THE GODDESS TEST by Aimee Carter

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The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

Published April 19, 2011 by Harlequin

Pages: 293

Series: The Goddess Test, #1

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy – Mythology

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Blurb

EVERY GIRL WHO HAS TAKEN THE TEST HAS DIED.

NOW IT’S KATE’S TURN.

It’s always been just Kate and her mom–and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear that her mother won’t live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld–and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he’s crazy–until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she suceeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride and a goddess.

IF SHE FAILS…

My thoughts

Maybe you’ll win when hell freezes over.”

He raised an eyebrow.

“That could be easily arranged.

I love Greek mythology and I love retold stories. That’s why I thought I’d enjoy this book more. But sadly, it just wasn’t what I was hoping for.

Kate’s mother is about to die from cancer, and her last wish is to return to her childhood home. Kate doesn’t really want to, but she can’t bear to deny her mother the one thing she wants. So they move to New York City to tiny Eden, Michigan. Kate tells herself that it’s just for a little while, and then she can move back home and figure out how to move on without her mother.

Then she’s invited to go to a bonfire in the woods, and despite her misgivings she goes anyway. But it turns into a prank gone wrong, and a girl dies. And while Kate’s freaking out, a handsome stranger named Henry appears and offers to bring her back to life, if Kate agrees to do something for Henry. If she wants to know more, she just has to read the myth of Persephone.

And of course Kate agrees.

Kate eventually figures out what she’s agreed to do- she’s agreed to play the part of Persephone, spending six months of every year with Hades. Now, if it were me, I’D BE PISSED to find out that I’d been manipulated. But conveniently, Kate doesn’t have a reason to stay in the real world once her mother dies. And conveniently, Kate falls in love with Henry/Hades, so why even go back to the real world? It’s nice and dark in the Underworld anyway. Probably toasty warm, too.

Or maybe it’s cold down there. I wouldn’t know.

It’s okay up until here, but then the story completely derails.

I haven’t studied Greek mythology, but I know that they were really manipulative with no morals whatsoever. They did whatever they pleased and the rules never applied to them. But most of the gods in this story don’t match up to the myth, and that makes it hard to believe. On top of that, there’s the annoying naming thing that Aimee Carter does by giving the gods normal names. Like renaming Hades “Henry”. Oh, and making Henry seem like a normal 22-year-old guy, though a bit moody. Henry, you’re supposed to be THE GOD OF THE UNDERWORLD. ACT LIKE IT. This makes it hard to keep the gods straight. I keep thinking they’re normal people, not gods with power to snuff out life on a whim.

It’s just not believable enough.

Then there’s these tests that Kate is supposed to be undergoing to prove that she can be Queen of the Underworld. Great, but there’s one problem. The tests are impossible to study for and you don’t even know when Kate is going through one. So Kate spends a lot of time walking around a mansion wearing dresses and eating fancy food and reading. Fascinating.

I thought this book was going to be great. It had promise, but the whole point was the mythology, and it was butchered. Therefore, the story didn’t work. But I still liked it enough to give it three stars. It’s mildly entertaining and it’s easy to read. I was totally wrong about who the assassin would be. I’m curious enough to wonder what else could possibly happen in the next two books of the series.

Rating: 3 stars

The Goddess Test Series

Click on the images for the respective Goodreads page!

thegoddesstest  ?????????????????????????  goddessinheritancebkcover

THE PLEDGE by Kimberly Derting

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The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

Published November 15, 2011 by Margaret K. McElderry

Pages: 323

Series: The Pledge, #1

Genre: Dystopian

Blurb

In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she’s spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It’s there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she’s never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.

Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can’t be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country’s only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.

My thoughts

I pledge to keep you safe.

In Ludania, your language is determined by your class. You’re not allowed to speak any other language, unless it’s the common tongue, Englaise. If someone above your class starts speaking a different language, then the law says you must look down at the ground. If you don’t, you get beheaded. How pleasant.

Charlie is of the vendor class, so she’s supposed to understand only Parshon and Englaise. But she’s got a Big Secret- she can actually understand and speak all languages. But since this would get her killed, she must keep quiet and never let on that she understands more than she should.

But then one day she makes a mistake. She looks right at someone who’s speaking to her in Termani, the language of the Counsel class, and a soldier notices. This soldier is Max, and he has a Big Secret too.

