The Potter Project: The Sorcerer’s Stone (Book 1)

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Unless you have spent your entire existence under a rock, you know the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. These books got me through my childhood and helped make me the person I am today. From the first word to the last, I was enraptured with the world that Rowling created. This series taught me about courage and love and sacrifice and I don’t think I would have been able to succeed without Hermione Granger’s voice in my head and Albus Dumbledore’s kind words telling me to push through even when it seemed impossible.

Now, I’m a junior in college and studying to be a Psychology/English major. Because of this, I am taking Social Psychology, which is how this project became a reality. You see, my lovely professor, who reminds me quite a bit of Sirius Black, forces all his students to create a Choose Your Own Adventure project where we decide how a portion of our grade will be determined. My CYOA? The Potter Project. For the next 8 weeks, I intend to read each book and watch each movie in chronological order and then write a post about the psychology behind the characters and such. This week is Book 1: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Our opening is simple, but truly sets up the story.

Chapter One

The Boy Who Lived

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.

The entire first chapter features exposition from Mr. Dursley as he experiences a particularly strange and mysterious day, unlike his normal routine. He sees a cat reading a map and people in strange cloaks.

The first psychological aspect we encounter is Mr. and Mrs. Dursley’s view of the Potters. They are clearly prejudiced towards the wizarding community, even though they have no foundations for their stereotypes and judgement. In terms of attitudes, this shows how truly corrupt the Dursley family is.

Though Lily was Mrs. Dursley’s sister and Harry her nephew, Mrs. Dursley absolutely refused to treat him like a human being. The entire family treats him like dirt, as if he is an unwanted burden. I think the most horrendous aspect of the ordeal is the lack of grief shown by the Dursley family. They simply find the deaths of Lily and James Potter an inconvenience; they don’t recognize it as a tragedy. The abuse that the Dursleys inflict upon Harry is dismal. They force him to live under the stairs in a room the size of a cabinet and force him to be their slave.

We also see the controlling attitude of Vernon Dursley as he goes above and beyond to try and hide the letters from Hogwarts that were sent for Harry. He even goes as far as to take the entire family to a hotel, then later to a hut in the middle of the ocean at a small island when his prior tactic fails. He wants so badly to be in control that he is willing to uproot his wife and son, not to mention spend money to get away from the letters. He is desperate because his control is slipping away. He doesn’t get to decide what information to give Harry anymore. There are outside sources nibbling at his authority.

As Harry discovers the truth about his parents and about the wizarding world, we see him take on Hogwarts. Rowling offers a stark contrast to the Dursleys in the form of the Weasleys. Instead of the harsh and cold personalities of the Petunia and Vernon, we see the curiosity and cleverness of Arthur and the warmth and kindness from Molly. Instead of the cruel and calculating Dudley, we have a humorous and welcoming Ron. In a way, we are seeing what Harry’s life could have been like with James and Lily.

One of the most interesting scenes in this book, especially in terms of psychology, is the scene with the Sorting Hat. Here, Harry and his new friends will be put into one of the four Hogwarts houses. As Harry prepares to be sorted, the Hat proposes that he would be a good fit as a Slytherin. Harry immediately objects, which the Hat accepts, and he is put into Gryffindor, along with Ron and Hermione. This is interesting psychologically because I think it was all about choice and personality. Hermione is definitely a Ravenclaw, the house of intelligence and knowledge. Ron could easily have been a Hufflepuff because of his open nature and endearing personality. And, as the Hat said, Harry could have very well been a dark wizard and prospered in Slytherin. But, I think that they each wanted to be Gryffindor. They wanted it enough to ask for it, showing bravery, which is the central Gryffindor trait.

The book continues and we see a myriad of other characters, including Dumbledore, Malfoy, and Snape. The main conflict revolves around a trapdoor that seems to lead to the Philosopher’s Stone, an object made by Nicolas Flamel. As Harry, Ron, and Hermione fear that Snape is trying to get to the stone and use it to restore Voldemort to his former power, they venture into the trap to beat him to it. We see more of Ron’s personality and social psychology as he is willing to sacrifice himself to help his friends beat the game. He lets himself get injured to protect Harry and Hermione. On the other hand, we get to see his fears as he has the hardest time out of the three when they are dealing with the strangling plants.  I really like that Rowling showed such a dramatic difference here to show that people are not one dimensional. It is normal to be terrified of something, yet still be able to risk your own life for the people you love. Just because you get scared sometimes doesn’t mean you aren’t brave. Ron, Harry, and Hermione all have fears and we got to see them a little bit in this first book. But, we also got to see have astoundingly brave and courageous and fearless they are.

