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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Waterfell by Amalie Howard

Title: Waterfell
Author: Amalie Howard
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: November 1 2013
Publishing House: Harlequin Teen
ISBN: 9781460321027
Source of Copy: NetGalley



Nerissa Marin hides among teens in her human form, waiting for the day he can claim her birthright - the undersea kingdom stolen from her the day her father was murdered. Blending in is her best weapon - until her father's betrayer confronts Nerissa and chalenges her to a battle to the death on Nerissa's upcoming birthday - the day she comes of age.

Amid danger and the heartbreak of her missing mother, falling for a human boy is the last thing Nerissa should do. But Lo Seavon breaches her defenses and somehow becomes the only person she can count on to help her desperate search for her mother, a prisoner of Nerissa's mortal enemy. Is Lo the linchpon that might win Nerissa back her crown? Or will this mortal boy become the weakness that destroys her?

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


Nerissa Marin is heir to the undersea kingdom known as Waterfell but she can't claim her birthright while she's hiding away in the human world. Not that she wants to. Her father told her to stay away and that's exactly what she plans to do despite the urging of her bad-tempered best friend to fight for her throne. But everything changes when the one who caused her family's devastation comes up to Nerissa and demands a battle to the death. Now Nerissa has to make a choice, give up the throne or abandon her people to the clutches of a power-hungry tyrant.

I have to admit that I thought this would be about mermaids. Sea creatures? An undersea kingdom? Mermaids. Sadly I was wrong, the sea creatures in Waterfell are more of the Loch Ness kind rather than the half human half fish kind. 

I like Nerissa. I like how she's totally capable of admitting all her flaws and strives to do better. She's scared, which is totally acceptable, seeing as how her life's been turned around and there's this evil witch of a sea monster vying for her throne. A throne which she would willingly give up if things were up to her. But they aren't and Nerissa's got people depending on her so she stands and she fights and in the end she grows a pretty sizable backbone and faces down her problems head on. You go girl! I can also see that she's a brat, but come on, she's a teenager, she's selfish and prideful but it comes with the territory. She's a princess, her father's been pretty lenient with her - so she says - so she's used to thinking of only herself. But kudos to her for manning up.

Now let me take a moment to talk about the romance. The reason why I'm having a hard time rating this book is because of the romance. Insta-love with the surfer boy who dons a smarmy grin on his face and a devil-may-care attitude and walks with a swagger that's irresistible to teenage girls. Nerissa may be a sea monster but she's still a teenager and subject to rampaging hormones. I didn't like Lo. He was so incredibly...lame and douchey. I don't understand what Nerissa saw in him and from the get-go I felt like there was something really shady about him. I mean if the romance didn't play such a big part in this story I wouldn't have been so irritated, but it did. It really did.

Taking a break from the sucky romance, I actually liked the sea monsters Howard introduced - the Aquarathi. I mean she's a legit sea monster, how can I not like that? Like a serpent. And I was actually surprised by their back story and how they came to exist in the oceans. Pretty cool. And the plot, while entertaining, was kind of predictable but it does have a whole lot of potential. 

If you're checking this out thinking that this is gonna be some story about mermaids, think again. You'll find sea creatures with sharp teeth and killer flippers that are oddly endearing and a not-so-endearing romance with a shady surfer boy and a main character who's pretty real and flawed and human. 



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Title: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: August 15, 2013
Publishing House: Dial
ISBN: 9780803738898
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White's sleepy, seaside town... until River West comes along. River rents the guest house behind Violet's crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard.

Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more?

Violet's grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery... who makes you want to kiss back.

Violet's already so knee-deep in love, she can't see straight. And that's just how River likes it.
(Image, summary and information courtesy of Goodreads)


I found it very hard not to be intrigued by this book when it came popping up on GoodReads. For one, the title alone was enough to convince me that I absolutely needed this. Then out of the blue (Was that a pun? Why yes, I believe it was!) I remembered this The Killers song that had a line that had these words on it. I know that the title is obviously a saying, but there's nothing like humming Spaceman every time I see the title. Second, just look at that totally gorgeous Gothic-looking cover, and the teeny tiny humans on the cliff. They look like they're dancing, despite the grim and dangerous theme of their surroundings. The girl obviously looks like she's having fun flirting with danger, and I love the whimsical detail it poses. Third, the summary. Goodness knows how obsessed I am when it comes to horror and very unconventional romances. I have been disappointed time and time again by awesome-sounding books, but thankfully, that was not the case with this one.

