How To Lead A Life Of Crime by Kirsten Miller: review

How to Lead a Life of CrimeHow to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller
Stand Alone
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Mystery, Contemporary, Thriller
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: February 21st 2013
Synopsis: A meth dealer. A prostitute. A serial killer.

Anywhere else, they’d be vermin. At the Mandel Academy, they’re called prodigies. The most exclusive school in New York City has been training young criminals for over a century. Only the most ruthless students are allowed to graduate. The rest disappear.

Flick, a teenage pickpocket, has risen to the top of his class. But then Mandel recruits a fierce new competitor who also happens to be Flick’s old flame. They’ve been told only one of them will make it out of the Mandel Academy. Will they find a way to save each other—or will the school destroy them both?

My Thoughts: 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from the first chapter to the last. I would even say that I love this book in the way I would love a (fictional) bad boy. There’s priceless dark humor, good ol’ snark, thievery, trickery, flawlessly made characters, a well-planned conspiracy, and a heart-pounding story filled with danger. How to Lead a Life of Crime is a novel that stuck to my hands until I finished. And after I finished the novel, I was whispering to the little hardcover these words:

Nobody stared at me strangely at all awhile I said it, either.

Looking at the synopsis, it’s not hard to get the wrong idea. I myself thought that this was going to be one of those stories that can be compared to a teen graphic novel or movie. But what I thought that this book was going to be like was completely wrong. How to Lead a Life of Crime doesn’t kid around. The Mandel Academy is ruthless and dangerous. Most of the students of the academy have lost hope, and some of them are just crazy. There is definitely that anybody can die atmosphere. And the villain, well, he seems to know exactly what the protagonist are planning at all times.

The carefully planned conspiracy that is happening behind the locked doors of Mandel Academy is perfectly executed. And really, I had a hard time not believing it. Kirsten Miller blends the Mandel Academy so well into the contemporary world of How to Lead a Life of Crime that it actually started to blend into what is happening in reality.

The idea of an academy that takes in kids from the streets, turns them into unfeeling people only after their own desires, and setting them out into the world as powerful people to manipulate the lesser powerful might be hard to believe at first. But if you think about it, it’s kind of not. How many times have people with power or fame been accused of having a hidden agenda that could have negative affects on the population as a whole? Definitely not just a few times.

White did an amazing job writing an authentic male character and voice. In fact, Flick is the best well-written character I ever had the pleasure of encountering. His character is wholly unpredictable. I do remember being shocked by his decisions many times awhile reading this book. And his flaws are brilliantly written in a way that makes the reader look past them and look for the good person behind them all, which isn’t hard to do as the story progresses.

Joi is just as great as Flick. My jaw dropped when she returned. She kicked so much butt with the way she lead and conquered. She is confident in her peer’s skills and invested trust when she knew she could, unlike Flick who tries to go solo. Seriously, this girl is amazing.

How to Lead a Life of Crime also features side characters that play roles that are almost as important as Flick and Joi’s roles in the story. If characters like Ella, Violet, or Aubrey weren’t in the book, I’m pretty sure that everyone would be dead in a puddle of blood or completely brainwashed.

The emotion that the author was able to pull from me was surprising. I don’t think I have worried for a character’s life that much. And don’t even get me started on all the thrill and excitement I went through.

The prose comes with an abundance of clear descriptive writing and sensory, as well as doses of ultra-awesome snark and dark humor that had me laughing out loud. Never had I read a novel with such great snark in the prose.

“’See? You’re the crazy one, you redheaded freak.’

I’ve been attempting to translate the phrase into Latin. If I ever succeed, I shall make it my personal motto.”

The only flaw that I can find in How to Lead a Life of Crime is the censoring of ‘fuck.’ Instead of being written as a complete word, the word is written as ‘f—-.’ I didn’t find any point of doing that. The reader knows what word is being used, so the censoring just becomes an annoyance. But that’s only a itty bitty, tiny flaw that flew right over my head once I got sucked in by the story.

