Book Review: Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig

25036310Flynn’s girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?

Flynn’s girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can’t answer, and her friends are telling stories that don’t add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January’s boyfriend, he must know something.

But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January’s disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself. 

Team Midsummer had the amazing chance to interview Caleb Roehrig and we love him. Check out our interview here.

I read this book in a matter of hours.  The only reason I put it down for a few minutes was to run from one airport terminal to the other so I could make sure to catch my flight home.  Even then, I held the book in my hands, unwilling to let it go or lose my place for too long.

When Caleb said he set out to write a thriller, I’d say he succeeded in spades.

First things first, let’s talk about characterization.

Flynn, oh, Flynn, my sweet snowflake.  He is so well rounded as a character, he has his flaws, he has his snarky sarcasm that made me laugh out loud (to the chagrin of my neighbor on the flight), last-seen-leaving-aestheticand he has a struggle of accepting himself for who he is.  He is brash, he is ridiculously self confident in that he will find clues and information that the cops can’t find about his missing girlfriend, and I assume he must have an extremely trustworthy face, because a lot of people he doesn’t really know open right up to him.  Although, I think my main concern here is that those people’s parents didn’t teach them to not talk to strangers.  But again, I could always talk to a wall, so I’m not the best judge!

January is somehow able to be likable despite all of her flaws and her incessant lying.  For instance, even waaaaaaaaaay before the events in Last Seen Leaving, she was consistently portraying her boyfriend, and so-called best friend, Flynn is a very negative light to those around her.  Not only to some of the kids at her new private school, but also to her coworker, who she also pitted against Flynn to make him jealous.  She’s definitely a master manipulator, and I credit Roehrig for still creating a character that I was rooting for, even though I kind of hated her too.  She reminded me of one of those girls in high school who definitely thought she was better than anyone and everyone, therefore isolating herself from everyone.

The mystery/thriller aspect.

This story kept me on my toes the entire time. While I do have my reservations about girls just giving up a lot of random information about January to a guy they’d never really met before, I loved that Flynn had this whole Nancy Drew thing going on (Side note: Nancy Drew was way better than The Hardy Boys).  He’s definitely a bolder person than I’d ever be.  I’d be persuaded to let the cops handle it and then wallow in my own misery, but not Flynn.  Which I love.  I found it so amazing that he was kind of bad at investigating, and the killer was definitely not someone who I immediately suspected, so I credit Roehrig for laying plenty of false leads throughout the narrative that were pretty convincing.

Romance.

I just fangirl flail about Kaz and Flynn. Just, go read this.

4.5 Bards!

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Keep up with the rest of our LGBT Month Celebration!

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Cover Reveal: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

The cover for debut author, Krystal Sutherland’s, novel Our Chemical Hearts is now available! Just look at this beauty.  It’s simple but elegant. I love it!  Be sure to check out the novel’s synopsis below and maybe go ahead and put in a pre-order, because it sounds bloody brilliant.

 

ourchemicalhearts

Release Date: September 6, 2016

Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can’t-eat-can’t-sleep kind of love that he’s been hoping for just hasn’t been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he’s been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into an Ivy League college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything’s about to change.

Grace isn’t who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys’ clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It’s obvious there’s something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn’t your average story of boy meets girl.

Doesn’t this sound lovely and heartrending? Sign me up!

Waiting on Wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on: 

Release Date: November 5, 2013


The day Eden met Ryan changed her world forever. Actually, not just her world. Ryan has time traveled from the future to save the world. In a few weeks, Eden’s best friend Connor will discover a new planet—one where human life is possible. The discovery will make him famous. It will also ruin the world as we know it. When Ryan asks Eden for help, she must choose between saving the world and saving her best friend’s greatest achievement. And a crush on Ryan complicates things more than she could have imagined. Because Connor is due to make the discovery after the girl he loves breaks his heart. That girl is Eden.

Waiting on Wednesday!

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts a book meme where all of us book bloggers can get together and share the books we are desperately waiting to be released! 

This week I’m waiting on…

Release Date: February 26, 2013

Would you live through the ultimate test of survival? 

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life. 
Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.

Book Review: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia… 

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper: 

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia. 

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother. Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. 

But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.
I have to say that out of all the zombie novels that I’ve read in recent times…which isn’t THAT many when I think about it, but mostly the Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy, The Space Between, and This is Not a Test, Dennard’s story captured my imagination and my heart. (Cheesy, right?)

