17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma

17&gone17 & Gone 
Author: Nova Ren Suma
Publication: March 21st, 2014 by Dutton Juvenile
Page count: 353 (Hardcover)
Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller
Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And… is she next? As Lauren searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.

With complexity and richness, Nova Ren Suma serves up a beautiful, visual, fresh interpretation of what it means to be lost.

Continue reading 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma

[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.

[Review] Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Phew, it’s been ages since I posted a book review here!! Sorry guys that I’m not active as I used to be and that I ranted on a totally non-bookish thing a few days ago… I’m also sad that the large amount of school work and exams happening at the moment is preventing me from doing thing that interests me such as watching anime or reading… But the more school work I receive, the more I realize that I want to come back to this beautiful community… 

Ten
Author: Gretchen McNeil
Publication: September 17th, 2012 by Balzer + Bray
Page count: 320
Genre: YA – Mystery, Romance
Goodreads

From Possess author Gretchen McNeil comes this teen horror novel inspired by Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Perfect for fans of Christopher Pike’s Chain Letter and Lois Duncan’s I Know What You Did Last Summer, Ten will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page!
It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie are looking forward to two days of boys, booze, and fun-filled luxury. But what starts out as fun turns twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine. And things only get worse from there.
With a storm raging outside, the teens are cut off from the outside world . . . so when a mysterious killer begins picking them off one by one, there’s no escape. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on one another, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

I had big hopes prior starting this book… On top of mystery being one of my favorite genres, some of my bloggy friends have read and loved this book. How weren’t I excited?!

Sad to say that Ten turned out to be less than what I had expected. Despite being a mystery novel, I wasn’t able to take things in this book seriously. Probably due to the fact that there were teenage dramas that I never thought would actually exist in a dangerous life-and-death situation like this. There is a killer and you’re busy thinking of boys and getting jealous of each other because of that?? *shakes head*

Other than that, I also had a love/hate relationship with the protagonist, Meg. Sometimes, I felt like she was a character I could relate to — being the shy girl crushing on a more popular boy. (LOL!! Not that I have a crush on those kinds of boys! I mean that we are both alike when it comes to our personalities, we both tend to stay invisible xD) Other times, though, I felt like giving her a wake-up-slap because gosh girl, why don’t you give yourself a break and stand up for yourself?? I know as a human being we are supposed to love each other and forgive but you can’t just keep defending someone who’s clearly NOT there for you when you need her the most — someone who selfishly thinks that you are never there for her while in reality, it has always been the opposite.

Needless to say, I didn’t like Minnie’s character. Saying that I want to rip the pages out of frustration is an understatement… And you know how much I care about my books physical condition.

The side characters were no better than that… They all seemed cookie-cutter, being so hard to distinguished from one another. To many characters were introduced in the beginning of the book without sufficient details or unique personalities that could help us to tell them apart. I swear that I was 150+ pages into the book and I was still like, “Who the hell is Nathan??? Which one is Kenny?? Or Gunner??

On the bright side, the mystery aspect of the book was something that I could enjoy. It was fun reading about the clues and guessing which one was the real killer. Actually, it was the only thing that kept me reading, otherwise I would have definitely stopped long ago. I must admit that the killer identity was so shocking for me. Though the ending of the book fell kinda flat and a bit anticlimatic.

Overall, it was an okay read. Ten wasn’t a wholly terrible book, but it didn’t impress me much either. The mystery was definitely this book’s saving grace.

[ARC Review] The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Naturals
(The Naturals #1)
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: November 5th, 2013
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
Genre: YA – Crime/Mystery, Paranormal

Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.
What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides— especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own.
Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.
Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Disney Hyperion for the review copy! This doesn’t affect my opinions or review in any ways. 

 

Review

After seeing a negative review for it, I was a bit hesitant, but luckily I decided to try it with an open mind and I ended up falling in love completely with this book. The Naturals was definitely one of the best mystery books I’ve ever read!

“We saw things that other people didn’t – things that people our age should never have to see.”