Conclusion? J. K. Rowling is magic and so are her characters. Also, I grew up to be Hermione Granger, and I am not ashamed of that at all.

Book Review: Confessions of a Murder Suspect (Confessions #1)

Summary:

On the night Malcolm and Maud Angel are murdered, Tandy Angel knows just three things: She was the last person to see her parents alive. The police have no suspects besides Tandy and her three siblings. She can’t trust anyone — maybe not even herself.

Having grown up under Malcolm and Maud’s intense perfectionist demands, no child comes away undamaged. Tandy decides that she will have to clear the family name, but digging deeper into her powerful parents’ affairs is a dangerous — and revealing — game. Who knows what the Angels are truly capable of?

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐ 5/5

(review may contain minor spoilers)

Confessions of a Murder Suspect is the first book in the Confessions series by James Patterson. I picked up this book at the store a few years ago, having recognized Patterson’s name from the Maximum Ride series. As I was going through my bookshelves for something to read, I came across this novel again and remembered how much I had enjoyed it. So, of course, I had to read it again and write a review!

This novel is not just a murder mystery. It’s much more complicated than that. It is the story of a family full of secrets and a narrator who admits that she might not be reliable–even she doesn’t know whether she should trust herself. It adds a unique element to the novel and makes you tiptoe the line between reality and fiction throughout each chapter.

The book opens with our narrator introducing herself– sort of.

I have some really bad secrets to share with someone, and it might as well be you–a stranger, a reader of books, but most of all, a person who can’t hurt me. So here goes nothing, or maybe everything. I’m not sure if I can even tell the difference anymore.

The night my parents died–after they’d been carried out in slick body bags through the service elevator–my brother Matthew shouted at the top of his powerful lungs, “My parents were vile, but they didn’t deserve to be taken out with the trash!”

He was right about the last part–and, as things turned out, the first part as well.

This opening featured just the right amount of mystery and suspense. We learn from the very start that secrets will play a huge part in this story, along with the fact that our narrator has a few things hidden as well. This intro immediately invested me in the story, so much so that I finished the entire novel in under an hour. I was curious about the secrets that were obviously spread throughout the Angel family and I wanted to unravel them and figure out what had happened to Tandy’s parents.

Characters

The Angel family is an immensely interesting set of characters. To start with Tandy, our narrator, I have to say that I absolutely adored her. I’ve seen some reviews that argue her blandness is overwhelming, but I disagree completely. She’s not bland. She’s simply trained herself not to show emotion. It’s a very integral part of her personality. I felt for her and I found myself trusting her, even though she implicitly stated that she didn’t know if she was trustworthy. I also really enjoyed Tandy’s voice. She was honest and blunt and matter-of-fact and it definitely worked for the story.

So as I sat in the living room that night, I took on the full responsibility of finding my parents’ killer–even if it turned out that the killer shared my DNA.

Even if it turned out to be me.

You shouldn’t count that out, friend.

Hugo Angel is Tandy’s younger brother. He appears to have a much more black and white view of the world than his sister. He was more prone to anger and it is pointed out that he sees the cops as villains. I thought Hugo was pretty adorable, even though it was clear he could break anyone like a twig if he really wanted to. I enjoyed his minor part in the story.

I found ten-year-old Hugo in his room. He was still wearing his Giants sweatshirt, and he was using a baseball bat to break up his four-poster bed.

As I entered the room, he swung the bat for the last time, splintering the headboard, then began working on the bed frame with karate kicks.

“Hey. Hey, Hugo,” I said. “Enough. Stop. Please.”

I dropped my lacrosse stick and wrapped my arms around my little brother. I dragged him away from the bed and more or less hurled him toward the cushy, life-size toy pony that Uncle Peter had given Hugo when he was born.

Harry Angel was also an interesting character. Though he is Tandy’s twin, the two are worlds apart in terms of personality. He was the more sensitive of all the Angel siblings and his characterization made him the most sympathetic character as well. Though each Angel eventually showed their grief, Harry was distraught the moment he was told that his parents were dead. I loved that he seemed to be more fragile than the rest of his siblings. It made him seem more real and tangible than the other siblings. It was also interesting to see his backstory and how it connected to his attitude and persona.

