The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien
I received this book for free from First Reads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Macmillan on 2014-09-16
Genres: Love & Romance, Science Fiction, Thrillers, Young Adult
Source: First Reads Giveaway
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The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success: every moment of the students' lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students' schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What's worse is, she starts to notice that the ridges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there.
From Caragh M. O'Brien, author of the Birthmarked trilogy comes the first book in a new series, The Vault of Dreamers, a fast-paced, psychologically thrilling novel about what happens when your dreams are not your own.
I enjoyed this book when I read it. It wasn’t amazing or the most shocking book I’ve ever read but it was enjoyable. I’m a fan of boarding school books and thrillers and reality show books, and all of those elements are present in this book but unfortunately, they just aren’t done as well as I would have liked.
The beginning of The Vault of Dreamers was a little confusing for me because there wasn’t much explanation for what was going on or where Rosie was. We just see her leaving her sleep pod. We don’t know why this isn’t allowed or why the other girls are all sleeping or why it’s so dangerous for her to be doing what she’s doing. And because I hadn’t read the synopsis of the book first, I didn’t even know she had been accepted into an arts program at a school that was part of a reality show. (I admit, that part was my fault.) But the rest of it was confusing for a little while there and because of this I had a hard time really getting into the book. But once the big elimination happened and the plot started moving, I got more involved. I read the second half of the book pretty quickly and enjoyed most of it.
The parts I liked most dealt with Rosie trying to figure out what was going on at the school. The whole psychological thriller part, is she insane or is something totally creepy going on behind closed doors? I really wanted to know what the Dean was up to (if anything) and why Rosie was the only one concerned with it. I also had to know if Linus was in on it or if he really could be trusted. I liked him, I liked how he was with Rosie and I needed to know if my feelings were accurate or not. I also liked Rosie’s backstory and learning about her family.
Unfortunately, like I said earlier, pretty much every aspect of this book fell short of really good for me. The thriller was interesting, but sort of just fizzled at the end of the book. There was no huge ‘holy shit!’ moment or ‘I DID NOT see that coming!’ moment. And when I read a thriller of any kind, I really want those moments. It was just sort of an ‘okay, that’s it’ moment. And that’s not what you want at the end of any book, least of all of thriller. Also, I really hated that I felt that Rosie kept making stupid choices. I really want to be able to support a main character and while I don’t always need to agree with them, I really want to be able to feel like there is at least a good reason why they would make that choice. So many of the things she did just felt really stupid in the moment, and resulted in bad things happening. And I really hate that. And in regards to the reality show aspect, again, it just fell short and was kind of boring. It wasn’t used nearly as well as it could have been. Same with the science-fiction part and the secrets the school was keeping. Everything just kind of fell short. They weren’t used as well or explained as well as they should have been. It was almost like there was too much going on for any one thing to really be explained in enough detail to make it worthwhile. Even at over 400 pages there is still stuff I’m confused about in regards to what really was going on and why. It was just an okay book and that’s unfortunate.
In the end, I did still enjoy this book. But I really don’t think it’ll be one that is a favorite for most people. It was just okay. And I had hoped for much more. I haven’t read O’Brien’s other series so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I love science-fiction and psychological thrillers, so I did have high hopes for this one. If you end up picking this up, I hope you’ll enjoy it and take it for what it is. If you’re picking it up because you love books like The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and want more psychological thrillers, this one will not live up to your expectations.
I’m excited today to have a cover reveal for a New Adult romance coming out this December. Below you’ll find the cover as well as information about the book and a link to its Goodreads page and the author’s Facebook page. So check out the cover, add the book to your Goodreads TBR and get excited for what sounds like some extra heat coming this December!
Hurricane Butterfly by MeChelle Vermeulen
Publication date: December 2014
Genres: New Adult, Romance
Twenty-year-old Sophie Blake, is trying her best to get her life back after a horrific dog attack ten months ago. However, this proves to be more difficult than she anticipated. With the help of her best friend Ben Slone, it seems as if she’s making progress, but the truth is that she can feel herself sinking deeper into a black hole…until a tall dark stranger comes knocking, looking for Ben.