I have nothing but praise for How to Lead a Life of Crime. The plot is incredible, the characters make White worthy of an award, the writing is amazing, and the conspiracy is believable. My only regret about reading this book is that I’m going to be wanting more for the rest of my life. Why must this be a stand alone?

Note: There are also many references to Peter Pan, so if you are a fan of the classic, then you might love this book, also!

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Heist Society by Ally Carter: review

Heist Society (Heist Society, #1)Heist Society by Ally Carter

Series: Heist Society #1

My Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Young Adult

Genre: Mystery, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release Date: February 9th 2010

Synopsis: When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history–and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

My Thoughts: 

This is the kind of book I see and immediately think that it will be super fun. I mean, there is a heist! With well-trained thieves! Unfortunately Heist Society wasn’t super fun. I found it to be a lackluster story that often made me want to cast it away to read something more satisfying. It makes me feel sorry to admit that I didn’t particularly like this book… Oh, wait, no, it doesn’t.

Kat Bishop is a girl that ran away from a life of conning and to a life in Colgan, one of the best schools in the country. But only after a short time, Kat is dragged back into the world of thievery by Hale, her friend and former partner, and also finds out that a mobster suspects that her father has stolen his collection of priceless paintings.

There is only one thing that Kat can do to save her dad: find the paintings and steal them back.

This kind of story could have been all kinds of exciting and adrenalin pumping. But the potential excitement is buried under a great amount of globetrotting, as well as the unearthing of background stories. And then when we actually get to the heist, it felt rushed and didn’t seem to have much effort put into the writing the event.

Kat and Hale, the two leads, were so flat that they could be compared to a cardboard cut-outs of a human beings. There is really nothing remarkable about them except for a couple of witty lines. I felt that Kat’s character was only made up by outside forces rather than internal, and Hale was just kind of floating around. Guys, I was totally expecting to gush over these two characters, so this revelation was a huge disappointment for me. I do think that they show signs of being interesting characters toward the end, but for me, it was already to late.

Despite my indifference toward Kat and Hale, I did enjoy reading about the rest of the gang! They were just so, so entertaining to read about. I also think that their loyalty to each other is quite touching. They stuck together like a family, even if not all of them are blood-related.

The writing did have an effect on me. The way Ally Carter worded things made me want to push through all the flaws and keep turning the pages. Plus, there was the cool addition of the ‘map’ pages that told how many days until deadline. They were just so pretty! <–I’m a sucker for illustrations of any kind.

Carter ties things up neatly. Although there are some unanswered questions that I really wished were answered. (Looks like I will be reading the second book…)

So overall, I wasn’t at all impressed with this story of thieves and art. I picked this book off the shelf with high expectations, and then placed it back on the shelf with disappointment. Which is sad, really, because this book had so, so much potential.

Read my read-a-long buddy’s review of Heist Society here. Savindi makes some great points and comparisons in her review 🙂

Legasea by Krystalyn Drown: review

LegaseaLegasea by Krystalyn Drown

Stand Alone

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Young Adult

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Romance

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Release Date: January 28th 2013

Synopsis: When sixteen-year-old Aileen Shay sees a dead girl floating in the bay during a midnight yacht party, she never imagines Jamie Flannigan, her new boyfriend, may be involved. The only thing she knows about Jamie is that he personifies the one thing she has been drawn to her entire life – the ocean. But as she grows closer to him, she realizes he knows more about the murder than he’s telling. When another girl is attacked, and Jamie refuses to answer her questions, Aileen searches for answers on her own.

Aileen learns that Jamie’s family belongs more to myths and legends than they do in the real world. They are selkies, and after the Flannigans threaten her family, Aileen suspects they are responsible for both attacks.

But they aren’t the only ones in her small fishing town who can keep a secret. As Aileen uncovers the truth about the murder, the selkies, and her own family, she learns why her soul is bonded to the sea. But with that revelation comes a choice – to permanently sever her connection with the water, which comes at a painful cost, or embrace a legacy that just might get her killed.

