Review | Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray

Before the Devil Breaks You cover
New York City.
1927.
Lights are bright.
Jazz is king.
Parties are wild.
And the dead are coming…

After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that early claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough of lies. They’re more determined than ever to uncover the mystery behind their extraordinary powers, even as they face off against an all-new terror. Out on Ward’s Island, far from the city’s bustle, sits a mental hospital haunted by the lost souls of people long forgotten–ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the man in the stovepipe hat, also known as the King of Crows.

With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over, and New York City on the verge of panic, the Diviners must band together and brave the sinister ghosts invading the asylum, a fight that will bring them fact-to-face with the King of Crows. But as the explosive secrets of the past come to light, loyalties and friendships will be tested, love will hang in the balance, and the Diviners will question all that they’ve ever known. All the while, malevolent forces gather from every corner in a battle for the very soul of a nation–a fight that could claim the Diviners themselves.

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The only thing that has disappointed me so far with this series is the constant cover changes (seriously, please pick a scheme and stick with it, I need my series to match). After what seems like a 240284 year wait, I’m thrilled to say that Before the Devil Breaks You was wonderfully creepy and utterly perfect; if this series wasn’t already on my “all-time-favourites” list, it definitely would be after this book.

Before the Devil Breaks You is the highest-stakes Diviners book yet, and it’s also the creepiest. There are plenty of ghosts to go around, and further exploration of the 1920s political climate (racism, eugenics programs and the treatment of mentally ill individuals) adds extra weight to an already dark read.

Instead of focusing on any particular Diviner duo, Before the Devil Breaks You is group-oriented, letting all of the characters take their turn in the spotlight. While Evie and Theta will always hold special places in my heart, all of the characters have significant (and often unexpected) character arcs, some of which made me gasp out loud. I can’t wait to see where they go next.

Waiting On Wednesday (December 3)

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

This week, I’m waiting on A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, which has an expected publication date of May 5, 2015.

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

As I’m sure you all know by now, the Throne of Glass series is one of my favourites, so I was ridiculously excited to see that Sarah J. Maas was releasing a new series! Not only is the cover absolutely gorgeous, but it’s a retelling of one of my favourite fairytales (Beauty and the Beast) with my favourite paranormal component (faeries) and some really neat Scottish lore (Tam Lin).

Which books are you waiting on? Leave me a link or a list to your Waiting on Wednesday post below.

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Book Review: The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.
She can’t.

She used to think her problems were all in her head.
They aren’t.

She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.
She’s wrong.

In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?

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“They rattled my cage to see if I’d bite. When they released me, they’d see that the answer is yes.”

Although there were many elements of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer that I didn’t enjoy, that awful cliffhanger ending made it so that I just had to pick up The Evolution of Mara Dyer. And, thankfully, it was a much better read.

The Evolution of Mara Dyer is much more plot-focused than romance-driven, allowing for a plethora of creepy scenes and paranormal occurrences. Between creepy dolls, crows falling from the sky, and threatening messages written in blood, it’s easy to see why I was completely absorbed in the story. My only complaint is that, at times, there seemed to be too much plot, causing the story to feel drawn out over its 500+ pages. The twist at the ending was also painfully obvious, and wasn’t quite as good as what I had imagined, but the intense cliffhanger ending kind of made up for that.

Unreliable narrators are my favourite, and Mara is no exception. Over the course of the story, readers aren’t exactly certain what is truly happening and what is just in Mara’s head – and that just makes it all the more interesting.

I was surprised to find that I actually really enjoyed the relationship between Mara and Noah this time around, mostly because it was a portion of a plot instead of the main focus of the novel. Noah has shown tremendous character growth, and is clearly good for Mara – he truly cares about her, and often is what grounds her in reality. I loved how willing he was to help her; I just wish that his help didn’t always involve throwing money at the problem.

Overall, despite its flaws, I can’t wait to continue this series. Even if it does mean painfully waiting until November for The Retribution of Mara Dyer to finally be released. (Seriously, someone should have warned me about that before I binge-read the first two books…)

Book Review: Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore

Cabaret meets Cassandra Clare-a haunting magical thriller set in a riveting 1930s-esque world.

Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder’s mother is cursed with a spell that’s driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. With no one else to contribute, Thea must make a living for both of them in a sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules.
Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron at the club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city’s secrets-even while he hides secrets of his own.

Together, they find a whole new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. And if they’re not careful, the heartless masterminds behind the growing disappearances will be after them, too.

Perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, this is a chilling thriller with a touch of magic where the dead don’t always seem to stay that way.