The first few chapters were hard to get into. Since the main character is a Natural profiler (which basically means she can figure out what kind of person someone is by paying attention to their his/her behaviors ), there are lots of detailed descriptions and the character’s thoughts about other people’s behaviors and personalities. Although a bit tedious and rather confusing at first, when I hit page 50 something, The Naturals became much more thrilling and heart-pounding. Gathering clues through their observations, solving a tough serial murder, I couldn’t put The Naturals down once I was completely engrossed with the story! The mystery was unpredictable and the plot was sooooo addictive, full of twists! THIS is how you write an awesome mystery book!

Even if I didn’t connect with the main character, I loved reading the story from her POV. Cassie has motivation and determination to uncover her mother’s mysterious death. She didn’t come across as whiny for me, not even once. On top of the likable protagonist, The Naturals also has awesome side characters like Michael, Lia, Dean and Sloane. I loved reading their interactions – they’re different from one another but these people can work together when needed! Sloane is my favorite! Her awkwardness…I could understand that haha!

The only thing that disappointed me is the love triangle. Although the romance isn’t dominant, the love triangle just seems too out-of-the-blue for me and I personally think this book would be even EVEN better without it! Not that the romance was horrible – it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t mind-blowing either. It just sounded odd to me to have a love triangle in a mystery book. However, I do really appreciate the lack of romance in this book. It isn’t dominating the main plot and occupying the MC’s thoughts the whole time. This subtle kind of romance (except the love triangle) suits the tone of the book well.

The Naturals is the kind of book that isn’t easy to figure out and will keep you awake until you reach the last page. With the lack of romance, cool concept plus unpredictable and highly addictive plot, The Naturals was a gripping mystery book that kept me turning the pages. It’s so sad that the next book won’t be out till next year! :’(

Note: The quote is taken from eARC edition so no guarantee that it won’t be altered or removed from the finished copy.

[ARC Review] Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor

Prep School Confidential
(Prep School Confidential #1)
Author: Kara Taylor
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: July 30th, 2013
Pages: 304 (Paperback)
Genre: YA – Mystery

In this breathtaking debut that reads like Gossip Girl crossed with Twin Peaks, a Queen Bee at a blue-blooded New England prep school stumbles into a murder mystery.
Anne Dowling practically runs her exclusive academy on New York’s Upper East Side—that is, until she accidentally burns part of it down and gets sent to a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. Determined to make it back to New York, Anne couldn’t care less about making friends at the preppy Wheatley School. That is, until her roommate Isabella’s body is found in the woods behind the school.
When everyone else is oddly silent, Anne becomes determined to uncover the truth no matter how many rules she has to break to do it. With the help of Isabella’s twin brother Anthony, and a cute classmate named Brent, Anne discovers that Isabella wasn’t quite the innocent nerdy girl she pretended to be. But someone will do anything to stop Anne’s snooping in this fast-paced, unputdownable read—even if it means framing her for Isabella’s murder.

Review:
What a clever book!

Okay so, I’m currently in the mood for some YA mystery/espionage cause honestly, I’m a bit tired of dystopia lately. And I thought this book was exactly what I needed when I first read the synopsis.


In the beginning our protagonist Anne was a bit spoiled and flat. I admit I wasn’t her biggest fan at first, however, after she is determined to uncover her roommate’s death and find the real killer, we get to see her smart and gritty sides. Anne’s resolve to do justice to Isabella’s death is so strong and firm that she doesn’t stop no matter how difficult or dangerous it is. That burning passion made me root for her until the end of the book! I ended up admiring her.

Kara Taylor sure has a knack for writing mystery and since this is her debut, I’m sure I’ll be checking out her future books. I think the writing is simple, but the way she crafts the plot and creates mystery that actually kept me guessing and pondering the whole freaking time make this book a fresh read from what I’ve been reading in the last couple of months. This book made me throw tons of guesses and when I was so sure about my guesses, this book totally blew them off. I did not expect that ending, really. I already figured out who are the love interests since they are first introduced though. I think the romance is nicely-done even though it’s just typical sweet guy vs bad boy love triangle. I liked both love interests but I guess I’m leaning to Anthony for now.

Overall, this book is a really intriguing and captivating read. With its clever mystery, well-constructed plot, strong-willed main character and a bit of humor, Prep School Confidential is such a page-turner that kept me curious until the very last page.

Thank you St. Martin’s Griffin and Netgalley for sending me the galley! This doesn’t affect my opinion at all 🙂
Rating:
4 Cakes!