My Thoughts:

I find it hard to write this review of Legasea. I believe that Legasea is a beautifully written and unique debut that deserves to be read by many. There are so many things that Legasea excels in, but there is one thing that kept the book from being the best it could be.

One of the things that make Legasea so unique is the chosen mythology for the story. Drown chose to write about a very underrated legend: the Selkies. Creatures that live as seals, swimming in the ocean, but when they shed their skin they become human. Such an interesting concept but not many author use it. But Drowning chose to write about the Selkies and she writes then amazingly well. The beauty and mystery that I always thought the Selkies had was in Drown’s Selkies also. That made me very, very happy.

Aileen is a character that is easy to connect to. She is a girl that has to deal with the troubles of everyday life as well as trying to come to terms with the fact that she is different than most people. She is a smart, determined girl that makes good choices for herself most of the time, but there are the times when she doesn’t do what her heart tells her to do and makes poor choices because of that. She felt real to me. Her narration felt real, comfortable which only made her feel more real.

The side characters were also written fairly well. The most remarkable group being Aileen’s family and Jamie. I found Aileen’s family to be very easy to understand and their struggles truly bothered me as if I was experiencing those struggles myself. Jamie is one of those “mysterious” love interest but he was also very sweet even though he is a bit misleaded sometimes.

Drown’s prose is nothing short of excellent. It felt sincere to me, as if the words just came out naturally on the paper. The writing captures the quiet beauty of the ocean and the landscapes around it wonderfully well. Some passages, like the one below, even felt lyrical to me.

“Off in the distance, the black outlines of dozens of rock islands dotted the bay, like shadow puppets posing in front of the star-filled sky.”(Pulled from an advance copy.)

The mystery is a great mystery. There are a lot suspects to choose from and many, many twist. I never knew where many of the characters stood. It kept me guessing and on my toes. The big reveal was done very well and it made my mouth drop!

Unfortunately, despite all the good things Legasea has within itself there is one thing that bothered me: some of the smaller events that took place in the book felt awkward when fitted with the main events. But that’s just me. Some people may find nothing wrong with this events. In fact, they might even find those events fitting. I just didn’t.

Legasea is a book that is a breath of fresh air. Filled with originality and mystery, this book will not be forgotten by me. I will keep this story with Selkies in my mind. I hope you decide to invite this story into your mind also 🙂

*An advance copy was provided by the publisher via Netgalley

Fearscape by Nenia Campbell: review

image

Fearscape by Nenia Campbell

Series: Horrorscape #1

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Young Adult

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery

Publisher: Self Published

Release Date: November 29th 2012

Synopsis: He followed her because he wanted to own her. She trusted him because she wanted excitement. There’s a saying that curiosity can kill … but Valerian Kimble is beginning to learn that satisfaction might just be worse.

Fourteen-year-old Valerian lives in an age where antiheroes and bad boys are portrayed as the romantic ideal, and good guys are passe and boring. So when Gavin Mecozzi, the school’s brilliant but twisted loner, begins to show an interest in her after a chance meeting in a pet store, Val is intrigued. He’s charming and poetic and makes her feel things that she thought were only possible in books–

Fear.

Because somebody is stalking Val. Somebody who wants to hurt her. Own her. Possess her. Maybe even kill her.

As her meetings with Gavin unravel into a more complex and frightening relationship, Val can’t help but wonder if the new boy in her life is her depraved and obsessive stalker.

And whether he’s capable of murder.

Time is running out.

My Thoughts:

I am not lying when I say that Fearscape gave me the chills. This book shows the reality of a poisonous relationship. Instead of being portraying the relationship as romantic like other books do, Fearscape shows the relationship as it really is: dysfunctional, frightening, and chilling.

