Thursday, July 26, 2018

Review: Twelve by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Twelve (The Naturals, #4.5)

Goodreads Overview:

Cassie Hobbes has been working with the FBI since she was a teenager. Now twenty-three years old, she and her fellow Naturals have taken over running the program that taught them everything they know. As a unit, they're responsible for identifying new Naturals--and solving particularly impossible cases. When their latest case brings back a ghost from their past, Cassie and the other Naturals find themselves racing against the clock--and reliving their own childhood traumas.In a small, coastal town in Maine, there has been a rash of teen suicides--or at least, that's what the police believe. Mackenzie McBride, age twelve, thinks differently. Desperate to make herself heard, she stands at the top of a lighthouse, threatening to jump... unless the FBI agents who rescued her from a kidnapper at age six come to hear her out. Enter the Naturals. It doesn't take Cassie long to realize that Mackenzie isn't bluffing: she truly is convinced that the suicides are murder, and she really will jump if she can't get the FBI to believe her. To the outside world, Mackenzie is nothing more than a traumatized child. But so was Cassie, once upon a time. So were Michael, Dean, Sloane, Lia, and Celine. With a storm rolling in off the ocean and Mackenzie's position becoming more precarious by the moment, the Naturals have very little time to get to the truth about the deaths--and about twelve-year-old Mackenzie McBride.


I originally thought Bad Blood, book 4 in this series, was supposed to be the last.  This novella was a pleasant surprise that I jumped right into after finishing Bad Blood.  Our favorite Naturals are now 5 years older and a few of them are currently at the FBI academy becoming agents.  Celine is already an agent, so they can now work cases with a badge in the group without the aid of their mentors Agents Briggs and Sterling.  Briggs is now the director of the FBI and continues to provide the Naturals with the support they need, but is far more hands off than he used to be.

Being a novella, this story was short and sweet and provided a great introduction to a possible new Natural with a unique new ability.  There was also a hint towards the fact that Cassie's half sister may also be a Natural in the making.  She certainly had a traumatic childhood, which is a contributing factor, so the potential is there.

I loved seeing the team working together again and sincerely hope there are more cases in their future.  I would love to see this series turn into a King and Maxwell type of series where the Naturals continue working cases without always being in the direct line of fire.  These young adults have a lot of potential and I would hate to see their talents brought to a close so soon.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Review: The Emperor's Code (39 Clues #8)

The Emperor's Code (The 39 Clues, #8)

Goodreads Overview:

As the race to find the 39 Clues builds to its explosive finish, Amy and Dan must explore an ancient culture and steal a Clue guarded by thousands of the world's best-trained soldiers. It's the most dangerous Clue search yet. As their enemies crowd in, Amy and Dan find themselves separated for the first time ever. The choice lies before them - find the next Clue, or find their way back to each other.


My son and I have been reading this series together and we are both thoroughly enjoying it.  He isn't a big fan of reading, but the action and adventure coupled with the real life history is keeping him engaged.  In fact, he finished almost this entire book during a long car ride yesterday.  

This portion of the race focuses on China.  We learned about the last Emperor, Mt. Everest, and Chinese martial arts.  We also get a glimpse into the life of Jonah Wizard, one of the Cahill cousins competing in the race for the 39 clues. He is an entertainment superstar and part of the Janus branch.  He has made appearances throughout the series, but this is the first time that I can remember him being an integral character.  

When Dan gets separated from Amy he decides to join forces with Jonah until he can find his sister.  He doesn't have any money and with their cell phones not working in China, his options are limited.  He begins to realize the Janus's can't be trusted and he breaks off on his own again.  Amy and Dan continue to follow the clues independently until they are reunited, thanks to something Grace told them about years ago.

Amy and Dan struggle to come to terms with what "Branch" they belong to, but they realize they are not defined by their family history.  They aren't like their evil family members and they can see that they have made the right decisions when presented with moral dilemmas.   Their combined resources allow them to decipher a clue the others probably think is lost forever.  In addition, Dan's discovery provides them with a lead towards another clue the rest of the family is most likely unaware of.  If they can manage to leave town without a tale, they may be able to get a jump on the competition. 

Get out your flip flops and sunscreen because it sounds like the Cahill kids are on their way to the Caribbean!  I can only imagine what we will learn about from that area....Pirates????

Monday, July 23, 2018

Review: Bad Blood by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Bad Blood (The Naturals, #4)

Goodreads Overview:

When Cassie Hobbes joined the FBI's Naturals program, she had one goal: uncover the truth about her mother's murder. But now, everything Cassie thought she knew about what happened that night has been called into question. Her mother is alive, and the people holding her captive are more powerful—and dangerous—than anything the Naturals have faced so far. As Cassie and the team work to uncover the secrets of a group that has been killing in secret for generations, they find themselves racing a ticking clock. New victims. New betrayals. New secrets. When the bodies begin piling up, it soon becomes apparent that this time, the Naturals aren't just hunting serial killers. They're being hunted.