I have two big problems with this book. The biggest issue was the whole romance between Charlie and Max. It just popped out of nowhere and it didn’t make sense. Max was “intrigued” by Charlie, and Charlie and couldn’t keep Max out of her head. What a love story! They don’t have any kind of chemistry to make me like them as a couple. Boring.

My second issue was the Queen. She’s supposed to be absolutely terrifying and twisted, but you only really see that in the beginning of the book. I wanted to see more of her and I wanted her to be that scary throughout the whole book. When I read the prologue I got shivers. The rest of the time she just seemed like some tiny fragile thing. The rebels should’ve just walked up and killed her! Problem solved.

To me, The Pledge felt more like a fantasy than a dystopian. There are dystopian messages in the book – there’s a lot of talk about the people being oppressed and wishes for freedom and there’s a loudspeaker blasting messages about loyalty to one’s Queen and country, and so on – but Ludania feels like a made-up country instead of a new country built upon the old America. And then the characters are usually named after old cities, like Sydney, Brooklynn, and Cheyenne. And of course, there’s the fact that the common language is Englaise. If the book wasn’t specifically listed as dystopian, I would be very confused.

I didn’t much care for Charlie, but I loved her sister Angelina. She doesn’t speak, but she’s so sweet and smart and the sisters love each other so much. I’m curious why she doesn’t speak for so long, though. Hopefully it’s covered in the second book.

I would recommend this book if you’re looking for a dystopian about monarchies and revolution. It’s worth a try, anyway.

Rating: 3 stars

 

The Pledge Series

Click on the images for the respective Goodreads page!

thepledgebkcover  theessencebkcover

Stacking the Shelves (2)

stackingshelves

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and features the books I’ve received, bought, and reviewed over the past week, as well as blog news.

HAPPY FEBRUARY! (a day late)

I can’t believe it’s February. It felt like January just flew by, and I’m not okay with that at all. Talk about “life passing you by”….

So I still haven’t read most of the books I got last time I posted a StS. Actually, I’ve only read one. I just keep finding books that I have to read RIGHT NOW, and then I abandon the others…

 

This week, I received for review:

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Spellbinding by Maya Gold

 

I bought:

unearthlybkcover thegoddesstest ashenwinterbkcover incarnatebkcover

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

Ashen Winter by Mike Mullins

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

(I need to quit buying so many books. Their prices add up.)

 

Reviews this “week” (I’m cheating on this one!)

The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Ashfall by Mike Mullins

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Link me to your StS!

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

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Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Published January 4, 2011 by HarperTeen

Pages: 435

Series: Unearthly, #1

Genre: Paranormal

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Blurb

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she’s part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn’t easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place and out of place at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

 

My thoughts

 I think he seriously believes that deflowering an angel could mean an eternity in fiery hell.

So this is the first angel book I’ve read, and I am in love with it. I’ve got Fallen and Hush, Hush sitting unread on my bookshelf, but this was the one I picked up first. And I’m so glad I did, because I’m sure that this is probably the best book in the whole angel subgenre. I think I’m going to recommend this book to every single paranormal fan. You don’t like angels, or you’ve given up on angel books? Oh well. Read it anyway. Just because it’s that good.

Clara is part angel. One quarter angel, to be precise, and three-quarters human. When the book starts, she’s trying to figure out what her purpose is. Every angel has a purpose. Pretty soon she determines that her purpose will be saving a guy from a fire…in Wyoming. (This is a book about angels, and his name is Christian. Either you’ll groan and roll your eyes or you’ll love the irony, like I did.) So she’s forced to abandon her popular California girl life and move to Wyoming. Along with her comes her younger brother Jeffrey.

I expected that the story would follow the usual YA path. I thought Clara would instantly fall in love with Christian and then she’d save him and then there’d be two other books with a bunch of angst and crap about destiny and what it means to be human versus being an angel.

Boy, was I wrong.

Now, I should warn you that there IS a love triangle, but it’s really not that bad. There’s no insta-love.

Instead, there’s a beautiful love story. Clara isn’t the usual YA heroine. She’s a little tougher and she doesn’t allow the guys to mistreat her. She realizes that she might have to save Christian from the fire, but also that her purpose does not dictate who she must love. And there’s another difference from other YA novels- in this particular story at least, she chooses the better guy.

I loved learning along with Clara about her angel abilities and history. Of course, she has wings, and she must learn to fly. Her eagerness, frustration, and elation is easy to imagine. If you could sprout wings and fly, you wouldn’t get it on the first try, either. It keeps her relatable, and it’s fun to read.

