Review for Lies I Told by Michelle Zink

Lies I Told by Michelle Zink

TITLE: Lies I Told
AUTHOR: Michelle Zink
PUBLISHER: Harper Teen
PAGES: 352 pages
SOURCE: publisher via Edelweiss
RATING: 1 bow

From the outside, Grace Fountaine has the perfect life. She’s smart, pretty, and comes from a well off family. But looks can be deceiving. Grace’s family is actually a professional grade group of con artists and they have set the sights on their biggest score yet. Grace’s mission? Charm the mark’s son to get inside information and find out where the payload is located. The problem? The time she spends with Logan (the mark’s son), the more she starts to have feelings for him. Before the end, she has broken a cardinal rule and she knows that this isn’t going to end well. Can Grace figure out a way to make it through the con without fucking up even more or is she doomed to get them all caught for her mistakes?

When I read the synopsis for this, I was pretty excited. I love a good con story. I’m addicted to several con shows. I was basically expecting something along the lines of this.
Matt Bomer White Collar Gif
But that was not what I received and I am utterly disappointed with it. This novel is compared to Ally Carter’s work and though I’ve never read a full novel by her, I have read a novella and even it was more thought out in it’s itty bitty 100 pages than this was.

Grace was a character I wanted to sympathize with but didn’t. She was adopted by a family of cons and we all know a 14 year old who has been bounced around the foster system isn’t going to give up a seemingly loving family just because they want her to steal things. She learns to do what they do and then they adopt Parker as well, creating the perfect family of four. This is fine with me. A family of cons? That sounds like a bunch of fun and danger. But this group that is made out to be on the professional level seem like a bunch of amateurs! Grace shows no restraint and immediately becomes genuine friends with people and school and truly starts to like Logan. I get the whole you can’t help who you love thing, but she should have at least come clean to her family about it. These attachments put the whole plan at risk. As does keeping a mementos box. Destroying every part of your old aliases is part of what keeps you safe. Any link to the past you and the cops or feds could piece it together and haul your ass to jail (or at least to juvie). Add to that the fact that she not only keeps things, but actually carries something around with her and I wanted to strangle her. From the first moment she mentions putting that old ID in her pocket, you KNOW she is going to lose it and it’ll fall into the wrong hands. That is obvious plot point numero uno.

Then we have Parker, her “brother.” Again, I wanted to like him, but I really didn’t. He felt stuck-up and had this weird vibe going with Grace. I was never quite sure if he felt brotherly towards her or romantically. He keeps convincing her to run away with him and leave the family of cons, and even with the creepy vibe, Grace should have taken that deal. I know how this will end for you both, so you know, run, and run now.
Mulan run away gif
And he was just as amateurish as Grace. He discusses the con in unsafe locations and he makes mistakes, though he doesn’t do anything as monumentally stupid as she does.

We have all the side characters, but I just mostly feel bad about the ones Grace genuinely befriends as well as Logan. This guy’s only fault is that he falls for Grace and has a dad with mental issues. He probably has no idea that there is a massive amount of gold hidden somewhere in his house and he gets duped for it anyway. He’s smart and sweet and a really good guy and I HATE that he gets caught in this mess.

Overall, I’m just monumentally disappointed in this. I had super high hopes and expectations and they were not met in the least. I had the hardest time finishing it! Anytime I’m reading a novel that I’m just not loving (or something just when I’m curious), I check out the book’s reviews. I see what other people are saying about it and that was a mistake of the highest order. About halfway through, I started looking at reviews and saw how upset people were with the ending. I didn’t find spoilers of what actually happened, just the basic doom that it was not going to have a nice ride off into the sunset for any of the characters. From that point, I only read a chapter here and there because I already wasn’t loving it and the doom ending was not motivation to finish it. After about 2 weeks of this, I finally managed to complete it and I was just as upset and disappointed as I imagined I’d be. I don’t know if this is just the way the book ends or if it will be a series and this is just to get us going, but either way, this is not my happy gnome face. That is no way to end a story, even if it is the beginning of a series. Nothing is really resolved and everyone is much worse off for their trouble. Well, everyone but one particular person and that makes it even worse. You get smacked with hurt and betrayal and then it’s over. Roll Credits. Story finished. And I’m left slack-jawed and upset.