Harry also has a great smile. I guess I do, too, but I almost never use it. Harry uses his a lot. Maybe he’s the only Angel who does, actually.

Finally, the last Angel sibling is Matthew. Though it was apparent that he was honest to the point of harsh bluntness, he also seemed to genuinely care about his family. As a famous player for the NFL, Matthew brings an incredibly new element to the story. He had possibly the most caustic relationship with his parents, but his reaction to their death was raw and impassioned. He was angry at their death and you could tell that he was struggling with how to handle it throughout the book. His relationship with his siblings showed his caring nature, however, and I loved the little moments between the Angels.

When Matthew entered a room, he seemed to draw all the light and air to him. He had light brown dreadlocks tied in a bunch with a hank of yarn, and intense blue eyes that shone like high beams.

I’ve never seen eyes like his. No one has.

Other characters included Detective Hayes and Sergeant Caputo, the two officers assigned to the case. I thought that the author did an incredible job with both of these characters. They were polar opposites, a fact that our narrator pointed out as soon as she met them. It was a very interesting dynamic and it kept me on the edge of my seat as I wondered who would solve the murder first.

Plot

Confessions of a Murder Suspect is quite honestly one of favorite novels. The tension is palpable throughout the chapters and it is written in a way that makes you crave more. I loved the story and I was right there with Tandy the entire time, trying to figure out the truth behind the death of her parents. This book was really interesting because it puts you in the mind of a narrator that isn’t sure if even she can be trusted. I went back and forth between characters, trying to decide who the real killer was. I did eventually guess the ending, but it took me much longer than it usually would and I couldn’t figure out all the details.

The plot was filled with mystery and I was constantly  trying to find clues that I was missing. Another extremely interesting thing about this book is the intertwined Confession chapters. In between every few chapters, there are chapters entitled Confession where we get to see into the past from Tandy’s perspective. It’s really interesting and gives us a way to delve into the secrets and pasts of the entire Angel family, even Harry and Hugo.

Conclusion

I absolutely adore this book and I highly suggest you pick it up as soon as possible. It is filled with danger and disaster and dysfunction, not to mention the twists and turns of the investigation. James Patterson and Maxine Paetro truly created a masterpiece and I believe that if you enjoy suspense or crime, you should definitely give it a try.

Signed,

your favorite bookworm

Book Review: The Naturals (The Naturals #1)

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides—especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4/5

(review may contain minor spoilers)

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is definitely distinct in its subject matter. This novel deals with teenagers that possess extraordinary abilities. They are deemed “Naturals” because these abilities are not supernatural. For instance, our main character, Cassie, is a Natural Profiler. This means she has an uncanny ability to get inside the minds of killers. Another character, Lia, is a human lie detector. These teenagers are recruited into a section of the FBI that deals with solving cold cases. Or, in other words, cases that the FBI has not been able to solve on its own.

The novel opens up in a really interesting way by putting us in the mind of the main killer throughout the book.

YOU

You’ve chosen and chosen well. Maybe this one will be the one who stops you. Maybe she’ll be different. Maybe she’ll be enough.

The only thing that is certain is that she’s special.

You think it’s her eyes—not the color: an icy, see-through blue. Not the lashes, or the shape, or the way she doesn’t need eyeliner to give them the appearance of a cat’s.

No, it’s what’s behind those icy blues that brings the audience out in droves. You feel it, every time you look at her. The certainty. The knowing. That otherworldly glint she uses to convince people that she’s the real deal.

Maybe she is.

Maybe she really can see things. Maybe she knows things.

Maybe she’s everything she claims to be and more. But watching her, counting her breaths, you smile, because deep down, you know that she isn’t going to stop you.

You don’t really want her to stop you.

She’s fragile.

Perfect.

Marked.

And the one thing this so-called psychic won’t see coming is you.

It’s not the first time I’ve read books that show you into the mind of the villain from the start, but I really enjoy how Jennifer Lynn Barnes does it throughout the novel to keep you in the head of the killer. My favorite part about this type of narration is that when you find out the identity of the killer, you can truly feel the pieces in your head connect as you go back through their thoughts. It clicks and it’s really cool to watch.

