Sunday, October 23, 2016

{Book Review} Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published: April 15th, 2014 by Disney-Hyperion
Series: Standalone
Source: Bought
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Pages: 384

Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all - popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it's one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took "mean girl" to a whole new level, and it's clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She's getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she's falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the truth about what happened to her that night isn't just buried deep inside of Sam's memory - someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

Jennifer L. Armentrout is one of my all-time favorite authors!  I have not read a book by her that I did not highly enjoy and this book was no different.  I was curious if Armentrout could pull off a YA mystery/thriller, but she did more than just pull it off…she blew it completely away!  I really cannot wait to continue reading everything that Jennifer writes and I highly recommend everyone try at least one of her books because I guarantee that you will be hooked.

In every one of my reviews of Jennifer’s books I say the same thing about her writing.  It is fantastic, easy and absolutely addicting!  The pacing in this book was perfect!  It was full of heart pounding moments and tons of twists and turns!  The mystery of this story was captivating.  I kept changing my suspects as more information was slowly revealed.  I would say that even the most seasoned mystery readers would enjoy this book.

I LOVED the characters in this book, particularly Samantha and Carson.  I have not read many books where the main protagonist is an unreliable narrator, but I loved that aspect of this book.  It allowed readers to slowly unravel the plot and mystery along with the main character.  I wanted Samantha to keep pushing to discover what happened and I felt very connected to her character.  Carson was a swoon-worthy, protective love interest for Sam.  I loved that he stood behind Sam and always allowed her to make her own choices, but also came along to make sure that she was always safe.

The romance in this book was on point!  It was such a slow burn, angsty connection between Samantha and Carson.  Other than the mystery, the romance is what really drew me into this story.  It was so good that I think this could have stood on its own feet as a contemporary romance without they mystery (however, of course, I would not have wanted it any other way).

Overall, this is a perfect book for any readers.  It was a great, fast-paced read that had me on the edge of my seat the entire time!  I do not have one thing that I would have changed, it was perfect. 


I was stuck in a life I didn't remember, squeezed into the shell of this girl - this Samantha Joe Franco - and the more I learned about her, the more I was starting to hate her."

Also check out some of Armentrout’s other books below.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

{Book Review} Mary: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan

Mary: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan
Published: September 2, 2014 by Disney-Hyperion
Series: Bloody Marry #1
Source: Bought
Genre: YA, Horror, Mystery
Pages: 245

There is a right way and a wrong way to summon her.

Jess had done the research. Success requires precision: a dark room, a mirror, a candle, salt, and four teenage girls. Each of them--Jess, Shauna, Kitty, and Anna--must link hands, follow the rules . . . and never let go.

A thrilling fear spins around the room the first time Jess calls her name: "Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. BLOODY MARY." A ripple of terror follows when a shadowy silhouette emerges through the fog, a specter trapped behind the mirror.

Once is not enough, though--at least not for Jess. Mary is called again. And again. But when their summoning circle is broken, Bloody Mary slips through the glass with a taste for revenge on her lips. As the girls struggle to escape Mary's wrath, loyalties are questioned, friendships are torn apart, and lives are forever altered.

A haunting trail of clues leads Shauna on a desperate search to uncover the legacy of Mary Worth. What she finds will change everything, but will it be enough to stop Mary--and Jess--before it's too late?

I absolutely love horror movies.  I love feeling scared, jumpy and my heart racing…but I have not read a lot of horror books.  In fact, I have never read a really good horror book…until now.  I really enjoyed myself reading this book.  It got by heart pounding and my adrenaline flowing.  I found myself addicted to reading this story so I could find out what was going to happen next.  This book would defiantly be good to read during October or if you just want a good scare!

First off, I have to say that if you are looking for gorgeous, poetic writing with deep character development…then look somewhere else.  This book is typical horror movie fun.  It is fast-paced, with stereotypical characters that get themselves into a scary predicament and then they must solve the mystery of Bloody Mary to save themselves.  The pacing of this book was great!  It started right off with a séance to summon Mary and it just continues from there.  I never found myself bored while reading this and Mary makes many appearances throughout the book.