Just like the evil River West, Between the Devil and The Deep Blue Sea is a total charmer.

With their bohemian-living parents away, Violet rents out one of the rooms in her grandmother's sprawling yet fading estate to be able to feed herself and her brother Luke. And who else rents it but the mysterious River West who seems to make Violet's heart race and whose grin almost makes her forget about the strange happenings around town. But when the gruesome and macabre goings-on start to hit closer to home, Violet starts to realize that her grandmother's warnings about the devil may not have been utter poppycock at all.

Violet would be the perfect embodiment of those shabby-chic girls you spot in magazines. She goes around wearing her grandmother's clothes with a devil-may-care attitude (I swear I am not making these puns on purpose. They just come rather naturally.) in her opulent yet faded grandmother's property, and she doesn't seem to give a rat's butt about what people think or say about her. Personality-wise, she reminded me a lot of Petunia from the webcomic Todd Allison and the Petunia Flower. While she's mostly smart with her dealings with River West, you just can't really fault her when she goes weak in the knees because, dear reader, you will too! I couldn't muster any love for Warner of Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me, nor any for Darkling of Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone, but I could understand why Violet fell under the spell of River West, despite him possibly being more psycho than Darkling. People, this guy is a real nut job, but a nut job I will confess to being enraptured with. Seriously. You want a really bad boy? Meet River West. I seriously didn't think I had it in me to be fascinated by a bad boy, but he's just so darn charming! River will remind you of a very mischievous cat playing with a mouse; it's not really intentional if the mouse ends up dead.

What I love about Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is that it does away with your whole black-and-white version rendition of good and evil. Instead, readers are subjected to a murky gray that will undoubtedly be good material for some self-reflection.

Also, Tucholke's writing will not clue you in that this novel is her first. She is good at pacing, and is adept in creating curious - and sometimes horrific - events that effectively counter the idyllic scenarios readers witness. 

Was the novel a bit insta-love-y, however? A little, but if you've given proper thought, it doesn't appear to be that way. Well, not on purpose anyway, and that is good enough for me.

If you like creepy books and are curious about a devil who doesn't know which side he's on, I cannot recommend this book enough. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea balances perfectly well the romance as well as the Gothic horror, making it equally appealing to horror-lovers and romance aficionados alike!

Now, being a new Tucholke fan, I'll just have to languish a little bit every day like the others as I wait for the second book, Between the Spark and the Burn, which comes out in August 2014...


Monday, November 25, 2013

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Through the Zombie Glass by Gena Showalter

Title: Through the Zombie Glass
Author: Gena Showalter
Format Acquired: Hardcover 
Publication Date: September 24 2013
Publishing House: Harlequin Teen
ISBN: 9780373210770
Source of Copy: FullyBooked


Alice Bell has lost so much. Family. Friends, A home. She thought she had nothing else to give. She was wrong.

After a new zombie attack, strange things begin to happen to her. Mirrors come to life, and whispers of the dead assault her ears. But the worst? A terrible darkness blooms inside her, urging her to do very wicked things.

She's never needed her team of zombie slayers more, but ultra bad-boy Cole Holland, the leader and her boyfriend, suddenly withdraws from her...from everyone. Now with her best friend, Kat, at her side, Ali must kill the zombies, uncover Cole's secret and learn to fight the darkness.

But the clock is ticking...and if she fails at a single task, they're all doomed.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


Through the Zombie Glass is the second book in the series. A review for the first book can be found here.

After the events of the first book, Cole and Ali are ready to conquer the world, one zombie at a time. That is until Cole looks into Ali's eyes and sees something he's not particularly happy about. Strange things are happening to Alice, and Cole's determination to drive a wedge between them isn't helping. The introduction of new hunters to their group only adds fuel to the fire - it doesn't really help that one of them is Cole's ex.

Really, should I be surprised that another of Cole's exes pops out in the second book? Why can't they, for once, just focus on killing zombies? And how is possible that each and every single one of the hunters are inhumanly beautiful, ripped and hot? What. And why does it always have to be Cole who's the target of every female's fantasy? He's kind of a jerk albeit an incredibly hot one but still. 

I wasn't a super fan of Cole in the second book, I mean up and running the moment another guy comes into the picture instead of staying put and fighting for Ali? Ha. No thanks, Ali definitely doesn't need a guy like you Cole. Go home. But alas, the heart wants what the heart wants and all my hopes and dreams of Ali making Cole suffer were for naught.

