Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Quick Picks ~ This Week's Top 3 Reads

This past week I've indulged in some great reads. 

Today I'm bringing three of these to your attention: The Amateurs by Sara Shepard, Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Sara Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Robin Wassermanand Fire in You by J. Lynn.

I hope they will intrigue you, entertain you, and above all have you falling in love with their worlds and characters.

Let's get listing!

#1: The Amateurs

The Amateurs
By Sara Shepard

Genre(s): YA, mystery, thriller
Pub Date: December 2016
Page(s): 336
Price: $16.99 (AUD)

Rating4.5 out of 5 stars

One sentence summary: A group of amateur crime-solvers team up with a young woman to help her get to the bottom of what happened the day her sister disappeared five years ago...but dangerous motives lie just beneath the surface.

Best part(s): Sara Shepard has a knack for writing mysteries whose tension-filled undercurrent only strengthens as the story progresses. From the very first chapter you sense A screen that stands between you and the face of a killer. Every now and again Sara allows you to have a peek or two behind the screen, but the answer always evades you. It's this mastery of the genre that made The Amateurs so addictive.

The layered drama and personalities make it a challenge to come up with possible candidates - but it makes it all the more fun! You have to determine whether the character before you is a facade for a darker, less public side, or whether you're just being paranoid and they're an ally. And with the way the plot twists and turns, you can never be sure which path leads to the truth.

The best part though was the reveal. It felt so good to find out whodunnit (especially since Sara's Pretty Little Liars made us wait so long to find that out!!) and see all the pieces fall together. It was a real treat being able to suddenly so clearly see Sara's master plan and how intricately she'd pieced it together.

Least favourite part(s): The annoying characters?? Like Catherine who is clearly the spawn of Satan?! I don't know whether I hate that these characters are in the book...or whether I adore Sara all the more for creating her nasty/conniving characters so well that they evoked so much dislike in me lol.

Either way, I think sometimes the drama got a little too on the cheesy side but Sara was always quick to get back to the good stuff so it never ruined the overall tone. 

Find out more about the book & add it your Goodreads bookshelf today! 

"She'd just literally run past the future and the past. It was like some benevolent God was trying to teach Seneca a lesson, tell her that she needed to deal with her issues. Well, maybe she would, eventually. But right now, staying in the present was feeling pretty good."

#2: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy
By Cassandra Clare, Sara Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Robin Wasserman

Genre: YA, fantasy

Pub Date: November 2016
Page(s): 627

Rating4 out of 5 stars

One sentence summary: A young human male (and ex vampire) sets out on the path to become a demon fighting warrior at the Shadowhunter Academy after having been previously stripped of his memories...leaving him to rediscover his past and himself.

Best part(s): SIMON HAS HIS OWN SERIES!!! Let's just take a moment to host a celebratory party so extravagant that Magnus Bane would be proud lol *cue the happy dancing*

Honestly (aside from the badass Isabelle Lightwood) Simon is probably the secondary character from the TMI series that I wanted a series dedicated to the most. After his immense sacrifice in CoHF which redefined the word 'heartbreaking'! I couldn't wait to find out what happened next.

Would Simon get all his memories back? How different was the post-CoHF Simon to the Simon we'd gotten to know and love throughout the TMI series? Was there still hope for Sizzy?! Well I'm happy to announce that all of these questions were true Cassie Clare fashion of course!

One of the highlights of this book were the Cassandra Jean illustrations/comics interwoven throughout. Not only are they visually stunning, but they show a whole new facet of the Shadowhunter and TMI universe and are little nuggets of information (as well as fangirling opportunities lol!).

I also liked how Simon was...well, Simon. The TMI series was brilliant but it had a habit - as most series do - of transforming their characters, letting them grow and evolve. Simon's time as a vampire changed him and made him more confident, different. But I hadn't realised how much I missed nerdy, adorkable Simon! The Simon of City of Bones who didn't know how to speak to a girl let alone even fathom trying to save the world from peril. 

My favourite scene was a really emotional talk between Simon and Isabelle in Pale Kings And Princes. Isabelle - frustrated that Simon's memories of Clary are clearer than his ones of her - blurts out that Simon is lucky he can forget. That he can forget about the people he's lost, those who have been taken away. She then reminisces about losing Max and how Simon had helped her get through that.

The whole moment is filled with tension. Isabelle needs Simon to be the Simon who helped her through the worst moments of her life, but this Simon isn't him. But this Simon feels for Isabelle just as much as he ever did, but is afraid to lose himself in the idea of 'Sizzy' and what them being together means. This moment marks them both taking a huge leap of faith. For Isabelle, it's realising that this Simon is her Simon, and for Simon it was accepting his love for Isabelle and embracing it wholly.

Least favourite part(s): Apart from a few lagging areas and unnecessary/cheesy drama I really enjoyed it! (After all it had so much Jace-Simon bromance could I not love it?!)

Find out more about the book & add it to your Goodreads bookshelf today!

"You think you're hilarious don't you?"
"(...) Honesty compels me to tell you: Yes. Yes, I do think I am hilarious. 'There goes Jace Herondale,' people say. 'Cutting wit, and also totally cut. It's a burden Simon could never understand.'"

#3: Fire in You by by J. Lynn

Fire in You (Wait for You #6)
By J. Lynn

Genre(s): NA, romance, contemporary
Pub Date: November 2016
Page(s): 360

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

One sentence summary: Two lost souls separated by tragedy find their way back to one another years later...but can the wounds of the past ever truly heal?

Best part(s): J. Lynn (or as she's more commonly known as Jennifer L. Armentrout) is a master of emotional manipulation!

The standout parts of this book were most definitely the scenes that were emotionally raw, and really connected with me cue the waterworks! I've read plenty of books where the male love interest has hurt the girl in the past, and refuses to man up and confront his error. But Brock more than mans up - he steps up, showing Jillian with actions as much as words that he knows he's hurt her and he'll never do it again.

And he has a lot of hurt to make up for! Jillian is an intense character and one whose sorrow and anger are simply facades for the deep heartbreak she'd been dealt. Reading her memory segments was hard to do to be honest - as a fellow female I cringed so bad reading about her hopes and dreams...her naivety that then got abruptly crushed by Brock and by fate made me feel for her as a character.

Least favourite part(s): I don't know how I feel about Brock suddenly forcing himself back into her life like a sexy hurricane lol. I just think that he - and her family - should have been more considerate of her and her feelings.

After all, before he gets all deep and understanding, Brock comes across as...well as a big bully! The poor girl is clearly dealing with a lot and adding on his 'games' and her jumbled feelings just got worse and worse. 

I also thought that there were a few unnecessary elements, like his 'fiancee' who ends up being a tiny blip on the radar in terms of plot complications. I wish there had been a bit more action - some plot point to energise the story and tie up everything well, like in the other Wait For You books. True, it had a HEA, but it did leave me feeling a little unfulfilled.

Find out more about the book & add it to your Goodreads bookshelf today!

"You were the one hurt. I was the one screwed up, and yet you still try to protect me. (...) And I don't deserve that. I sure as hell didn't deserve it then, and I still don't deserve it now. (...) But I'm going to change that," he promised, and my eyes flew open. "One day, one day real soon, I will change that."

Which book will you be adding to your TBR? Have you read any standout books this week?

Let me know in the comments below!

Although I was provided with a review copy by the author and/or publisher, all opinions expressed in the this post are purely my own. To find out more, please visit my disclaimer page.

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