Book Talk: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich // My Halloween Read

Book Talk: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich // My Halloween ReadThe Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
Published by Little Brown Books For Young Readers on September 2015
Genres: YA Horror, YA Mystery, YA Thriller
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Amazon
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

I don’t want to say too much but it is about: a reopened case about a suspicious fire at a school 20 years prior, a discovered diary that talks about the tragic night , a girl who claims she really is two people (Carly who lives in the day, Kaitlyn who lives at night), the people who believe her and the people who don’t,  a disappearance and a sinister dark house — all told by a mishmash of diary entries, police interview transcripts, video transcripts, notes and more!

a2WAIT WHAT?

a4Wow, I could NOT put it down. Reminded me of how I loved horror and stuff like this as a teen. Everything was so interesting to me and the mystery thrilled me, I loved the format and, while not scary, the creepy & sinister vibe was totally rocking my world. And then things at the ending happened (the ending itself + some parts really started dragging) and I don’t know how I feel it. I’ll get to that in a spoiler section further below but first we will get to the good.

Here’s what kept me reading on the edge of my seat:

1. The format: I love interesting and unique storytelling and especially when it integrates visual stuff. The book was told in diary entries, police reports, transcripts of video footage, interviews with various characters with the police. The diary entries definitely added to how I felt reading the story because we are in Kaitlyn’s head and I felt just as paranoid and trapped as her.  Having all these things helped put me in the story as if I were trying to figure out the mystery myself. I was pouring over all the evidence.

 

2. The way the mystery kept me flip-flopping what I thought was going on the whole time: So the main character Carly? For as long as she can remember she has had another soul in her, named Kaitlyn, and Carly exists in the day and then at night they switch and Kaitlyn lives. So, as a reader, it’s like okay — does she have this dissociative disorder in which she her mind has created this alter ego like her therapist thinks plus maybe some other underlying mental disorders? Or is there something evil going on inside her? Is everything she says real? Is it not? The unreliability of Kaitlyn/Carly adds to the flip-flopping I did plus some of the other characters seemed a bit unreliable as well. Is it all in her head or is something happening? Because if everything was really true than WOWSER some truly sinister stuff. Did she have the disorder or not? What happened to make her create Kaitlyn and why has she said she was always there? THERE WAS JUST SO MUCH TO COMB THROUGH WITH THIS MYSTERY. I kept doubting my instincts. I’d start to believe something but then doubt it all.

 

So now it’s time to talk about where some things fell apart for me but it’s all spoilers soooo:

View Spoiler »

 

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ the plot, the storytelling, how it kept me engaged & on the edge of my seat
–  the ending, romance

Re-readability: No, though I’d be tempted to reread the beginning to see if anything makes more sense to fill in some holes
Would I buy a copy for my collection? No

a5people who like interesting storytelling, fans of horror/psychological thriller type books, people who like a good mindf*ck

a8The Dead House was just what I needed for my Halloween reading — creepy, dark and sinister (wish it had been a little scarier) and unique storytelling that really hooked me and made me eager to put together the pieces from the diary entries, video transcripts, interviews and police reports. A compelling book but I’m still really unsure about how I feel about the ending which definitely was a minor buzzkill to my overall feelings toward the book.

review-on-post-itThe Dead House

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
PLEASE TELL ME YOUR THEORIES IF YOU READ THIS. Please mark spoilers!