The story opens up with the main character at the train station waiting to pick up her brother who is supposed to arrive home after a number of years abroad.  Unfortunately, Eleanor’s trip is interrupted by a Dead Alarm (how brilliant is that? C’mon Resident Evil…where were THOSE?) and the arrival of a creepy zombie with a note specifically for her (I’d be afraid to touch the note for fear of germs).

From there we are integrated into the harship of the Fitt family and the strange obligations of 19th century women to their family and society.  I love Eleanor for being rebellious when it comes to obeying all the rules, but that she isn’t a cliche. She just does what she thinks is right, regardless of the possible repercussions.  Impetuous would be a great word to describe her.

Naturally, there is a young, handsome man who is exasperatingly intelligent and full of wit.  He is a fine match for Eleanor when it comes to attitude and humor. 

The one thing that really bothered me throughout the novel was the lack of background given to the world.  When did these zombies become a problem? It wasn’t just the work of this necromancer, because the dead alarms and spirit hunters existed prior to that.  However, the fast paced story kept the world building at the back of my mind.  Although when I finished and was reflecting on the story I kept having questions.  I certainly hope that these will be answered in the subsequent installments.

Overall I really enjoyed Something Strange and Deadly.  It made an excellent beach read.

4 Bards.

Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. 


 Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. 


Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. 


Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.


Release Date: August 7, 2012

Even though I know that Maas has been working on variations of this novel for years (although I’m not going to pretend that I followed her progress, but I do think it is an admirable idea), I can’t help but think that maybe it wasn’t necessarily Maas’ readiness to produce a strong heroine…but that in a time where young adults look up to Katniss, Hermoine, and many other strong female leads….the readership wasn’t necessarily ready for a female assassin as capable as Celaena.

I’ve seen reviews calling Throne of Glass “fantasy light,” which I don’t necessarily think is a bad thing, but there are very well developed elements of modern life interspersed throughout the narrative.  First, Celaena herself has endured a lot of hardship in her life, but she does manage to find time to read and enjoy frivolous novels (even though she does read more serious literature), admire fashions, and play the coy game of “back and forth” with those around her. Hell, she is even somewhat vindictive to other girls that encroach on what Celaena would consider “her turf.”  What high school aged girl DOESN’T think of these things?  Not only does this make Celaena more relatable, but she seems more realistic.  As for those who have found Celaena “shallow,” I just challenge you to look through the eyes of a young assassin who was forced into the profession, and how would you choose to “escape” from the hard work of killing?

I do agree that the world building was somewhat lackluster in this novel, but since the majority of the narrative takes place in either Endovier or the Castle it is completely understandable.  I expect that in the subsequent follow ups there will be extensive detail concerning the kingdom.

Yes, there is a love triangle, but I wouldn’t say it is an equilateral triangle like Tessa, Will, and Jem in Cassandra Clare’s wonderful Infernal Devices trilogy.  This relationship between Westfall, Dorian, and Celaena is more like an obtuse triangle…two entities are much closer throughout this story.  And the third developed much slower.

Overall I found Throne of Glass to be exceedingly enjoyable and I couldn’t put it down.  In fact, when I finished the novel (a day after I started it) my mother immediately scooped it up and read it. (She liked it a lot too).

Four Bards.


Book Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

Release Date: July 10, 2012

It has been a long time since I have read such an exquisitely developed pure fantasy novel. There are many aspects of Seraphina that are strong and need to be praised: characterization, details, world building, and plot development.

The main characters of Seraphina are individual and extremely well developed. Seraphina herself experiences heartbreak after heartbreak concerning her personal life and she struggles throughout the novel to understand the reason for her existence and to accept that she is worthy of friendship and love. Not only does this create a natural connection between Seraphina and the reader, but it establishes empathy exceedingly well. Orma, Seraphina’s teacher, is wonderfully serious, caring, and intelligent all at once. He is protective of Seraphina and her secret, and strives to help her along her discovery of her heritage and her love of music.

I really want to mention Hartman’s great development of secondary characters like Princess Glisselda, Prince Lucian Kiggs, and the inhabitants of Seraphina’s garden. Glisselda is as precocious as you would expect a young fifteen year old princess to be, and just as intelligent. She is sharp and demanding, but she has the right to be as the first heir to the throne. Prince Lucian (referred to as Kiggs throughout most of the novel) is Glisselda’s devoted fiancé and friend. He is a bit judgmental, but as the head of the royal family’s guard, he should be. Fruit bat is the obvious favorite of Seraphina’s garden, and Hartman’s ability to develop his character without the character speaking for most of the novel is wonderful.