Well of course, our dear Alice pines for Cole, and while I was irked about all the whining, she at least didn't act all wimpy and hide herself in some deep, dark cave drawing circles on the cold dirt floor and crying day in, day out. She's a fighter and she knows she's got some issues to deal with other than her broken heart. So she mans up and plows through those issues like the zombie slayer that she is.

Things get a little more interesting for Ali in the second book, strange things are happening to the zombies and who is that weird zombie-like version of herself flitting around? And why does she crave human flesh? Then there's Anima acting up again and they want Alice because they think she's got the ability to cure diseases in her blood. 

So aside from dealing with her agony over Cole, Alice has to deal with her reflections coming to life, the dark urge to take a bite out of her friends and her impending death. Boy, does Alice have things easy. The zombies she has to fight are kind of a given so...yeah.

Overall an entertaining read despite my urges to chuck the book at the nearest wall because Cole is a douche. But yes, I'm definitely buying the next book despite its steep price. And if you're into zombies and are not a fan of retellings you might want to check this out because despite the title, it's not exactly a retelling of Alice in Wonderland. 




Friday, November 22, 2013

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Countdown by Michelle Rowen

Title: Countdown
Author: Michelle Rowen
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: October 1 2013
Publishing House: Harlequin Teen 
ISBN: 9780373210909
Source of Copy: NetGalley


3 seconds left to live. Once the countdown starts, it cannot be stopped.

2 pawns thrown into a brutal underground reality game.

Kira Jordan survived her family's murder and months on plague-devastated city strees with hard-won savvy and a low-level psi ability. She figures she can handle anything. Until she wakes up in a barren room, chained to the notorious Rogan Ellis.

1 reason Kira will never, ever trust Rogan. Even though both their lives depend on it.

Their every move is controlled and televised for a vicious exclusive audience. And as Kira's psi skill unexpectedly grows and Rogan's secret proves evermore deadly, Kira's only chance of survival is to risk trusting him as much as her instincts. Even if that means running head-on into the one trap she can't escape.


(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


Kira's been on her own for a while now, relying on her hard-won street smarts and pretty face to survive. But nothing could have prepared her for waking up in a dark room next to Rogan Ellis - notorious serial killer. She doesn't know why she's there, all she knows is that she's forced into an underground game with a ticking clock inside her head and her life on the line. She has no choice but to play because when that countdown reaches zero, it'll be game over for both herself and for Rogan.  

With a summary like that, how was I supposed to resist? Underground games with real people pitted against impossible odds with a countdown in their heads? Yes please. But as soon as I started the book and entered Level was a whole different story.

Players of this notorious Countdown have to complete six levels to pass the game. Winners get to have anything they want - money, a ticket to the Colony, a new life. Sadly, I thought the levels would be heart-pounding, cling-to-the-edge-of-your-seat thrilling but they weren't. The levels were actually pretty simple, the only reason the characters were all stressed out was because of the countdown in their heads signaling impending doom.

Kira, admittedly, wasn't a very interesting character. She's like every female character out there - pretty, strong, brave and smart - but she lacks a certain realness to her and because of that we couldn't connect with her. I couldn't point a finger on her personality and she was pretty inconsistent. 

Rogan was touted as a nefarious, notorious, bad boy and he's handsome too boot. But to me, he was just an angry boy that's a little rough around the edges who's been through a whole lot of crap. That dangerous aura Kira said he had? Nonexistent. Their whole relationship was unbelievable - a little too fast and rushed. One minute they're all into each other then the next Kira's backing off because of Rogan's secrets and she's not sure if she can trust him not to add her to his kill list.

The world building was quite confusing too and left a lot of things unanswered which irked me a lot because when I read dystopian books I expect at least a modicum of decent world building. But in Countdown....I was basically confused. The addition of psi powers made things all the more confusing as their role in the scheme of things is vague at best.

Psi powers, death, romance and countdowns in your head that signal your death abound in Michelle Rowen's Countdown. 