Joshua Roxwell has been drowning his demons with Whiskey and women in an attempt to deal with his guilt after the tragic death of his sister. When he finds an envelope addressed to Ben Slone, written by his sister before her death, he decides to track him down. Instead of resolving their differences, he meets the one girl who silences his demons…but redemption comes at a price.
This is a story of heartache, friendship and love, with a wicked twist…
The Fairy-Tale Matchmaker by E. D. Baker
I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on 2014-10-07
Genres: Fairy Tales & Folklore, Middle-Grade
Source: the Publisher
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Cory is a young tooth fairy in training who wants to be anything but that, except there's no way the Tooth Fairy Guild or her mother will let that happen. After yet another bad night on the job, Cory quits to explore other things—like babysitting an adventurous Humpty Dumpty, helping Suzy organize seashells by the seashore, and attempting to finally rid the spiders that plague Marjorie Muffet. But it isn't until Marjorie asks Cory to help set her up with a boy that Cory taps into a power s he never knew she had. As she tries to understand her new-found romantic visions, will Cory finally discover her own true path?
Just as she did with her Wide-Awake Princess series, E. D. Baker spins a tale that is poised to launch her to the top of the fairy tale canon with a new series that fans of Gail Carson Levine and Diana Wynne Jones.
Honestly, it was difficult for me to get through the first part of this book. I really thought I was going to give up on it. But because I was sent an ARC and because it looked so cute, I didn’t put it down. I’m still a little undecided as to whether I’m better off having finished it or not, but I can say that the second half of this book is WAY better than the beginning. I will also say that I don’t think this book offers quite as much appeal for adults as some middle-grade books I’ve read and what I would have wished for with this book. But I do think that the younger audience will enjoy and appreciate this book more than adults. The fun and cute factor is high, high quality plot and adult crossover appeal, a little low.
When the book opens, Cory is a tooth fairy and right in the middle of one of her worst nights ever. She does not enjoy collecting teeth, she does not enjoy the dangers and obstacles that come along with the job. She also doesn’t like the low pay and the poor hours. Because she is having such a bad night, she is extra whiny and annoying and sounds very spoiled. This was the first time I almost put the book down. I did not like her attitude at all. Of course later on I was able to sympathize with her a bit more when she took the time to explain her feelings about the job but I did not like or appreciate all of the complaining in the beginning. After this night on the job, she decides to quit the Tooth Fairy Guild and try to find a job that will let her help people and make her happy. This is when the book turns around and I started enjoying it more.
The best parts of the book are when Cory goes out into her world by taking on odd jobs to help people in her community. She accepts jobs doing things from babysitting to canning to mowing and lots more. She meets people she’s never known and makes new friends. But because her work hours aren’t in the middle of the night anymore, she also gets to see her friends more often and we get to know them as well. I liked getting to see this side of Cory, the side that liked helping people and working with them and doing things that she enjoyed. I liked the message that life shouldn’t just be about what your parents want from you or that you should accept the easy way in life even if it isn’t what you want. It may be a lesson that’s maybe aimed at an audience a little older than the actual book’s audience’s age, but still a good lesson to hear about.
There’s also another part of the book that is a sort of mystery and shows what can happen when people don’t stand up for what’s right. It was an interesting addition to the book and thought it added some much needed depth to the plot. It was also another good lesson about not giving up when you know something is wrong and finding and trusting the right people to help. Cory has a couple friends that she trusts and who prove to her that they’ll be there for her, even when she’s fighting a more powerful enemy. I liked that it wasn’t necessarily the people you would have thought it would be.
