18602341The Wicked Will Rise (Dorothy Must Die, #2) by Danielle Paige
Published: March 31st 2015 by HarperCollins
Pages: 293

In this dark, high-octane sequel to the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die, Amy Gumm must do everything in her power to kill Dorothy and free Oz.

To make Oz a free land again, Amy Gumm was given a mission: remove the Tin Woodman’s heart, steal the Scarecrow’s brain, take the Lion’s courage, and then Dorothy must die....

But Dorothy still lives. Now the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked has vanished, and mysterious Princess Ozma might be Amy’s only ally. As Amy learns the truth about her mission, she realizes that she’s only just scratched the surface of Oz’s past—and that Kansas, the home she couldn't wait to leave behind, may also be in danger. In a place where the line between good and evil shifts with just a strong gust of wind, who can Amy trust—and who is really Wicked?
“She had been both good and wicked and everything in between. She had been both at once, too, until it was hard for her to even tell the difference anymore.”
Because of my wonderful experience with Dorothy Must Die, the first book of the series, I couldn't resist picking up the sequel. The things the author might have done, and whether that makes her a bad person, doesn't influence the fact if I like the content of a book. Unfortunately, that specific content turned out to be quite the disappointment.

The amount of darkness and gore in this book is nothing compared to its predecessor, but it was still there. Especially in Amy's character development, if you ask me. To my surprise, the sweet girl from Kansas showed a certain darkness I wasn't aware of before. It took her to extreme lengths and serious consequences, which was very interesting for me witness. After everything she's been through, it feels believable, like something everyone could do if they were in her shoes. In the end, there was a similarity between her and Dorothy, and I honestly can't wait to see where that will take her in the next book.

A three-star book usually counts several issues I had while reading. One of them was the cast of characters I had to deal with. The plot already created a very different story, but also the characters felt not like themselves. Ozma and other side characters I didn't really feel for were more on the front line while others I absolutely loved, were put in the background. I only started caring about Amy and Nox, which made me fear my life for a possible love triangle. I'm therefore extremely happy with how it turned out to be nothing like that. Throughout the book, I still rooted for the Amy x Nox ship I was already on board with since Dorothy Must Die. The lovely chemistry between the two remained, along with realistic conversations that made me laugh every now and then.

I've come to the conclusion that the Dorothy Must Die trilogy shouldn't have been a trilogy but a duology, for one very simple reason: The Wicked Will Rise is nothing but an unnecessary book to fill up some space between the epic beginning and an awesome conclusion. It did start out amazingly and brought along that same atmosphere I was familiar with from the first book. Afterwards the action and the adventure were still there, but the plot started to drag along immensely and headed in no specific direction. All the characters really did, was travelling to places without any real development in the story. The more I continued reading, the more this felt like a real case of Second Book Syndrome. For those who are unfamiliar with this term, it is the issue when you absolutely adored the first book, and then the second book doesn't manage to live up to your high expectations. I was often left wondering what was actually still to come, so colour me surprised when I got the end. After a disappointing climax, I honestly didn't expect anything to happen next, despite the amount of pages I had left. No matted how odd the ending actually was, I still have my hopes for the conclusion to make up for it, and it better will.

The Wicked Will Rise may have been a disappointment, but if it did one thing, it was ending on a very interesting note. There is still a lot to be done, and Amy's story is not finished yet. All I can hope for, is a conclusion that will leave me satisfied after all.

18368525Tangled Webs (Tangled Webs, #1) by Lee Bross
Published: June 23rd by Disney Hyperion
Pages: 304

London, 1725. Everybody has a secret. Lady A will keep yours—for a price. This sumptuous, scandalous YA novel is wickedly addictive.

Lady A is the most notorious blackmailer in the city. With just a mask and a gown to disguise her, she sweeps into lavish balls and exclusive events collecting the most valuable currency in 1725 London—secrets.

