Book Review: Follow Me Back

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I originally chose this book due to a quick read of the synopsis, as well as my love for silly stories about celebrities falling in love with a fan in strange ways. Especially when they have a mystery twist.

32470611

Follow Me Back

By A. V. Geiger

Published Date: June 2017

Format: ebook ARC
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Romance
Ratingmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 4/5 Moose

Synopsis

Synopsis taken from Netgalley:

Told through tweets, direct messages, and police transcripts Follow Me Back is the  first book of a new duology. Written for the online generation this thriller  will keep you guessing right up to the shocking end.

Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…

Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.

When a fellow pop star is murder at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…

Characters

Tessa Hart: An agoraphobic  18 year old, whoose lif has become all about her twitter world.

Eric Thorn: A famous singer who has become paranoid since another singer has been killed by an obsessed fan.

Rants, Raves, and General Thoughts

I’ll admit, I submitted for this advanced reader copy because I might have been watching It Follows on Netflix. I was a little disappointed that this isn’t a weird ghost/demon story, but it still was right up my alley. I secretly kind of love books where celebrities genuinely fall in love with one of their fans in some way.

I also tend to really love epistolary novels….which this isn’t entirely. It’s a good combination of pros and documents. I found Tessa to be incredibly relatable, even without not knowing what caused her paranoia until much later in the book. The author also doesn’t try to sell her as a drop dead gorgeous girl who is just slightly flawed — she feels real.

This book also makes me as a Twitter user feel wonderfully uncomfortable. I have never randomly confessed my love to a celebrity….I honestly am more likely to yell at a corporation I feel has wronged me. But still, I do see the people that respond, saying anything to see if they’ll get a reaction. And I will like/retweet things people say….especially authors.

This book is well written and fairly straight forward, though it has a nice twist. I found I related with Tessa’s anxieties, and that they were written with just enough tension but not over the top at all.

Final Thoughts

I don’t find too many young adult thrillers that are great — Harlan Coben has a great miniseries worth checking out ahem — and I would also recommend A.V. Geiger. I have started following her on Wattpad too! Though I doubt the sequel to this book will be published there. And be advised — this book has a cliffhanger ending. I cannot wait to see what happens next!

….oh I have to wait a year? REALLY? Sigh.

Book Review: Ensnared

I received this advanced readers copy by Netgalley, in exchange for an unbiased review.

I initially picked this book out as the cover is beautifully done, and the concept of a futuristic, sci-fi Beauty and the Beast sounded wonderfully fun.

31831180

Ensnared

By Rita Stradling

Publish Date: Dec. 2017

Format: ebook ARC
Genre: New Adult, Retelling, Romance, Sci-Fi
Ratingmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 3.25/Moose

Synopsis

Alainn is the youngest daughter of Connor, a brilliant robot creator with a massive gambling problem. When his newest creation, an AI made to look like Alainn named Rose, isn’t ready for the man who commissioned her, Lorrcan. In order to keep her father out of jail, given his massive gambling debt and fraud, Alainn agree to Rose’s plan to pretend to be the robot until it is ready.

But instead of the life of servitude and living in a tower, Alainn finds her life to be very different than originally imagined.

Characters

Alainn – the “Beauty” of the story

Lorrcan – the “Beast” of the story

Connor and Colby – Alainn’s father and brother

Rose, Rosebud, and Rosette – AIs of the world

Rants, Raves and General Thoughts

Initial thoughts: Great retelling idea (especially given the renewed love for Beauty and the Beast) and thank god it’s not a retelling of Alice in Wonderland because aren’t we all sick of those yet? Plus the cover is GORGEOUS. 

After looking at the reviews on Goodreads: Maybe I made a mistake with this book, oh dear.

I’ll admit, looking at the reviews caused me to look at this book with an unfortunate biased at first. I thought I was going to DNR this book, especially as I was concerned it might take a 50 Shades of Grey fake BDSM turn. Thankfully, it doesn’t. The “Beauty” and “Beast” are loose terms, and thankfully the author doesn’t describe Alainn’s beauty in great depth. In fact….I don’t know if Alainn is given much of a physical description. But it works well.

