Review for Liars, Inc by Paula Stokes

Liars, Inc by Paula Stokes

TITLE: Liars, Inc
AUTHOR: Paula Stokes
PUBLICATION DATE: March 25, 2015
PUBLISHER: Harper Teen
PAGES: 368 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss / Won from Street Team Contest
RATING: 5 bows

Max Cantrell’s life just got a little better. It all started with a lie to get himself into detention. That lie showed the possibility to profit off of similar lies. Suddenly Max, Parvarti (his girlfriend), and Preston (his best friend) are rolling in money and esteem. Forging permission slips and creating alibi’s is, apparently, a very profitable business. Then Preston needs a cover story for a weekend getaway and Max is happy to provide one. But something goes wrong and Preston is missing and Max is now the prime suspect. Then Preston turns up dead and Max is really under fire. He knows he didn’t do it, but can he find the real killer before he takes the fall?

Max Cantrell was someone I fell for instantly. Max isn’t the popular guy or the hottest guy in school or the brain or the clown. He’s just your average, decent looking guy with a passion for surfing. He’s an adopted kid who has a nice family, not an abusive bunch of jackasses. He lucked out with an awesome girlfriend, though they have their minor issues. It’s hard for me to really put Max into words. He’s just an average guy and I loved that. We never get stories about average guys. It’s always the popular boys or the brainiac or the dark brooding guy with the ripped body. I image Max has decent muscles because surfing is a serious sport, but it’s not the focus. And he doesn’t have girls falling all over themselves to get with him. He’s also kinda a loner. He’s fine with quiet and solitude.

Parvarti is his opposite in a lot of ways. She’s smart and super-sexy and oh so confident. She’s the school’s it girl. I liked her, but I was always unsure of her. Something felt a bit off from the very beginning. I was convinced pretty early on that she had something to do with Preston’s disappearance, but you’ll have to read for yourself to find out if she did or not because I’m not telling! I will say that I do like her by the end.

This is the type of review where I want to rave about how awesome it was, but I can’t say a whole lot of anything because it’s almost all spoilers. I will say that I absolutely loved it and I didn’t see the end coming. That final twist just blew my mind.
Sherlock Holmes mind blown gif

I also will say that I know changes were made for the final book and from what I can tell, there were nothing really major. A few things I can see why they were changed for the better, but if I’m being honest, I didn’t really notice problems. This book is so good that none of the things that were changed caught my attention while I was reading. I was too enraptured in the story and finding out exactly where this was going to go to care if a line or two didn’t make complete sense. I got the gist and that’s the important part, right? After the fact, when I got a summery of the changes, I was all “yeah, that makes total sense!” and I think they’ll make the story a bit more cohesive. As far as the small consistency errors, I tend to either not notice them or be entirely forgiving of them when I read an ARC/eARC. I know that what I have is not the final product. I know more work goes into it. I also know that I sometimes have consistency errors in my 2 – 3 page reviews that I do not ever edit, so I can’t imagine how many would crop up in 300+ pages after revisions and edits!

What can I really say? This book is awesome. It has mystery and intrigue with a bit of romance and just a small touch of humor. I wasn’t entirely sure I’d love it going in. I tend to skew more towards the happily ever afters and, for a while, I wasn’t sure that was going to happen. I wanted to read it regardless because I loved The Art Of Lainey and knew I could expect great things from Paula. For those like me worried about the conclusion, it does end on a happy note. Not everyone gets to ride off into the sunset consequence free, but the important people are on the right track. All you really need to know is that this is an edge of your seat, must keep reading kinda book that makes you completely forget reality for however long it takes you to finish it. What more do we need? Is that what we all look for? To get lost in a fictional world? I hope you love it as much as I did.

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

5 bows
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Review for The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1) by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

TITLE: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line
SERIES: Veronica Mars #1
AUTHOR: Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham
PUBLICATION DATE: March 25, 2014
PAGES: 324 pages
FORMAT: Audiobook
SOURCE: Borrowed
RATING: 5 bows

A decade after graduating high school, Veronica Mars is back to her old self. She’s taken the PI gig back up, despite Keith’s wishes, and she’s determined to keep Mars Investigations going while Keith recovers from near fatal car crash injuries. So when a girl goes missing during spring break, Veronica is more than willing to do her part in finding her. What starts as a simple disappearance turns into anything but. This case could go so many different directions and it’s up to Veronica to untangle the web before it’s too late.