Tuesday, November 19, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Title: The Distance Between Us
Author: Kasie West
Format Acquired: Paperback
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Publishing House: Harper Teen
ISBN: 9780062235657
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she's pretty sure they're only good for one thing - spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother's shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he's oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he's one of the first people who actually gets her, she's smart enough to know his interest won't last. Because if there's one thing she's learned from her mother's warnings, it's that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can't find out - she wouldn't approve. She'd much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn't been raised by money. But just when Xander's attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn't a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she'd ever realized. And that Xander's not the only one she should've been worried about.

(Image, summary and information courtesy of Goodreads)


Caymen thinks that all rich people get bored easily, which is why she's trying to keep her distance from Xander. But as Xander tries to prove against Caymen's judgment that he's different from the others, Caymen finds out the truth that someone has desperately kept hidden.

I'll admit that what sold me on this one was Caymen's fascination with rich people. Much to both my chagrin and enjoyment, I do browse through the Rich Kids of Instagram Tumblr, just to see glimpses of spoiled kids in all their glorified excess. What people back in the day constitutes as bragging is now today's ticket to fame, which I guess, also says a lot about today's culture. 

I might be a little biased when it comes to the characters of this book because there's little I'd enjoy more than sarcasm and dry humor. Luckily, Caymen's more than ready to indulge readers with that, even if it's possibly more of a defense mechanism thing. Caymen might come off as cruel at times, but really, it's only her practical side talking. It's not that she wants to hurt people's feelings either, it's just that sometimes she doesn't know how to deal with them. Caymen doesn't know how to deal with Xander either. He's rich, and gorgeous (of course), and is about as unexpected as a polar bear in Hawaii. Normally, I say "Ick!" when people share drinks (unless of course, they're immediate family members) but Xander has had me wanting to share his drink with me. (Gosh Michelle, you are so disturbing, trust me I know.) Xander is very sweet, which of course, almost always catches Caymen off-guard.

I can't really go on to detail as to what events transpired in the novel, as that would give it away, but I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, this book is totally adorable, but on the other, the events were just too okay-where-did-that-come-from-OH-THERE-REALLY-LIKE-WHAT. The events leading to the end might be a little off, but I wouldn't discourage people who like snarky, adorable romance.

As far as contemporary romances go, this one was one of the enjoyable ones I've read. The Distance Between Us is often light and entertaining, which is perfect for when you've just finished a pretty heavy book. Fans of contemporary might want to pick this up, if they don't have it in their book shelves already.


Monday, November 18, 2013

NICOLE'S REVIEW: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Title: The Darkest Minds
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: December 8 2012
Publishing House: Disney Hyperion
ISBN: 9781423157373
Source of Copy: Fully Booked


When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government "rehabilitation camp." She might have survived the mysterious disease that killed most of America's children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her - East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can't risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is what it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


When kids start developing powers, they're categorized into colors that coincide with their power level - red, orange, yellow, green and blue - and then shipped off into concentration camps. "Rehabilitation" camps as they're so touted. Ruby is one such kid and she's shipped off to camp at the age of 10 thanks to an incident which she had no control over. Ruby knows her powers, knows how dangerous she is and she's hidden it well. And when those powers are about to be uncovered she has no choice but to run. Run from the people after her and run towards a possible sanctuary for kids like her.

This book was a massive disappointment for me. I wasn't overly fond of any of the characters and I spent a lot of time contemplating how unbearably boring Ruby was. There, I said it. That's not to say I didn't get why Ruby was afraid of her powers, I mean if you had the ability to dive into someone's head and erase memories and command them to do stuff it'd be pretty nerve-wracking. (Although truthfully, I found that aspect rather intriguing. Bossing people around? Yes please.) And what Ruby had gone through was traumatizing but I just couldn't bring myself to sympathize with her. I like strong, kick-butt, take-charge female characters. Ruby does not fit the bill with her fear of her own powers and constant blubbering about how she's a monster and everyone should just leave her alone. I was actually hoping they'd toss her to the curb because her constant whining was getting on my nerves.

Liam is Ruby's love interest and truthfully, he wasn't all that interesting. The romance was too fast and a little bit sloppy. For a moment, there was a love triangle going on there with another boy. I'm not going to reveal his name because that'd be spoilery but can I just say that he's pretty much a psycho and a control-freak and he reminds me too much of Warner from the Shatter Me series. That's not a good thing, mind you. And I wouldn't be surprised if he pops out in the next book for fun. 

