Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

Prisoner of Night and Fog
In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

Title: Prisoner of Night and Fog
Author: Anne Blankman
Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog #1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 22nd 2014

Rating: 3 stars


To be honest, I'm not really a historical fiction reader. Although I wish it would be otherwise, historical books just aren't my thing. For some reason, they just never really grab me. (Which sucks, since just about every book I have to read for school is historical fiction.) I only picked up Prisoner of Night and Fog because of 1) that cover, and 2) that synopsis. I knew that I was picking up something historical, but I mean, come on. The devoted niece of Hitler who gets into a relationship with a Jew and starts questioning her uncle's ways? Yes please. Although ultimately I think this book executed everything well, Prisoner of Night and Fog failed to grab me and suck me in.

First I have to compliment Blankman's writing. It's not overly flowery, but it managed to be pretty while also giving the book a very sober feel. Her writing style fits the story perfectly; it feels gray but never dull, sober and warlike. Although there are no exquisite paragraphs questioning life or just being generally pretty (à la Laini Taylor), Blankman has a way of choosing the exact right words for certain settings and happenings.

Although her prose was very pretty, this book failed to bring out anything in me emotion-wise. I never connected to any of the characters - or the story, for that matter - and I never really felt the urge to keep on reading. I was in a huge reading slump while reading this book and I'm not sure whether all of the above was because of that reading slump or that this book caused the reading slump. Either way, I could put away this book for days and not care. In fact, I read another book while reading this book and that is something I never do.

In general, I just felt quite "meh" about this. The characters were interesting, but not strong enough (to me) to carry the story. Gretchen, our main character, felt quite bland to me. I liked her, but never really got a grasp on her personality. Same goes for the love interest, Daniel. he was a nice guy for sure, but I just never felt like I really understood him. In fact, I think all of the characters, save for our psychopaths, could use more developing. That is, I found Gretchen's brother Reinhard and Hitler very interesting to read about. I think Blankman did a good job on portraying particularly Hitler. His charm, his craziness, his coldness and his love for Germany. He was just a very interesting character all around and I also really liked how Blankman managed to put in a little analysis of his character through Gretchen and the psychoanalyst.

The romance felt the same as the involved characters to me: likeable, but bland. I didn't have any problem with them being together, but to say that I was shipping them with all my might... No, not really. I never really felt the chemistry between the two, but I will say that I think they were fit for each other.

Ultimately, I think Prisoner of Night and Fog was a good book. It just wasn't for me, but I feel that might have to do more with its genre than with the book itself. Although everything felt slightly bland to me, I think that those who have enjoyed historical fiction in the past might really enjoy, even love, Prisoner of Night and Fog. If the synopsis and genre appeal to you, go for it! It just wasn't really for me.

(Also, please excuse me if Prisoner of Night and Fog isn't actually historical fiction but another genre. I'm a disaster when it comes to genres. The only ones I recognize with absolute certainty are contemporary and dystopian. So yeah.)

Monday, 24 March 2014

ARC Review: Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell

Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell
Rule One—Nothing is right, nothing is wrong.
Rule Two—Be careful.
Rule Three—Fight using your legs whenever possible, because they’re the strongest part of your body. Your arms are the weakest.
Rule Four—Hit to kill. The first blow should be the last, if at all possible.
Rule Five—The letters are the law.

Kit takes her role as London’s notorious “Perfect Killer” seriously. The letters and cash that come to her via a secret mailbox are not a game; choosing who to kill is not an impulse decision. Every letter she receives begins with “Dear Killer,” and every time Kit murders, she leaves a letter with the dead body. Her moral nihilism and thus her murders are a way of life—the only way of life she has ever known.

But when a letter appears in the mailbox that will have the power to topple Kit’s convictions as perfectly as she commits her murders, she must make a decision: follow the only rules she has ever known, or challenge Rule One, and go from there.

Katherine Ewell’s Dear Killer is a sinister psychological thriller that explores the thin line between good and evil, and the messiness of that inevitable moment when life contradicts everything you believe.
Title: Dear Killer
Author: Katherine Ewell
Series: None
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: April 1st 2014

Rating: 2.5 stars


I was disappointed in certain aspects of Dear Killer. This is one of those books that is incredibly hard to review, because I just have no idea how to kick this review off and get the words flowing. So I made a little list with the most important parts:

The Characters

Overall, I thought Dear Killer featured solid characters. However, I really failed to connect to Kit. That could of course be logical, since she's a killer, but I felt that it could have been possible to connect to her more emotionally. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, and it really affected my enjoyment of the novel. That is not to say that Kit is an awful character or that I disliked this book, but especially that ending would have been much more emotionally powerful had I connected to Kit. However, the way Ewell makes you root for a serial killer was really well done. All throughout the book, you don't want Kit to get caught, which is strange. After all, she is a serial killer. Still, you don't want her to end up in prison, and that's really interesting for the reader. What does this say about us? That as long as you are in the killer's head you will root for them, no watter what they do? Is there a dark side in us that comes out while reading the book?  It was interesting, and Dear Killer will definitely cause the readers to think about themselves. 