Val is an extremely sweet and naive girl. She doesn’t see the world as a scary place that contains risk and bad things. This might be why it takes such a long time for her to figure that Gavin is her creepy stalker even though it was completely obvious-so obvious that I don’t even count it as a spoiler. Her ignorance sometimes frustrated me but I will say that it never seemed forced. But despite her flaws I really liked Val. I wanted to reach into the book and help her along the right path…a path that didn’t lead her into darkness and trauma.

Gavin was just frightening. He is insane, possessive, cruel, and NOT romantic. I sometimes caught myself looking around my room to make sure that Gavin wasn’t coming after me O_O He is the type of psychopath who can easily manipulate people with only words. I genuinely feared him and it scares me that disturbing people like him are starting to become popular as love interest. *shudders* And because Gavin was able to scare me so much I think the author is smiling in self-satisfaction 😛

Val’s friends were underdeveloped, I think but it doesn’t matter much. This is Val and Creepy Stalker Gavin’s story and the author writes their story pretty darn well.

The pacing is absolutely perfect. There was always something strange or frightening popping up in this story. This made the book pretty addicting. Fearscape had me drifting to it whenever I had spare time! This isn’t a fun, happy story at all but it is entertaining. And since this book is quite short and takes little time to finish, it makes the perfect read if you are busy, busy, busy!

Some moments in Fearscape are the kind of moments that fuel nightmares. In those moments I could feel Val’s fear and feeling of helplessness. The dark and gloomy atmosphere of Fearscape affected me greatly. I felt unsettled and disturbed.

Fearscape isn’t for everyone but I do recommend that you give it a try. It may open yours eyes or it may just scare you. Either way this very short book is worth the read! I can not wait for the sequel. Fearscape finishes off with a killer cliffhanger so I am kind of tearing my hair out in anticipation.

The Pope’s Stone by Marc Kuhn: review

The Pope's StoneThe Pope’s Stone by Marc Kuhn

LinksAmazon KindleAmazon PaperbackBarnes and Noble

Stand Alone

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Adult/Young Adult

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Publisher: Self Published

Release Date: October 9, 2012

Synopsis: THE POPE’S STONE is a fascinating historical novel that follows the lives of Nathaniel and Nicholas, descendants of the Barrington family of Virginia. Each young man keeps life-long journals which eventually reveal their parallel lives; lives that are mirrored by similar events and experiences, similar relationships and consequences. The two, however, lived a century apart. The only connections between them are their family heritage, their journals…and the Pope’s Stone.

The Pope’s Stone was a slab of engraved marble given to America in 1854 by Pope Pius IX. It was to be embedded within the walls of the Washington Monument, then under construction in the nation’s capital. John Henry Barrington, a stonemason working at the Monument site, was persuaded to assist a small party of anti-Catholic activists in stealing the Pope’s Stone, smashing it to pieces and tossing them into the Potomac River. The Pope’s Stone was never to be seen again, except for a fragment that John Henry secretly kept for himself. This small piece of the stone passes down through generations of Barringtons, leaving a path of hardship and unexpected tragedy for those who possess it. Coincidence? Bad karma, as Cousin Sarah calls it? Or is it more than that? And, what role does the stone play in the lives of Nathaniel and Nicholas? These are some of the questions you’ll be asking…discover the answers in THE POPE’S STONE.

My Thoughts:

Reading The Pope’s Stone was a big step out of my comfort zone. I rarely read historical fiction. There is no reason why I don’t read historical fiction much. It is just not my type of prefered reading. But when Monica who is one of my bloggy friends recommended this book to me with much ethusiasm I decided that I should just dive head-first into The Pope’s Stone‘s fascinating story.

I don’t regret doing so at all.

With an introduction that starts with a crime that involves a stone it is not at all hard to get interested in the story of The Pope’s Stone. And then there are the two following chapters; one chapter introducing Nathaniel Henry Barrington and the other introducing Nicholas Henry Barrington. The reader soon starts to notice that even though Nathaniel and Nicholas’ lives are separated by a century, their lives are very similar. Every good event, every bad event, and every tragic these two boys both experience. The reader must follow the story and find out what is happening.