Thing is, I could've done with minimal romance and more story because this book is actually really...confusing. The first half, actually no, around three-fourths of the book was one long trip to find the elusive Slip Kid - this mysterious rebel leader who was the answer to all their problems - and is very, very repetitive. They run, get chased by bad guys, escape, run get the drill. And after a few encounters like that I was starting to wonder what they were actually planning to do because from my viewpoint they were pretty directionless.

There are actually a lot of things I don't get with this book. The virus - where'd it come from, who created it, how does it spread, is it contagious, how do you contract it and why children? Another thing I'd like to ponder on are parents giving up their children - I mean each and every single parent giving up their child? Really now. Also, can someone elaborate more on their powers because while they cropped up now and again I've never actually seen them in use, save for a few instances. I also could not believe that the government cowered in fear of the children and killed off the more powerful ones, I would at least expected someone to make use of them. And the mention of rebel factions just made things more confusing.

And can I just add that ending pissed me off? I shaved off half a rainbow because of that cliched and undeniably predictable ending. Will I be picking up the next book? I honestly don't know. I'm a glutton for punishment and constantly put myself through excruciating pain - I've read a whole lot of books I really shouldn't have - and there's a possibility that I just might.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

[BLOG TOUR] The Twins on Thursday: Replica by Jenna Black

"The Twins on Thursday" is reserved for the Twins' joint reviews. It is a special feature of our blog that discusses books that we either both like, dislike, or have mixed feelings about. This is also the day where we post reviews for books (and ARCs/Galleys) that have been sent to us by authors/galley sites/publishing houses. And because we don't believe much in uniformity, we'll be trying to mix things up a bit by adding random stuff in relation to our review (well, mostly for books we purchased anyway).

Title: Replica
Author: Jenna Black
Format Acquired: Paperback
Publication Date: July 16 2013
Publishing House: Tor
ISBN: 9780765333711
Source of Copy: Borrowed copy from Maricar of Black Plume


Sixteen-year-old Nadia Lake comes from a high-class Executive family in Corporate States. Her marriage has been arranged with the most powerful family on her state, which means she lives a life of privilege but also of public scrutiny, followed everywhere by photographers, every detail of her private life tabloid fodder. But her future is assured, as long as she can maintain her flawless public image - no easy feat when your betrothed is a notorious playboy.

Nathan Hayes is heir of Paxco - controller of the former state of New York, and creator of human replication technology, science that every state and every country in the world would kill to have. Though Nadia and Nate aren't in love, they've grown up close, and they (and the world) are happy enough with their match.

Until Nate turns up dead, and as far as everyone knows, Nadia was the last person to see him alive.

When the new Nate wakes up in the replication tanks, he knows he must have died, but with a memory that only reaches to his last memory backup, he doesn't know what killed him. Together, Nadia and Nate jus discover what really happened without revealing the secrets that those who run their world would kill to protect.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


After a tryst gone wrong, the original Nate is gone and in his place is his replica, who is very much Nate down to the very tips of his toes. The only difference is that this Nate has lost the last two weeks of memories leading to the original Nate's death. While Nadia isn't opposed to the arranged marriage with Nate, she's hardly leaping with joy either, especially when she is the wrong gender Nate is actually interested in. Since Nadia was the last one who's seen him alive, and as if she weren't already in the spotlight, Nadia's every moves are under public scrutiny, and there are people who will do anything to watch her fall. To clear his lover's name, Nate, with a bit of Nadia's help, needs to piece together clues that might actually shed some light on the real murder, but neither are prepared for the bigger conspiracy they discover.

What we liked about Replica is Black's portrayal of a gay character. There was no stereotyping, despite their society's upturned nose towards gay people, and Nate is nothing more but a boy who has a penchant for handsome men. Nothing out of the ordinary. What Nate is though is a spoiled jerk who might have daddy issues and may be too rash for his own good. That's not to say he doesn't have a good heart, which he does, and while he may be a douche, Nate has good intentions. We found his protectiveness of Nadia quite endearing actually.

Now we though Nadia was a simpering little female when the story started, but as it progressed we witnessed surprising character growth and boy, were our initial perceptions wrong. Nadia's got backbone and a pretty good head on her shoulders to deal with all the obstacles tossed her way. 

There wasn't much romance on Nadia's side, although we've got our eye set on Dante. Nate's relationship with Bishop was quite cute but after the original Nate's death, we're just not sure what Bishop thinks about replica Nate. And seeing as how Bishop's part of a whole larger operation it's obvious that things are going to be tenuous between Nate and Bishop.