But leading a double life isn't easy. By day Lady A is just a sixteen-year-old girl named Arista who lives in fear of her abusive master, Bones, and passes herself off as a boy to move safely through the squalor of London's slums. When Bones attempts to dispose of his pawn forever, Arista is rescued by the last person she expects: Jonathan Wild, the infamous Thief Taker General who moves seamlessly between the city's criminal underworld and its most elite upper circles. Arista partners with Wild on her own terms in the hopes of saving enough money to buy passage out of London.

Everything changes when she meets Graeden Sinclair, the son of a wealthy merchant. Grae has traveled the world, has seen the exotic lands Arista has longed to escape to her whole life, and he loves Arista for who she is—not for what she can do for him. Being with Grae gives something Arista something precious that she swore off long ago: hope. He has promised to help Arista escape the life of crime that has claimed her since she was a child. But can you ever truly escape the past?
"Lady A." His voice sounded hoarse, like he'd only just started using it.
 She inclined her head slightly. He took a long swallow from the glass of brandy clutched in his fat fingers. Just like that, she had the power again.
Thank you Disney Hyperion for providing me with an advanced reading copy for review.

Actual rating: 3.5 stars

Going into a book with little knowledge about it, nor having many expectations, payed off this time. Tangled Webs is, despite the issues, a surprisingly good novel with some surprising qualities.

It is, for example, one of those books I could get easily lost in. The world is always accompanied by rich and vivid descriptions of the touch class system of the 18th century, but also lots of smaller aspects I will get into later on. It's clear the author has done her homework and therefore it feels like a bonus when she also succeeds in letting the atmosphere of the old city shine through in her own book. Ranging from the docks, the slums, the coffee houses etc. to the middle-class families, everything seemed to be done so well. I loved we got to see so many different aspects of the city. It might have been hard, no doubt about that, yet it was worth it in the end.

I applaud the author for not involving any magical elements and staying focused on the blackmailing and the secrets, even though it wasn't enough to fill the entire book and in order to have a tight and solid plot. It often wandered to places, not particularly finding anything, to then head back to the direction it was supposed to go all along. The more we got to the end, the more predictable it became, although still being a pleasant read. It did start off wonderfully, where we as readers are thrown into the cruel lifestyle of a young girl, and her evolution towards becoming a well-known blackmailer. The flashback did a wonderful job here at creating some depth to Arista's situation, although I would have preferred more I found the plot often to lack in background and depth, especially when I look at Arista's training and how she became Bones' trusted puppet. A companion novel or short story would be interesting to see how it all played out, since I am curious for more.

The vivid descriptions did not only have an influence on the view of the world, but also on smaller aspects such as Arista's background, which was depicted beautifully. She had to endure such cruelties in the beginning of the book. It was nearly impossible for me to not sympathize with her every now and then, even though I could never a grip on her personality and her character in general. Because of her double life, Arista showed many different sides, which made it a bit difficult for me to figure out who she really was. To be honest, I don't think she knew either. On the other hand, that was also something made the book interesting.

We are introduced to the era of the Enlightenment, a setting which isn't favorable for a lot of books. Because of that, it had already sparked my interest from the very first page. Yet when the double life of Arista was introduced, I couldn't help but express my enthusiasm. It was rather original and entertaining at times, but I would have liked to see a little bit more of her occupation. Everyone was so contemptuous towards her and even afraid. The author had no trouble in showing it. After all, secrets hold the power to destroy a man. I still do not get what she actually does, and how she holds the power to make men bow. I feel like I have so many thoughts left to write down, even though that might take little while.

