[Review] Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Killer Instinct
(The Naturals #2)
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publication: November 6th, 2014 by Quercus
Page count: 352 (Paperback)
Genre: YA – Espionage, Mystery
Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer

Obsessed with her mother’s murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance.

But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean’s incarcerated father—a man he’d do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer’s psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer’s brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?With her trademark wit, brilliant plotting, and twists that no one will see coming, Jennifer Lynn Barnes will keep readers on the edge of their seats (and looking over their shoulders) as they race through the pages of this thrilling novel.

Thank you Quercus Books for providing a review copy! This does not affect my review in any way.

As you all might have realized, I am currently in a slump so whenever I want to read, I usually get bored right after I open the book. I have a pile of unread books and another stack of books I’ve tried reading but got bored upon the first few pages. Of course, it came as a surprise as well as delight when Killer Instinct was far from that — it reminded me why I love reading in the first place.

Compared to its predecessor, Killer Instinct didn’t waste as much as time to get into the mystery. Obviously, the mystery was the highlight of the book — it was so good you wouldn’t want to go anywhere unless you’ve figured out the killer! It’s the kind that will make you so sure of your guess, yet soon enough it will completely destroy your predictions with another shocking revelation. I really liked how the characters investigate, particularly when the protagonist Cassie was doing some profiling, which is basically figuring out people’s personality and behavior based on their appearance or in this case, also from how they kill their victims.

We’re able to get to know more about the rest of the characters too. Lia showed a slightly unexpected side other than being cheerful, sneaky or a deceptive compulsive liar. We also get some hints on their past, though I still want to know more and I hope Jennifer Lynn Barnes will give us more information about that in the future installments. Especially Sloane, since I think she didn’t appear as much as the others in the gang like Lia, Michael and Dean. She’s my favorite though — I loved her quirkiness! In short, the side characters were very well-developed.

Despite enjoying this book, Killer Instinct wasn’t exactly flawless. While I thought the side characters were excellent, I couldn’t say the same about the protagonist. I didn’t think Cassie had any note-worthy or significant development. Sure she was there the whole time, but I didn’t quite notice any changes in her in the end of the book.

In addition, I didn’t like the love triangle at all. One of them was pretty open with his feelings and a bit demanding. The other one is well… He keeps shutting people out and is exactly those quiet boys with troubled past. Don’t get me wrong — I like them as a character but most definitely not as a love interest. The romance was more prominent than the first book but luckily it didn’t get in the way of the plot. But to be honest, this series is better off without any romance or predictable love triangle.

In the end, while I had my complaints, they didn’t overshadow my positive feelings toward this book. Thanks to its gripping and fascinating plot, Killer Instinct managed to become an unputdownable page-turner. Definitely not a disappointment.

[ARC Review] Two Lies and a Spy by Kat Carlton

Two Lies and a Spy
(Two Lies and a Spy #1)
Author: Kat Carlton
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BfYR
Publication Date: September 3rd, 2013
Pages: 320 (Hardcover)
Genre: YA – Espionage

Kari plunges into the world of espionage on a mission to save her parents while trying to impress the guy she’s been in love with forever.
When sixteen-year-old Kari’s dad sends her an unexpected text, she and her brother immediately go into hiding. Because when your parents are superspies and your dad declares a Code Black, it can only mean something bad. Very bad.
Kari soon discovers that her parents have been disavowed and declared traitors, and she’s determined to clear their names. Breaking into the Agency seems like a reasonable plan, especially with the help of a team that includes her longtime crush, Luke, as well as her two best friends—an expert hacker with attitude and a master martial artist—and Luke’s popular, vindictive twin sister. Oh, and a new guy, who’s as cute as he is complicated…

Review:

Kari’s parents are spies so they travel a lot, leaving her only with her clever little brother, Charlie. One day, Kari and Charlie are supposed to meet up with their parents because of an urgent thing but they don’t come at all. Kari later learns that her mother has been accused of being double agent. In order to save her mother and clear her parents’ names, Kari teams up with a bunch of people who doesn’t seem to get along in the beginning: her best friends (a hacker and a judo artist), her crush and his evil twin sister and a guy Kari hates so much. Weird team, huh?? 😉 But that what makes this book so interesting from the beginning until the end: the characters.