The only thing we probably didn't like much about Replica was the ending, and it was only a fairly tiny, tiny amount of dislike. While Nate and Nadia may not know much about machinations, it will be quite silly to blame them for not being very meticulous when it comes to these sorts of things.

Just when you think that Replica is just one of many dystopian novels out there, it constantly proves that it is not. Just when you expect the story and its characters to take a left turn, it actually makes a right AND a loop to go with it. Replica has indubitably exceeded our expectations, and we are undoubtedly  very excited for its sequel, Resistance. 



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Project Cain by Geoffrey Girard

Title: Project Cain
Author: Geoffrey Girard
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Publishing House: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9781442476967
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


Fifteen-year-old Jeff Jacobson had never heard of Jeffrey Dahmer, the infamous serial killer who brutally murdered seventeen people more than twenty years ago. But Jeff's life changes forever when the man he'd thought was his father hands him a government file telling him he was constructed in a laboratory only seven years ago, part of a top-secret government cloning experiment called 'Project CAIN'.

There, he was created entirely from Jeffrey Dahmer's DNA. There are others like Jeff - those genetically engineered directly from the most notorious murderers of all time: The Son of Sam, The Boston Strangler, Ted Bundy... even other Jeffrey Dahmer clones. Some raised, like Jeff, in caring family environments; others within homes that mimicked the horrific early lives of the men they were created from.

When the most dangerous boys are set free by the geneticist who created them, the summer of killing begins. Worse, these same teens now hold a secret weapon even more dangerous than the terrible evil they carry within. Only Jeff can help track the clones down before it's too late. But will he catch the 'monsters' before becoming one himself?

(Image, summary and information courtesy of Goodreads)


Jeff is on the run. From what, he's not exactly sure. All he knows is that they are coming. He doesn't know what they want from him, because he has nothing they could possibly want. That is, until he finds out that he is the only one of seventeen boys to be 100% replicated from the DNA of notorious serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer. Jeff's not the only one cloned from a serial killer; almost every serial killer has at least one living, breathing representative, and Jeff must track them down before everything turns into the biggest living nightmare the world has ever witnessed.

I've read a lot about Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, and almost all the serial killers documented from the United States. Most of them are violent because of the environment they grew up in, triggering all these synapses for brutal killing. And some, only a handful of them are, because it's in their genes. Project Cain once again brings up the old debate between nature versus nurture, wherein a fictional - at least I hope it is - US company, in conjunction with the military, use clones of serial killers to be their guinea pigs. Some families are instructed to raise the clone in a good environment, and some get paid to re-enact the clone's "original" home life. The novel is rife with conspiracy theories that I did enjoy, and short biodata of the serial killers, which did refresh some of my memory. 

But other than that, Project Cain did not really carve out a niche for itself just like I hoped. There was no internal conflict drama from the main character, which I badly wanted, and there was little to non-existent action. (Actually there are some action stuff going on, but it'll hardly keep anyone buzzed.) And could you really fault me for thinking this one was going to be good? Look at that cover! It looks more than well-versed in butt-kicking than staying in hotel rooms (which was like, what, 85% of the novel?) I get that Jeff's supposed to be hiding from the other kids, and that DIST, the company that "created" them is after them as well. (Yes, them. This other guy gets roped into helping Jeff.) But guess what? DIST doesn't seem to actually give a fig about Jeff. Those replicas of serial killers seem be to way more interested in killing people than recruiting Jeff to be part of them. And the secret weapon that's supposedly very dangerous? Heck yeah it's dangerous, but it wasn't as exciting as the blurb made it seem.

Jeff was hardly interesting, and the way he was written made it seem like he was this very young boy instead of being around sixteen or seventeen. He was fighting his inner demons for a bit, sure, but it was more like he was fighting his own delusions. And because he's technically 100% Jeffrey Dahmer (Yes, even the egg carries Jeffrey Dahmer.) he sees Dahmer's victims all over the place. Which is weird. But despite being a clone of Dahmer, Jeff is normal, for lack of a better term, to the point of being of coming across as sheltered. Well, DIST did pick this Jeff to be raised in a good environment, so the Dahmer characteristics obviously did not show up. 

If books with serial killers are your thing, I'd really rather recommend Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers. Project Cain may have a very tempting blurb, but it hardly delivered, what with its lackluster characters and weak storyline.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

Title: When You Were Here
Author: Daisy Whitney
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publishing House: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9780316209748
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


Danny's mother lost her five-year battle with cancer three weeks before his graduation - the one day that she was hanging on to see.