However, aside from the inability to connect with Kit, I had one major complaint about her. This girl is sixteen and she's just about the most succesful serial killer ever. She never leaves traces behind and never gets caught and no-one has a clue. I found this to be quite unbelievable, especially since Kit is a bit sloppy in her kills. Take for example that time where she did know how to kill a person but forgot that she needed a way out as well, or the time she kills someone in an alley next to a busy street. Or the chunks of information she gave away about herself, or befriending a policeman. She makes a couple of kills that would make anyone suspicious of her, and I thought it was incredibly stupid. I get that Kit was slowly changing and even questioning what she did, but even I saw that was stupid. And I'm not the one with the life-long killer training.

The Plot

This was an aspect I really enjoyed. Kit's development was gradual and believable. I really loved how she started questioning things herself, because all too often the love interest makes the main character see things more clearly. Not in Dear Killer. Kit does basically anything mostly on her own: she was very independent, and I loved it. The way she slowly changed was really well done and the ending was pretty powerful (although it would have been way more powerful had I connected to Kit).

There was an aspect of the plot that I didn't quite believe in: the letters. Although I really liked the idea of them, I couldn't believe the things that were written in them. Everbody who asks the "Perfect Killer" to kill for them knows that that letter will end up with  the dead body. So I found it hard to believe that some people wrote "please kill my sister" or "please kill my fiancé" because they were extremely traceable this way. I'm not really sure how the law works in cases like these, but I can imagine that you wouldn't want people to know that you basically hired someone to kill a specific person.

The Romance

There wasn't one. I KNOW. A YA book without romance: it exists! Although Alex may have sort of been a love interest, they never get on with it. There's nothing more than a squirmish feeling and tingles, and even those are few and far between. It was so refreshing! No romance, no angst, no clichés. I loved it.


This was a really enjoyable story, and Kit was a well-developed character that changed in a slow and believable way. I also really loved that there basically was no romance, even though you can ship Kit and Alex would you want to. It was extremely refreshing because every YA features a romance nowadays! There were a couple of things I didn't really like: how unbelievable certain aspects of the story were, and that I failed to connect to Kit. Unfortunately, I think both things are pretty important and it affected my enjoyment of the novel. This was a solid read, and a very refreshing and original book!

Thank you, Katherine Tegen Books, for the digital review copy! No money or favors were exchanged to alter this review. 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (21)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine, which showcases books we're eagerly anticipating.


Open Road Summer
After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

Title: Open Road Summer
Author: Emery Lord

Publication Date: April 15th 2014

Why am I waiting?

Summery, cute, road trip... Plus all the raving reviews that are rolling in! This sounds absolutely perfect and I need it in my hands now <3

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Side Effects May Vary  Great  Split Second (Pivot Point, #2)  Life by Committee Say What You Will

1. Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

So I wrote down the wrong publication date for this one - I thought this would be published May 18th, not March 18th. I literally discovered that seconds ago which means PANIC because I have to fit it in my reading schedule somehow and aaaah I don't know how I'm going to. Either way, this is at the top of my TBR because I'm going to need to finish this soon. O.O

2. Great by Sara Benincasa

Apparently this is a YA Great Gatsby retelling. Now, I actually haven't read The Great Gatsby, but still. I'm always in for a retelling, and I remember this author doing an awesome post on 1 star ratings and why authors shouldn't be angry about them!

3. Split Second by Kasie West

I own a copy and I still haven't read this. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? I need to read this ASAP.

4. Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu

This one has a really interesting synopsis. I don't really know what this book is about, but it sounds fun and slightly Panic-like. Also, this is by the same author as OCD Love Story, which has received good reviews. I'm excited for this one!

5. Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

The Fault in Our Stars x Eleanor and Park. I'm in!

Jellicoe Road  The Last Best Kiss Sleep No More Some Quiet Place (Some Quiet Place, #1) Tease

6. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

I finally own this, and everyone is raving about Marchetta. I've already read and liked her book Saving Francesca, but apparently this really is it. I'm curious.

7. The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik

This sounds very cute. Not without flaws, but cute. Which is exactly what I need from time to time!

8. Sleep No More by Aprilynne Pike

Pike's Wings series maybe wasn't of high quality, but it was highly enjoyable, which is why I am excited for Sleep No More. It sounds completely different from Wings, which I can appreciate! I love it when authors do different things. I really hope this delivers.

9. Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton

Finally, finally, I have a copy of the Book with the Gorgeous Cover. (and Interesting Synopsis). In other words, MUST READ THIS SOON.

