You by Caroline Kepnes
Posted on Friday, September 4th, 2015 by Chantal

You by Caroline KepnesYou by Caroline Kepnes
Published by Atria Books on September 30th 2014
Genres: Mystery & Thriller, Social Issues
Pages: 422
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When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

Welcome to The Book Geek’s monthly feature, affectionately called The Genre Spotlight. It’s where we explore and choose one of the myriad genres. We’ll showcase it by having each Book Geek read and review at least one, but possibly a few books belonging to that month’s chosen genre. 

We’re hoping to expand our reading horizons to genre’s we haven’t or have barely read, and, hopefully, usher in gems our lives have been missing out on.

As we fall into September, our spotlight is on Mystery & Thrillers!

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Mosquitoland by David Arnold
Posted on Monday, August 17th, 2015 by Emily May

Mosquitoland by David ArnoldMosquitoland by David Arnold
Published by Penguin on March 3rd 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Social Issues, New Experience, Family, Marriage & Divorce, Depression & Mental Illness
Pages: 352
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“Top-notch” —USA Today “Illuminating” —Washington Post “A breath of fresh air” —Entertainment Weekly “Memorable” —People I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange. After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland. So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane. Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, Mosquitoland is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.From the Hardcover edition.

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One StarOne Star

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
Posted on Sunday, August 9th, 2015 by Chantal

Forbidden by Tabitha SuzumaForbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
Published by Definitions on May 27th 2010
Genres: New Adult, Love & Romance, Family, Social Issues
Pages: 432
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She is pretty and talented – sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But… they are brother and sister.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
Posted on Saturday, August 1st, 2015 by Chantal

I Am the Messenger by Markus ZusakI Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
Published by Alfred A. Knopf Borzoi Books on May 9th 2006
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery & Thriller, Friendship, Social Issues
Pages: 360
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protect the diamonds
survive the clubs
dig deep through the spades
feel the hearts

Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He’s pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.

That’s when the first ace arrives in the mail.

That’s when Ed becomes the messenger.

Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who’s behind Ed’s mission?

I am the Messenger is, in many ways, a beautiful book. The story is moving, the message beautiful and the characters interesting and complex. It is also often very humorous and it ended up making me smile (and even laugh) many times. Do not go into this expecting it to be like The Book Thief, the two books are nothing alike and you will be disappointed. For those with an open mind however, I believe this book has quite a lot to say.

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One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Paper Towns by John Green
Posted on Monday, July 13th, 2015 by Emily May

Paper Towns by John GreenPaper Towns by John Green
Published by A&C Black on 2013
Genres: Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 305
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From the bestselling author of The Fault in our Stars. Quentin Jacobsen has always loved Margo Roth Spiegelman, for Margo (and her adventures) are the stuff of legend at their high school. So when she one day climbs through his window and summons him on an all-night road trip of revenge he cannot help but follow. But the next day Margo doesn't come to school and a week later she is still missing. Q soon learns that there are clues in her disappearance . . . and they are for him. But as he gets deeper into the mystery - culminating in another awesome road trip across America - he becomes less sure of who and what he is looking for. Masterfully written by John Green, this is a thoughtful, insightful and hilarious coming-of-age story.

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid
Posted on Sunday, July 5th, 2015 by Emily May

Never Always Sometimes by Adi AlsaidNever Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid
Published by Harlequin on August 1st 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Social Issues, Friendship, Love & Romance, Dating & Sex, General
Pages: 304
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Never date your best friend 
Always be original 
Sometimes rules are meant to be broken 
Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they'd never, ever do in high school. 
Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never die your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he's broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It's either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember. 
Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they've actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.

Honestly? I finished this book a week ago and really can’t find anything substantial to say about it. I’ll try to articulate what makes this book so dull and forgettable.

Never Always Sometimes is a wannabe John Green book. It tries to follow in JG’s footsteps by creating overly quirky, intelligent characters caricatures who do not resemble any teenagers I’ve ever known. Except, unlike Green’s works and others who have tried to do similar things, this book isn’t particularly well-written or compelling.

