Mar
25

Title: Grift
Author: Jason Mosberg
Published: March, 2015 by Smashwords
Thanks: Jason Mosberg
Words: 74,930 (ebook)
My Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: Smashwords

Why would a 17-year-old girl pretend to be a high class escort?

Piper is a con artist whose canvas is the city of Las Vegas. She rolls with a crew of young grifters including a card-counting genius, a tourist-hustling pool shark, and a pocket-picking magician. Together, this crew of teenage outlaws live with their mentor Max in the penthouse of a hotel casino. They work hard and play harder. But unlike the others, Piper must balance her hyper-real Vegas fantasy with the reality of raising her 14-year-old half-sister Sophie. Disaster strikes when the Las Vegas mafia kidnaps Sophie and demands a multimillion-dollar ransom. With only five days to piece together the money, the crew races the clock to save her.

Final Thoughts:
This was such a refreshing read. What starts out as a simple kidnap scenario escalates into a gripping plot of greed, betrayal and Las Vegas. And the protagonist is seventeen!—which I thought was fantastic. Sure, there are plenty of adult themes that require an older character for it to be somewhat inoffensive, but to be perfectly honest I was just so glad to have a YA caper/noir where the leads weren’t filthy rich, irresponsible early-to-mid teens pretending to be responsible and mature twenty-somethings.

Mar
08

Title: Here’s Looking At You
Author: Mhairi McFarlane
Published: December, 2013 by AVON
Pages: 432
My Rating: ★★★★★ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

What if the last person you wanted to see was the person you needed?

Here’s Looking At You is, in essence, an ugly duckling tale. Our heroine Anna returns to school after fifteen years for a reunion. School doesn’t hold happy memories for her, as being a roly poly Italian (known as the Italian Galleon), and always armed with a Tupperware full of pungent Mediterranean food, she was bullied incessantly throughout her years there.

Now in her 30s, Anna wants to put the past behind her once and for all and face up to the bullies who made her life hell. But she is much-changed from the girl she once was – all curves and because I’m worth it hair – and no one recognizes her when she arrives. Losing her cool, she backs out on her plan for revenge and slinks off, hoping never to be reminded of her years at school again.

But fate gets in the way, and after the reunion her path keeps crossing with James – major hunk and Anna’s major crush back at school. But alas, as a crony to the bullies, Anna to this day believes that his beautiful exterior hides an ugly interior. As they continue to cross paths a love/hate relationship ensues until eventually something shifts, and they both start to discover what the person underneath is really like…

Full of laugh out loud humor, Here’s Looking At You is a novel about facing your demons and being happy with who you really are.

Final Thoughts:
After struggling to read the first hundred pages of an angsty teen-sci-fi over the course of a month, I eventually gave in and picked this up instead. I instantly cracked up, the first chapters leaving bursting out fits of laughter earning me strange looks from my co-workers. Worth it, though. It may be a stray from my usual YA outings, but I by no means found it hard to connect with the characters. Anna was easily relatable, and James, by including his perspectives, it added that extra depth to his persona, shaping him into something more than his teen self.

Feb
20

Title: The Duff
Author: Kody Keplinger
Published: September, 2010 by Little Brown
Pages: 280
My Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Final Thoughts:
I went into this book definitely not expecting what I found. These teens go at it so much. I’m not a prude, but damn, my eyes were bulging. Still, I got over that. I even started reading it aloud to see if I could shock Joey. With such a short page count, it was easy to fly through, and actually kind of addictive. It was told in such an honest way with Bianca’s first person narrative throwing digs at herself and those around her. However, I can’t say that I really liked the characters, in fact, Wesley, the lover interest (I’m pretty sure ‘lover’ is the right word in this instance), was beyond annoying. But then again, this book did come out back during the period when everyone swooned over douchey guys. So, while it wasn’t an instant favourite of mine, by rewinding my brain five years, I did enjoy it for what it was.

Feb
13

Title: Sacrifice (Elemental #5)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Published: September, 2014 by Kensington
Pages: 324
My Rating: ★★★★★ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

One misstep and they lose it all. For the last time.

Michael Merrick understands pressure. He’s the only parent his three brothers have had for years. His power to control Earth could kill someone if he miscalculates. Now an Elemental Guide has it in for his family, and he’s all that stands in the way.

His girlfriend, Hannah, understands pressure too. She’s got a child of her own, and a job as a firefighter that could put her life in danger at any moment.

