Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham (ARC)

Mr. Kiss and Tell
Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
Exp. Pub.: January 20, 2015

Mr. Kiss and Tell (Veronica Mars, #2)The Neptune Grand has always been the seaside town’s ritziest hotel, despite the shady dealings and high-profile scandals that seem to follow its elite guests. When a woman claims that she was brutally assaulted in one of its rooms and left for dead by a staff member, the owners know that they have a potential powder keg on their hands. They turn to Veronica to disprove—or prove—the woman's story.

The case is a complicated mix of hard facts, mysterious occurrences, and uncooperative witnesses. The hotel refuses to turn over its reservation list and the victim won’t divulge who she was meeting that night. Add in the facts that the attack happened months ago, the victim’s memory is fuzzy, and there are holes in the hotel’s surveillance system, and Veronica has a convoluted mess on her hands. As she works to fill in the missing pieces, it becomes clear that someone is lying—but who? And why?

Sassy detective Veronica Mars is back - yay! - along with the gang, plus Logan - double yay! - to find out what exactly happened to a young woman who was discovered badly beaten in a remote area. She vaguely remembers what happened, but since she deliberately took the route without cameras in the hotel, no one can be sure how she got from a random room to the field several miles away. As Veronica delves deeper and deeper into the investigation, she learns no one is who they seem, including the woman who was raped and left for dead. But even if Veronica can learn the truth, will the angry, anti-Mars, out-with-a-grudge sheriff be willing to do anything about it?

Sigh... Gotta love the sweetness between Veronica and Logan. Makes me really miss the show. Even though they both have careers the other wished they didn't, they suck it up and let it go, somehow finding a way to make it work. Keith is recovering from the attempt on his life, and determined more than ever to help Eli beat the wrap charge the sheriff's office tried to pin on him. And Mac and Wallace are still around to help their favorite gal pal. And though I loved the story, this particular book seemed to lack the Veronica Mars sass I've come to love, hence the doc in star rating. Still a good read if you're a fan of the series.

ARC provided by Vintage for honest review.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe (ARC)

The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant (The V Trilogy #2)
Joanna Wiebe
Exp. Pub.: January 20, 2015 (TOMORROW!!)

The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant (The V Trilogy, #2) Life and death, light and dark, spirit and flesh - on Wormwood Island, the lines are always blurred. For Anne Merchant, who has been thrust back into this eerily secretive world, crossing the line seems inevitable, inescapable, destined.

Now, as Ben finds himself battling for the Big V and Teddy reveals the celestial plan in which Anne is entwined, Anne must choose: embrace her darkly powerful connection to a woman known as Lilith and, in doing so, save the boy she loves...or follow a safer path that is sure to lead to Ben's destruction at the hands of dark leaders. Hoping the ends will justify the means, Anne starts down the slippery slope into the underworld, intent on exploring the dark to find the light. But as the lure of Lilith proves powerfully strong, will Anne save others - only to lose herself?
***If you haven't read The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant,
there be spoilers ahead!***

Unique, mysterious and heartbreaking. Anne Merchant proves even the darkest of souls can be selfless when it comes to saving the ones you love.

Right when Anne Merchant thought she had Villicus beat, she's cruelly ripped from the mortal world and forced to return to Wormwood Island, where the residents are anything but living. Even though Anne's the only student attending Cania Christy who is selectively different, she can still be put in her place by blackmail. Her actions have not only backfired on herself, but her father and Ben as well. Her father is now forced to do the same work as Ben's father, and Ben is now forced to attend the school and compete for the big V as well. And for those of you naughty readers who are breezing through my review before reading the first novel, the V doesn't stand for what you think it does, obviously. :)

But Anne's problems don't end with being nicknamed Murdering Merchant by her heckling classmates. Villicus has been replaced by yet another headmaster, one who has way too much interest in Anne and scheduling special mentoring sessions to occupy her time. But with Ben's time ticking away until graduation and him making no effort to win the elite prize, Anne must do the unthinkable to force him to try, and the repercussions are even worse than she anticipated. So the return of a lost friend couldn't come at a more opportune time, though her reason for being there is bittersweet.

With the arrival of a group of unusual female teachers, it doesn't take Anne long to realize who they are, and as she does what she's told and begins to look more closely at everything around her, she begins to realize there's a bigger game at play, and that Anne herself has a history that could unravel Cania Christy's very way of life on a permanent basis.

4.5 dreamcatchers. If you read the first, the second is even better. If you haven't read the first novel yet, check it out. For awhile you'll think their competition is downright silly until you learn what they're really competing for, then it all seems to make sense why they go about it the way they do. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing how the final installment of this paranormal trilogy plays out, and whether or not Anne will be able to fix the heartbreaking nightmare we're currently left with.
ARC provided by BenBella Books for honest review.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

When by Victoria Laurie (ARC)

Victoria Laurie
Exp. Pub.: January 13, 2015 (TOMORROW!!!)

WhenMaddie Fynn is a shy high school junior, cursed with an eerie intuitive ability: she sees a series of unique digits hovering above the foreheads of each person she encounters. Her earliest memories are marked by these numbers, but it takes her father’s premature death for Maddie and her family to realize that these mysterious digits are actually death dates, and just like birthdays, everyone has one.

Forced by her alcoholic mother to use her ability to make extra money, Maddie identifies the quickly approaching death date of one client's young son, but because her ability only allows her to see the when and not the how, she’s unable to offer any more insight. When the boy goes missing on that exact date, law enforcement turns to Maddie.