These boring friends-turned-lovers characters do not stand out and, in my opinion, don’t offer anything that makes me want to continue turning pages. If I didn’t have an ARC, I wouldn’t have bothered to force my way through it. It was one of those books that I would put down and genuinely not want to pick up again. I only gave it two stars because one star feels like a passionately negative rating and there was nothing to elicit passion here.

Even though I wasn’t crazy in love with Eleanor & Park like many other readers, I still admit that this book just pales in comparison – feeling cheesy and completely unremarkable alongside Rowell’s cute, honest and sometimes dark romance.

The plot is about Dave and Julia who vowed never to fall into any of the regular high school cliches. Now, though, they’re seniors and decide to throw their rules out of the window and find out exactly what they’ve been missing out on. It emerges fairly early that Dave has been in love with Julia forever and he now has a chance to break the ultimate rule – #10, never date your best friend.

I reached the ending with a sigh of relief and without feeling a single emotion for these characters. I think if you want a cute teen romance built on friendship then you should read Eleanor & Park instead.

One StarOne Star

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Posted on Thursday, June 25th, 2015 by Chantal

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne BlankmanPrisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Published by Balzer + Bray Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 401
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Sigh. Another well loved book that I just didn’t connect to the way I would have liked.

This book had GREAT potential, the premise was really intriguing and different from anything I’ve read before. Unfortunately, Prisoner of Night and Fog just did not work for me.

The novel takes place in Munich in the early 1930’s during Hitler’s rise to power. It’s told from the point of view of the seventeen-year-old German girl Gretchen Müller, who basically grew up in the NSDAP with Adolf Hitler – or “uncle Dolf” as she calls him – as her father figure. Gretchen is one of Hitler’s favorites because her father died saving his life during the Beer Hall Putsch a couple of years earlier. Real historical figures are introduced as well as fictional ones to create the main plot and mystery aspect of the novel.

Clearly, this has the possibility to be a wonderful story because not only do we have the fascinating historical setting – a time full of inner turmoil, political instability and economic crisis – but we also have so much potential for character development, as Gretchen slowly realizes the truth about Hitler and his party and starts questioning her own beliefs.

The novel had three strong points in its favor:

1) The realism. This book was very well researched and the author clearly had a good grasp of the time period. The story definitely felt very believable. Having said that though, I wouldn’t have been able to tell if there were historical inaccuracies because although I do have quite a lot of general knowledge, small details would easily have passed me by.
2) The way Hitler and his people were portrayed. The author really showed us Hitler’s psychopathic nature well and I was absolutely terrified of Reinhard. This is definitely a book with despicable (and frightening), complex villains.
3) Gretchen as the protagonist. Gretchen was far from one of my favorite female characters but I did quite like her and didn’t find her all too frustrating. I liked the fact that she wanted to be a doctor and go to university and didn’t let other people decide her life for her, like it was often custom for the women of the time. She was brave and definitely came into her own throughout the novel.

Unfortunately, I really struggled with the other elements of the story.

My main issue was the way the novel was written. There was so much info-dumping and the author failed to interweave historical facts and events with the plot in an elegant manner. Most of the time I honestly felt like I was reading a history book or a Hitler biography. The novel just wasn’t engaging at all and I found myself bored for most of it, trying to remain focused on the main plot line. It seemed like an endless recounting of historical facts and figures instead of an actual establishment of atmosphere. It felt like the author was trying too hard to show me all of her extensive research but didn’t give enough care to character interactions.

The plot itself was quite weak. The mystery aspect was very predictable and there wasn’t enough of anything else for me to be engrossed. Many of the side characters started to blend together in my mind and at times I struggled to hold them apart. They were figures, not people.

Then there was the romance, which, frankly, I didn’t enjoy at all. I didn’t feel any connection or chemistry between the two main characters. Their romance seemed very stiff and completely out of place. I think the book would have benefited had the romance just been exchanged with a friendship.

I was also bothered by the female friendship. I thought Eva was portrayed in a very condescending manner and I hated that we were yet again confronted with the one-dimensional female best friend whose only purpose seemed to be the demonstration of how special Gretchen was in comparison.