I’m excited to read the next two books! I can’t wait to read more about Black Wings and see if my theory about Jeffrey is right. I can’t wait to figure out more about Clara and Clara’s mother. I’m sure it would be good!

Recommended to paranormal fans, even if you’ve given up on angel stories.

Rating: 5 stars

The Unearthly Series

Click the images for their respective Goodreads page.

unearthlybkcover hallowedbkcover boundlessbkcover

ASHFALL by Mike Mullins

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Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Published October 11, 2011 by Tanglewood Press

Pages: 466

Series: Ashfall, #1

Genre: post-apocalyptic

Blurb

Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don’t realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano, so large that the caldera can only be seen by plane or satellite. And by some scientific measurements, it could be overdue for an eruption.

For Alex, being left alone for the weekend means having the freedom to play computer games and hang out with his friends without hassle from his mother. Then the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, plunging his hometown into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence. Alex begins a harrowing trek to seach for his family and finds help in Darla, a travel partner he meets along the way. Together they must find the strength and skills to survive and outlast an epic disaster.

My thoughts

Review summed up in one sentence: Put down whatever you’re doing and go buy this book, RIGHT NOW!

For the first time ever, I felt ashamed of my species. The volcano had taken our homes, our food, our automobiles, and our airplanes, but it hadn’t taken our humanity. No, we’d given that up on our own.

What do you do when the world is covered in ash and there’s no water and no food?

Alex thought he would have a great weekend playing computer games with no parental figures around to boss him around. Instead, he has worst day of his life. The power goes out, and then his house catches fire. He escapes and takes shelter with two neighbors while ear-shattering sonic booms rattle the house. Now he’s alone in the world with no idea if his parents and little sister are alive. The ash will ruin most cars, and it’s too deep to walk. He searches his burnt house and finds a pair of his dad’s skis and straps them on. He packs a bag of supplies he thinks he’ll need. With that, he skis off to find them.

And this is the biggest reason why I love this book: I love the survivalist nature of it. Alex has to rely on what he can carry on his back, and that’s it. There’s no grocery store full of food. There’s no bathroom. There’s no furnace to keep you nice and warm – you want heat, you better build a fire (and let’s hope you know how to start one!).

I live close to a volcano. I’m close enough that my neighborhood will be buried in ash when the volcano blows. After reading this book, I want to RUN to the grocery store and start stockpiling food. I’m wondering what kale tastes like. I’m planning container gardens of potatoes and beans and carrots and spinach. I’m wishing I had a backyard so I could raise chickens. Life As We Knew It had me feeling this way, too.

I think this is the best book I’ve read in a long time. It’s well-written, action-packed, and much of it is fast-paced. Alex’s relationship with Darla is refreshingly normal and sweet. They complement each other. Alex is generous where Darla would be untrusting and stingy. Alex is a naïve city boy, while Darla is a tough farm girl. I thought Darla was slightly too good at fixing things (she always knew how to solve the problem? how lucky), but at the same time I can appreciate how it’s the girl who comes up with the solution instead of the guy.

I loved all the details about fire-building, first aid, and searching for food and shelter. It made the book feel so real to me.

I would HIGHLY recommend this book to post-apocalyptic fans. Possibly any YA fans. Just read this book!

Rating: 5 stars

 

The Ashfall Series

Click on the images for their respective Goodreads page.

ashfallbkcover ashenwinterbkcover

Waiting on Wednesday (6)

This week, I’m waiting on:

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Expected publication date: June 25, 2013 by Harper Teen

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Blurb

They hear the most silent of footsteps.
They are faster than anything you’ve ever seen.
And They won’t stop chasing you…until you are dead.

Amy is watching TV when it happens, when the world is attacked by Them. These vile creatures are rapidly devouring mankind. Most of the population is overtaken, but Amy manages to escape—and even rescue “Baby,” a toddler left behind in the chaos. Marooned in Amy’s house, the girls do everything they can to survive—and avoid Them at all costs.

After years of hiding, they are miraculously rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living in a former government research compound. While at first the colony seems like a dream with plenty of food, safety, and shelter, New Hope slowly reveals that it is far from ideal. And Amy soon realizes that unless things change, she’ll lose Baby—and much more.

Rebellious, courageous, and tender, this unforgettable duo will have you on the edge of your seat as you tear through the pulse-pounding narrow escapes and horrifying twists of fate in this thrilling debut from author Demitria Lunetta.

