Review: “Flicker & Burn (Cold Fury #2)” by TM Goeglein


16101039Title: “Flicker & Burn (Cold Fury #2)”

Author: TM Goeglein

Genre: YA contemporary, paranormal, mafia, thriller, urban fantasy, AWESOME, NIGHTMARE STAG OH GOD

Publication Date: August 20, 2013 (Penguin – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided ARC

Summary: Sara Jane Rispoli is still searching for her missing family, but instead of fighting off a turncoat uncle and crooked cops, this time she finds herself on the run from creepy beings with red, pulsing eyes and pale white skin chasing her through the streets in ice cream trucks; they can only be described as Ice Cream Creatures. They’re terrifying and hell bent on killing her, but they’re also a link to her family, a clue to where they might be and who has them.

While she battles these new pursuers, she’s also discovering more about her own cold fury and more about the Chicago Outfit, how the past misdeeds–old murders and vendettas–might just be connected to her present and the disappearance of her family. But connecting the dots is tough and time-consuming and may finally be the undoing of her relationship with the handsome Max–who’s now her boyfriend. But for his own safety, Sara Jane may have to end this relationship before it even really starts. Her pursuers who’ve shown her her mother’s amputated finger and the head of the Chicago Outfit who’s just whistled her in for a sit-down make a romance unthinkable. The only thing that matters is finding her family and keeping everyone she loves alive.

☆:  5 stars – an absolute knock out of the park, and better than book one!

Review: WOW. What is it with you, sophomoric books of 2013? You’ve all been more or less amazing, if not really good. If you guys thought “Cold Fury” was good, just wait until you get your hands on “Flicker & Burn”! Seriously. Every bit of tension that Goeglein had in “Cold Fury”, every stake? It’s been upped about a hundred times. This book has turned from paranormal into parascience, which is awesome, and I really can’t wait for book three. Another one of my favorite sophomoric effort of 2013, “Flicker & Burn” definitely leaps off the page and sears itself into your brain. Let’s just say I’ll never look at “healthy” ice cream the same way again.

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“A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Strange #2)” by Susan Dennard


13624584Title: “A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Strange #2)”

Author: Susan Dennard

Genre: YA, alternate history/parallel universes, zombies, steampunk, paranormal

Publication Date: July 23, 2013 (HarperTeen – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided ARC

Summary: Following an all-out battle with the walking Dead, the Spirit Hunters have fled Philadelphia, leaving Eleanor alone to cope with the devastating aftermath. But there’s more trouble ahead—the evil necromancer Marcus has returned, and his diabolical advances have Eleanor escaping to Paris to seek the help of Joseph, Jie, and the infuriatingly handsome Daniel once again. When she arrives, however, she finds a whole new darkness lurking in this City of Light. As harrowing events unfold, Eleanor is forced to make a deadly decision that will mean life or death for everyone.

☆: 4.5/5 stars – a sequel that shines brighter than its first book!

Review: I think I can honestly say that this sequel(and what looks to be a middle book in a trilogy?) is stronger than its initial first book in this series. Seriously. “Strange and Lovely” builds upon everything set up in book one, but it also has a lot more tension (almost tension on every page), and we get more worldbuilding, more new awesome characters, and a sea change in everyone we got to know in love back in book one. If you’re looking for one of the best sophomoric efforts this year in YA, look no further than “A Darkness Strange and Lovely”.

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Review: “A Midsummer’s Night Scream” by RL Stine


16075935Title: “A Midsummer’s Night Scream”

Author: RL Stine

Genre: Retellings, Horror, YA contemporary

Publication Date: July 2, 2013 (Macmillan – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided ARC

Summary: Everyone knows that Mayhem Manor is cursed. After production on the horror film was stopped due to a series of mysterious deaths, it became a Hollywood legend–which makes it perfect for Claire and her family. If they can successfully finish the film, it should be enough to save their ailing movie studio.

Sure, the old haunted house is creepy, and strange stuff has been happening, but this is Claire’s chance. Her chance to become the movie star she’s always dreamed and her chance to finally convince her friend Jake that she is girlfriend material. Of course, the fact that Jake thinks he’s in love with her best friend, Delia, who is crushing hard on Jake’s friend Shawn, who insists on following Claire around, could be a problem, but Claire is sure she can figure it out. After all, the course of true love never did run smooth.

But once shooting starts, “creepy and strange” morph into “bloody and deadly,” as the lines between film and reality begin to blur…

☆: 1/5 stars – great idea, but fails to deliver.