Soon, Maddie is entangled in a homicide investigation, and more young people disappear and are later found murdered. A suspect for the investigation, a target for the murderer, and attracting the attentions of a mysterious young admirer who may be connected to it all, Maddie's whole existence is about to be turned upside down. Can she right things before it's too late?

Maddie's never been a true fan of seeing the random numbers on everyone's foreheads. Especially once her father died on the exact same day that matched the sequence on his forehead. Now riddled with guilt, she moves forward always wondering if she could have some how stopped his death had she only understood what she was seeing. These days, she's a teenager who accepts money to tell people their death dates. When a client comes in asking about her daughter, Maddie realizes it's her son she needs to worry about, with a death date just a week away. Unfortunately, the mother takes her remark as a scam and leaves in a huff, calling Maddie a fraud. Even more unfortunate, when her son goes missing and dies by means of torture, she's quick to poke the finger at Maddie, who now becomes the number one suspect in his murder, despite a bunch of evidence pointing elsewhere.
Her lawyer uncle runs interference, but Maddie is unable to keep her death dates to herself like he asked. When she spots that her best friend's crush is going to die soon too, he becomes obsessed with finding a way to save her, which only drags him into the suspect pool as well. With her alcoholic mother falling apart even more than usual, the teachers and students turning on her at school and the FBI breathing down her neck, Maddie finds it exhausting to keep her head above water, especially once the serial killer begins taking an interest in her.
I'm not really sure if I'd go around telling strangers their death dates if I had that special ability. Would you? Neither would Maddie, but thanks to her alcoholic mother, they needed the extra money to make up for all the vodka bottles. Bad luck really, because it's responsible for spotlighting her gift to naysayers and doubters and attracting attention where she could've gone without. Gotta feel for the girl, especially when she continually tries to get her mother to beat her addiction just so she won't have to continue doing the readings.
As for the serial killer, I guess I found it a bit unrealistic that the FBI would focus so hard on as Maddie as a suspect when it was clear that the evidence was screaming someone else did it. Not to mention she was just a female teenager with good grades and not a strike of red on her permanent record. I guess I could've found their interest in her more plausible if at least some of the evidence had a legitimate chance of being left by her before testing results came in... I don't know. It seemed discrimination drove their investigation instead of the hard facts, which I don't see the FBI doing against a teenage girl. This lack of realism is the main reason I've docked it a little in the star department. Otherwise, it was a pretty good read that kept my attention, and I think most people will find it an enjoyable quick read with just enough mystery to keep you guessing.

ARC provided by Disney-Hyperion for honest review.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Vanished by Elizabeth Heiter (ARC)

Vanished (The Profiler #2)
Elizabeth Heiter
Exp. Pub.: December 30, 2014

Vanished (The Profiler #2)Sometimes the past can haunt you...

Eighteen years ago, FBI profiler Evelyn Baine's best friend, Cassie Byers, disappeared, the third in a series of unsolved abductions. Only a macabre nursery rhyme was left at the scene, a nursery rhyme that claimed Evelyn was also an intended victim. Now, after all these years of silence, another girl has gone missing in South Carolina, and the Nursery Rhyme Killer is taking credit. But is Cassie s abductor really back, or is there a copycat at work?

Sometimes the past is best forgotten...

Evelyn has waited eighteen years for a chance to investigate, but when she returns to Rose Bay, she finds a dark side to the seemingly idyllic town. As the place erupts in violence and the kidnapper strikes again, Evelyn knows this is her last chance. If she doesn't figure out what happened to Cassie eighteen years ago, it may be Evelyn s turn to vanish without a trace..

Hmm... I'm hitting quite a few novels lately that are just ho-hum, and Vanished was no exception. The story follows Evelyn Baine as she travels back to her hometown, where a girl has gone missing. Kicker is, Evelyn herself was meant to be a kidnap victim of the Nursery Rhyme Killer eighteen years ago, so she puts her stubborn foot down and all but forces her way onto the case as the FBI's profiler. But it's not just the killer who awaits her return, but the police officer who grilled her to the bone last time she was there, determined to do anything to finally close this case.
I've always loved books and movies where you have a serial kidnapper or killer wrecking havoc on a small town, but this one just didn't do it for me. Evelyn and her comrades continually went between three possible suspects with very little to show for it, and it slowed the pace of the story so much it was triumph just to make it to the next chapter. Maybe it was Evelyn's complete disregard for the rules and allowing her emotions to say screw you to the necessary steps needed to gather legitimate evidence that wouldn't be thrown out in court because of unlawful obtainment, but her attitude really rubbed me the wrong way.
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I get that she was meant to be a victim herself and that her childhood best friend was probably dead, but she seemed to be on a one-girl mission of stupidity going off doing illegal searches and putting herself in dangerous situations without backup or communication. I mean seriously? You're trying to get an abductor/killer put away. Don't mess it up. There are two little girls missing out there, so try not to make it all about you and your almost-but-never-happened kidnapping twenty years ago.

Be mad, be vigilant, just don't be stupid and blow it to the point this scumbag never sees the inside of a prison.

Sadly, by just a third of the way in, I thought the person who was responsible for the abductions was as obvious as a goldfish in a piranha tank, but for some reason, Evelyn and company were completely blind to what was right in front of them, so law enforcement comes off looking pretty stupid in this novel.  It was either the killer's doing or just dumb luck that they managed to unearth anything at all.
So, meh. Don't get me wrong, This was by no means a bad book, but it lacked the necessary mystery and suspense and actual police work to get me to read the other books in this series.
ARC provided by Mira for honest review.
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