10. Tease by Amanda Maciel

I'm hoping for something à la Dangerous Girls, which I LOVED. I hope to see a twisted but awesome novel. Please, please don't disappoint!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Review: Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Ignite Me
Juliette now knows she may be the only one who can stop the Reestablishment. But to take them down, she'll need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew - about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam - was wrong.

Title: Ignite Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Series: Shatter Me #3
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: February 4th 2014

Rating: 4 stars


Ignite Me did several things: it made me laugh, it made me feel sad, it made me angry, it made me happy. While the overall plot may have been a bit lacking, this book managed to get many emotions out of me. 

I absolutely loved Juliette's growth in Ignite Me. Gone is the insecure and scared girl from the first two books - Juliette has finally come into her own, and it's awesome. Let me tell you, she was a complete badass. She finally accepted who she was and what she could do, and in doing that, she gained confidence. I loved confident Juliette fiercely. I wasn't too sold on her character in the previous books, but I see now how it was necessary for her to be that way. She isn't anymore, though, and I could cheer her on whenever she did a particularly badass thing. To be honest - yes, her character is a little bit special snowflake-y. She has one power that has many aspects, which caused Juliette to seem a little too badass at times. I personally didn't mind - for once. I was too busy enjoying who Juliette had become.

The side characters were really good too. Mafi managed to make them all feel different, even though they don't all get equal screen time. Kenji remains to be awesome. Seriously, he's one of my favorite characters ever. He's so funny and honest and always says exactly what he should say. And the dialogue was perfect. There were a couple of situations that put a huge grin on my face, or made me laugh out loud. The whole crew has awesome dialogue, and it's the kind of dialogue that I could imagine my friends and I having (especially the 'no more talking' coversation - I loved that one). 

And, of course, WARNER. I'm on Team Warner, definitely! He was extremely swoony and I really, really loved the way his character developed. We definitely get to see more sides of him and I understood him better in this novel. His character deepens and I just loved him so much. And no, I won't tell you who Juliette ends up with ;) But I was happy with the way Mafi resolved this love triangle - we get to see how both boys appeal to different sides of her and I could definitely understand why she chose who she did. 

The plot, however, was a bit lacking. The whole book is basically a build-up to the ending, which I expected to be the 'grand finale'. Instead, the whole thing is over in a few pages. I also found a few details to be quite unbelievable, but I found that the awesome characters and many FEELS you will get from Ignite Me made up for it.

In all, a really satisfying series ender! While the ending felt a bit rushed and short to me, Ignite Me features a fantastic cast of characters and made me feel nearly every emotion. I definitely recommend the Shatter Me-series, and I think that of the three, I can recommend Ignite Me the most. If you've started this series, you'll definitely want to read this!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

ARC Review: Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas

Ask Again Later
Despite what her name might suggest, Heart has zero interest in complicated romance. So when her brilliant plan to go to prom with a group of friends is disrupted by two surprise invites, Heart knows there's only one drama-free solution: flip a coin.

Heads: The jock. He might spend all night staring at his ex or throw up in the limo, but how bad can her brother's best friend really be?

Tails: The theater geek...with a secret. What could be better than a guy who shares all Heart's interests--even if he wants to share all his feelings?

Heart's simple coin flip has somehow given her the chance to live out both dates. But where her prom night ends up might be the most surprising thing of all...

Title: Ask Again Later
Author: Liz Czukas
Series: none
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: March 11th 2014

Rating: 4 stars


Fun, fun, fun! Lately I've been reading a lot of heavier/more serious books, and I needed a break. I needed somethinf cutesy and fun and fluffy. Ask Again Later is the perfect book for that. It was just so incredibly FUN to read, and it's been a while since I've felt like that!

Now, I know some people thought this, so let me make this clear: Ask Again Later is NOTHING like Pivot Point. Clear? Good. So, if it's not like Pivot Point, what is it like? It's cute! And funny. I actually laughed out loud a couple of times. If you know me, you know how incredibly hard it is to get me to show some emotion while reading. (Before I start sounding like a robot: I do feel emotions while reading. I can be incredibly sad or extremely happy or very angry, I just don't show it. I have also never cried over a book: I simply can't.)

Most characters were nice. I enjoyed Heart's unique, funny and not too serious voice. She's a really likeable protagonist, if a little weird and naive at times. But to be honest, that just added to her personality. If I had to pick a favorite character, though, I'd immediately scream RYAN at you! I don't even know why I love him so much, but I do. I loved reading the 'TAILS' parts (i.e. with Ryan in it) and he was just so cute and awesome. Schroeder/Chase was a character I liked too, although I feel we didn't get to know him very well.