Why I can’t wait!

It sounds right up my alley! I’m dying to know what ‘Them’ are supposed to be. I’m imagining zombified, genetically altered humans. Or maybe some kind of alien. I can’t wait to find out!

Link me to your WoW!

MONUMENT 14 by Emmy Laybourne

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Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Published June 5, 2012 by Feiwel & Friends

Pages: 294

Series: Monument 14, #1

Genre: Dystopian

 

Blurb

Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus. She can see it coming down the street. You don’t stop and hug her and tell her you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not—you launch yourself down the stairs and make a run for the corner.

Only, if it’s the last time you’ll ever see your mother, you sort of start to wish you’d stopped and did those things. Maybe even missed the bus.

But the bus was barreling down our street, so I ran.

Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong.

In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.

 

My thoughts

I really loved this book. I read it when it first came out, and I just finished re-reading it for this review. I’ve always imagined what fun it could be to live in a superstore. Think about it! You’ve got food, shelter, clothing, books (!), music…all under one roof. In an apocalyptic situation, if you can stake claim on a Walmart and keep it, you’ll be all set.

Most of these characters are very memorable, even the little children. Everybody has their characteristic that makes them unique. Here’s a quick summary:

 

1) Astrid – beautiful girl, in a relationship with Jake, Dean has a crush on her

2) Jake – original leader of the gang, hates responsibility and goofs off.

3) Brayden – the biggest a-hole ever, Jake’s friend

4) Josie – kind and loving with the kids

5) Niko – the serious Boy Scout

6) Alex – the genius, Dean’s brother

7)  Sahalia – dresses far older than her age and tries to act grown-up

8) Chloe – whiny

9) Max – kid who’s obviously got a really awful family, but doesn’t realize it yet

10) Ulysses – sweet Spanish-speaking kid

11) Baptiste – raised very religiously, and therefore thinks that EVERYTHING is a sin

12) Henry – sweet, young, Caroline’s twin

13) Caroline – sweet, young, Henry’s twin

14) Dean – the MC, the ‘writer’ who journals everything, the cook

 

It’s a lot of characters, but it was easy to keep them all straight.

Dean is the main character. He’s not my favorite character; in fact, he annoyed me quite a bit. I’m not exactly sure why. He’s really a good guy, though. He cared for the little kids and stood up for others. I didn’t like the way he treated his brother Alex. You’d think he’d appreciate the fact that he knew his brother was okay when so many were dead or dying, but nope. I have to admit, the relationship between them is very well-written. Unfortunately I found myself paying more attention to more likable characters than Dean, like Josie or the little twins.

Except for the first chapter, there isn’t much action in this book. Like in This Is Not a Test, it’s more psychological. These kids have suddenly lost their families. For the little kids, it’s especially hard. I felt so bad for the little ones…I wanted to hug poor little Caroline and her brother Henry. But most of the story is about living in this amazing superstore- cooking, sleeping, pooping, playing, getting high, selecting a leader, etc. Then in the last part of the book the plot picks up again by introducing two new characters (grown-ups!) to the store. So if you’re looking for action, this isn’t the book for you.

The ending leaves me anticipating the sequel, Sky on Fire. By then, so much has changed and I’m really excited to read what happens next. This book is a great read for those who want apocalyptic with a dose of realistic and psychological. It’s one of those books that left me wondering and hoping it never happens to me or my future kids.

Rating: 5 stars

 

Monument 14 series

Click on the images for their respective Goodreads page.

monument14bkcover skyonfirebkcover

THE HUNT by Andrew Fukuda

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The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda

Published May 8, 2012 by St. Martin’s Griffin

Pages: 293

Series: The Hunt, #1

Genre: paranormal, dystopian

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Blurb

Don’t Sweat.  Don’t Laugh.  Don’t draw attention to yourself.  And most of all, whatever you do, do not fall in love with one of them.

Gene is different from everyone else around him.  He can’t run with lightning speed, sunlight doesn’t hurt him and he doesn’t have an unquenchable lust for blood.  Gene is a human, and he knows the rules.  Keep the truth a secret.  It’s the only way to stay alive in a world of night—a world where humans are considered a delicacy and hunted for their blood.

When he’s chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to hunt the last remaining humans, Gene’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble around him.  He’s thrust into the path of a girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible—and into a ruthless pack of hunters whose suspicions about his true nature are growing. Now that Gene has finally found something worth fighting for, his need to survive is stronger than ever—but is it worth the cost of his humanity?