Arista's character was surprisingly enjoyable. It has been a while since I encountered a character who uses words and strategy. Someone is not afraid to show her flaws, a certain lack in physical strength or not knowing how to swim. Because she was more focused on inner strength, it brought out some interesting and fun Lady A scenes. Other characters like Sophie, Becky, Wild, Bones and Nic were a pleasant addition to the book because I felt like they all had their story to tell and their role to play. Grae seems to be a more special case. He just seemed like he was destined to be the perfect love interest for Arista. A courageous and loving young man with a desire to see the word. In other words, a character to swoon for. Who wouldn't fall for that? Exactly, I would too. It's not that his perfect personality bothered me, because he still was a likable character. What did, was how one-dimensional he actually was. He was introduced in the book somewhere halfway through, and ever since we meet him, the romance also jumps in. From then on, it seems like the relationship between the two moves on at a very quick pace. It's definitely not insta-love because there really is a certain development, only that it was left out because of the time jump the book made. Therefore I feel like a little more depth into their relationship and a visible development would have made the love between the two much more believable.

In a nutshell, I would recommend Tangled Webs for those interested in a light novel set in a very interesting time period. When I do not look at its flaws such as some flat characters and a lack of background and depth, it does has the premise of becoming something great. The characters still are lovely, and the plot is intriguing and fast-paced. Unfortunately, I have run out of things to say about this book, but let's keep that a secret. Won't we, Lady A?

25650428Saving London by Taylor Dawn
Published: May 28th 2015 by Booktrope
Pages: 272

The List. That Signified Finality.
The Journey. That Would Span The Globe.
The Sacrifice. That Would Decide The Outcome.
The Choice. That Could Unleash Evil On Earth.
The End Is Only The Beginning...

“You have terminal cancer.”

London Patterson, a seemingly healthy young woman, had her entire life ahead of her. That was until four little words brought everything to a screeching halt. As the shock and grief begin to fade, London decides to map out her last year and embark on an epic journey to complete a bucket list. She wants to do the things she’s been afraid to do in her life, step out of her self-contained box, and see the world. What she didn’t expect was for a mysterious stranger named Adam to breeze into her life like a breath of fresh air.

Adam offers to help London complete her list on one condition…that she sees it through to the end. Agreeing on those terms, the two set out on an adventure of a lifetime. But London soon realizes that Adam isn’t quite…human. Along their journey odd occurrences happen that cause London to question who or what Adam is and why he’s helping her.

Follow London as she checks off her bucket list in this inspiring new Urban Fantasy novel from Taylor Dawn.
"At least I was given a year. To some it might seem like a small amount of time, and truly it is. But when you're given only that long to lve, it can in a way, seem like an eternity. I'll do the things I've wanted to do because in the end... no one can save London Patterson."
Thank you Booktrope for providing me with an advanced reading copy for review.

DNF at 30 %

Upon starting Saving London, I never would have guessed what kind of a story this book would turn into. It was kind of surprising to find out that a cancer-related story would completely lose its premise and storyline when fantasy-related elements started to roll in. By then my sighs and eye-rolls were more frequent than ever.

The main character of the story, London, describes herself as a twenty-something, but comes across like a sixteen-year-old. Everything she does, ranging from the way she looks at herself, how she communicates with others, etc. screams immature and childish. In other words, she was a really unlikable character from the start, and also my main reason for not continuing this book. I do understand that cancer isn't the most enjoyable thing in life, yet the way she handled her disease is so unrealistic. She just accepts it and then throws it away, moving on with her adventures. I also never had the pleasure to meet such a pessimistic and whiny character as she was. Despite the things she says, it seemed to me that she wasn't even grateful and aware of the fact that a 'stranger' put so much time and effort into a list she made.

Moving onto Adam, he still was a sweet and more likable character than London. I enjoyed this presence, but not enough to cope with London's personality for the rest of the book. When I look at their relationship, it was quite comparable to the story: too fast-paced. They went from complete strangers to friends to something more in the bat of an eye. The way they communicated was also a little too unrealistic for me to believable. At least, seen from London's point of view. She downgraded him too many times to count on my fingers and her humour was so cringe-worthy. It was often more rude than it actually was funny. Still, Adam laughed it away and still acted sweetly. That deserves a round of applause.