In the end, The Fairy-Tale Matchmaker was a cute book. It’s a fast read for adults but not necessarily one that might hold their interests. The plot isn’t quite developed enough and the characters are a bit too shallow for an adult to truly like this book. But as far as the intended audience, I think this book will be one they’d enjoy. It has a cute romance that begins as friendship, it has a main character who makes a decision she feels is best for her and sticks with it, and ends up fighting for her rights. Fair warning, the book does have a bit of a focus on the girls having boyfriends especially in regards to one friend who it mentions always has a new boyfriend (it is a matchmaking story after all), she has a terrible relationship with her mother, and there is a scene in which someone is kidnapped. It isn’t a violent scene but there are moments of pain. Overall, I’d recommend this book to young middle-grade readers but I’m not sure I would recommend it to anyone over the age of 13.
In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis
I received this book for free from HarperTeen via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: Not a Drop to Drink #2
Published by Harper Collins on 2014-09-23
Genres: Dystopian, Survival Stories, Young Adult
Source: HarperTeen via Edelweiss
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The only thing bigger than the world is fear.
Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.
When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.
In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier.
After Not a Drop to Drink, I was shocked. Both by the events that happened at the end of the book but also by the fact that an author could truly make me think about the future of our world and how very close we are to the future found in this book. It wasn’t a scary book about aliens or murderers or some distant dystopian the author tried to convince me might happen, it felt like a real future that wasn’t very far away. I wanted to start stock piling water and find a farm I could live on with my family and learn to survive on our own. It was scary. When the shock finally wore off and I felt a little closer to normal again, I heard there was going to be a sequel. I was so excited! I didn’t love Lynn as a person but I definitely appreciated what she had been through and respected her for what she had had to do and thought she was a very interesting character. I was looking forward to seeing where she would be in ten years, along with Lucy and the world that we left her in. And after reading In a Handful of Dust, I was not disappointed.
The thing I first thought when I finished In a Handful of Dust was that it was not nearly as bleak as Not a Drop to Drink felt. With Lucy as the main focus in this book, we get a completely different look at the world than we did with Lynn. Because Lynn and Lucy are completely different characters who lived very different childhoods and therefore have a very different outlook on life. One doesn’t want death to win, one is living to find a better life. One is content to live on her own little piece of land with the few people she loves, the other is hopeful for a community to share a life with. But they love each other and are determined to make it to California together. Lynn will do anything for Lucy and Lucy loves Lynn more than anything. And that determination and love is the only thing keeping them alive during some parts of their journey. Which was my other favorite part of this book. Seeing two people who had been hurt and lost so much already loving each other and trusting each other so much.
But just like life by their pond, it is not easy on the road. They have a plan, a map, whatever they can carry on their backs, and each other. The journey brings out some of their worst parts but it also makes them stronger. Especially Lucy. Lynn had made sure Lucy’s life was easier than hers was as a child. Lucy has not had to do the things that Lynn did that made her so tough. But this journey introduces Lucy to a side of people that Lynn had hoped to keep from her. But no matter how hard the journey gets, Lucy remains optimistic about their future. And while I still white-knuckled my way through this book because I remember what Mindy did to us in the last book, it was a nice change having a more hopeful look at the world. But don’t think that this book is a walk in the park. There is still heartbreak and hard times, death and murder and fighting and loss. But there is also love and hope and those felt like even more central themes of this book than the last.
It is true that In a Handful of Dust is slow and has stretches of not much happening but Lynn and Lucy walking. And sometimes talking. Also, it doesn’t seem like as much happens in this book overall as happened in Not a Drop to Drink. One of the things that I liked most with that book was how unapologetic McGinnis was about how ruthless people could be in the world she created and how hard life was. I was shocked by so much that happened in that book. In a Handful of Dust didn’t feel quite the same. Maybe it was because we were suppose to feel more hope in this book than the last, but while I read the whole thing on the edge of my seat waiting for a big shocking moment like in the last book. And there are shocking moments, especially a bigger one near the end. And it was good. But it just didn’t feel the same the second time around. I still loved this book and highly recommend both of them.