This is a fairly light read that could do with another edit or two (particularly in the beginning.) The story is a little predictable in some manner — who the bad guy is going to be at least, but as for the reasoning, it was a shock for me. I feel Alainn and Lorrcan’s back story could have more punch — there’s a lot of hinting at bad, but the actual background stories happen fairly late in the book. At one point “Mrs. Miller” is interviewed for Alainn’s character, but I had no connection at to who she was or why it was important.

I loved the monkeys and want a robot cleaning monkey.

The book could use some more world building — why are all the jobs done by robots? How does anyone make money? And this would help build up some of my issues with the book. Also more character building of her father and brother — I didn’t understand the latter’s personality until 75% of the way into the book.

I found the romance believable, and while Lorccan is dealing with some serious anxiety and phobias and can we please get him a damn therapist, he didn’t seem to be a controlling asshole. I mean, he’s fucked up and needs some help asap. But he’s also not the one keeping Alainn/Rose/Jade in the house.

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed it, and it’s a light quick read. I hope the final has more world building, allowing for the plot to breathe more. And I’ll keep up with the author and THANK YOU for not being an Alice in Wonderland retelling.

ARC Review: Pretty Wicked

I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review. As the daughter of a cop, and an advocate for YA horror, I was intrigued by the book concept. This is Kelly Charon’s first book, making it (I believe) my third book of a new author in the past month?

32068308

Pretty Wicked

Kelly Charron

September 2016

Format: Kindle ebook
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Thriller
Rating:moose-mdmoose-md 2.5/5 Moose

Synopsis

Ryann is the fifteen year old daughter of the local police detective. She’s lived her life in the shadow of her older perfect sister, feeling the pressure and observing the ins and outs of how crime is handled in her small town.

And she’s decided her one way to be better than her sister: she’ll become the perfect serial killer. She wants to be responsible for death and the fear in her small community.

Carving out her own murderous legacy proves harder than she predicted. Mistakes start adding up. And with the police getting closer, and her own father becoming suspicious, Ryann has to prove once and for all that she’s smarter than anyone else—or she’ll pay the ultimate price.

Rants, Raves, and General Thoughts

Goodreads made this book sound so much better than it actually was, unfortunately. Even still, most of the reviews are incredibly positive. This isn’t the worst book I’ve read, but …..it could use some work.

This story is….fine. I can’t decide if I disliked the book or if I disliked the main character. Instead of reading as sociopathic or psychotic, she just read as bratty the entire book. Definitely more narcissistic than sociopathic. The author seemed to have several different stories going at once, but none of them were done amazingly well? It reads a bit like the author did most of her research by watching crime shows, rather than anything substantial. She had the main character doing research on computers that could clearly be traced (everyone has a library login — why keep researching serial killers? So many people can see that information.)

Introducing the Unknown Secret Admirer so deeply in the third act (yes there were hints of it in the second, but it was so understated) read more like the author couldn’t figure out how to end the book, so she added the Admirer in later.

I feel like the author has potential, but could use a good editor and/or feedback. At the very least, there is a point where the author said “night in shining armor,” rather than “knight in shining armor.” I mean, I get things are going to get missed, but this just could have used a few more pass throughs.

Final Verdict

I AM SO BUMMED I DID NOT LIKE THIS BOOK. But I can’t recommend it either. I am, however, going to keep an eye out on the author for her future work.

Book Review: Chained

With my journey to New York City mostly complete, I had plenty of time to read books while I was on my way up. The first day was a wonderful (ha!) 12 hours drive, and the second day consisted of a much shorter 3 hours drive. I was able to catch up on most of my ARC books that I’ve had lying around, so expect a few updates this week.