My thoughts:

Finally, vampires that don’t sparkle.

The Hunt is similar to The Immortal Rules. But where Allie was the vampire living among humans, Gene is the only human – only they’re called hepers now – living among the vampires. He can’t express emotion unless it’s bloodlust or amusement. He goes to school at night and sleeps through the day. He covers his human scent with ointment, shaves off all hair except on his head, files his nails, polishes his fake fangs. He can’t laugh. He can’t clear his throat. He can’t shiver. He can’t widen his eyes or squint. He makes sure to never get a single little scrape.Can you imagine a life like that?

It makes me question whether or not someone could actually survive for as long as Gene has. Think about it – how long can you go before you accidentally scratch yourself? In all those years, Gene never fell down and bumped his knee? Even though I love this book, the picky reader part of me had to point this out. And then there’s the question of why would anyone care to stay human? There’s no point to Gene’s life. His father should have bitten Gene. It would have done him a favor, really.

The vampires are also rather weird. They have sex with their elbows…they hug with their ears…and they laugh by scratching their wrists. It’s very odd.

World building is not very detailed. There’s no information on how vampires took over the world. I think if I were in the middle of the vampire apocalypse, I’d run off to the biggest desert I could find, so any vampires would spend all night coming for me and then burn up at sunrise. And my little retreat would have a moat around it, because apparently no one swims anymore unless the pool is half empty. There. Problem solved, I didn’t get eaten. Yay!

So if you can overlook some realism issues, you’ll love this book. I did. I love the creativity Fukuda put into the plot and I loved Ashley June. I loved the writing style, too. If you like bloody violent scenes, there’s some awesome ones.

I really can’t wait until The Prey comes out on January 29. IN EIGHT DAYS.

Rating: 4 stars

Reccomended for those who enjoyed books like The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa.

The Hunt Series

Click on the image for the respective Goodreads page:

thehuntbkcover thepreybkcover

Stacking the Shelves (1)

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So I used to post my own feature about book I’ve received or bought, but I decided that Tynga’s is much better and she has a button. :) My posts tend to be plain- shiny buttons are awesome!

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, and features the books I’ve received/bought this week, as well as blog news.

I received for review:

theswordbkcover

The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher

I purchased:

gravitybkcover ashfallbkcover whatkillsmebkcover

Gravity by Melissa West

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

What Kills Me by Wynne Channing

REVIEWS THIS WEEK

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You Know What You Have to Do by Bonnie Shimko ~ my review

BLOG NEWS:

I’m attending The Great YA Blogger Meetup, hosted by Stacked and YA Highway. It’s on January 25! I’ll post more info tomorrow.

YOU KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO by Bonnie Shimko

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You Know What You Have to Do by Bonnie Shimko

Expected publication date: March 26, 2013 by Amazon Children’s

Series: standalone

Pages: 240

Genre: horror

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Blurb (from Netgalley): Funny, fiesty, fifteen-year-old Mary Magdalene Feigenbaum (otherwise known as Maggie) suddenly faces more than the usual YA concerns: a voice in her head is telling her to kill people. Not just anyone – each time the target is someone who has done something terrible to a person Maggie cares for. You know what you have to do, the voice commands. Maggie struggles to resist, but the voice is relentless. With rising suspense, this story of  psychological horror introduces a narrator whose own unique voice and irreverent humor are unforgettable – an unlikely hero fighting a desperate battle against incomprehensible evil.

 

I will always carry the guilt for what I’ve done.

 

Maggie hears a voice in her head telling her to kill certain people, usually because they’ve done something to hurt someone Maggie cares for.

I usually don’t read horror novels. I like being able to go to sleep at night! I’m a chicken when it comes to things dark and scary. And this book is definitely dark and scary. It’s also an emotional roller coaster. I was glued to my Kindle the whole way through, begging Maggie to stop and tell her therapist, and snapping at her stupid mother, and crying when…um…the really sad thing happens. I don’t want to give it away…

However, I didn’t like that Maggie wasn’t ever punished. Not that I want her punished, but there were never any consequences for her actions. The people who knew what she had done never spoke up about it. It was just too easy for Maggie, and she never really got help. This really disturbed me, and it took away from my enjoyment of the book.

Rating: 4 stars

*An ARC was provided by netgalley and the publisher in exchange for a review*