Rummanah Aasi
   Sorry for the lack of reviews these past few days. I'm afraid the craziness of the end of the school year has gotten the better of me. The books below have been given to me as advanced reader's copy by the publisher via Netgalley and are now published.

Description: Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town… until River West comes along. River rents the guest house behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more?
   Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery... who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Review: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is an unusual gothic paranormal romance that didn't quite make sense to me. While I liked the paranormal concept of the book, I wasn't entirely too clear on the author's explanation. It is quite possible that was done on purpose by the author since River is completely unreliable and we have no idea how his powers came to be. He seems to be a cross of a supernatural vigilante and a demon. Though described to be a looker, I didn't find River swoon worthy at all and didn't see why Violet was so drawn to him. Considering the book has the word 'devil' in its title, I thought this book would have lots of things happening, but for the most part it is quiet. There are moments of horror that happen unexpectedly without any build up that worked really well with the creep factor, but I did not anticipate these moments to be bloody in detail. The book does not end in a cliffhanger and we are given some answers to River's past, but the author does present more questions. I'm just not interested enough to pick up the second book in this series. Overall I would recommend it to readers who are looking for a book with just a hint of creepiness and gore without being a full out horror novel.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is some underage drinking, intense make-out scenes, and moments of bloody violence. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Between the Spark and the Burn by April Genevieve Tucholke, Anna Dressed in Blood duology by Kendare Blake, Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Description: Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy's shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she's chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy's world.
 When—after a heated argument—Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves her sister dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy's death and everyone's grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. Soon, Ella realizes that Maddy's life was full of secrets. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options—confess her deception or live her sister's life.

Review: The Secrets We Keep was a disappointing read, but it had potential. The plot reminds me of a sub par tv movie. After a car accident, Ella is not certain who she is when she wakes up and assumes she is Maddy, especially when Maddy's boyfriend, Alex, is at her side. I liked the idea of Ella believing she is Maddy due to her memory loss, but I didn't like the fact that she quickly realized the truth and purposefully continues to be her sister. I understood she felt guilty causing the accident, but I didn't fit it believable. I also found it very hard to believe that Ella's parents wouldn't be able to tell their twin daughters apart. 
  Ella's effort to become Maddy is filled with melodramatic flair with a lot more emphasis of telling rather than showing, which also hindered the character development of the twin sisters. We only know about the sisters superficially by how they are described by their friends. The short chapters, however, allowed the suspense and mystery to build about a school scandal in which Maddy played a key part in and it is what held my attention. There is also a budding romance which I wished had gotten more of page time because it was one of the strongest part of the book. Overall Secrets We Keep is a forgettable read that requires suspension of disbelief and a lot of patience in dealing with melodrama.  

Rating: 2 stars

Words of Caution: There is underage drinking, allusions to sex, and some language. Recommended for Grade 8 and up.

If you like this book try: All We Know of Heaven by Jacqueline Mitchard, After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, and Flew Away by Joyce Carol Oates

Description: Earth. Fire. Air. Water. One misstep and they lose it all. For the last time.

Michael Merrick understands pressure. He's the only parent his three brothers have had for years. His power to control Earth could kill someone if he miscalculates. Now an Elemental Guide has it in for his family, and he's all that stands in the way.
 His girlfriend, Hannah, understands pressure too. She's got a child of her own, and a job as a firefighter that could put her life in danger at any moment. But there are people who have had enough of Michael's defiance, his family's 'bad luck'. Before he knows it, Michael's enemies have turned into the Merricks' enemies, and they're armed for war. They're not interested in surrender. But Michael isn't the white flag type anyway. Everything is set for the final showdown. Four elements, one family. Will they hold together, or be torn apart?

Review: I really enjoyed Sacrifice.  The highlight of this book, really in this entire series, are the relationships between the Merrick brothers. Throughout the Elemental series Michael has always been supporting his brothers and trying his very best to fill the shoes in for their dead parents. It was nice to see Michael become the vulnerable, adult who doesn't have all the answers. He struggled throughout the book to let his vulnerability show whether it is being honest with his siblings or his girlfriend Hannah. In this case he faces the possibility of not only losing guardianship over his brothers but also their lives after several near death misses caused by an Elemental Guide that is stalking the Merrick brothers. There were many emotional scenes that ripped my heart out and were done very well, displaying how much these brothers have gone through and what they mean to each other. There was plenty of action to keep the story moving and I was a bit disappointed that the identity of the Elemental Guide wasn't as developed in the previous books. While the romance between Michael and Hannah were not a big part of the story, I did appreciate learning more about them as a couple in particular the own personal demons that haunt Hannah that she doesn't share with Michael. We are introduced to a few new characters and though the book ends without a cliffhanger, it feels unfinished and left open for further story developments in the future, which I truly hope is pursued in the future. I'm not ready to say goodbye to the Merrick brothers just yet.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some intense action scenes and language. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Chronicles of Nick series by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Intertwined series by Gena Showalter
4 Responses
  1. I really liked Michael's book too! I expected more from it in some ways, but overall it was an excellent conclusin. As for Between the Devil.. I really liked the atmosphere in that one, but it was clear from the start that I wouldn't like any of the characters. It was all too vague and strange. So i just gave up, which is awful.

  2. I don't think I would have enjoyed Devil and the Deep Blue Sea as much if I had read it vs. listening to it. It was a gorgeous listen, but I had issues with it. It definitely was a strange read. You are one of the few reviewers that I have seen that liked the final book in the Elementals series, everyone was rather disappointed that it felt so open ended.

  3. I really need to read Kemmer's books. I've heard such good things that I really need to dive into that series!

  4. Yeah, I wasn't a fan of The Secrets We Keep either, and ended up DNF'ing Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea due to its slow pacing. I still haven't read the Elementals series though and need to give it a try as the reviews for it have been very positive.

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