I would defiantly classify this book as scary.  I knew that if any book was going to scare the crap out of me, it would be one revolving around the Bloody Mary myth.  Mirrors give me the heeby jeebies and the fact that Mary could inhibit anything with a reflection pretty much made her able to be anywhere.  Also, the fact that she could climb out of mirrors reminded me of that one scene in The Ring (you know which one).  I would not recommend this to someone that is just looking to feel a little jumpy because this one is going to make you afraid to sleep at night.

My one gripe about this book would be the character development.  I find that this is really common in horror movies, but if this book would have made me care more about the friendship in this book…it would have put it over the top.  I did not feel like the characters really cared for each other, which made the deaths not mean as much.  I did like the main character, Shauna.  She was relatable, but was still pretty generic.  I wish that we could have seen some other aspects of the characters lives that did not revolve around Bloody Mary.

I did really enjoy the mystery aspect of Mary.  I liked the revelations made and was pretty shocked.  I absolutely hate stories that have the killer mindlessly killing without reason.  I am glad that there appears to be some reason why Mary kills and I am excited to pick up the next book to find out why.

Overall, I would recommend this book.  It was a quick, fun read that made it difficult to fall asleep at night.  This book would have gotten a higher rating if the character development and plot was deeper, but I took it for what it was and really enjoyed myself.  I will be picking up the next book closer to October and hope to delve deeper into the YA horror genre. 


“Mary stood to lean from the mirror, her head popping through the liquid glass as she moaned.  Her lips quivered and receded, showing her broken teeth and worm-ridden gums.
Mary blew out the candle on the vanity with a tiny puff of fetid air, plunging us into blackness.” -20%
“Mary smiled, showing us a row of yellow-gray stump teeth.  Slowly and deliberately, she popped a finger into her mouth, sucking it clean.  Her tongue ran along her knuckle and underneath her nail to capture ever last drop of my blood.” -53%

Also check out the sequel, Mary: Unleashed.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

{Book Review} The Merciless by Danielle Vega

The Merciless by Danielle Vega
Published: June 12th, 2014 by Razorbill
Series: The Merciless #1
Source: Bought
Genre: YA, Horror, Mystery
Pages: 279

Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.

Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.

Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .

I was really excited when I read the synopsis of this book and even more excited when I seen the amazing bright pink cover.  I enjoyed reading this book, but I was slightly disappointed.  I had read several reviews stating how scary this book was, but I found it to be more of a gory thriller.

I found the writing of this book to be good, but average.  The pacing was perfect, which kept me reading into the night to find out what would happen next.  I do wish that Vega did not add the romance aspect to the plot.  It did not add anything to the story and felt very disconnected to what was happening. 

I also had a problem with the characters; however, I liked the main protagonist, Sofia.  I thought Sofia made some great decisions when it came to the plot.  This is an easy story to add stupid behavior to drive the plot forward, but I am so happy that Vega did not go that route.  Sofia made calculated, smart decisions when it came to her survival.  However, I really wish that there would have been more character development.  I did not feel any connection to the other characters in this book.  Riley, Grace, Alexis and Brooklyn all fell flat.  I did not care about the characters survival, which I think impacted the suspense for me. 

I really liked the ending of this book.  However, I was disappointed because I was spoiled.  While reading this, I wanted to check to see when the second book was going to be published.  I did not read the synopsis, just the book title.  I really wish that the second book was named something that did not give such a big clue about the ending of the first book.  If you are interested in this book, do not read anything about its sequel.

Overall, I thought this book was a fun read.  It was not overly scary, but was a suspenseful, gory thriller.  I am interested in seeing what happens in the second book, but after reading the synopsis, I am a little concerned.  It seems like the sequel is going to take a different route than what I was hoping for, but I will have to wait for reviews to make my final decision.