Review: Oh boy. Where to start with this one? When I heard that RL Stine was returning to YA, I was really excited. I loved “Goosebumps” as a kid growing up in the 90s (which 90s kid didn’t?) so I was hoping for the same quality with this horror/retelling of “Midsummer’s Night Dream”. Alas, it was not to be had. Where did everything go so hideously wrong? I just…I can’t even really see where it’s a retelling with the horror element so heavy within it. Maybe if it’d been written differently, or had Stine chosen to tell his story with different words, or different characters, or anything like that, I might have been able to see the retelling of Shakespeare’s classic tale. All I can say is that I was looking forward to this one, and Stine let me down. I wish I could say that I recommend “A Midsummer Night’s Scream”, but I just can’t.

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Review: “Charm & Strange” by Stephanie Kuehn


16045088Title: “Charm & Strange”

Author: Stephanie Kuehn

Genre: YA contemporary, paranormal, AWESOME, magical realism, mindfuck

Publication Date: June 11, 2013 (SMP/Macmillan – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided finished copy

Summary: When you’ve been kept caged in the dark, it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. It’s impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars . . .

Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself.

He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.

He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable.

Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present.

Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.

☆:

Review: This is a wonderful, short read that reaches into your head, your heart, and won’t let go until the very final page. You know that feeling when you finish a book and you’re like “What the hell did I just read? BUT WOW I LIKED IT!”? That’s the feeling that “Charm & Strange” will give you once you’ve finished it. Beautifully written, and a total mindfuck worthy of Whedon or Abrams, you won’t be able to put it down, and you’ll want more of it by the last page.

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Review: “Another Little Piece” by Kate Karyus Quinn


12665819Title: “Another Little Piece”

Author: Kate Karyus Quinn

Genre: YA contemporary, mystery, thriller, paranormal, AWESOME

Publication Date: June 11, 2013 (HarperTeen – North America)

Source: Edelweiss Review Copy/ Publisher-provided ARC

Summary: On a cool autumn night, Annaliese Rose Gordon stumbled out of the woods and into a high school party. She was screaming. Drenched in blood. Then she vanished.

A year later, Annaliese is found wandering down a road hundreds of miles away. She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know how she got there. She only knows one thing: She is not the real Annaliese Rose Gordon.

Now Annaliese is haunted by strange visions and broken memories. Memories of a reckless, desperate wish . . . a bloody razor . . . and the faces of other girls who disappeared. Piece by piece, Annaliese’s fractured memories come together to reveal a violent, endless cycle that she will never escape—unless she can unlock the twisted secrets of her past.

☆: 4.5/5 stars – holy crap, definitely one of the best of 2013 so far!

Review:  Holy WOW, guys. This one blew me away. I wasn’t expecting anything of what I got, and…even now I can’t really put words together about this release. Why isn’t this release on the Dark Days tour? It deserves to be there for the summer 2013 batch for sure. “Another Little Piece” has something for everyone – mystery, the paranormal, dissociative identities (OR ARE THEY?) and so forth. I found myself drawn in, and I basically read it in one or two sittings, which is pretty rare for me. If you want a good YA standalone this summer that will literally make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, look no further than “Another Little Piece”.

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Review: “Vengeance Bound” by Justina Ireland


13643222Title: “Vengeance Bound”

Author: Justina Ireland

Genre: YA, Fairy Retellings, Contemporary

Publication Date: April 2, 2013 (S&SFYR – North America)

Source: Edelweiss Review Copy

Summary: Cory Graff is not alone in her head. Bound to a deal of desperation made when she was a child, Cory’s mind houses the Furies—the hawk and the serpent—lingering always, waiting for her to satisfy their bloodlust. After escaping the asylum where she was trapped for years, Cory knows how to keep the Furies quiet. By day, she lives a normal life, but by night, she tracks down targets the Furies send her way. And she brings down Justice upon them.

Cory’s perfected her system of survival, but when she meets a mysterious boy named Niko at her new school, she can’t figure out how she feels about him. For the first time, the Furies are quiet in her head around a guy. But does this mean that Cory’s finally found someone who she can trust, or are there greater factors at work? As Cory’s mind becomes a battlefield, with the Furies fighting for control, Cory will have to put everything on the line to hold on to what she’s worked so hard to build.

☆: 3.5/5 stars – an awesome debut from Ireland, but leaves a few too many loose ends.

Review: This book is pitched as “Dexter” meets “The Goddess Test”, and I have to say, upon reflection, it really is a very good summary of this book. “Vengeance Bound” is the story of a girl possessed by the Furies, wanting to find their Third and become a true force of power in the world once again, and a girl who wants revenge on the man that helped destroy her life. And as engrossing as this book was, I feel like in the end, there were one too many loose ends not tied up, and questions unanswered. I usually don’t mind when the author leaves it to the reader to fill in the blanks by themselves, but these felt like continuity errors more than anything else. However, I do have to say that I did enjoy it quite a bit. If you’re looking for a Greek mythology retelling with a little more bite to it, definitely give “Vengeance Bound” a try.  There are some spoilers in this review, so you’ve been warned.

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