But there are people who have had enough of Michael’s defiance, his family’s ‘bad luck’. Before he knows it, Michael’s enemies have turned into the Merricks’ enemies, and they’re armed for war.

They’re not interested in surrender. But Michael isn’t the white flag type anyway. Everything is set for the final showdown.

Four elements, one family. Will they hold together, or be torn apart?

Final Thoughts:
This is the book I’ve been waiting for. It’s no secret that Michael’s been my favourite of the Merrick brothers throughout the series, so coming into his book I was ready for it to hook me, and it did. Actually, I think I’ve been hooked since Spirit, but with this being the final instalment, it just brought so much more to the table. Whereas the books teetered around their troubles with the Guides—assassins sent to kill them—tending to focus more on the romantic struggles of the main couple each book, Sacrifice slammed right into an angsty mess of constant danger as Michael tried to keep everyone he cared about alive.

Jan
22

Title: Secret (Elemental #4)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Published: January, 2014 by Kensington
Pages: 328
My Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Nick Merrick is stretched to breaking point. He’s trying to keep his grades sky-high or he won’t get in to college. He’s trying to keep his brother’s business afloat or the Merricks will be out on the street. He’s trying to keep the secret of where he’s going in the evenings from his twin brother Gabriel – or he fears he’ll lose his family. And he’s trying to keep his mind off the hot, self-assured dancer who is his ‘girlfriend’s’ partner.

And then Quinn takes to hanging around his sworn enemy, and an Elemental Guide is counting the hours until he can try again to kill the Merrick brothers. Storms are brewing. On all sides.

Final Thoughts:
This series has me hooked. I’m dreading finishing it off, but I can’t wait to start Sacrifice. There’s just something about these characters and the way they interact that gets you so invested. I know I bitched about book two not advancing the plot, but I’ve changed my tune. When I realised the Elemental stuff wasn’t making much of an appearance again this time, I had already become engrossed in the characters that I didn’t care. So much happens with them in these three hundred or so pages that I can see how a paranormal plot heavy book could have torn away from all of the great revelations and personal growth that came through in this book.

Jan
17

Title: Spirit (Elemental #3)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Published: May, 2013 by Kensington
Pages: 301
My Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

With power comes enemies. Lots of them.

Hunter Garrity just wants to be left alone. He’s learned the hard way that his unusual abilities come at a price. And he can’t seem to afford any allies.

He’s up to his neck in hostiles. His grandfather, spoiling for a fight. The Merrick brothers, who think he ratted them out. Calla, the scheming psycho who wants to use him as bait.

Then there’s Kate Sullivan, the new girl at school. She’s not hostile. She’s bold. Funny. Hot. But she’s got an agenda, too.

With supposedly secret powers rippling to the surface everywhere around him, Hunter knows something ugly is about to go down. But finding out what means he’ll have to find someone he can trust…

Final Thoughts:
Any doubts I had about this series are gone. Hunter hooked me right back in, and he wasn’t even one of the brothers. His perspective wasn’t one that I expected to enjoy, him being one of the characters I didn’t particularly enjoy in Spark. I guess I just didn’t know him well enough. He was easily more likeable than Gabriel, leading me to fly through this book picking it up at every chance I got. I think a main drawcard was the addition of Kate. She wasn’t the standard, plain-Jane love interest. She was an assassin. When I read that, I knew this book was going to be different.

Jan
12

Title: The Infinite Sea (The Fifth Wave #2)
Author: Rick Yancey
Published: September, 2014 by Penguin Books
Pages: 300
My Rating: ★★★★½ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Cassie Sullivan and her companions lived through the Other’s four waves of destruction. Now, with the human race nearly exterminated and the 5th Wave rolling across the landscape, they face a choice: brace for winter and hope for Evan Walker’s return, or set out in search of other survivors before the enemy closes in. Because the next attack is more than possible – it’s inevitable.

No one can anticipate the depths to which the Others will sink – nor the heights to which humanity will rise . . .

Final Thoughts:
It’s safe for me to say this was one of the best, most intense books I read last year. I feel bad for not writing this review sooner, but I read it while on holiday and by the time I got back to my laptop I was halfway through The Bell Jar, and writing the review just disappeared completely from my silly brain’s agenda. Brett has told me that all YA trilogies have the essential “Empire Strikes Back” midpoint with tonnes of plot-twists to keep the reader enthralled and get them geared up for the finale. The Infinite Sea is such a fantastic sequel to The 5th Wave because it takes this E.S.B. formula and kicks you in the bloody balls with it. Bullseye!