As you can see this novel has a great story. Not only was it a great story it was executed well. And it was thought-provoking. I found myself recording all the clues in my head. I wanted to find the clues, piece them together, and solve the mystery. I was flipping the pages with excitement. And to be able to be excited by a story is all one can really ask for when reading a book. The pacing is a bit slow but I thought that it worked really well. In fact, the slowness made me want to read faster.

Kuhn’s prose is nothing short of excellent. It is clear, easy to read and never becomes flowery. The delivering of information was done with finesse and helped me understand the story better. The only problem I had with the writing was the constant switching of POVs. It made my head down at first, however, I did get used to it later on.

Both the main characters and the minor characters were easy to get attached to. Nicholas and Nathaniel were such friendly and polite people. They were also very tragic characters. I just wanted to jump in the story and whisper a hint to them and then discreetly pop back into the real world. I just wanted the two boys to be safe. We don’t always get what we want though. Kuhn puts his characters through a lot. *sniffles*

I am not by any means a knowledgeable person but the information that Kuhn presented in his novel seemed accurate and real. He is also able to insert the information in the story in such a way that I was able to quickly understand. Fun fact: the Pope’s Stone is real–well, in the past anyways. Still an interesting piece of information to know.

The ending broke my heart and made me tear up a bit. It was haunting because of its promise that nothing was over and that things will still continue. It was an open ending and that might be why I didn’t feel satisfied with it. Even thought the ending was heartbreaking it was stilled flawed. There is a lot questions that go unanswered and it kind if irked me.

The Pope’s Stone does have its flaws but overall it is a compelling mystery that will make a person think. The slow pacing might not be for everyone but I would definitely recommend this book to history and mystery lovers. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I am grateful that I got the chance to read it.

*A complimentary copy of this book was provided in return for a honest review.

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The Pope’s Stone Tour Schedule (March 8-19)

March 8 – Impressions of a Princess

March 10 – YA Big BOOKworm

March 11- Book Adoration <—Me!

March 12 – For the Love of Books

March 13 – Nazninazeez

March 14 – Amidst Books

March 15 – Lollipops and Rainbows

March 16 – Emma Snow

March 17 – Prisailurophile Blog

March 18 – Pretty Little Dreamer

March 19 – Edge of Jade

The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher: review

The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher

Standalone

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance, Realistic

Publisher: Gallery Books

Release Date: May 7th 2013

Synopsis: First it was SLUT scribbled all over Lizzie Hart’s locker.

But one week after Lizzie kills herself, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie’s looping scrawl.

Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she’s caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’s diary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while she claims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie’s own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.

Debut author Chelsea Pitcher daringly depicts the harsh reality of modern high schools, where one bad decision can ruin a reputation, and one cruel word can ruin a life. Angie’s quest for the truth behind Lizzie’s suicide is addictive and thrilling, and her razor-sharp wit and fierce sleuthing skills makes her impossible not to root for—even when it becomes clear that both avenging Lizzie and avoiding self-destruction might not be possible.

My thoughts: I had a hard time deciding what I thought about this book. I could tell that Pitcher had good intentions when writing this book but I think that The S-Word could have been so much better if it was put into the hands of an experienced writer. I am not saying that The S-Word isn’t an enjoyable book. I actually blew through this book in a fairly quick amount of time. I just feel like this book could have been oh so much more than just enjoyable.

The Story

Lizzie’s reputations is ruined when she is caught in the same bed with her best friend’s boyfriend. Everyone at school is against her and even Angie is to heartbroken to speak to her. People start bullying her, covering her locker with the word SLUT. Finally, the hurt becomes too much and Lizzie commits suicide. But only one week after Lizzie’s death, somebody replaces SLUT with SUICIDE SLUT and starts leaving pages of Lizzie’s diary start appearing in the school. Angie decides to capture the culprit and avenge Lizzie but will her hate and grief cause her own self-destruction?