Kat Carlton has created a set of distinct characters. What I loved the most in this book is Kari. She’s strong and genuine with plausible flaws, burning determination and, not to forget, funny sarcasm that will make you laugh. Besides, I also enjoyed reading Kari’s friends bickering and banters. Their interactions are natural and I can’t help not to laugh whenever Evan jokes around or annoys Kari! Really, I had so much fun reading this book! 😀

There’s a love triangle here, which I didn’t expect at all to happen cause I thought this book was perfectly fine without one. Luckily the romance doesn’t take over the story although Kari gets distracted several times at urgent situations due to her attraction towards the boys. Cheesy, but it didn’t bother me that much as I was too invested in the story.

Two Lies and a Spy was such an exciting read that I was craving for more once I reached the very last page. The good news is: this is going to be a series! If you try to ignore the cheesiness and just flow with the story, Two Lies and a Spies proves to be a fully entertaining read about teenage espionage in a light tone.

Thank you Simon & Schuster and Edelweiss for sending me the galley! This doesn’t affect my review in any way. 🙂

Rating:

4 Cakes!

[Review] Investigating the Hottie by Juli Alexander

Investigating the Hottie

Author: Juli Alexander
Publisher: Createspace
Publication Date: December 27th, 2012
Pages: 200 (Paperback)
Genre: YA – Contemporary, (slight) Espionage
Peterson. Amanda Peterson. When my life suddenly turns into the Princess Diaries meets Mission Impossible, can I do in a week what I haven’t managed to do in all my fifteen years—reel in a hottie? 

Investigating the Hottie is a completed young adult romance. When Amanda spends a week with her aunt, Christie, she learns that her aunt is a spy. Christie admits that Amanda has security clearance and has already started her training. When her aunt asks her to investigate a teenage hacker, Amanda thinks that spending time with a nerd should be doable despite her social ineptitude. Unfortunately for Amanda, the hacker is a hottie. 

“Juli Alexander displays skill in this laugh-out-loud spy romp. With non-stop action and a budding romance, fans of the Gallagher Girls will love Investigating the Hottie.”
–Amanda Brice, author of Pointe of No Return

Review
Amanda Petersen gets sent to her education-geek aunt’s house for a week because her parents are getting a divorce. Nothing is as it seems and apparently, Amanda’s aunt – Christie – has been a spy all these years. When her aunt gives her a mission to investigate a hot teenage hacker, Amanda is reluctant at first because she knows that she’s shy and socially inept. But she gradually starts to enjoy this mission and the worst thing happens: she ends up having a crush on this boy!

Amanda is an okay character – but just okay. In the beginning she is a bit shallow and later she becomes a lovesick teenager. To be honest there’s nothing really special about her aside from the fact that she’s fluent in Spanish, Italian, French and German. The rest of the characters are okay too. A bit bland but probably that’s because I think this book is too short so there aren’t many rooms for development…

I found the plot to be rushed and quite unrealistic. However, one twist did catch me off guard and it was a pleasant surprise! And some scenes made me smile, some made me grinning and giggling like an idiot. Nic and Christie’s bickering is hilarious! The writing is fun enough; it has the right amount of teenage slang without being awkward or tedious. Despite all the negatives, I still liked this book because it’s very light, quite entertaining and easy to devour. I read this in around four hours and that’s really quick for me.

Investigating the Hottie was a very fluffy and light read that I couldn’t help but to enjoy! This book is more of a contemporary with a little espionage so don’t expect much of espionage when you decide to pick it up. Very girly read indeed. Definitely a great past-time if you’re looking for a break from all the heavy reads.

Huge thanks to CrushStar Mulitimedia LLC and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book!

Rating:
3 Cakes