I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Jazz Dent is your typical teenager; he has a best friend, girlfriend, and is involved in his high school activities. But unlike his “normal” peers, Jazz has a problem: his dad, Billy Dent, is the most notorious serial killer alive. With “dear old dad” safely behind bars, Jazz tries to outrun his father’s shadow, attempting to convince himself that he’s not the same as his father. Try as he might, Jazz’s efforts are blocked by Billy’s insistence that Jazz will one day join the deadly “family business”. What’s more, Jazz is distracted by a recent murder in his town – one that he feels he must solve before people start believing he’s the killer.

This one is great if you love thrillers. The premise alone is enough to suck you in — teenager with a serial killer for a dad? Yes, please. In many ways, the story reminded me of the Showtime series, Dexter (which is also a book series by Jeff Lindsay), only the protagonist, Jazz, isn’t a killer. However, he does know enough about killing to be one, and he spends most of the novel fighting what he believes is his true nature. Jazz’ fight with himself, coupled by his insatiable drive to catch the new murder in this town, will have you hooked until the end. While the novel can be a bit predictable at times, there are plenty of surprises. I thought I had figured out who the killer was within the first chapter —  I was wrong. Which was great, because I hate figuring things out early. If you’re a fan of suspense, action, mystery, and bloody crime scenes, give this one a try! If you love it, there are two more in the Jasper Dent series: Game, and Blood of My Blood. Lyga has also released some prequels. I’m not a huge fan of prequels — I feel like most of the time authors are just reaching when they start releasing those. But who knows? They might be just as good.

This one also has a great book trailer! Click here to watch

Rating: 4/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

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Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Told entirely using photographs and minimal text, Chopsticks tells the love story between piano prodigy, Gloria (“Glory”) and next-door neighbor artist, Frank. After the loss of Glory’s mother, her father, Victor, throws himself into Glory’s piano career, booking tours and sold-out performances for her. Glory, coming undone from the pressure, seeks comfort in her relationship with Frank. But even Frank’s love fails to save Glory, and, by the end of the novel, she must struggle to decide her own fate.

A lot of people have mixed feelings about this novel, but I loved it. I understand their frustration, though. The ending is very unclear. But I like the fact that it’s difficult to figure out — it leaves room for interpretation. I probably wouldn’t have like this book so much if it had been in regular print format. The storyline is largely traditional — girl meets boy, dad doesn’t approve, secret romance, etc. That said, the photographs completely make up for this lack of originality. They’re just stunning. Also, don’t be fooled by what seems like an “ordinary” plot. The end will leave you guessing. Or reading it again, like me. However, maybe a little more clarity would have been nice.

This on has a great book trailer! Click here to watch.

Rating: 4.5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

 

Noggin by John Corey Whaley

NOGGIN. April 8, 2014

A terminally ill leukemia patient, Travis Coates elects to have his head cryogenically frozen in the hopes that he may one day find a body donor. Five years later, Travis is one of only two patients who successfully receive a head transplant, thus making him a healthy sixteen year old boy again. However, while to Travis it seems that time has stopped the day of the surgery, the rest of the world continued in his absence, and he finds that his five year “nap” has drastically changed his life.

I LOVED this book! Whaley’s first novel, Where Things Come Back (2011, and also reviewed on this blog) won the Printz, so I thought I’d give this one a shot. Best decision ever. All the characters are hilarious and easy to relate to, and the plot has a crazy amount of twists and turns. Whaley also tackles some pretty heavy issues — love, family, what it’s like to come back from the dead. You know, the usual. If you read (or are waiting to read) John Green’s Fault in Our Stars (2012), this one might be a good read for you. Travis has the unique perspective of narrating from the eyes of the grieved — that is, what it’s like to be the dead person, instead of the people sad about losing the dead person. Definitely not a story told every day. However, though it’s humorous, the book is never disrespectful. It gives you so much to think about, and you’ll be telling all your friends to read it next. If you’re an award watcher, keep your eye on this one. Noggin (and Whaley) is going places!

This one has a great book trailer! Click here to watch.

Rating: 5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Book cover for Shadow and Bone

Orphaned, alone, and forced to serve in the service of her king, the only comfort Alina Starkov enjoys is the friendship of fellow orphan and soldier, Mal. However, once Alina’s hidden power is discovered, she is ripped away from her best friend and secret love in order to become a Grisha, a powerful magic-wielding unit of the king’s army. Surrounded by luxury she’s never known, Alina quickly becomes the Grisha leader’s, the Darkling’s, favorite, and must attempt to see beyond the breathless, mysterious intrigue of court life in order to save both her world, and herself.

Bardugo’s novel is a mix of fantasy and romance, set in what feels like sweeping imperialist Russia. It’s awesome. The magical elements are intriguing without being so overdone that they’re completely unbelievable, and the characterization is extremely rich. After reading this, I definitely wanted to run away and become a Grisha. My one criticism of the book is that I feel like Alina is always being led by/controlled by a male character, and I really wanted to see her take charge of her own life. You might not agree with me though! In all, an excellent beginning of Bardugo’s series that you will want to read in one sitting. If you like it, look for the second (Siege and Storm) and third (Ruin and Rising, coming June!) installments.

This one has a great book trailer! Click here to watch.

*Tayshas 2013!

Rating: 4/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.