The Characters

Angie’s character reminded me of Chelsea Knot from Speechless by Hannah Harrington. But even so, I didn’t feel the same connection with Angie as I did with Chelsea. Angie didn’t seem to show any outward emotion over Lizzie’s death. Her narration lacked emotion. I was only told that she was filled with grief but I was never really shown it. I felt indifferent to Angie throughout the entire book. And sometimes her character just seemed a little…off. The side characters were a little better than Angie the main character of the story. I felt that they had more depth. Jesse is a cross-dresser and is known to be gay. He had a certain wit to him and he really cared for the people he cared about. I liked that about him. Kennedy starts out as one of those mean girl characters but when something terrible about her revealed she into a little more than that. I also liked how some of the past bullies redeemed themselves in some parts of the novel. There are many more side characters that I could talk about as this story had a fairly large number of characters but these were the ones that stuck with me the most

The Mystery

The mystery in The S-Word was the best part for me! Pitcher skillfully reveals clues in just the right moments, keeping me from becoming impatient but not making me feel like the information was being revealed to quickly. The mystery is very unpredictable with twist and turns. And when the big reveal finally came I was rendered speechless.

The Unreliable Narrator

Angie is a very unreliable narrator. She lies to herself but you don’t know what she is lying about. I thought this was a nice touch.

The Sadness

Heed my warning: The S-Word has some incredibly sad moments. Some of the bullies in this book are so cruel that I just wanted to throw something–I settled for my pillow. Sometimes they were so cruel that tears were rushing from my eyes. I recommend you to prepare a box of tissues when reading this book.

The Topics

The S-Word addresses many different touchy topics. Bullying, suicide, child molestation, rape, revenge, homosexuality, and cross-dressing to name a few. Sometimes I felt that some of these topics were just shoved in. I believe that The S-Word would have been much better if it just focused on one or maybe two of these kind of topics not as many as this.

The Writing

Now. This was the area that The S-Word was really lacking in. I didn’t think that Pitcher was very eloquent with her words. Some passages were so incredibly awkward and shaky that my mind was kicked right out of the story. The dialogue felt forced often. Though I will say that one of the last paragraphs to this story really struck a chord with me.

“‘I love you forever.’ The daisies rustle like they’re reaching out for me. I touch the petals with my fingers. I feel this electricity go through me, this warmth that is both outside and in. One of the petals breaks away in my hand.”-Quote pulled from an advanced copy.

This passage is certainly not one of the best pieces of writing in the world but I felt an emotion that was mixed with sadness and hope when I read this.

Do I Recommend?

Certainly not the best book that touches upon this topic but it was still enjoyable nonetheless. I have come to realize that most of the people either love this book or are don’t like it. So give this book a try! I would recommend this book to a person who just want a good mystery at the moment but I will warn them not to expect much of anything else except for a lot of sad scenes that will make your heart feel like it is bleeding.

*An advanced copy was provided in return for a honest review.

Future Diary Vol.3 by Sakae Esuno: review

Future Diary, Volume 3Future Diary Vol.3 by Sakae Esuno

Series: Future Diary #3

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Genre: Mystery, Psychological, Thriller, Paranormal, Shounen

Publisher: TokyoPop

Release Date: September 1st 2009

Synopsis: Yukiteru Amano, a junior high student, has trouble making friends. He views himself as a spectator from the sidelines and often writes down what he sees in a cell phone diary. Tormented by solitude, Yukiteru interacts with his imaginary friends Deus Ex Machina, the God of Time and Space, and Muru Muru, Deus’s servant. One day, Deus grants Yukiteru’s cell phone the ability to record the future for the next 90 days. Yukiteru is then forced to participate in a battle royale with eleven other people, each of whom also have a diary that can predict the future in some unique way. The rules of the game are simple: before the world ends on day 90, the contestants must find and kill all the other contestants, and the last one standing will become Deus’s successor.

Note: This manga is aimed at an older audience.