Characters

First of all, our main character, Cassie is a girl with the ability to profile those around her. She can look at someone and tell you how they like their eggs and whether they play basketball or golf. But she can also get into the mind of a killer and tell you exactly why they did it. She can essentially see crimes in her mind and tell you what happened and why. While her ability is extremely cool (and slightly creepy) to watch, there were a few downsides to our heroine. First of all, she comes off as extremely detached and sort of bland. Her backstory is absolutely phenomenal, dealing with her mother’s disappearance/assumed murder, but it never seems to connect with Cassie. I love how she has reactions every time she gets inside our killer’s head to try and figure out their motives, but they never seem strong enough. Sure, she gets kind of lost and starts to lose control, but I wish there had been more. All around, I wish Cassie had been more.

The first Natural we meet is Michael. He is extremely sarcastic and kind of arrogant, to be honest. He has the ability to read people’s faces and emotions. He’s an interesting character and his confidence worked for his personality. However, I felt that he made unnecessary jabs at Dean all the time. We never find out why there is animosity between them and it just felt out of place in the story. Overall, Michael was not my favorite character, but he was well-written and fairly intriguing. I want to know more about his parents and the guy he put in a hospital.

My favorite character in this book would have to be Dean. He’s brooding, mysterious, and definitely a total hottie. Dean was shut off in the beginning because he was scared and I was on the edge of my seat waiting for him to finally reach out to Cassie and trust her with his past. When she finally finds out on her own and confronts him, I wanted to hug Dean and protect him for the rest of his life. I loved his personality and I absolutely adored his characterization. He was one of those characters that you just fall into and love with everything you have. I love his fears of turning into his father and I wanted to know more about what he went through. I wanted someone to take care of him like he was constantly taking care of Cassie.

“Briggs shouldn’t have brought you here,” he said finally. “This place will ruin you.”

“Did it ruin Lia?” I asked. “Or Sloane?”

“They’re not profilers.”

“Did this place ruin you?”

Dean didn’t pause, not even for a second. “There was nothing to ruin.”

Lia is a great teenage antagonist to Cassie. She pulls off the spoiled brat aspect really well and I liked the sibling dynamic between her and Dean. She is constantly flaunting her ability to detect lies and it seems like she was always trying to have the upper hand on everyone around her. I want to know more about her life before she joined the program. While she is fairly unlikable at times, she is also shown to have a slightly human side when she talks to Cassie about Michael and Dean.

“Dean would want me to tell you to stay away from him,” Lia said.

“And Michael?” I asked.

Lia shrugged. “I want to tell you to stay away from Michael.” She paused. “I won’t, but I want to.”

 Our last Natural is Sloane, the human computer. She can spout off statistics and numerical values like none other and is more than capable of hacking flash drives, as we see. I really liked the little things about her character, like her addiction to coffee and fondness for simulations. Sloane was a good friend to Cassie, even though she was not really sure how to act in emotionally charged situations. I really enjoyed her voice. It was mechanical, but with a childlike quality to it.

Sloane slipped an arm around my waist. “There are fourteen varieties of hugs,” she said. “This is one of them.”

Now, I am not a fan of love triangles. I kind of detest them, if I’m being honest. This novel featured more of a love square. Lia likes Michael. Michael used to like Lia, but now he likes Cassie. Dean likes Cassie. Cassie likes Dean, but feels something for Michael. It’s very dramatic at times, but it doesn’t completely overtake the story. It’s more of an afterthought most of the time. I didn’t completely hate it. I definitely side with Dean, but the rest of the love square doesn’t really interest me. I felt it slightly unnecessary. I did like the back and forth between Cassie and Dean though. It was very realistic, especially with both of their pasts.

Plot

I absolutely loved the premise and the story itself definitely delivered. It had a very Criminal Minds-esque feel to it and I was kept in suspense the whole time. Sometimes, characters did things that infuriated me to no end and I was left screaming how stupid they were being at my poor boyfriend. However, most of the time, they were realistically stupid things that teenagers would actually do. I loved the atmosphere and having little blurbs from the killer’s mind kept me on the edge of my seat.

Conclusion

I suggest reading this book as soon as possible. I’m quite fond of it and I’m definitely going to start the second book in the series as soon as I post this. While the main character fell flat at times, the other characters picked up the slack and kept the story interesting. I truly enjoyed reading this, even with its flaws.