Some characters were absolute jerks, though. I really disliked Troy and Phil. They were pretty much assholes and they only seemed to care about alcohol. And, to be honest, Troy was sort of pathetic. I really did like how Tara, Phil's fabulous girlfriend, turned out though. She could have easily been painted off as the 'perfect' mean girl, but instead she shows signs of depth in the parts we get to see her and she even made Phil apologize for his behaviour. Yay for non-mean girls! She's actually really nice to Heart, even when the latter didn't always fit in with Tara's group of friends.

The romance was cute. I'm not going to tell you who the love interest is, since it might be considered a spoiler. Even though I didn't feel we got to the LI that well, it was obvious that he cared for Heart and he was really nice to her (most of the time). I didn't SHIP IT LIKE CRAZY but I did want them to end up together. Also, no worries, there is no instant love to be found, even though the novel is set during one night

Although the plot isn't exactly brain-shattering or WHOA - no real twists, actually - I didn't mind at all. This story is just so much fun and I feel like there doesn't need to be an OMG-I-never-saw-that-coming twist or mind-blowing plot. As long as the book was going somewhere and stayed being awesomely cute and funny, I was happy.

In all, this was so cute and funny and exactly what I needed. I loved most of the characters and their banter, and the romance was definitely cute. This book was just so. much. fun. Ask Again Later is a delight to read!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

ARC Review: All That Glows by Ryan Graudin

All That Glows by Ryan Graudin
Emrys—a fiery, red-headed Fae—always embraced her life in the Highlands, far from the city’s draining technology, until she’s sent to London to rejoin the Faery Guard. But this isn’t any normal assignment—she’s sent to guard Prince Richard: Britain’s notorious, partying bad boy and soon-to-be King. The prince’s careless ways and royal blood make him the irresistible for the dark spirits that feed on mortals. Sweet, disheveled, and alive with adventure—Richard is one charge who will put Emrys’s magic and heart to the test.

When an ancient force begins preying on the monarchy, Emrys must hunt through the London’s magical underworld, facing down Banshees, Black Dogs and Green Women to find the one who threatens Richard’s life. In this chaos of dark magic, palace murders and paparazzi, Emrys finds herself facing an impossible choice. For despite all her powers, Emrys has discovered a force that burns brighter than magic: love.

Title: All That Glows
Author: Ryan Graudin
Series: none
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: February 11th 2014

Rating: 2 stars


All That Glows seemed exactly like the fun, amazing read that everybody needs from time to time. With a premise and cover like that, this could only be awesome, right? Unfortunately, Alll That Glows wasn't nearly as fantastic as I wanted it to be, but it was fun to read.

One of the biggest problems is the instant love. A lot of the plot and the characters' decisions hinge on the romance, and that element fell short. Emrys and Richard have had what? Three encounters? and then they start speaking of love. Oh, and don't forget that Richard doesn't even remember one of those encounters because Emrys wiped his memory. But oh no, they absolutely love each other - the kind of soulmate, undying love. Uh, how about no? That's just not how it works. These characters don't even know each other that well and all of a sudden it's love? Later on, Graudin tries to explain this by saying that they had some kind of soulmate-connection thing going on, but I couldn't believe in that. Even soulmates can have a well-developed relationship.

Strangely, I didn't even mind it all that much. While I definitely don't approve of it and while it lowered my rating, I found myself not caring too much that there was instant love. This book is really light and admittedly, fun. I had fun reading this and that definitely helped every flaw this book had. Unfortunately, I thought there were quite a few flaws, aside from the insta-love.

The characters, for example, felt underdeveloped and bland to me. Especially the side characters were in dire need of a personality. While it wasn't so bad that they all felt the same to me - they did have different personalities - the (secondary) characters felt really bland to me, making it hard for me to connect with them. The characters also don't seem to grow throughout the book, with the exception of Richard. But that's only because I consider stopping with drinking and partying growth: personality-wise, not much changed.

What I also found unbelievable - although this isn't a major issue - was that Emrys always wore skirts. She's supposed to be Richard's guardian and has to be able to fight off creatures both with her magic and through a physical fight. I don't think a skirt would be a great choice for that, seeing as most skirts confine your movements. Pants would be a lot better and safer. Seeing as the Fae take their job seriously, I found it a bit unbelievable that Emrys would trot around in a skirt.

I have to say, though, that this book did surprise me. Although I probably should have, I didn't figure out who the evil mastermind was until it was revealed to us. I was totally led on the wrong path, and since I'm usually able to figure out who the culprit is pretty well, this definitely is a compliment for Graudin. In retrospect, I really should have known who it was, but I didn't figure it out while reading.

In all, this book has some serious flaws - like the instant love and the bland characters - but it was also a lot of fun to read. All That Glows did definitely surprise me. If you don't mind the aforementioned flaws or are just looking for a fun read no matter how good it is, I would definitely recommend All That Glows to you.

**Review copy provided by HarperTeen (thank you!). No money or favors were exchanged to alter this review.**
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