Besides the characters, I found myself being irritated by the writing itself. It certainly wasn't my cup of tea, nor did it look like there was time and effort put into it. The entire book is filled up with laughable dialogue and has in my opinion, a serious lack of descriptions. Also thoughts and feelings are written in a very superficial way, so I couldn't settle into the story.

The story itself seemed kind of fun, since I truly am a fan of books with lists, especially bucket-lists. Despite some obvious clichés, I knew it would bring a fast-paced story. Or should I say, a too fast-paced story. Every little thing on her list had to be done, and the author knew it. All the book really was about, was checking off things on her list, until supernatural elements started to fall into place. Nothing ever seemed woven together in order to create a real story, and it rather left me with some loose ends. I couldn't help but feel dissatisfied and therefore, distant from the entire book.

After all, Saving London is a book that is beyond saving.

11701113Shelter (Mickey Bolitar, #1) by Harlan Coben
Published: June 1st 2012 by Orion
Pages: 327

When tragic events tear him away from his parents, fifteen-year-old Mickey Bolitar is sent to live with his estranged uncle, Myron. For a while, it seems his train wreck of a life is finally improving - until his girlfriend, Ashley, goes missing without a trace.

Unwilling to let another person he cares about walk out of his life, Mickey follow Ashley's trail into a seedy underworld, revealing a conspiracy so shocking it will leave him questioning everything the life he thought he knew...

“Its funny how you can let yourself forget for seconds, how even in the heat of the horrible, you can have moments when you fool yourself into thinking it might all be okay”
As our last book to read for English class this school year, I, along with my classmates, was introduced to the thriller genre. I haven't actually read a lot of young-adult books who deal with crime and disappearances, because some of them are a bit predictable. I'm glad to announce that it wasn't actually the case with Shelter. It may have took me a while to finally get into it, yet once I did, it was a fun but cheesy roller coaster straight to the end.

Harlan Coben seems like a master in the thriller genre, when I take a look at how many novels he was already written. Therefore, I did love the amount of action and suspense I encountered. When I first started reading, I honestly did not know what I could expect. The story certainly surprised me along my reading experience, both in a positive and negative way. The twists and turns were very enjoyable and left me craving for more, which turned this book from a slow-starter into a page-turner very quickly. However, some aspects of the plot felt a bit weird to me, as if several elements of other books were thrown together into one. I would be lying if I say I did not love the darkness of the night clubs, the involvement of the Holocaust and some stereotypical high school drama. But a combination of them all still felt a bit weird to me. Above it all, this book contained some very cheesy scenes that could have fitted straight into a typical crime drama. Those scenes when characters suddenly act very strange, say nothing and then leave the main character with even more questions? They are enjoyable and fun, but very cheesy and eye-rolling, too.

A mystery novel is usually that kind of book where the hero solves a big problem with the help of some people. Mickey Bolitar is certainly added up to that 'hero' image, when I finally figured out what a Marty-Stu he was. Everything he seemed to do, was done perfectly. He always got away and always seemed to have a deus ex machina hiding in the bushes. He's beautiful, he's smart, he has talent and together with his tragic past, he should be the kind of character you feel for. After my reality check, I don't. Although he was rarely irritating, it was obvious to me what a special snowflake he actually was.

Moving onto the secondary characters, I found a lot of them to be inspired from the stereotypical environments. For example, you have Mickey's two best friends, the outcasts. Then, the jocks. To complete the picture, there's also the hot girl everyone's in love with. Even the characters we meet later on seemed very flat and one-dimensional to me. However, I liked how these characters made the book a lot lighter. It's fun to sometimes read a story with undeveloped characters, despite my dislike for them. After all, if every one of them was so complex and difficult, I don't think I would have continued reading.

Shelter is, to my surprise, a book I very much enjoyed and the kind I needed to read during my reading slump. I may consider reading the books that follow, because no matter how strange and stereotypical this book might have been, it still was a lot of fun to read.

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