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Dark Metropolis was certainly an interesting take on the zombie genre: necromancy and its associated magic caused the resulting zombies to be much different than the typical undead who lust for blood. The zombies aren’t particularly creepy nor is there much zombie-caused chaos, though, so I was a tad underwhelmed in that regard.

The atmosphere of the Dark Metropolis was enthralling, and I couldn’t wait to learn more about this post-war, alternate Berlin world that Dolamore created. Unfortunately, the history that was provided was limited and often glossed over in favour of a fast-paced plot, so hopefully it will be elaborated upon in the sequel.

The plot-oriented nature of Dark Metropolis made it difficult for me to connect with any of the characters. Their backgrounds and perspectives were interesting, but they never felt real to me. As a result, the subsequent romances also lacked believability; trust was gained far too quickly in order to further the plot and maintain its quick pace, causing them to fall rather flat. That being said, I appreciated the quiet inclusion of LGBTQ elements in the story, including lesbian and asexual characters.

Overall, Dark Metropolis had many elements that I enjoyed, but the focus on a quick-paced plot made it difficult to connect to the story.

Saturday Showcase (October 25)

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Saturday Showcase is a weekly event hosted here at The In-Between Place which features books that you wish more people had read (or, at least, heard about).

This week’s featured book is The Diviners by Libba Bray.

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

The Diviners is beautifully written and atmospheric, and takes place in one of my favourite time periods: the Roaring Twenties. It’s also wonderfully creepy: from serial killers to demonic possessions, it’s the perfect choice for a Halloween read.

What are some of your favourite underrated books? Leave a list in the comments below.
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Waiting on Wednesday (October 8)

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

This week, I’m waiting on The Witch Hunter by Virgina Boecker, which has an expected publication date of June 2, 2015.

The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king’s best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. When she’s accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to die at the stake. Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that’s been laid upon him.

As she’s thrust into the world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and all-too-handsome healers, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, and of love and hate.

It’s Halloween month, so a book about witches, ghosts, and pirates is a must-feature. And since I’ve heard The Witch Hunter pitched as “Shadow and Bone meets The Tudors,” it’s not hard to see why I’m desperately counting down the days until I can get my hands on a copy of it.

Which books are you waiting on? Leave me a link or a list to your Waiting on Wednesday post below.

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Book Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.

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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was nothing like I had expected. I went into it expecting an eerie story that would cause me to sleep with the lights on for the next little while; unfortunately, while the beginning started off on such a high note, it was quickly overshadowed by romance.

While the creepy parts lasted, though, they were done exceptionally well. From unexplained hallucinations to a disturbing event that no one could remember, it was easy to say that I was completely absorbed in determining what exactly had happened to Mara and what was still happening to her. Unfortunately, the last 100 pages or so were rather disappointing in that regard: while the paranormal elements that I had been promised finally kicked in at the end, it was unoriginal and predictable. I had so many great theories about what had been happening (my personal favourite of which was dissociative identity disorder), and these paranormal aspects felt incredibly out of place in a book that had read as a contemporary novel/psychological thriller up until that point.

The romance, which took over the majority of the story, was formulaic and cliched. The illustrious Noah Shaw is a prime example of wish fulfillment: he’s gorgeous, intelligent, British, speaks multiple languages, lives in what can only be described as a “palace,” and has eyes only for the new girl, Mara. He’s overprotective and possessive, to the point where he fights to “defend” Mara’s honour. All of this together made me dislike him for the majority of the book, but somehow – inexplicably – he started to grow on me, particularly when he let his guard down or uttered one of his many witty one-liners. I couldn’t forgive the initial impression that he left on me, but I can (kind of) understand why other readers seem to be in love with him.

In terms of the other characters, Mara included, the characterization was a bit rocky and underdeveloped. I didn’t feel as if I got to know any of them – and while it may be that Mara doesn’t really know herself, it was hard to connect with her. Her brothers were just kind of there: one adorably trusting, and the other was the quintessential perfect child. I did appreciate that her parents were present, although they were prone to disappearing at the most convenient times. Mara’s best friend, Jamie, seemed only to be included to diversify the cast, as he didn’t receive much page time or development. The worst characterization, though, goes to Anna, the requisite “mean girl” who was subject to so much slut shaming.

However, despite the many reasons as to why The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer shouldn’t have worked for me, I somehow found myself enjoying it. Here’s hoping the sequel is just as addictive.

Waiting on Wednesday (October 1)

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

This week, I’m waiting on The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, which has an expected publication date of November 4, 2014.

Mara Dyer wants to believe there’s more to the lies she’s been told.
There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.
She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.
She will now.

Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.
Retribution has arrived.

After finally getting around to reading The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, I’ve been impatiently waiting for the final book in the series. Especially since I read both books in under 24 hours, and the second one ended on such a mean cliffhanger. Here’s hoping it’s filled with lots of deliciously creepy moments!