For those of you who follow me regularly, you may know that a mystery novel isn’t exactly my cup of tea and you would be entirely correct. I’m not really the murder-mystery type. Someone always ends up dead in those and Noir novels rarely have happy endings. What you might not know is that I’m a big time Marshmallow. I’ve been a VMars fan since the shows second season, so there was no question for me when this was announced. I knew I’d have to read it, period. I can’t miss the possibility of more Veronica/Logan action (and Veronica’s smarts and snark). Then it was released on audio…..narrated by Kristen Bell….
Veronica Mars Over The Moon Face gif
I borrowed a copy as soon as humanly possible and began listening with my husband (who is also a rabid fan). Because we only listened when we were together, it took a while for us to get through it, but man, it was perfect. Before I even get into the plot or the writing, I just wanna give Kristen props. She does an amazing job narrating this thing. She knows each character so well and she is amazing at imitating Keith’s verbal mannerism, if that makes any sense. What I’m trying to say is she’s amazing…as if we didn’t already know that.

Now, as to everything else. First off is always character. What can I say about the characters of this novel? Most of them I already know and love. You get a peak of everyone in the VMars cast that you could want.
Veronica Mars waving gif
Veronica is a character I feel like I grew up with and have always admired. She has her faults, but she’s so fiercely loyal that I have a hard time faulting her for them. She’s so damn smart and cocky and awesome. I just don’t have the words to do her justice. She’s the queen of sarcasm, something I can relate to entirely.

Then we have Logan Echolls.
Logan Echolls
Logan is a character that I would hate in real life. That image is probably not what you’d get if this novel is your first foray into the VMars world. Here, Logan is stable and strong. He’s sweet and caring and exactly who we all knew he was capable of being. But earlier in the series, he was Neptune’s obligatory psychotic jackass. He was cruel and careless and it would be easy to hate him. In real life, that’s how it would have stayed. He wouldn’t have changed. But the magic of fiction means anything is possible, so Logan and Veronica grow closer and closer and closer and he’s constantly saving her ass. For me, it was always Veronica and Logan. I was never a Duncan fan (a character we have yet to see reappear) or a Troy fan and just FUCK Piz. I could see her staying with Leo, but it was always always Logan. He was such a tortured character with a twisted backstory and so much potential.
Logan & Veronica making out gif
Logan & Veronica hugging gif
ANYWAY…enough of my fangirling. As Logan pertains to this novel, we don’t get nearly enough of him. He’s deploy as an Airman (I think? I’m pretty shitty at keeping up with the different divisions of the armed forces), so we get a handful of skyped conversations between him and Veronica. Unfortunately he isn’t actually present for the duration of this novel, but have no fear! He is in a good bit of the next one (I’m a reliable source for that info ‘cuz I’ve already read it). Logan’s just a character I can’t help loving. The fact that he seems to understand Veronica on a level no one else does makes it all the better.

Then we have Cindy “Mac” Mackenzie!
Cindy Mackenzie gif
She was one of my favorite characters in the show and I’m so psyched about her having a big presence in the novels. She’s probably smarter than Veronica and a computer genius. She gave up a high paying job at Kane Software to work the PI gig with Veronica and even though the money isn’t as good, she is obviously so much happier with this job. She gets to hang with Veronica and put her computer skills to the test finding the missing details that just might help solve the case.

Everyone else you’d expect to find shows up sooner or later. Weevil, Keith (of course), Cliff, Leo, Wallace, Dick, the whole gang. Hell, Veronica’s mom even puts in a game-changing appearance. I, personally, cannot get enough of Cliff McCormack. He’s just so funny! I love him. That doesn’t really add much to the review, does it?

Writing and plot-wise, this was interesting and perfect. Veronica solves the crime and saves the day, but it doesn’t necessarily go where you expect it to and there are some pretty great twists and turns. I don’t know if it was because of the fact that I listened to this on audio with Kristen or if it really was perfect, but this had that Veronica Mars feel that you can’t find anywhere else. The thing with the world of Veronica Mars is that even though the show wasn’t extraordinarily long (3 seasons and a movie), you still had an undeniable understanding of each character. I’m in it for the characters. I have to connect with them, to want to take this journey with them and I would follow Veronica’s story to the ends of the Earth, but it’s not just Veronica. Every single character is well-rounded and fleshed out completely. They feel like old friends….I’m getting a bit off topic again, aren’t I? See, this is why I’ve been avoiding this review for months. I knew I wouldn’t be able to write it objectively. My opinion of VMars will always be colored by my love of the show.