“Don’t you think it’s funny?”  She spreads her fingers and the lock flutters out of her hand, landing on a pile of hair at her feet.  Curly strands cover the floor like tiny blond question marks.
            “What’s funny, Alexis?”  I swallow, forcing my eyes away from the hair.
            “We’re all going to die here,” she says in a raspy voice.  “We’re going to die screaming.” -58%

Also check out Vega’s other book below.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

{Book Review} Blood to Dust by L.J. Shen

Blood to Dust by L.J. Shen
Published: July 17th, 2016 L.J. Shen
Series: Standalone
Source: Bought
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Dark
Pages: 264

His name is Beat, and I should hate him.

Bound, blindfolded and bruised, I'm tied in his basement, waiting for the men who stripped me from clothes and humanity to collect his debt to them. Me.

His name is Nate and I should hate him, but I don't.

I'm not supposed to know his real name, even worse, I'm not supposed to care. He is nothing to me but means to an end. The plan is simple: break free, collect the pieces of my broken soul, kill the bastards and run away.

His name is Nathaniel Thomas Vela, and I've never seen his face, though I hear that it's beautiful.

Behind the rugged and handsome exterior, there's a quiet murderer, a killer who thinks guns are for pussies and ends people with his bare hands.

His name doesn't matter, neither does his face, but what does matter is my heart. And right now, sadly, it's his.

I was really excited for this book.  The cover is gorgeous and the synopsis makes this book sound amazing, and it was for some readers, but just not for me.  I liked the writing and the plot of this book, but my lack of connection to the characters and the romance is what really made this book fall flat for me.  I don’t really read many dark, gruesome romance books (which this one defiantly was) and I think that could have affected my rating.  I honestly had no idea what to expect going into this book, but I am glad that I opened my reading scope and tried something new.

The writing in this book was good and addictive.  However, the beginning of the book was very confusing.  In the beginning, sections were labeled as characters names, but the story was not being told in that character’s perspective.  It took me awhile to figure out that I was reading in the main female protagonist’s voice.  Once I read further, I started to get a grasp on what was happening.  I did think it was strange that the chapters started to alternate between the two main protagonist’s, but were still labeled just like the beginning of the book.

The plot of this book was what really made me want to read this and it was the thing that I enjoyed the most.  It was very original, dark, gruesome and at times, cringe worthy.  It was full of action and suspense.  This book felt like it was split into two parts, the first allowed readers to get to know the characters and the second was full of suspense and revenge.  However, there were some problems with how the characters were written that made me have a hard time connecting to them.

Prescott, the main female protagonist, lacked back story that was important to the plot and her character development.  It is written that Prescott is tough, tricky and fights to survive, but it is never explained how she knows what she does.  Some of her back story is explained, but it never made sense that she ended up being a big time drug dealer.  It almost felt like it was thrown in there to add to the revenge plot and propel the story along.  I wish that her character would have been more fleshed out, so that I could have felt the emotions the author was trying to achieve.

I did enjoy the main male protagonist, Nate, slightly more than Prescott.  The journal entries from Nate really gave his character depth and helped me to feel compassion for him.  However, I never really felt like I knew who he was.  It also somewhat felt like his character was not entirely consistent…sometimes he was hard & cold, other times he was sweet & caring. 

The romance in this book just was not my cup of tea.  I did not feel the chemistry between the characters.  There were sweet moments within their relationship, but ultimately, it never made me fully commit to their romance.  I did like all of the nicknames that Nate had for Prescott (there were a lot) because it showed his softer side.  I also loved how he kept calling her by the last name on her fake ID…hilarious!  The more mature content was a little too rough and abusive for my tastes.

I do have to say that this book is full of things that could be triggering for some readers.  {Spoilers: some triggers listed} There is a lot of murder (obviously), rape, forced abortion, loss of body parts and just overall gore. {End Spoiler}  I have to say that there were a lot of twists and turns I never seen coming.  I also really liked the ending.  It was not the big blow-out fight I was expecting, but I did like that it was bitter sweet.

Overall, I know a lot of readers did like this book, but this book just didn’t live up to my expectations.  I will most defiantly try some other books by L.J. Shen and am excited to read some other dark romances to see if it could be something that I could enjoy. 


“And in case you’ve forgotten”-I yank her by my hoodie, our noses crushing together-“you’re carrying around the heart of the girl I’m f***ing in love with.”

Check out Shen's other books below:
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