I loved each of the backstories and I wanted to know more about every single character. For instance, what was meant when it said that Lia and Michael weren’t given the choice of whether or not to join the program? What happened to Dean’s dad? What about Cassie’s entire family? I was left with so many unanswered questions and I’m eager to see if the next book gives me any clues or answers.

Signed,

your favorite bookworm

Book Review: Heist Society (Heist Society #1)

Summary:

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 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5/5

(review may contain minor spoilers)

Alright, so I read this book right when it came out a few years ago. I remembered thoroughly enjoying it, so I decided to reread it this week. At just under 300 pages, it’s a nice length and manages to finish the story well.

The novel opens with an introduction to the Colgan School, our main character’s current residence.

No one knew for certain when the trouble started at the Colgan School. Some members of its alumni association blamed the decision to admit girls. Others cited newfangled liberal ideals and a general decline in the respect for elders worldwide. But no matter the theory, no one could deny that, recently, life at the Colgan School was different.

While this opening is not as fast-paced as some other spy/crime novels, it definitely intrigued me. I was immediately drawn to the prestigious atmosphere of the school and the way Ally Carter described it. She writes it in a way that makes you feel like you’re there watching everything unfold. With the first sentence, I wanted to know what the “trouble” was referring to. And it did not disappoint.

Characters

I absolutely adored our main character, Katarina Bishop. She’s spunky and feisty, but best of all…she’s real. You can feel her struggle throughout the book as she goes from trying to be a normal girl  who’s had anything but a normal life to trying to save her family and pull off her biggest job yet. It says in the first few pages, “Some called her a hero; others called her a freak.” I really enjoy her characterization because you can feel what she feels. You can feel the sheer desperation that Kat has throughout the book from attempting to keep her father alive. You can feel the hope slipping away as things get more complicated. You can feel the acceptance as Hale drags her back into the “family business.” Kat is a strong character, but I love that we get to see her inner thoughts and experience her small moments of weakness. We get to see her almost break down, but hold it together and move on. She was written extremely well and I loved delving into her mind.

Hale. Oh my word, I think I found another guy to add to my “Characters to Marry” list. He’s suave and sophisticated and handsome and definitely a bit sneaky. After all, he did manage to convince Kat to rejoin the gang for some criminal fun. He is full of confidence and charm, not to mention the weight of his family’s wealth hanging over his shoulder. He’s the perfect love interest/best friend towards Kat and I love what he adds to the story. Not to mention, the way Kat describes him and his attributes is absolutely beautiful.

Kat sometimes wondered if that kind of self-assurance was something only very old money could buy. Then she wondered if it was something you could steal.

Kat’s family, including her father Bobby, Uncle Eddie, cousin Gabrielle, the Bagshaw brothers, and many other colorful characters provide for a hilarious cast. From the dry wit of her father to the sultry sass of Gabrielle, these supporting characters add so much to the story. They all play an important role and it’s extremely interesting to see how people tie into a sort of ‘crime family.’

The main villain is named Arturo Taccone. When his prize pieces of art get stolen, his prime and only suspect is Bobby Bishop. However, he is more than willing to use Kat as a middle man when Bobby is in a bit of trouble of his own. I honestly enjoyed Taccone. I felt like I understood his motives, even if I was frustrated at him for not listening to Kat half the time. I felt like his actions were given reason and that he was a force to be reckoned with. However, we also saw his shortcomings, which was a gift in and of itself. I like the dimensions to him, as well as the other characters.

Plot

The story-line for this novel was very intriguing. It featured the right amount of suspense and thrills, as well as a little comic relief and romance. By using such lively characters, Ally Carter managed to create a world that was realistic and unbelievably interesting. The really cool part about this novel is that it is something that could be happening right now. Crime rings exist all over the world, along with notorious families. I really enjoyed following Kat as she tried to make it through the countless obstacles thrown in her path. The conclusion and resolution was believable and everything fit together in a way that made you smile and shake your head because it was so ridiculous that it just had to work.

Favorite Quotes

“You need me,” Gabrielle said. There was no doubt in her voice. No flirt. No ditz. She was in every way Uncle Eddie’s great-niece. A pro. A con. A thief. “Like it or not, Kitty Kat, the reunion starts now.”

It is an occupational hazard that anyone who has spent her life learning how to lie eventually becomes bad at telling the truth.