My thoughts: There are moments in Future Diary that are unintentionally laughable. Well, this volume is different. The whole thing is unintentionally laughable.

The story in each volume of Future Diary is pretty much all the same. A new diary holder is introduced and Yuki and Yuno must defeat that certain diary holder in an epic battle of wits and future telling. This time the villain is a sociopathic six year-old obsessed with poison. Yuki and Yuno must defeat this dangerous child or else!

Reisuke Houjou (the dangerous six year-old) is a character that is hard to hate. Awhile he is the villain and does get close to killing Yuno and Yuki he does provide some laughs-mostly from the fact that he is a six year-old obsessed with poison. He is kind of cute in a morbid way. I am starting to like Minene, the cosplaying bomber, more and more. She is becoming a more important character and unlike most of the diary holders she is still alive after the volume she is introduced in. Minene is currently in an alliance with Keigo who is also becoming more important.

Yuki also manages to do his part in this game of survival. He helps keep Yuno alive quite a few times. This might cause Yuno to get more obsessed with him as time goes on even though she is pretty darn obsessed with him as it is now.

My only issue with this volume is the fact that the villain is a child. I rather not see a six year-old die in a game of survival. I will still continue this manga as it seems that Rei is the only child-villain in the series.

This manga never fails to be fast paced and exciting no matter how unrealistic it gets. The unintentional laughs* are pretty entertaining. Sakae’s art is not mind blowing but it is able to tell the story clearly and it seems to be getting better 🙂

*or maybe they are not unintentional?

Also Known As by Robin Benway: review

Also Known As by Robin Benway

*Hardback

Standalone

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Release Date: February 26th 2013

Synopsis:  Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good andbad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations.

Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She’ll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school’s security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover.

My thoughts: Also Known As was an incredibly fun novel. I didn’t expect all the laughs I got from it. I throughly enjoy the novel and I do not regret reading it. Also Known As exceeded my expectations but only as a novel. As a SPY novel, however, Also Known As leaves much to be desired.

Awhile this novel is about a teenage spy there is not much espionage going on throughout the story. Maggie does crack a few safes and locks here and there but there are things that I expect to be in a spy novel that were not included. No security cameras that need to be evaded, secret messages that need to be solved, no spy gadgets, or disguises that need to be donned. And nothing particularly exciting happens until near the end.

If you wondering if you should run away from this book because of what I just said above then I will tell you this: don’t. Also Known As is still a very absorbing story about a girl who is learning about what she wants in life. The friendship she makes with a girl who had went from being the popular mean girl to the social outcast named Roux  and the romance she finds with Jesse, a sweet boy who is just going through a rough patch in life.

The characters in this story are very loveable and impressing, especially the girls. The narrator of this story, Maggie’s voice is witty and sarcastic and I loved her for that. Her character is the reason this novel never has a dull moment. Her voice is able to make me laugh and this helped me enjoy the story more. I should also mention that I love the fact that she is a SAFECRACKER! In the rare moments when she has to use her skills she is pretty amazing. Maggie is smart and can hold her own in tough situations. Roux is a character that is kind of impossible to not love. How could you not love a girl who sometimes says things like this:

“Hey, I am making eye contact with a gargoyle!” Roux said, looking out of one of the grimy windows. “I shall name him George.” (This is a  quote pulled from the ARC)

She had a colorful personality and she provided a lot of laughs. Roux is not only a source of comedy for the novel, she also had her own fair share of character development. And like Maggie she is also very kick butt whenever she needs to be. Jesse was a great friend (and boyfriend) for Maggie. Despite, being a guy who got caught trying to steal a paperback of The Catcher In The Rye was a genuinely nice kid. I thought he was an interesting character and I did feel for him. I also liked how the characters in this story are a bit clueless emotionally. They don’t know exactly what they want. I thought that these characters grew throughout the novel and I love them all.

Also Known As is a very readable story that features strong, solid writing. Quick, cute, and quite funny, I highly recommend this book.

*An advanced copy was given to me by the publisher via Netgalley