Mind Games by Kiersten White – 4 stars (out of 5)

Mind Games (Mind Games, #1)

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Fia was born with flawless instincts. Her first impulse, her gut feeling, is always exactly right. Her sister, Annie, is blind to the world around her—except when her mind is gripped by strange visions of the future.

Trapped in a school that uses girls with extraordinary powers as tools for corporate espionage, Annie and Fia are forced to choose over and over between using their abilities in twisted, unthinkable ways…or risking each other’s lives by refusing to obey.

In a stunning departure from her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy, Kiersten White delivers a slick, edgy, heartstoppingly intense psychological thriller about two sisters determined to protect each other—no matter the cost.

Thoughts:

Mind Games is told through 1st person POV between sisters Fia and Annie. I’m a big fan of multiple first person POV and I felt it was done well here. Fia and Annie have two distinctive voices. I’ve read some reviews that hated Fia’s “stream of consciousness” pov, but I liked it. It reminded me a lot of Tahereh Mafi’s style in the Shatter Me series (which I love).

-The story is told in alternating POV and time. For example. there is a chapter told from Fia’s pov in the present, then in a flashback, then Annie’s pov in the present, then in a flashback. I really enjoy this style. Maybe because it reminds me of Lost (before it wasted 6 years of my life. Seriously, the end of Lost was horrible! I still get upset just thinking about it). I found the flashbacks informative and enjoyed reading them as if they were in real time instead of one of the characters explaining it in the present. I think this style also keeps the story from ever feeling too slow.

-I found both Fia and Annie to be likable characters and were pretty well developed. However, I felt like the secondary characters could have been fleshed out a little bit more, as well as the stories surrounding them. What is James really up to? Why does Eden not leave the school if she has the choice? How will Adam’s work really effect Fia, Annie, and others like them?

-Overall, I really enjoyed Mind Games. It was a quick and easy read and I was actually disappointed that it was over so soon. I’m definitely looking forward to the next in the series, due out in February 2014.

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Monday’s Minutes

Welcome to my first Monday’s Minutes. It’s a (hopefully) weekly update about what I’m reading and what I’m planning on reading next.

WHAT I’M READING

Dualed (Dualed, #1)

Dualed by Elsie Chapman is a dystopian novel where everyone has a genetically engineered alt. When your assignment is activated you have 31 days to kill or be killed. Only one alt is allowed to survive.

What I think so far:

It started off really strong, but after the first chapter the pace slowed way down. There’s still some intense moments, though. West, the main character, is fairly annoying through most of it, but she’s finally getting it together. I only have a few chapters left and I’m hoping it ends as well as it began.

WHAT I’M READING NEXT

Mind Games (Mind Games, #1)

Mind Games by Kiersten White. Read a synopsis here. This was on my Recommended list on Good Reads and it finally became available at my library.

What are you reading?

A Spoilery Review of The Registry by Shannon Stoker – 1 star (out of 5)

The Registry

Synopsis from Good Reads:

The Registry saved the country from collapse. But stability has come at a price. In this patriotic new America, girls are raised to be brides, sold at auction to the highest bidder. Boys are raised to be soldiers, trained by the state to fight to their death.

Nearly eighteen, beautiful Mia Morrissey excitedly awaits the beginning of her auction year. But a warning from her married older sister raises dangerous thoughts. Now, instead of going up on the block, Mia is going to escape to Mexico—and the promise of freedom.

All Mia wants is to control her own destiny—a brave and daring choice that will transform her into an enemy of the state, pursued by powerful government agents, ruthless bounty hunters, and a cunning man determined to own her . . . a man who will stop at nothing to get her back.

Thoughts:

-I read this book because it kept showing up in my Facebook feed. The concept isn’t bad. A dystopian post-America where young women are bought as wives. Unfortunately that’s pretty much as interesting as it gets.

-The character development was pretty lacking. Grant, Mia’s “husband”, is basically just a rich psychopath and no real reason is ever given as to what made him this way. He’s not at all sympathetic. Not that the villain of a story is supposed to be sympathetic, but if you’re going to spend so much time in the story seeing through his point of view, you want to actually be able to understand his motivation. Here his motivation is that of a toddler’s: It’s mine, I want it back.

-Whitney, Mia’s friend that she talks into running with her, is supposed to be the smart one, but spends the whole trip sulking and debating whether or not she should return home. Andrew tells her that makes her selfish, which I don’t think is completely fair. Out of all of them, Mia is the most selfish, talking Whitney into going in the first place and blackmailing Andrew into helping them. When Whitney dies to protect Mia, I was only relieved that we didn’t have to  bother with her anymore.