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Book Talk: The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn BarnesThe Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on July 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA, YA Thriller
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Tess has grown up with her grandfather but when her sister, who she hasn’t seen in years, comes to visit and realizes things aren’t what Tess pretends they are at home, she’s suddenly whisked off to DC. She is enrolled in a super private school which seems to be the pulse of Washington as the rich and politically inclined have sent their kids there. She learns very quickly that her sister is famous in DC — she’s a political fixer. Without meaning to, she is thrown into fixing some of her classmates problems and finds herself tangled in a dangerous conspiracy that has implications for her classmates and higher up in Washington.

a2Is this going to be a series because that would be fun??? *scurries to Goodreads*
(There is at least a sequel from what I see but this totally stands on its own)

a4Oh this was fun! It was the perfect read for being on vacation because there was mystery and scandal and a fast moving plot to keep me reading and not distracted on the beach/at the pool. This book was pitched as Scandal meets Veronica Mars and I’d have to say it’s pretty accurate. It’s basically like if Olivia Pope had a little sister who came to live with her and caught up in messy Washington things. I get the Veronica Mars nod with the teens getting caught up in things and trying to solve/fix stuff but I can’t FULLY get behind the VMars comparison there will never be another character like V because she’s so perfectly snarky and charming (even though I rather liked the main character here). So that’s my thought if you saw the comparisons and wondered how it held up!

I got sooo wrapped up in the dramz in The Fixer — the sister drama, the new school drama, the political drama. OH SO MUCH GOOD DRAMA to keep the pages turning. Murder and scheming and political maneuvering, oh man! It was exactly the kind of twisty stuff that I love about an episode of Scandal or a show in that same vein. I loved that it kept me guessing as the mystery got twistier and twistier and the stakes even higher. I kept changing my theories…although I had a nagging suspicion about one thing and turned out to be right and I was like AHHH I KNEW I KNEW IT (but not in a bad way that was like UGH SO PREDICTABLE but in a DAMN THAT WAS GOOD..YOU ALMOST GOT THAT PAST ME).

There’s a whole host of interesting characters and players in The Fixer and I am really delighted that it looks like we will get to know them better with another book. I love romance in most of my books but it was refreshing for there not to be a full scale romance in here because I was ALL about the political thriller-ness that was this book — just maybe some inklings of something something in the romance department later on in the next book?? MAYBE. HOPEFULLY.

TIME FOR SOME SPOILERS:

View Spoiler »

 

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ plot, characters, twists & turns, writing, unputdownable quality
–  Nothing.

Re-readability: Probably not (I don’t tend to read mystery/thrillers again so that’s just a me thing)
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Because it’s not an all time favorite or a book I’d reread, no. But I wouldn’t hesistate to buy it for a gift especially for the teens in my life who like fast paced books.

a5fans of thrillers & mysteries (especially of the political variety), fans of Scandal and Veronica Mars (love when the “this meets this” is actually accurate on marketing material), readers looking for something fast paced and that will hook you easily, people who are looking for a book with basically no romance (but some kind of ~feelings there~ vibes and banter)

a8The Fixer was such a fun, thrilling book. I loved Scandal so I was happy this kind of lived up to that political twisty-ness. Loved that I was constantly changing my suspicions and, even though I had a nagging suspicion about something, that I was still like AH OMG throughout because the stakes were so high and the reveals were so spectacularly written.  If you are in need of a book that will just HOOK you, get this one immediately!

review-on-post-itthe-fixer-jennifer-lynn-barnes

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
What other YA political thrillers are out there? (I’d also totally take great adult ones but asking specifically for YA because I feel like there are barely any!)

 

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

Book Talk: The Walled City by Ryan GraudinThe Walled City by Ryan Graudin
Published by Little Brown on November 4, 2014
Genres: YA Thriller
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

The Walled City is home to about 30,000 people all cramped together in about 6 acres. Everything is built up so high that the sun barely shines in and it feels suffocating, it’s dirty and people live in poverty and there is so much lawless danger — drug lords, street gangs, brothels run by bad guys and more. The three main characters are all in the walled city for their own reasons and their stories become intertwined. Dai is trying to secure his freedom which involves having to run drugs for the most ruthless drug lord in the walled city who also runs a brothel. Mei Yee was taken and forced into working at a brothel two years ago and her dreams of escaping one day are always snuffed out after other girls attempt and fail. Jin went into the walled city to find her sister Mei Yee and disguises herself as a boy so she can look for her sister and tries to stay as invisible as possible while she does it.
.

a2I’m glad I stuck with it even though I had a rough start with it!

a4I had a really really rough start with this book. I just could NOT get into it at all but once I pushed through it had me just flying through the pages. While it didn’t blow me away, it was still an enjoyable read that I’m glad I stuck with in the end.

