdam, begin to unravel. And their relationship—which grew from innocent after-school tutoring sessions to late-night clandestine rendezvous—makes them both suspects.

As her world crumbles around her, Lily must figure out the difference between truth and deception, genuine love and a web of lies. And she must do it quickly, before the killer claims another victim.

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Balzer + Bray for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review. opinion The worst kinds of books are the ones that start out promising and then just decide not to deliver anything good in the end. The Secrets of Lily Graves is that kind of book. It starts out pretty good, there’s a creepy girl who likes to hang out in the cemetery and wear black all day with a dark sense of humour. The author could have made this novel fucking golden yet decided that she wanted an idiot main character who does stupid things because she’s in love with a stupid boy. All in all, don’t read this because you will be let down depending on how much you enjoy different main characters.

My first problem with this book is when Erin is dead. Not much details are told about it yet Lily somehow knows how she died.  Lily also doesn’t even suspect that Matt could be the killer, not even for s second because she knows him for a few months  and that he never would do anything like that. This leads to my next problem with the novel-Lily. For someone so smart they’re awfully stupid. I don’t want to give anything away if you decide you may want to check this out but for fuck’s sake, why would you stand there with incriminating evidence in your hands and then try to walk away with it in plain fucking sight when someone sees you? Do you not know how people work? Do you need a brain to understand that you run and then ask questions later before someone sees you? Stupid. I also had a problem with the romance because it feels extremely contrived and fake. The feelings Matt have for Lily feels too forced to be real and it didn’t help that he says, “I’m so sorry. I won’t let anything happen to you. I’ll explain everything. I really, really like you,” everything second her gets (which is every second he’s in the story). Adding onto that, the pacing of the novel is slow and everything is boring, even when the killer is caught, things are resolved fairly quickly. The ending is actually kind of predictable and so is the killer if you actually think about it.

Although I didn’t like this book as a whole, I did enjoy the sarcasm. It’s funny, dark, and refreshing. Moreover, I liked that some things happen in the cemetery because it’s quite a different scene and gives this book a bit of originality.

The Secrets of Lily Graves isn’t the best mystery book. It’s more about the forced romance than anything. Lily felt forced to solve the murder to me than actually doing it for a good reason. The police didn’t even suspect her until she kept digging and she just met Matt, who cares about him. Overall, I don’t recommend reading this unless you’re in the mood for some good humour and nothing else.

1.5 Odd Clouds
1.5 Odd Clouds

Book Review: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

18053148Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: March 18, 2014

Pages: 336 (Hardcover)

good good

What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Balzer + Bray for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

Honestly, I’m not sure about this one. It’s not bad but it’s certainty not good. The character got on my nerves but I felt bad for them at least once. I hated most things but liked a few. I felt very conflicted and it’s safe to say that Side Effects May Vary could have been well executed and a fun read. The idea of getting a second chance at life hasn’t been done before in YA novels or at least not done enough.

My biggest problem with Side Effects May Vary are the main characters and just….Annoying they both are. Alice is a bitch who treats the only person who loves her like crap. I understand that she’s scared and all but come on, at least be a woman about it and tell him that you’re scared. Harvey albeit sweeter than sweet is such a pushover. Love can make people do some really weird things yet Harvey allowed Alice to get away with everything. It was extremely annoying to read about and I could barely tolerate the romance of it all.

Have you ever wanted a second chance to fix all the shit that you messed up? I know I do and Alice actually gets the chance to. I loved reading Julie Murphy’s writing style, although at times I felt bored, for the most part it’s lovely and I didn’t mind it.

However, Julie Murphy has a few things to learn, especially about writing from a male’s perspective because many times, I didn’t believe that Harvey’s actually a guy. I don’t know if I would recommend this to anyone. On one hand, I loved the idea of this book. On the other, I hated the characters and the romance for how one-sided it is.

2 Clouds
2 Clouds

Book Review: Avalon (Avalon#1) by Mindee Arnett

17149396Avalon (Avalon#1) by Mindee Arnett

Publisher: Balzer & Bray

Genre: Science Fiction and Young Adult

Release Date: January 21, 2014

Pages: 432 (Hardcover)

good good

Of the various star systems that make up the Confederation, most lie thousands of light-years from First Earth-and out here, no one is free. The agencies that govern the Confederation are as corrupt as the crime bosses who patrol it, and power is held by anyone with enough greed and ruthlessness to claim it. That power is derived from one thing: metatech, the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light.