All you really need to know is this: If you’re a Marshmallow, this won’t disappoint you. The biggest difference between this and the show is that now they aren’t on TV and can use a bit more language. If don’t know much about the show, then I’d suggest you start there. This seems to written with enough background given that you can just jump in and make sense of it, but I feel like you won’t have that deep abiding love for it if you read it cold. Go forth and familiarize yourself with all things Neptune, California and then come back and prepare to be amazing. Also, be glad that you are just now coming into the fandom, not forced to wait ten years between the show and the movie when the show ended at the worst possible moment. TEAM LOGAN FOREVER!

5 bows
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Review for Mrs Kiss & Tell (Veronica Mars #2) by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

Mr Kiss & Tell by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

TITLE: Mr Kiss & Tell
SERIES: Veronica Mars #2
AUTHOR: Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham
PUBLICATION DATE: January 20, 2015
PAGES: 288 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via NetGalley
RATING: 5 bows

Veronica’s back with another difficult case. The Neptune Grand has always been a touch on the shady side. Though it is an upscale hotel, it’s obvious illicit deeds go down there. When a woman who is brutally raped and beaten claims that the Grand was the last place she could remember being, the hotel knows that this could turn out disastrous. Veronica is hired to prove or disprove the story. But something isn’t adding up. The victim had severe head injuries and can’t remember all the details, the other witnesses won’t talk, and it’s clear someone, somewhere, is hiding something. Can Veronica figure out the mystery? Or is the perp going to continue to go free?

Okay, I think I got most of the fangirl gushing out of my system in my last VMars review and hopefully this one will be a bit more coherent. Veronica is the same character she’s always been. She’s smart, resourceful, resilient, and snarky as hell. Veronica’s snark is what initially drew me to her in the show and her character has stayed true to that. It’s not all positives for VMars though, because she has some negative qualities as well. We get to see the best of her here and she’s dogged in figuring this thing out. It’s not long before she disproves the victim’s initial statement, but she can tell there is more to this. This girl was raped and beaten nearly to death and someone needs to pay for that crime.

Logan is actually home (for most of this, anyway) and I couldn’t be happier about his presence in the story. He’s relationship with Veronica is proof that just because something is right doesn’t mean it’s easy. Life with her is always going to be a give and take. She has a tendency to hide her feelings when she knows they aren’t what he wants to hear. She would rather bury it and enjoy their time together. He understands her fears and worries, but there are just some things that he must do. Regardless, his appearance makes things better. I’m a big Logan fan (as if you didn’t get that from my last review) and I’m always happy when he’s in the picture.

The rest of the family all make an appearance. Once again, I feel like we don’t get quite as much Wallace as we should. He was a big part of the crime solving team in the show and I miss his help. I was also a bit disappointed in Weevil. I won’t say more than that, but it wasn’t cool man. I can see his reasoning, but still not cool. As for everyone else important, we get just the right amount. I must admit I’m a sucker for Cliff McCormack and I love seeing him. Him and Keith have their own side project going on, suing the Balboa County Sheriff’s department for damages to Eli Navaro during their criminal investigation after planting evidence on him. That added to the race for Sheriff election with a brand new candidate and things get just a bit heated. We all wanna see Dan Lamb out of office, regardless of what that takes.

This novel has that big mystery feel. The plot has so many twists and turns that it’s impossible to know who the bad guy is from the very beginning. There is no way you can tell how this will turn out. One thing I loved about reading this one as opposed to listening to the audiobook as I did with book one, is that I could hear each character in my head. Don’t get me wrong, Kristen Bell does an amazing job narrating the first one and there is no one better for the task, but there is a slight difference between hearing her do it, mimicking everyone else’s voices and actually hearing the proper voice in your head. I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone other than my fellow marshmallows, but trust me, it was awesome.