But Hale was still moving, shrinking the distance between them. He seemed impossibly close as he whispered, “And I didn’t choose it, Kat. I chose you.”

“Oh.” Hale smirked. “That’s simple.” Kat wasn’t moving— wasn’t dancing—and yet it felt like her heart might pound out of her chest as she watched Hale lean farther into the shadows and say, “I’m the guy who happened to be home the night Kat came to steal a Monet.”

Hale was Hale. And not knowing what the W’s stood for had become a constant reminder to Kat that, in life, there are some things that can be given but never stolen.

Of course, that didn’t stop her from trying.

“Some people understand the value of an education.” Hale stretched and crossed his legs, then settled his arm around Kat’s shoulders. “That’s sweet, Kat. Maybe later I’ll buy you a university. And an ice cream.” “I’d settle for the ice cream.” “Deal.”

Conclusion

Ally Carter is a wonderful author. On her website, she says that she wrote the Heist Society books as a way to keep her older readers entertained once they became too old for Gallagher Girls. Personally, I love both series, but that’s not important. I think that Heist Society is full of suspense in all the right places. It’s a great read with wonderful language. I love that she tells you names of cons and you’re essentially rooting for the criminals. The way Carter crafts her characters is beautiful and I can’t wait for the fourth book to come out. And Kat and Hale? Three words. I ship it. This series is perfect for a long car ride and I highly encourage you to pick it up soon!

Signed,

your favorite bookworm

Book Review: The Girl Who Was Supposed To Die

 

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(image from barnesandnoble.com)

Summary:

“Take her out back and finish her off.”

She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know where she is, or why. All she knows when she comes to in a ransacked cabin is that there are two men arguing over whether or not to kill her.

And that she must run.

In her riveting style, April Henry crafts a nail-biting thriller involving murder, identity theft, and biological warfare. Follow Cady and Ty (her accidental savior turned companion), as they race against the clock to stay alive, in The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 3/5

(review may contain minor spoilers)

This book was extremely interesting right from the beginning. Each chapter is titled in the style of a day and a time. For example:

Chapter 1

Day 1, 4:51 P.M.

The first lines of the novel introduce us to our narrator.

I wake up.

But wake up isn’t quite right. That implies sleeping. A bed. A pillow.

I come to.

Instead of a pillow, my right cheek is pressed against something hard, rough, and gritty. A worn wood floor.

My mouth tastes like old pennies. Blood.

I really really really liked the way April Henry started this novel. It was suspenseful and riveting and I was immediately drawn into the world she created. The narrator describes what is happening without seeming like she’s just trying to give away the setting. She speaks like she is seeing everything around her for the first time, which, as we find out, she basically is.

This opening was perfect for a thriller/mystery and it certainly set the tone for the story.

Characters: We don’t even know who our narrator is until almost halfway through the novel. Candace (Cady) Scott couldn’t even remember her name at the start of everything and it was really interesting to see her put the pieces together. I think the author did a really good job of recreating her from the bottom up. With memories, flashbacks, and triggers, we get little glimpses until Cady finally remembers who she really is and how she became “the girl who was supposed to die.” Cady occasionally acted in such a way that made me want to throw things at her, but, in all reality, I probably would have acted the same way if I was in her situation. Her paranoia and suspicion is realistic and her voice throughout the novel is very believable.

Ty is a normal high school kid. He has had a tough past, but seems to have found his place in the world for the time being. He has an apartment and a job and a life. That all changes when Cady wanders into the McDonald’s where he works. Somehow, he ends up entangled in the mystery surrounding her and tries to help her as much as he can, along with his housemate James. I loved Ty. He was fun and sweet and lots of good things. However, to me, he was too good. He’s a teenage boy. Albeit, a very mature one, but still a teenage boy. Teenage boys don’t just jump headfirst into murder mysteries. I would have liked to see a little more fear or confusion from him. I wanted a fight between Cady and Ty about her past and whether she was really in danger or not. I wanted him to wonder and ask questions and I wanted him to freak out that there were armed men trying to kill them.

I think the characterization that bothered me the most would have to be Cady’s mother. We don’t know anything about Cady’s family until the book is halfway over and I felt like what we did know was not appealing. I understand that she was wary when Cady called for the first time. But once it was proven to really be her daughter, I expected tears and joy and relief. I expected something. I got nothing. She felt cold and sort of cruel. I felt no sympathy for her. I wanted more emotion than just a shake or crack in her voice once or twice. I wanted heavy exhales and long silences and emotional pauses. I wanted to feel what she was feeling. Unfortunately, it felt like she was feeling nothing. It was as if she was just reporting about something she saw on television. I didn’t feel invested.