Basically, I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone I know. Even to people who don’t mind bad endings, but this felt like a non-ending. The story just stops and expects you to live with that. I don’t want to live with that! I want to know a few more things before you close that curtain, even if they are bad things. Beyond the bad ending, just felt misrepresented. These people are not professional con artists. They are hacks with a few tricks up their sleeves, but that’s it. It was also incredibly slow. You get dropped into the plot and then it just crawls by. Weeks of planning and getting in with the good crowd and then procrastinating. None of it was so enrapturing that I couldn’t put the book down and the only character I really cared for was the one getting screwed over! Plus, there were so many random things they left just hanging out there. Like Grace’s weird neighbor. There were clues throughout the whole novel that something more would come from this mysterious guy, but nothing ever does. We never learn what the hell is up with him! Or the whole Rachel bit. Bitch is crazy, but she is also onto them and I feel like she would have done more about it than just tell her father. Either way, this was not the book for me. If I had to describe it in one word, that word would be disappointing. That really says it all, doesn’t it?

****Thank you to Harper Teen for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review****

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Review for Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes by Nina Berry, Sarwat Chadda, Georgia McBride, Suzanne Lazear, Karen Mahoney, Lisa Mantchev, C. Lee McKenzie, K.M. Walton, Suzanne Young, Michelle Zink, Sayantani DasGupta, Shannon Delany, Max Scialdone, Leigh Fallon, Heidi R. Kling, Angie Frazier, Jessie Harrell, Nancy Holder, Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, Gretchen McNeil, & Leah Cypess

Two & Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings Of Mother Goose

TITLE: Two & Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings Of Mother Goose
AUTHOR: Nina Berry, Sarwat Chadda, Georgia McBride, Suzanne Lazear, Karen Mahoney, Lisa Mantchev, C Lee McKenzie, K M Walton, Suzanne Young, Michelle Zink, Sayantani DasGupta, Shannon Delany, Max Scialdone, Leigh Fallon, Heide R Kling, Angie Frazier, Jessie Harrell, Nancy Holder, Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, Gretchen McNeil, & Leah Cypess
PUBLICATION DATE: October 16, 2012
PAGES: 342 pages
SOURCE: NetGalley
RATING: 4 stars

This anthology of retellings of mother goose nursery rhymes are dark and enticing. The authors take these tales that are supposed to comfort you and turn them into scary tales that send shivers down your spine. Just a fair warning to all wanting to read this anthology, very few of these shorts have happy endings. I’m gonna do a tiny review on each story because I feel like that’s the only way to do it. Since my copy is the eARC, it doesn’t contain 3 of the stories that will be in the finished edition (Interlude: Humpty Dumpty by Georgia McBride, Sea Of Dew (extended version) by C Lee McKenzie, & The Lion & The Unicorn: Part The Second by Nancy Holder), but all the other tales will get a small segment. I’ll also give each tale a 1-5 rating.

As Blue As The Sky And Just As Old by Nina Berry: 3/5 I have never heard that nursery rhyme before, but this chilling tale of a group of people who are reincarnated repeatedly only to fail to get this right was more twisted than I was fully expecting. Arawn is an intriguing heroine and reacts with the proper amount of horror when everything is finally revealed.

Sing A Song Of Six-Pence by Sarwat Chadda: 4/5 Another rhyme I’ve never read. Apparently I’m not up to speed on my nursery rhymes anymore. Either way, this tells the story of a woman who is making a deal with a devil in order to try and make it back to her son. It’s filled with gloom and unease since I had no idea where it was going to end up.

Clockwork by Leah Cypress: 4/5 Finally a Mother Goose tale I know! But I never could have seen this twist when I recited this small rhyme as a child. Imagine, if you will, that the mouse in Hickory Dickory Dock is actually a bewitched girl who was betrayed by those around her and then transformed. It was definitely an entertainingly dark tale.

Blue by Sayantani DasGupta: 2/5 This tale confused me a bit. I really didn’t understand what the “Maiden” was doing or who she was supposed to be. I just didn’t care for it.

Pieces Of Eight by Shannon Delany with Max Scialdone: 4/5 I really liked this one. The dynamic between Marnum and Cyrelle was wonderful and enchanting. You couldn’t help rooting for Marnum on his crazy quest to shake the dreamtree.

Wee Willie Winkie by Leigh Fallon: 5/5 This short was absolutely perfect. It was intriguing, entertaining, and spine chillingly creepy. After reading this, I’m very excited to read other things by Leigh Fallon.

Boys & Girls Come Out To Play: by Angie Frazier 3/5 While this story was interesting, I didn’t like that the twin’s fiancée was interested in her. I’m sorry but the I love you even though I’m engaged to your sister bit is very overplayed and irritating.