Now Danny is left alone, with only his memories, his dog, and his heart-breaking ex-girlfriend for company. He doesn't know how to figure out what to do with her estate, what to say for his Valedictorian speech, let alone how to live or be happy anymore.

When he gets a letter from his mom's property manager in Tokyo, where she had been going for treatment, it shows a side of his mother he never knew. So, with no other sense of direction, Danny travels to Tokyo to connect with his mother's memory and make sense of her final months, which seemed filled with more joy than Danny ever knew. There, among the cherry blossoms, temples, and crowds, and with the help of an almost-but-definitely-not Harajuku girl, he begins to see how it may not have been ancient magic or mystical treatment that kept his mother going. Perhaps, the secret of how to live lives in how she died.

(Image, summary and information courtesy of Goodreads)


Before his high school graduation, Danny's mother succumbed to cancer. Stuck with only his dog and ex-girlfriend's mother for company, Danny doesn't think twice about high-tailing it to Japan when a letter from Tokyo arrives for him. Because there are some things that don't exactly fit the picture right...

Danny lost his mother to cancer, and his dad earlier to a car accident in Kyoto, so he's basically an orphan. Being rich and gorgeous, and having everything he could possibly ever ask for, are just some petty things to fill in the void of what really matters. I could understand his snap decision to jet off to Tokyo because his mom always loved it there, the property he's inherited, as well as needing some time to himself without anyone reminding him of the way things were before. Not that Danny's a stranger to Tokyo either, but it's a good place to lose himself for a while. And while the fact that there are Japanese who are very well versed in witty English banter did kind of shock me for a bit on top of it being entirely too coincidental (I mean, I know that there obviously are fluent English speakers, but I do wish that I had even just one very coincidentally fluent English-speaking local Japanese stranger to intervene on my behalf all these times I've been to Japan when I've always had to use Google Translate or hand signs to communicate.) What I also appreciate is that Danny's Japan is a different Japan from what I'm accustomed to. Danny's Japan has that lived-in approach to it, something that's off-limits to even a frequent visitor like me. But, this Japan is not as flavorful as one hopes the book will be, so if you're intrigued by this because it might shed some light on modern-day Japan, it actually doesn't.

Let's move on to Danny. Danny doesn't really talk to me. As a reader, I'm inside his head but there's absolutely nothing about him that evokes any kind of feeling from me. I'm not saying that Danny's pain isn't real, or that he's a total fake just because his angst wasn't as, err, angsty, as I expected it, but I didn't really feel anything, save for annoyance because dude. That. Freaking. Surprise. Twist. (But more on that later.) I'm not saying that a book has to make me hurt inside and cry and bawling, "What happens to my life now?!" for me to actually press people to read it because LIFE. (Which I do, and have done. Twice. The hurting and crying and bawling part. Which I don't usually do. And the person I usually press to read stuff I cry over is my co-blogger, who I'd like to think reads the stuff anyway because she loves me, and because she takes delight in something that has tormented me.) I thought that the reason I could not fully absorb Danny's character was because he always held himself away, even from the readers. And at that, his time to "get over" his Mom's death just felt a bit too quick for me, too... formulated. Hold up before you say that maybe Danny's not done moving on yet, or that Danny's still grieving in his own way and readers shouldn't get a blow-by-blow account of how he feels like scum every time he opens his eyes and realizes that he's alive and his mom isn't and that we all grieve differently. It just didn't really work for me.

On to a good thing that I did however, feel the need to thank the heavens for, would be because there was no convoluted love triangle to speak of. I did initially think that "Oh no, his heart's broken and here comes this Japanese girl who heals him." No, there was none of that, so that was one cliche dodged.

I have talked about Danny, but I haven't quite gotten to the other people in the novel yet. There's Holland, the ex-girlfriend Danny's still pretty much into and who's still pretty much still in love with him. I'd like to say she's nothing spectacular, except for being the most gorgeous girl in Danny's eyes, and she has to do with the surprise twist, which by now I'm guessing, you can tell that I don't like. Kana, the housekeeper's daughter who helps Danny piece together his mother's life in Japan, was okay. She kept Danny company, and was amusing to watch, most especially when she was not 'fessing up to her Harajuku-inspired fashion choices. 