There were also some mistakes in regards to the use of the German language (e.g. it’s “Münchner” not “Münchener” and “Heil Hitler” not “Heils Hitler” etc.) but that won’t bother the majority of the readers.

I understand why so many people love this book and are captured by the historical setting. If you are fascinated by this time period you may still really like Prisoner of Night and Fog, but I just didn’t enjoy it and can thus not recommend it. I won’t be picking up the sequel.

One StarOne StarHalf a Star

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
Posted on Saturday, June 20th, 2015 by Emily May

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie RyanDaughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers on May 26th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Action & Adventure, Survival Stories, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Death & Dying, Family, Orphans & Foster Homes
Pages: 375
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I’m the daughter of murdered parents.I’m the friend of a dead girl.I’m the lover of my enemy.And I will have my revenge.   In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.   Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose.

Daughter of Deep Silence demonstrates how an author can tell you one thing, but show something completely different.

It demonstrates how a narrator can take centre stage, metaphorically throw her hands in the air and declare herself an unlikable and complex character hell-bent on revenge, but never give any indication that she’s anything more than an incompetent fool who lusts after a boy she believes is involved in her parents’ deaths.

People love them these days: the unlikable narrators. The complex individuals. The revenge-seekers. From Kill Bill to The Count of Monte Cristo to Black Iris, we just love it when an author can take a character we shouldn’t love and peel back the layers of their mind until we understand them and sympathize with them. I’ve given books high ratings for having such characters.

BUT sometimes, often in YA, authors cheat. They give us fake unlikable narrators that actually – when you take a closer look – never do or think anything the average person wouldn’t. Oh, you don’t care if the people involved in your loved ones’ deaths die? Well, whoop-de-doo, neither would fucking I. Oh, you harbor feelings of resentment towards the people that ruined your whole life? Goddamn, you must be evil.

It’s bullshit. Frances can say whatever the hell she wants about being all broody and vengeful but, in reality, all she wants is to get together with Grey – the guy who at best is covering up a mass homicide, at worst actually helped cause it. In fact, I felt the book breezed over the events of her parents’ deaths without emotion; the real feelings being reserved for when she’s in Grey’s sexy arms.

The book opens with Frances being rescued after spending seven days adrift at sea, following an armed attack on the Persephone in which her parents were killed. The only other survivors – Grey and his father – lie to the press and say it was a rogue wave that brought down the boat. Her friend Libby died on the raft before they were rescued and Libby’s father is the only one who will believe Frances’ story. So he encourages Frances to pretend to be Libby (coincidentally, they look alike), in order to avoid people coming after her. Four years later, Frances – “Libby” – returns for revenge. Or so she says.

Let’s look at the reality.

Frances says:
“Everything about me is perfected and polished, and thoroughly, thoroughly Libby.”

The reality: The very first time she really needs to pretend to be Libby, she calls Libby’s dad “Cecil”.
“The whole point of hosting this thing is because the Senator supported Cecil’s efforts along the coast.”
Shepherd stares at me for a long moment. “So you call him Cecil now?”

So you’ve perfected the art of being Libby but – oops! – you can’t even remember to call her dad “Dad”?

Frances says:
“The only brightness in the black I’d plunged myself into.
Truth.
Another, darker word followed quickly after.
Revenge.”

The reality:
“But there’s another part of me that only cares that, after all these years, I’m finally in his arms again.”

Frances says:
“Rage is a powerful emotion. Strong enough not just to burn away the pain but also sear back the whispering tendrils of fear.”

The reality:
“Yet, somehow, this is the situation I’ve found myself in. Desperate for him to continue loving the girl I used to be.”

And don’t even get me started on that part where she goes out alone at night to meet up with a guy she believes to be involved in a mass homicide. Shepherd expresses concern for her safety and she’s like “I’m badass, whatever.”

Revenge? Yeah, right. This is another angsty love story with a stupid heroine.

One Star

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Hi! I'm Emily May but feel free to call me Emily. I'm a book lover, beta-reader, and Politics graduate from the North of England.

Hey there! I'm Brandi; I'm a Navy veteran, Army wife, mother, feminist and book lover! My go-to genre would have to be Urban Fantasy, but any fiction is game really.

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