What I liked:

1. The setting was FASCINATING: The idea of this walled city fascinated me but once I learned that it was based on a REAL thing that existed my fascination level grew. I think Ryan Graudin really nailed the atmosphere of it. It’s this cramped walled city (like 33,000 people in 6 acres or something crazy like that) that houses all sorts of degenerates and drug lords, street gangs and brothels and people, lots of young people, who were dumped in there because they were criminals, stolen, abandoned or sold off. It’s dark and violent and filthy and I could SEE it and feel it as I was reading. I could feel the hopelessness and the looming super high buildings (because everything was built up) that made you feel even more trapped. The author definitely made me feel the danger and just the awful conditions these people lived in.

2. I loved the way the three main characters stories were woven together: Each character had their own reason for being in the walled city. One was taken there and forced into a brothel, the other was trying to save her sister in the brothel (and she was dressed up like a boy to survive to do that!!) and the other has a mission to help gain his freedom. I loved how they were brought together and were the key to each other’s survival and freedom in a setting where trust was hard to come by. I really began to care about them and hoped all three would make it out alive.

3. Once I got over the hurdle of getting into the story it became a gripping and thrilling ride: It seriously was this heart-pounding, action-filled story. The danger and the high stakes became so palpable as I was reading. I mean, they were dealing with some of the worst baddies in that walled city and were risking a lot for the freedom they were trying to gain.

4. It was a standalone: It’s not very often that I find an action-y type of story that isn’t part of a series so this was fantastic for me!!

What I wished would have been better:

1. It was SO hard to distinguish the three main characters from each other: I don’t mind multi POVs but I just felt like their voices sounded SO much the same. At the top of each chapter was the name so we knew WHO it was but if I had just read random parts from the book, without context to tell me whose story it was, I would never have been able to distinguish who was who because their voices just sounded like the same exact character.

2. It was hard for me to figure out the PLACE and TIME of this novel: As well done as The Walled City was it kept bothering me that I couldn’t figure out if this was set in the midst of our world or if it was a completely different world. The Walled City itself made me feel it was set further in the past but then there was this part that talked about a plane flying past so I knew that okay planes were a thing so I guess it is more modern setting.

 

a6RATING-LIKED

factors+ action, thrills, setting
writing/storytelling

Re-readability: No
Would I buy a copy for my collection? No but I do want to give my copy to my teen nephews because I think they would like it.

a5people looking for a more action-packed standalone, fans of gritty settings, readers looking for a non-US setting

a8Despite the slow start for me and being tempted to put this one down, I ended up being glad I stuck this one out because it became an absolute thrilling race to the ending and I actually grew to care about the characters in spite of how much their voices blended together and didn’t feel very distinguished. I was absolutely transported to the dark, dangerous streets of the walled city and the fear and the danger the characters were experiencing were also mine to bear as I was reading.

review-on-post-it

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
Did you have a hard time distinguishing the voices or was that just me??
Did we ever figure out WHERE this city was located exactly? I can’t even remember after reading it.
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
*

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Find Me by Romily Bernard | Book Review

Find Me by Romily Bernard | Book ReviewFind Me by Romily Bernard
Published by HarperTeen on September 24, 2013
Genres: YA Mystery, YA Thriller
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

three-stars

 

 

 

After their mother committed suicide and their criminal father fled to allude the police, Wick and her younger sister Lily have been placed in foster care and are trying to leave their life behind. The only thing is that it keeps catching up with them and Wick’s hacking skills don’t help keeping them out of danger. She tries to lay low with it until she receives the diary of a former childhood friend on her doorstep and then she finds out at school that Tessa is dead — a suicide. The Post It with the diary says “Find Me” but Wick doesn’t want to get involved until she finds out something that threatens someone she loves and knows she has to do whatever it takes.