The last one I finished is the first one I’m reviewing. It is called Chained, the first book of the Cage of Lies series by Susanne Valenti. I am not 100% sure how I first started following Susanne, but I have been for awhile. She’s a pretty amazing author, and you should definitely go purchase her first two books: Chained and Linked. Links are for the Kindle additions, which will cost you $6 total. Susanne posted about advanced copies of her books, and I was one of the lucky ones to take her up on it! I just bought her second book on Amazon (TOTALLY didn’t know it was out, and now I’ve started another book. Alas!)

I started Chained the second morning of our drive. It was a refreshing change over the other two books I read in the car, both of which I found weird. I was expecting my whole ARC experience to be weird and didn’t have my hopes set too high on this book. I was pleasantly surprised.

I feel that I should state upfront that this book is a YA Dystopian book, and if you aren’t a fan of that genre, this isn’t going to be a book for you. There are some minor spoilers below, but nothing too major. So without further ado….

Chained by Susanne Valenti
Published October 2015
Part of the Cage of Lies series

moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 3.5/5 Moose

Overview:

Maya, an intelligent teenage orphan trying to find her place in the new world population behind The Wall. After overpopulation and humans abusing the Earth, they accidentally created something that allowed the Earth to fight back. Fearing extinction, they hid in cities behind walls and burrowing into the ground. Hundreds of years later, the population is just beginning to be able to explore the wasteland around their cities to see if there is a possibility of expanding.

Maya has always held a fascination in the Old Ways. Cars, green trees and water have a strange hold on her, while the constant grayness and surveillance of Harbour City drive her nuts. When her only friend Taylor suggests that she join the group going to explore the outside to see if it is contaminated, she immediately jumps at the opportunity.

Unfortunately, this opportunity leads to accidental contamination, causing Maya and Taylor to be punished and sent to SubWars as messengers for 3 months. Maya’s life is never the same after that.

Things I Liked:

Susanne, you’ve got a way with descriptions. I could feel the forest around me, especially in juxtaposition to the city and the potential “contamination” site. I love the slight guilt feeling I got about the huge house that only fit 4 people (as I move into my tiny NY apartment!)

I actually like Maya for the most part, though she seems too stubborn at times and needs to be saved too often. I had to remind myself occasionally that she had lived in the City, not learning how to fight. My favorite characters are definitely Alicia, Kaloo and Laurie— I love badass girls that don’t need a boy to save them I guess. Coal and Taylor were fine — I really don’t care for Taylor yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing how he grows.

The thing with convincing dystopians lies in how civilization fell. It’s got to be convincing — you’ve got to make me feel like this could start happening at any moment. Chained successfully gives a terrifying possibility. M. Night Shyamalan should have used this for his really terrible movie The Happening. I can imagine that Earth will fight back against us one day, especially if we accidentally give them the tools to do so.

Things I Didn’t Like:

There are parts of the book that had me confused from the beginning. Did Maya witness her parents’ death? Why was she near the labs then? Taylor and Laurie seem pretty open to leaving the city too — I’ve never read a book where everyone in a breakout of some sort seems okay. I’m also weary of the potential love triangle that’s been set up by the book — I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this will resolve quickly. (Seriously — my main love for the Divergent series is that there wasn’t a love triangle).

Everyone seems a bit even keel most of the time. No one really fights, no one stops to ask why they’re so willing to help out these strangers. And I wish there were more backstories to the characters. Maybe not backstory — maybe depth is the word I’m looking for?

And while I really liked the idea of SubWars, I clearly didn’t understand what they were at first. So when Maya, Evan and Taylor end up in the SubWars fighting for their lives, I seriously got confused. I think I just need a visual map of the SubWars’ layout to help me?

Conclusion:

If you like Dystopians, give this one a go. It’s a quick read and a decent one at that. I definitely would have loved it more if it had been longer with certain aspects more detailed ( i.e. life in the city, the different class systems, the suffocating life, why everyone shuns Maya). I’ll let you know if I’m still enjoying it after I finish the second book!