Plot: For a mystery, this was spot on. It had a really great premise and it seemed to follow the general rules for suspense and thrillers. Unfortunately, there were a few misses. I felt that everything got crammed together and rushed after Elizabeth was introduced.

I wanted Cady to be safe and I wanted her to be reunited with her family. I wanted Ty to make it out of the whole mess alive. There were a lot of great plot points. But it felt like the last half of the book was just kind of strung together. There should have been more explanation and more suspense. It seemed like the ending was slightly unrealistic. In theatre, there is a term called ex deus machina, literally translating to ‘hand of god.’ This essentially refers to the point at the end of a play when the conflict gets resolved by some higher power, like a god or King. The ending felt a lot like that. It seemed like everything bad just got thrown into a box and tied up neatly and tossed away, never to be seen again.

To put it simply, I wanted more before everything got solved. I wanted that moment where you feel like the good guys are going to lose. When they have to run away and regroup and try to come up with a new plan. I wanted failures before the great success at the end.

Conclusion: All in all, this was an enjoyable read. There were little things that I would have changed here and there, but it was an entertaining story. I loved Cady and Ty and I wanted them to make it out alive. I wanted a happy ending. I just wish it hadn’t come quite so easily. I wanted more of a struggle.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for something to read on a short flight or during your free time. It’s suspenseful and full of twists and turns. April Henry has quite a way with words and her mysteries always have me at the edge of my seat.

Signed,

your favorite bookworm

Book Review: Trust Me, I’m Lying (Trust Me #1)

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(image from barnesandnoble.com)

What’s up, guys!? So as always, I spent my weekend reading my life away and forgetting what day it was. Yesterday, I read a lovely novel called Trust Me, I’m Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer.

Now, I have read quite a lot of teen crime/spy/liar novels in my twenty years. However, I have to say… this was definitely one of the best.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5/5

Characters: Right from the beginning of this novel, we see Julep’s personality. She is spunky and sassy, but has so many more layers. She is definitely a great main character and I found myself rooting for her from the very beginning. She literally starts the book off by saying “I can’t say I have much personal experience with conscience.” This is a great opening because it makes you want to figure out why.

I loved Julep’s determination, even in the face of great danger. I loved her resilience and the way she reacted to the things happening around her. She was realistic and believable and it was very refreshing. It wasn’t hard to imagine her as a teen grifter because the background was there.

I normally can’t stand love triangles. I absolutely abhor them. On that note, I think Mary Elizabeth Summer did an amazing job with Tyler and Sam both fighting for our hero’s affections. I did not feel that it was just a plot point or a dramatic scene. I really felt for all of the characters and I wanted all of them to be happy.

All of the supporting characters were fantastic as well. From Dani’s conflicting emotions and desire to do the right thing to Julep’s father and the mystery surrounding him, I wanted to know more about every single person that was introduced. I wanted to understand Ralph and the Senator and I wanted to delve into backstories and pasts and find out everyone’s secrets.

Overall, these characters flourished in the environment of Summer’s story and I think she did a great job.

Plot: Okay, like I previously said, I was hooked from the first line. I wanted everything to work out and everyone to get a happy ending. Clearly this was slightly unrealistic. Okay, extremely unrealistic.

This novel was packed with suspense and action and romance and it never felt out of place. Everything seemed to fit together perfectly and create something absolutely amazing. I was on the edge of my seat for a lot of this book and I could not bring myself to put it down. I mean, seriously. I read this thing in under two hours and just sat there for another fifteen minutes with my head spinning after.

This is the kind of book that leaves you breathless and wanting more. It makes your heart ache and break and it makes you feel things for people you feel like you know.

Conclusion: Get this book on Amazon or iBooks or from your local bookstore. Get it now and set aside the rest of the day to read it. You will not regret it. And the best news is, the sequel is already out! (Along with a lovely novella that fits chronologically in between the two books.)

This is a book worth reading. I cannot stress enough how much I fell in love with the story and the characters. Kudos to you, Mary Elizabeth Summer. Kudos to you.

Signed,

your favorite bookworm