What you really need to know is that: it’s Veronica Mars! You need no other incentive to pick this novel up and read away. Beyond that, it is a well written story with a nail-biting plot. I think it’s written in a way that it could be read as a stand-alone. Previous knowledge of this world is not required, but I think it enhances the experience. Now, Rob, Jennifer, are we gonna get another? ‘Cuz, you know, I really want one!

****Thank you to Vintage for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

5 bows
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Palace Of Spies (Palace Of Spies #1) by Sarah Zettel

Palace Of Spies by Sarah Zettel

TITLE: Palace Of Spies
SERIES: Palace Of Spies #1
AUTHOR: Sarah Zettel
PUBLICATION DATE: November 5, 2013
PUBLISHER: Harcourt Children’s Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
PAGES: 368 pages
SOURCE: NetGalley
RATING: 5 bows

Peggy Fitzroy’s led a normal life. That is, until her uncle kicked her out for refusing to marry the dastardly scoundrel he chose for her. Forced into the streets, Peggy is desperate for a way to support herself in a time where women were not allow to have an occupation. Under duress, she allows herself to be convinced to impersonate Lady Francesca, a lady-in-waiting in King George I’s court. Lady Fran died, supposedly of a fever, and now they need someone to take her place. Though Peggy is sure she doesn’t understand their motives, she knows that this will keep her fed, clothed, and sheltered until she can find other reputable employment. But she soon realizes that there is more going on in court than meets the eye and if she doesn’t figure out what it is soon, she may follow in Fran’s footsteps to an untimely demise.

Peggy is a very entertaining character. She’s clever enough to give Hermione Granger a run for her money, but balanced out with a healthy dose of fear at the appropriate moments and a penchant for hysteria if things get too out of hand. She’s stubborn enough to want to stay around and figure out what game is afoot instead of running off with the jewels she has collected, which she could easily live off of the rest of her life. Then there is her cousin, Olivia. If I loved Peggy, then I adore Olivia. Smart and sassy, with a flair for drama, this girl had me begging for a sequel from her perspective. In the first chapter, when her and Peggy where play-acting to an imagined drama, I was rolling with laughter. My one lament of this novel is we don’t get nearly enough of her, or the leading man.

Speaking of the leading man, Matthew Reade is also a hilarious character. From his first meeting with Peggy, to the end of the last battle, he screamed swoon-worhty male. Funny and hot, with a passion and talent for the arts, I was instantly in love. He has an ultra-sweet side and genuinely cares for Peggy, regardless of the façade.
He fits right into the role of leading man with perfection. The fact that he isn’t royalty or even a sir, simply a lowly apothecary’s son with the desire to pursue a career in the arts.

Given my love for historical romance novels, is it really any wonder that I loved this? Though it is very different, the setting and the writing style is the same and it had me swooning anew for this genre. I’ve read a handful of historical YA’s before, but nothing compares to this. It has the added bonus of no love triangles and no cliffhanger, so I have not a single thing to complain about. This has it all, intrigue, mystery, humor, with a romance light enough to not overtake the plot. It was everything I was looking for and more. If you like historical YA’s or just want to give something a little different a try, definitely check this one out.

****Thank you to Harcourt Children’s Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group, for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****

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Review for Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1) by Charlaine Harris

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

TITLE: Dead Until Dark
SERIES: Sookie Stackhouse #1
AUTHOR: Charlaine Harris
PAGES: 292 pages
FORMAT: Paperback
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 5 stars

With massive amounts of vampire romance novels out today, it’s good to know there is at least one truly good series.

Charlaine Harris’ spin on the supernatural world is a very good one. This is the first book in her Sookie Stackhouse series and it has not only romance, but suspense and murder as well. This book is told in an alternate reality where vampires have “come out of the coffin” and announced their existence to human kind. As the world is acclimating itself to this revelation, murders are happening in Bon Temps and nobody can figure out whose doing it. Sookie (our first person narrator) is a twenty something who has a disability. She hears other people’s thoughts and this makes dating more than a little difficult. So when she discovers that vampiric minds are silent as the grave (so to speak) to her, she seeks to be in the company of Bill, Bon Temps first vampire. All in all, great storyline with plenty of romance and suspense.

To fans of the TV show, as in most things, the book is very different than the show. Some characters are the same, but things progress differently and some characters act differently.