Find Me by Romily Bernard was quite the page-turning thriller and I think that was the type of read I needed to get me out of my weird reading slump I mentioned I was in where I was putting down all sorts of books after 1 or 2 pages.  But here’s the thing, the strong start that kept me panicky and flying through it slowly dissipated for me a little more than the halfway mark. I was feeling super bummed and kept me at a point where I couldn’t say this was the phenomenal read I saw it shaping up to me — just a good one. Still positive feelings toward it — I liked it– but I became a little disappointed by the end.

Find Me opened up real strong for me and really progressed at a rapid pace. We learn about her past and find out along with Wick about the suicide of her old friend, Tessa, along with diary that finds its way to Wick. As the contents inside are revealed I couldn’t stop turning the pages and HAD to know what happened to Tessa and who the older creeper was she had a relationship with that made her commit suicide — especially when we find out who his next target is. I was ready for Wick, who is pretty kickass & a hacker, to start using those skills and find this mega creep. I was ready to get my Nancy Drew/Veronica Mars on with her!

I was flying through this book and it had that perfect amount of mystery to keep you going and thinking up all sorts of theories. But then about half way (or a little more than halfway) it became really obvious where this was heading to me as I started to eliminate people logically and think about certain things. What I was really hoping was that I was WRONG about who it was or that some new suspects would be introduced or a twist or something to at least trick me a little bit or make me doubt myself. Instead, it played out exactly how I thought it would so when the big reveal happened it was a bit luckluster for me and so the pursuit and resolution weren’t as “OMG AH WHAT IS GOING ON??” for me. I just needed a little bit more I think — there was only a certain amount of people and connections that could possibly be introduced. There was nothing too shocking for me. But that’s my dilemma when it comes to these types of books. I AM good at guessing so was it really just the book and the way it was plotted or should I be pursing a career in detective work instead??

Despite the way I thought the story went, I still liked other aspects of it. I really loved Wick and Lily and loved the strong sense of family loyalty between them and how each girl felt about their new family with their past still lingering. There was also an interesting thread in the story that had to do with Wick and Lily’s real dad and showed a lot of their past and you could just see how this transition into a new life would be hard. Wick was a great character and definitely not cookie cutter for me. She was quite sassy sometimes, loved her sister fiercely and was a hacker! I will say, I’m probably in the minority, but I didn’t LOVE the romance in this one but did appreciate that she didn’t become some weak and feeble girl when a boy came in the picture.

Find Me by Romily Bernard definitely was the page-turner I needed to snap me out of my reading slump because it immediately had this MUST FIND OUT mystery element to it. However, it became really predictable in the way it was plotted out, for me, so then the big reveal seemed lackluster because I had ruled out the other possibilities pretty easily. No doubt I enjoyed most of the book but for me to be anywhere other than “just liked it” it would have had to deliver something else that blew my mind. Luckily there were great characters and some familial threads that gave some more meat to this story as well.

Recommendation: If you are one who has read a lot of thrillers, you might end up predicting it early on like I did because there wasn’t much else that made sense and no other possible twists thrown out. If you don’t really pick up thrillers often, I absolutely recommend this because it’s such a page-turner and maybe you won’t read it the same way I did!

Find Me by Romily Bernard review

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? Did you like it more/less than I did? Did you guess who it was?? Or am I just the boring person who apparently guesses everything all the time?? GRR. On that note, does your ability to predict a book effect your enjoyment of a book? I definitely still enjoyed this but the fact it didn’t surprise me at all made it on an OMG MUST READ. But is that MY great guessing skills or the book’s fault? SIGH. What are some thrillers that kept YOU guessing?

three-stars
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