Which books are you waiting on? Leave me a link or a list to your Waiting on Wednesday post below.

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Book Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hairactually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

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“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”

Daughter of Smoke & Bone is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Every word, every page is infused with magic – both literally, in terms of the storyline, and figuratively, in terms of Laini Taylor’s gorgeous, poetic, quote-worthy writing and breathtaking descriptions of Prague. The layers of mythology were equally impressive: from the creation stories of chimaeras to a reinterpretation of the classic battle between angels and demons/good vs. evil, this story was a breath of fresh air in the YA paranormal genre.

All of the characters in the story, both main players and secondary characters alike, felt incredibly real and I fell in love with each and every one of them. Karou is easily one of my favourite heroines, and I loved her determination and creativity. More than that, though, I identified with her loneliness and her feeling that she is incomplete – that there must be something more to who she is, but she can’t quite grasp what that would be.

My favourite characters, though, were some that received a bit less page time: Brimstone, Karou’s adopted father of sorts, and Zuzana, Karou’s best friend. Brimstone’s quiet but fierce love for Karou was beautiful to read about. Zuzana, the “rabid fairy,” was so much more than a source of dark humour: she was truly an important part of Karou’s life, and their friendship felt deep and true.

While the romance was a bit cliched, it was explained in a way that both made sense and added to the mystery of the story. As a result, it was fairly easy to disregard the instalove factor, and I quickly found myself hoping that their love could transcend the many obstacles that they faced.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone is so much more than a story of forbidden love, though: it showcases the importance of love in all of its forms, including familial love and friendship. It speaks of war and peace, the importance of hope, and how difficult it can be to craft your own identity. These themes are so powerful and expertly woven into the mystery-laden plot, adding to the enthralling nature of the story.

Overall, Daughter of Smoke & Bone was a beautifully written, intricate and imaginative tale that I will definitely be revisiting time and time again.

Book Blitz + Giveaway: Dead Girl Walking by Ruth Silver

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Today, I’m very excited to be participating in the blog tour for Ruth Silver’s newest book, Dead Girl Walking!

Genre: YA Paranormal
Release date: April 25th 2014
Series: Royal Reaper #1
Publisher: Patchwork Press
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Princess Ophelia Dacre sneaks out of the castle to visit her boyfriend in secret. A perfect night cut short when she’s brutally murdered.

Ophelia is given the rare chance to become a grim reaper. She must become Leila Bele, cut ties with her old life, and follow the rules of the reapers. Her greatest adventure begins with death.

About the Author:

Ruth Silver is the best-selling author of Aberrant. The Young Adult/New Adult Romantic Dystopian Adventure, Aberrant is the first in a trilogy, released April 17th, 2013. Silver first began writing poetry as a teenager and reading heaps of fan fiction in her free time. She attended Northern Illinois University in 2001 and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Communication. While in college she spent much of her free time writing with friends she met online and penning her first novel, Deuces are Wild, which she self-published in 2004. Her favorite class was Creative Writing senior year where she often handed in assignments longer than the professor required because she loved to write and always wanted to finish her stories. Her love of writing, led her on an adventure in 2007 to Melbourne, Australia. Silver enjoys reading YA/NA novels and sharing her favorite books with other readers. She also enjoys photography, traveling and of most of all writing.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Author Interview:

Where did you get the idea for a story about grim reapers?

I absolutely loved the show Dead Like Me that was on Showtime many years ago. It was quirky but offered a different perspective on death. That’s what I was going for when I wrote Dead Girl Walking.

If you had the chance, would you want to become a grim reaper?

No thanks! I’d probably struggle a lot with following the rules. Actually, I’m positive I’d be kicked off (if that’s an option).

Can you tell your readers a secret about writing your Royal Reaper series?

Originally the story was going to take place in the 1300’s during the Black Plague along the Silk Road. It became overly complicated with where the story took place and there not being a kingdom nearby to have a princess actually exist. I wanted it somewhat to follow history, but it was too complicated (not to mention the archaic language). So, I opted instead to make it a paranormal fantasy, put the characters in a fantasy world and still have historical events parallel our past.

Do you think books should end with a happily ever after?

I prefer to read stories with happy endings. I’m okay if it’s a series and you’re going to torture my favorite characters and cause them lots of heartache at the end of book one or book two, but by the end of the series/story, I want a satisfying conclusion.

What other paranormal novels do you like?

Recently I was reading CC Hunter’s Shadow Falls series, which I’m in love with. I also love The Mortal Instruments series which falls between paranormal and urban fantasy.

Giveaway:

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