Now to the hard part. When You Were Here was, in all honesty, a chore for me to finish. Like I said, Danny was holding himself back from even himself, and he does things in a way that could probably be attributed to his emotions, but even then, Danny's just sort of there and we're all just watching him from the sidelines. The surprise twist absolutely threw me off, and not in a good way either. I wasn't a big fan of it, and I know that in real life, sometimes spit hits the ceiling fan real good, but c'mon. Just... no. It wasn't just something that you could and should hide from anyone, least of all the party involved, and it was just all kinds of wrong. While it did make Danny "grow", it was hardly the right time to deal with that. Two lefts don't make a right, after all. They just kind of put you back where you came from. While Danny did deal with it in a way that he's kind of supposed to, I kind of doubt that it was the kind of thing that would have been really helpful.

If you plan on reading When You Were Here because Japan is involved, I'm not really sure that this is the book for you. While it does feature Japan heavily, it's not exactly the same Japan I'd want people who've never been to, imagine. If you plan on reading this one because of the nature of the circumstance, I get it, but likewise, I'm not exactly sure that this will resonate with you either. 


Monday, November 11, 2013

NICOLE'S REVIEW + Novel Nails #8: Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

Title: Antigoddess
Author: Kendare Blake
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: September 10 2013
Publishing House: Tor Teen
ISBN: 9780765334435
Source of Copy: Fully Booked


Old gods never die...

Or so Athena thought. But then feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away at his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra - an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.

These days, Cassandra doesn't involve herself in the business of gods - in fact, she doesn't even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.

Because Hera, queen of the gods, has aligned herself with others of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these antigods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get because immortals don't just flicker out.

Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.

The Goddess War is about to begin.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


Antigoddess is not your typical gods-and-humans story and among all the books that I've read that take from Greek mythology, this is easily my favorite.

The gods are dying slow, horrible deaths. The pantheon has divided themselves once again and are waging war on the both sides. Caught in the middle is Cassandra, reincarnation of the Greek prophetess that Apollo oh so loved. She just doesn't know it yet. So when her dreams and visions start getting bloodier and there's a strange sense of foreboding thrumming through her veins Cassandra knows that something bad is about to happen. The dying gods believe that she is the key to their survival and they will do anything, kill anyone to get to her.

I've been a fan of Kendare Blake books ever since she broke my heart and scared me to death with Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares. So there was no second-guessing about whether or not I should give Antigoddess a go. 

The author does well in portraying the Greek gods and goddesses. They're selfish and destructive and stubborn to a fault. The fact that they have all these powerful abilities that they use to further their cause - which usually involves a whole lot of death and destruction - makes them near impossible to contend with. 

I wasn't exactly fond of the characters except maybe Aidan and Hermes. Cassandra is, I'm not sure how to describe it, but she's distant at best. I felt like I didn't really get to connect with her and enjoy her as a character but somehow I was totally okay with that. 

Athena on the other hand I did like. She's everything you'd expect from the goddess of wisdom and warfare - strong, capable and ruthless. But as the story progressed, like Hera and her cronies, Athena is afraid to die and she's not going to take her death simpering like a damsel in distress. But I got to this point in the story where, after a certain incident involving Cassandra, I got pissed at her. I mean, there she goes again doing whatever she wants, what she thinks is right and damn all the consequences. I kind of wished everyone would just leave Cassandra alone but then where's the fun in that right?

I just loved the mood of the story and paired with Blake's vivid explanations of the gods' slow deaths, well that made for a pretty creepy read. Desperate gods and a reincarnated prophetess on the brink of war? Bring it on. Although I have to say that the ending was pretty painful and if I didn't love my copy of Antigoddess so much I would have tossed it against the wall while simultaneously bawling my tiny eyes out. I am definitely looking forward to the next book. 


"Novel Nails" is a feature of the blog that showcases nail art inspired by books and their covers. Nail art will be created by either Michelle or Nicole and will be featured alongside their reviews.

It's Nicole again for Novel Nails this week featuring Antigoddess. As you can see I drew feathers on my nail using a striper and I'm all matchy-matchy with the book cover.

The nail polish I used are as follows:
Base: OPI Incognito in Sausalito 
Feathers: Orly White Tips

I glued the tiny rhinestones using clear polish.

Antigoddess next to OPI.

Close up of my nails.

Another close up!

I match with the book. Pretty!

So what do you guys think? Feathers - yay or nay?