-The “romance” in the story is between Mia and Andrew, but most of the book is spent by one or the other fighting their feelings. When Andrew finally decides to tell her how he feels, he catches her with Carter, one of the men assisting them in their journey to Mexico. Mia, who was pretending that Carter was Andrew while she kissed him, runs after him saying “I didn’t know how you felt.” One moment he storms out angry, the next moment they’re kissing in the back of the get-away car. There’s no explanation as to why she was with Carter or declarations of how they feel for each other. It just happens. And in the rest of the book, Andrew is referred to as “her love.”

-Overall, the book was just boring. Even the moments that were supposed to be surprising or exciting fell flat. I didn’t really care about any of the characters or what happened to them. Usually books I don’t like I give at least two stars because even if I didn’t enjoy the story, the writing was good. But this read more like a self-published free e-book than something that went through a real editing process. If you’re into a dystopian story that focuses on repressed females escaping their fate, a better bet would be Eve by Anna Carey or Wither by Lauren DeSteafno.

 

 

 

The Last Thing I Remember by Andrew Klaven – 2.5 starts (out of 5)

The Last Thing I Remember (The Homelanders #1)

Synopsis (from Good Reads):

Charlie West just woke up in someone else’s nightmare.

He’s strapped to a chair. He’s covered in blood and bruises. He hurts all over. And a strange voice outside the door just ordered his death.

The last thing he can remember, he was a normal high-school kid doing normal things–working on his homework, practicing karate, daydreaming of becoming an air force pilot, writing a pretty girl’s number on his hand. How long ago was that? Where is he now? Who is he really?

And more to the point . . . how is he going to get out of this room alive?

Thoughts:

-First off, I feel like the synopsis of the book only really gives you a picture of the first couple chapters of this book. Charlie does make it out of the room alive, but the real question is, can he stay alive? The book follows his escape from the room and also involves flashbacks from the last day he remembers, which is longer ago than he thinks.

-I felt like the premise of the book held a lot of promise, but in the end it kind of let me down. The further you get in the book, the more unbelievable it seems. Also, I didn’t really feel like any major questions were answered. This is the first in the Homelanders series, so hopefully the next books explain a little more.

-What I really liked about this book was the main character, Charlie West. He’s a teenage boy that’s kind, listens to his parents, doesn’t curse or drink or smoke, likes a girl because of how nice she is, and believes in God. I wish I knew this kid in high school because we would have been friends.

-Overall I was pretty disappointed in The Last Thing I Remember. I think in an attempt to go from writing for adults to writing for the YA market, Klaven made his writing a little too immature (the words “punk” and “chucklehead” were used a lot). However, there’s not too many YA books out there that combine action and young love with faith in God and for that alone I would recommend it to those interested in YA that get a little annoyed with all the cursing and sex of teenagers in other books. Because of my compulsive need to finish series I start, I’m sure I’ll read the rest of the series, but probably not any time soon.

Unseen by Karin Slaughter – 3 1/2 stars (out of 5)

Unseen (Will Trent, #7)

I requested Unseen through NetGalley because I’m kind of on a mystery kick right now and the description looked interesting. I didn’t realize at the time that this is the 8th book in the Will Trent series. I was a little hesitant to jump into a book that’s so late in a series, but I gave it a try. I’m very glad I did.

Synopsis (from Good Reads):

Karin Slaughter’s New York Times bestselling novels are utterly riveting and masterfully drawn. Her latest thriller, Unseen, pits detectives, lovers, and enemies against one another in an unforgettable standoff between righteous courage and deepest evil.

Bill Black is a scary guy: a tall ex-con who rides to work on a Harley and trails an air of violence wherever he goes. In Macon, Georgia, Bill has caught the eye of a wiry little drug dealer and his cunning girlfriend. They think Bill might be a useful ally. They don’t know that Bill is actually a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent named Will Trent. Or that he is fighting his own demons, undercover and cut off from the support of Sara Linton—the woman he loves, who cannot be told of the risk Will is taking.

Sara herself has come to Macon because of a cop shooting: Her stepson, Jared, has been gunned down in his own home. Sara holds Lena, Jared’s wife, responsible: Lena, a detective, has been a magnet for trouble all her life, and Jared’s attack is not the first time someone Sara loved got caught in the crossfire. Furious, Sara finds herself involved in the same case that Will is working without even knowing it, and soon danger is swirling around both of them.

In a novel of fierce intensity, shifting allegiances, and shocking twists, two investigations collide with a conspiracy straddling both sides of the law. Karin Slaughter’s latest is both an electrifying thriller and a piercing study of human nature: what happens when good people face the unseen evils in their lives.

Thoughts:

-Since I have never read the rest of the books, there were times that I wasn’t sure if something had been detailed earlier in the series or if it was purposefully vague for the sake of the story, but this is my fault and not the authors. I felt like Slaughter actually did a good job of recapping relevant events from the past so that I still had a good sense of the characters and their past even without reading in detail. This usually drives me crazy in books that I’ve read the entire series, but I really see the value in it now for new readers.