Jeth Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries have survived in this world by stealing unsecured metatech, and they’re damn good at it. Jeth doesn’t care about the politics or the law; all he cares about is earning enough money to buy back his parents’ ship, Avalon, from his crime-boss employer and getting himself and his sister, Lizzie, the heck out of Dodge. But when Jeth finds himself in possession of information that both the crime bosses and the government are willing to kill for, he is going to have to ask himself how far he’ll go to get the freedom he’s wanted for so long.

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Balzer & Bray for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

I have always had a hard time with sci-fi novels, and this one is no different. The book starts off beautifully and kept my attention, but during the middle, the whole story falters and becomes very boring. This also happens for most, if not all of the characters. Their sneaky ways come to a screeching halt, and they are so bland that I would’ve rather eat original oatmeal. And I hate original oatmeal.

The Malleus Shades are known as one of the best thieves in the galaxy, but all I pictured while reading about them was this:

The Malleus Shades fall again and again fall for traps that logical people (me! For crying out loud I am so oblivious, but I saw all of those traps from miles away!) would easily spot. The fact that they’re teenagers shouldn’t be an excuse since they’ve been doing this shit for years. Their leader, Jeth, reminds me of this guy:

They have some many things in common. 1. They both have an intense, menacing aura around them. 2. They both like someone they shouldn’t. 3. THEY NEVER TALK. THEY SAY A FEW FUCKING LINES AND THEN THAT’S FUCKING IT. UGH. The dialogue is a bit tough since Jeth NEVER talks and most things are just in his head. There are certain parts in the novel where there are long information-dumps (near the end, don’t worry) that, albeit better done than other books, is still annoying.

But, I have to give Mindee Arnett props for the amazing world building. The planets that the crew visit are described in lovely detail that left just the right amount to readers to imagine. I have a hard time connecting with sci-fi books and even worse time when they’re written in the third person yet Arnett is talented. She writes beautifully in both first and third person, and I had almost no problems with the writing.

All in all, Avalon is a good book. The romance doesn’t take over the story (though it is a bit annoying), and there’s a nice twist in the book that had me eagerly flipping the pages. I recommend this book to anyone who loves sci-fi stories that’s a bit different and don’t mind bland characters. I can’t wait to read the next book mostly because of Cora and hopefully the characters get better. Especially Jeth because that boy says like, two lines per chapter. I’m not even kidding.

2.5 Mess Up Clouds
2.5 Mess Up Clouds

 

For quotes from this book, click here.

Book Review: A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger

16667645

A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger

Publisher: Balzer & Bray

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: June 18, 2013

Pages: 189 (Hardcover)

good good

Mike Welles had everything under control. But that was before. Now things are rough at home, and they’re getting confusing at school. He’s losing his sense of direction, and he feels like he’s a mess.

Then there’s a voice in his head. A friend, who’s trying to help him get control again. More than that—the voice can guide him to become faster and stronger than he was before, to rid his life of everything that’s holding him back. To figure out who he is again. If only Mike will listen.

opinion

I think what made this book so interesting is that it’s told from the perspective of the illness and how it matures and takes more and more of Mike everyday. It’s different and creative, making me feel like I was the illness itself. Unfortunately this novel is barely 200 pages and because of this, it moves far too fast. Eating disorders are things that I know well and I was expecting a heart wrenching, gripping, fast-paced story about the ups and downs of it. Instead I just felt like I got a longer version of an anorexia pamphlet.

The characters feel very flimsy and childish, going from best friends to complete enemies in only a matter of days. It’s not very realistic. I was also hoping for a more sadistic protagonist who, not only told Mike what to do but told him horrible things about everyone around him. The protagonist albeit creepy, isn’t creepy enough for me. I was hoping for a lot more from this book that I just didn’t receive.

Something that I really liked is the writing style because it’s told from the illness and it gets stronger and stronger and kind of knows everything there is to know about Mike Wells. Chapters are extremely short which also helped make it a very short read.

A Trick of the Light is overall, just like a brochure on anorexia and how it progresses. Even though it’s told in a unique light and way, it’s far too short to leave any lasting feelings and to really connect with it. Still, I recommend this to anyone who wants to refresh their mind on this disorder or just enjoy these types of novels in general.

2.5 Mess Up Clouds
2.5 Mess Up Clouds

 

For quotes from this book, click here.