The world building and details that Hartman employs throughout this novel are absolutely perfect to provide an intricate vision of the city of Gorrida and the characters themselves. Hartman utilizes the idea of motherly memories passed on through dragon lines to help establish a clear purpose and main dramatic question for the novel, and to create tension within Seraphina and in the turmoil surrounding her.

Once the narrative began to pick up, about 100 pages into the story, then the plot development was well done. At the beginning, it felt like Hartman was pounding so many details into the readers’ mind that it was easy for me to confuse the names and titles. It is possible that the pacing will have been corrected or quickened in the final publication, since I read an Advanced Reader Copy.

Overall, I think that Seraphina is a completely innovative and beautiful story. I recommend it to fantasy fans and even paranormal fans looking for a new main character to love. I’m awarding Hartman’s debut with 4.5 Bards. Go read it!

Waiting on Wednesday

Every week over at Breaking the Spine hosts a book meme where all of us book bloggers can get together and share the books we are desperately waiting to be released!


This week I’m waiting on Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Release Date: August 7, 2012 

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.


Book Review: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

Galen, a Syrena prince, searches land for a girl he’s heard can communicate with fish. It’s while Emma is on vacation at the beach that she meets Galen. Although their connection is immediate and powerful, Galen’s not fully convinced that Emma’s the one he’s been looking for.

That is, until a deadly encounter with a shark proves that Emma and her Gift may be the only thing that can save his kingdom. He needs her help–no matter what the risk.

After how much I loved the interesting and unique mer-stories, Tangled Tides and Tempest Rising, I was worried that the increasing level of stories featuring the mythical and fantastical water creatures would become overrun by stories somewhat mimicking the basic guidelines of the basic YA novel that has soaked the genre since the popularity explosion of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Saga.
Now, I have to say that Of Poseidon had some excellent characterization.  The main character, Emma, was extremely volatile, sarcastic, and stubborn: I loved her.  She was stubborn enough to stand up against the random guy who was suddenly chasing her around the halls of school and to not fall for his handsome looks….at first. Then, Emma calls HERSELF out for becoming “that girl,” the Bella Swan, if you will, who gives up college and independence for the sake of all-consuming love.  I get it. I do. I get that this is a fantasy for girls—but I really wish that there were more characters like Jessica Darling (haven’t read those books? Do it.) who realizes that sometimes a relationship isn’t going to work with the current paths the characters are on or that they need to go their own way for a while.  Now, Of Poseidon is the first in a series, I believe, so I really hope we get more of stubborn and sarcastic Emma in future installments to redeem her fire.
I’ve read reviews stating the love for the hot man-fish, Galen…and I have to admit that I don’t have much to say about him except that I appreciated his learning curve from bossy royal to understanding (kind of) boyfriend.
The other thing that I wasn’t quite sure about was the establishment of a different sect of mermaids and mermen referred to as Syrena (possibly derived from Sirens?)—but Banks did a decent job of convincing me that their culture exists.  The political issues between the house of Triton and the house of Poseidon really deserved more focus in order to understand the dire situation that Galen and his clan are in.  I certainly hoped more time would be spent in Syrena in the follow-up, but I’m not sure how with the way it ended.
P.S: it was super hard for me NOT to imagine Toraf, Grom, and Galen looking something like this:
I KNOW they aren’t supposed to in my head…but I couldn’t help it.  Or imagining them like King Triton from The Little Mermaid.
I’m torn about how to rate this book, because while there were some plot deficiencies and some pacing issues…I got some laughs out of it. 
So I think I’m going to stick with an average rating on this one…it was “okay.”
3 Bards.

Now Reading: The Lost Code by Kevin Emerson



WHAT IS OLDEST WILL BE NEW, WHAT IS LOST SHALL BE FOUND. 


The ozone is ravaged, ocean levels have risen, and the sun is a daily enemy. But global climate change is not something new in the Earth’s history. 


No one will know this better than less-than-ordinary Owen Parker, who is about to discover that he is the descendant of a highly advanced ancient race—a race that took their technology too far and almost destroyed the Earth in the process. 


Now it is Owen’s turn to make right in his world what went wrong thousands of years ago. If Owen can unlock the lost code in his very genes, he may rediscover the forgotten knowledge of his ancestry…and that less-than-ordinary can evolve into extraordinary.

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