I Come Bearing Souls by Jessie Harrell: 4/5 This one seemed a bit darker than the others. This girl takes souls to the underworld with her siblings and depending on whether or not they are worthy of the afterlife, they either get to move on or get devoured by Amemit. Oh, and I loved that there was a character named Kyle Reese. It made me half expect to see John Connor appear and start taking out robots. 🙂 It makes me even more excited to read Destined by Jessie Harrell, if it is going to be this good.

The Lion And The Unicorn: Part The First by Nancy Holder: 4/5 While this one was good, since I can’t read the second part, I’m a little lost. Part II isn’t in the eARC version, so it was a big cliffhanger. Otherwise, the writing is good and the story is definitely interesting. I’m gonna have to buy a finished copy of this book to read the rest! This is yet another author that I’m going to start looking for books by.

Life In A Shoe by Heidi R Kling: 5/5 Wow. This tale just completely blew me away. In this world, it is now apparently illegal for you to use any form of contraceptives and so woman just keep popping out baby after baby when they already can’t afford to feed the ones they have. The mother in this one is a soldier’s wife who has 12 kids and is pregnant with another and is beyond caring about the children. It is amazing. I had never heard of Heidi R Kling before, but I’m definitely going to be on the lookout for her books now!

Candlelight by Suzanne Lazear: 4/5 This short plays on the universal theme of kids feeling persecuted by their parents. Well, dear little ones, if you want to get away from them and live happily ever after on your own, come right on down to Babylon and we’ll take care of ya! Warning: time passes differently down here so even if you only spend a few months here, up top, the world will move on without you. It was pretty entertaining.

One For Sorrow by Karen Mahoney: 5/5 Finally, a happy ending! I realize these are all dark tales, but that doesn’t mean they can’t end darkly happy. Not only happy ending, but a love story as well. ::does happy dance:: I think this is one of my favorite stories in this anthology. It’s got loss, sorrow, love, happiness, magic, mystery, and a happy ending. What more could I want? I will definitely be looking into getting more books by this author.

Those Who Whisper by Lisa Mantchev: 5/5 This story is the reason I wanted to read this book. I loved Lisa’s Theater Illuminata series and plan on reading anything else she writes so when I saw she had a story in this anthology, I just had to get my hands on it. And it was worth it. This small tale about a girl who can communicate with birds and is kicked out of her town once her mother dies is elegant and simple and absolutely perfect. That’s all I can really say.

Little Miss Muffet by Georgia McBride: 3/5 This story is more than a little weird. Human spider girl with issues fights with family. It was…interesting.

Sea of Dew by C Lee McKenzie: 3/5 This short reminded me a great deal of Sharks And Boys by Kristen Tracy. It’s dark and twisted and doesn’t end happily at all. It’s about three boys and a girl who are stranded at sea in a lifeboat.

Tick Tock by Gretchen McNeil: 4/5 This one is creepy as hell, probably the scariest tale in the book. After reading this, I can honestly say, I’m glad I was never a babysitter in high school. Beware the small children with no parents!

A Pocket Full of Posy by Pamela van Hylckama Vlieg: 4/5 Imagine waking up on a bench covered in blood with no memory of how you got there or whose blood it is. Add to that the mystery of finding your girlfriend murdered and wondering if you were somehow involved in her death. That’s what the young man in this story is faced with. And everyone thinks he did it. You’ll have to read it to find out if he did or not.

The Well by K M Walton: 2/5 This is a very twisted version of Jack and Jill. I didn’t really like it. It was written well, it just isn’t for me.

The Wish by Suzanne Young: 2/5 This is so beautifully written that I hate to give it such a low rating, but I was so depressed by the ending, I couldn’t help it. Lauren is devastated when her boyfriend of two years breaks up with her and then promptly starts dating a cheerleader. It puts her in a downwards spiral so bad that he actually makes a wish on a star to die. Then a handsome stranger shows up and turns on the charm and it became so sweet and romantic and then…well let’s just say it doesn’t end well, okay?

A Ribbon Of Blue by Michelle Zink 4/5 Short and sweet, this one stole my heart. Poor Ruby was born with Cerebral Palsy and though her condition isn’t as several as some, it still makes her life very difficult. The one time a year when she is truly happy is when the carnival comes to town. She waits with baited breath for the boy she was foretold would one day meet her there. And when he finally arrives, she is anything but disappointed.

****Thank you to Month9Books for providing me with an eARC via netgalley in exchange for an honest review****