Bad Blood is the fourth book in the Naturals series.  While some series can be read as stand alone novels, this certainly is not one of them.  In fact, it has been a while since I read All In, book three in this series, and it took me several chapters before things started falling in place again.  If you are new to this series, DEFINITELY read them in order.

I absolutely love the characters and their abilities and hope Jennifer will someday write a spin off series with the teens a little older solving crimes that do not hit so close to home.  I am always up for a good murder mystery and it would be a lot of fun reading some independent stories similar to the King and Maxwell series or even the Stephanie Plum books where we have a core group of characters solving a different case each book.

We were introduced to a new character with a different "natural ability." This provided a new dimension to the story and would be a great addition to Michael, Dean, Cassie, Lia and Sloan's abilities.  I have enjoyed seeing how the Naturals have formed a family and become closer throughout this series.  Dean and Michael in particular were always at odds, but even they provided readers with some warm and fuzzy moments in addition to their witty jabs at one another.

I was shocked at how everything unfolded at the end of this book.  Bad Blood definitely has new meaning and was not what I anticipated from the title.  Cassie is faced with an unthinkable decision after years of tracking down the people she thought were responsible for her mother's murder.  In addition, we discover characters from prior books who were far more than they seemed at the time. 

While writing this review I discovered there is a novella, which is 4.5 in the series.  I thought this was the end of the series, but now I can look forward to another 128 pages.   They alluded to certain things at the end of Bad Blood that were so open ended, that I couldn't believe this was the absolute end.  I am ecstatic to see that it is not.  I am heading to my library app to request Twelve while the story is still fresh in my mind. 

If you enjoy YA and murder mysteries, this is a highly entertaining series with some amazingly talented characters.  

Friday, July 20, 2018

Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)

Goodreads Overview:

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they're plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she's just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.


This was another action packed adventure as Cinder and her team of accomplices work to overthrow Queen Levana.  Cinder is scared of who she may become if Princess Selene takes her rightful place on the Lunar throne.  She doesn't want to turn into Levana, but she can already see how she is justifying her actions of manipulation because of a perceived greater good.  Her supporters are being targeted by Levana and her friends are being injured at an alarming rate to achieve their objectives.

Cinder tells Kai about her plan at the end of this book and hopefully their combined power and resources will be enough to restore peace on both of their planets.  It appears that a relationship may develop between these two, which I am really hoping will materialize in the next book.

Scarlet was MIA from Cinder and Wolf the majority of this book, but the readers do get to see what she is experiencing.  Wolf is distraught and Cinder can only hope they will be able to find her in time.  

We learn considerably more about Captain Thorne in this story while he and Cress are separated from the group.  They need to rely on each other to escape insurmountable odds.  Cress already had a crush on Thorne from all of her research while on the satellite.  All of his heroic qualities from the past may not have been as remarkable as she thought, but he proves himself to be a hero throughout their adventure.  

If only Cinder can rescue Scarlet, we could have three happy couples with a happily ever after at the end of this fairy tale series.  Do you think there could be a different royal wedding to unite their planets?  One that is actually a celebration instead of a prison sentence.  I can hardly wait to finish reading this series to find out the answers to these and so many other questions that are left unanswered at the end of Cress.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Review: The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead

The Golden Lily (Bloodlines, #2)

The Golden Lily is the second book in the Bloodlines series.  In this installment, Sydney is faced with protecting the Moroi from not only the Strigoi and those who are after the Queen's lone relative, but also a rogue group with ancient ties to the Alchemists.  She discovers the Alchemists have not been telling her the whole truth and she begins questioning everything she believes in.  She sees the evil humans are committing who were once part of the Alchemists, but the supposedly "evil" vampires are quickly becoming the true friends she never had.

She has been taught that magic is evil, but one of her teachers believes she has a natural ability and requires her to start learning spells.  When one of her friends is in danger, she is forced to use this magic to help save them.  She begins to justify why there is a greater good to what she is doing.  She can no longer allow herself and her friends to become victims while she has the power to make a difference. 

I can't possibly do a review of a book involving Adrian Ivashkov without giving him some attention.  He was by far my favorite character in the Vampire Academy series and is still my favorite in this series.  I was happy to see that he is really trying to better himself.  He is still the witty Royal that you can't help but love, but he is taking life more seriously.  He is attending his college art classes and is cutting back on his vices.  He appreciates Sydney's intelligence and is really trying to learn from her example.  The two of them become closer throughout this book and anyone can see that they would be perfect together, if it weren't for one small problem.  He is a vampire and she is an Alchemist and a romance between the two is forbidden.  Instead, we have to endure Sydney dating the super boring Brayden while Adrian does everything he can to get her attention. 

Overall, this was a great addition to the series and I can't wait to see what will happen next.  Hopefully, Sydney will come to her senses and give Adrian the chance he deserves.