-The first chapter mentioned a raid that Lena was a part of. At first I thought it was something from the previous book, but the details are later revealed. It’s told in reverse chronological order – The day of the raid, then the day before the raid, then four days before the raid, etc. I actually really liked this style. It made the plot twists that much more shocking.

-The story is told from three different POVs – Will Trent, Sara Linton, and Lena Adams. Will is the tortured soul BCI agent, Sara is his girlfriend, and Lena is the wife of Sara’s stepson (by her late husband, who was also Lena’s partner) and has also been investigated by Will in the past. I liked the interaction between Will and Sara, with the exception of their big misunderstanding, which I thought was resolved much too quickly. I had a lot of trouble liking Lena, but I think that’s kind of the point of her character. The last chapter let me like her a little more than the rest of the book.

-When it comes to mysteries/crime novels I like a plot that surprises me without dumbfounding me. I felt Slaughter did a good job of giving small clues and building up to the reveal of Big Whitey, the villain of the book, but still surprised me along the way.

-This is the first of the Will Trent series I’ve read and I’m definitely going to go back and start at the beginning. I would suggest you do the same.

Frigid Trailer Reveal

I’m a big fan of the Young Adult Lux series by Jennifer Armentrout (Origin comes out next month!). Frigid is her latest New Adult book, published under her J. Lynn pen name. It’s available in digital format now and in print later this year. Check it out!

Frigid cover front 13jun2013_D

For twenty-one-year-old Sydney, being in love with Kyler isn’t anything new. They’d been best friends ever since he pushed her down on the playground and she made him eat a mud pie. Somewhere over the years, she fell for him and fell hard. The big problem with that? Kyler puts the ‘man’ in man-whore. He’s never stayed with a girl longer than a few nights, and with it being their last year in college, Syd doesn’t want to risk their friendship by declaring her love.

Kyler has always put Syd on a pedestal that was too high for him to reach. To him, she’s perfect and she’s everything. But the feelings he has for her, he’s always hidden away or focused on any other female. After all, Kyler will always be the poor boy from the wrong side of tracks, and Syd will always be the one girl he can never have.

But when they’re stranded together at a posh ski resort due to a massive Nor’easter, there’s nothing stopping their red-hot feelings for each other from coming to the surface. Can their friendship survive the attraction? Better yet, can they survive at all? Because as the snow falls, someone is stalking them, and this ski trip may be a life-changer in more ways than one.

Buy at Barnes & Noble
Buy at Amazon

Check out the trailer below. Just a heads up, it puts the Adult in New Adult.

Jennifer is also holding a giveaway on her website with a $100 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble grand prize. Click here to enter!

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# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.
Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen.
She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

Awakening Colors by Ritu K. Gupta – 3 stars (out of 5)

Awakening Colors

Awakening Colors centers on Pari, a young woman whom, after awakening from a coma after a car accident that kills her father, starts seeing clouds of colors surrounding each person she sees. With the guidance of personal notebooks from her mother’s late spiritual leader, Chanakya, and her father’s former associate, Arche, she learns to interpret the colors and the power her new enlightenment brings her. But can she fully understand this new world without following Arche’s dark path?

Thoughts:

-I feel like the following passage sums up my understanding of the book:

Arche’s relationship with his wife was completely open. He told her all that he could. Yet much was lost in the translation. So while she did not fully understand, she did, however, fully trust in his abilities.

This book spent a great deal of time discussing philosophical ideas and I didn’t always grasp what Gupta was trying to say. So while I didn’t fully understand, Gupta’s main point always came across.

-I felt where the book most excelled was in the background stories. I particularly enjoyed hearing about Pari’s father, her “uncle” Raj, and Inspector Jared Walsh’s time as an undercover agent. I would’ve liked to have seen more time spent in Pari’s relationships with them, as well as with her mother, her best friend Navina, and with Arche. I especially feel like there was more to explore between Pari and Arche before their final encounter.

-While the book didn’t end on a cliff hanger, I felt like it left some unanswered questions. Most notably in regard to Navina’s son, Azi, who Pari foretold would do great things and who often spoke of how he would help “fight Arche”, but nothing really ever happened.

-Full disclosure, the author contacted me and asked if I would like to review Awakening Colors, which is basically the coolest thing a new reviewer could ask for. It’s not the type of book I normally would read, so I really enjoyed the opportunity to do so. It spent a little more time on philosophy than I personally like, but overall I found it intriguing and would be interested in reading more from Gupta. I would recommend Awakening Colors to those interested in books that focus on philosophical and religious themes.