The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The Retribution of Mara Dyer
Mara Dyer: Book Three
Written by Michelle Hodkin
Paranormal, Fantasy
Published November 2014
480 Pages
Mara Dyer wants to believe there's more to the lies she’s been told. There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead. She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance. She will now. Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.

Retribution has arrived.

Professor Birdbrain: Red Rising Review

Red Rising
Red Rising Trilogy Book One
Written by Pierce Brown
Reviewed by the Hubby
Science Fiction, Dystopian
Published January 28th 2014
400 Pages
The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity's last hope.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it's all a lie. That Mars has been habitable, and inhabited, for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield, and Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard ARC Review

Red Queen
Red Queen Trilogy: Book One
Written by Victoria Aveyard
Fantasy, Dystopian
Expected Publication February 10th 2014
400 Pages
Thank you to Hachette Australia
This is a world divided by blood. Red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen year old Red girl from the poverty stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare's potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance. Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart...

Trust Me, I'm Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer

Trust Me, I'm Lying
Written by Mary Elizabeth Summer
Mystery, Romance
Published January 2nd 2015
336 Pages
Thank you to Random House Austalia
Julep Dupree tells lies. A lot of them. She’s a con artist, a master of disguise, and a sophomore at Chicago’s swanky St. Agatha High, where her father, an old school grifter with a weakness for the ponies, sends her to so she can learn to mingle with the upper crust. For extra spending money Julep doesn’t rely on her dad, she runs petty scams for her classmates while dodging the dean of students and maintaining an A plus, okay, A minus average.

But when she comes home one day to a ransacked apartment and her father gone, Julep’s carefully laid plans for an expenses paid golden ticket to Yale start to unravel. Even with help from St. Agatha’s resident Prince Charming, Tyler Richland, and her loyal hacker sidekick, Sam, Julep struggles to trace her dad’s trail of clues through a maze of creepy stalkers, hit attempts, family secrets, and worse, the threat of foster care. With everything she has at stake, Julep’s in way over her head... But that’s not going to stop her from using every trick in the book to find her dad before his mark finds her. Because that would be criminal.
Julep is the master manipulator at the private and illustrious Saint Agatha's, taking full advantage of being the daughter of a con man and a Grifter herself. She sells dreams to anyone who can afford her services, while her father pays her tuition to ensure she gains the wealthy connections to follow in his footsteps. But when Julep arrives home from school to find their small apartment ransacked, her father missing and the only clue to his whereabouts is a cryptic note and a handgun, Julep realises she may need to call in reinforcements.

Wealthy young technology expert Sam is Julep's best friend and partner in crime... Until the popular and charismatic Tyler takes an interest. Tyler is adamant he wants to be her friend, his wealthy and lonely life demanding more than vapid friends and his father's senate election. As Julep follows her father's clues, she's being followed. threatened and needs to find a way to pay for her own tuition or risk being expelled and finding herself in foster care. As the clues lead her closer to her father's insurance policy should he disappear, it will be more than Julep's life in danger. She isn't the only one prone to telling lies, and this deception may just lead to her begging for her own life while others sacrifice theirs.

Kelly's Thoughts

Trust Me, I'm lying was fun, adventurous, but with a thrillingly sinister storyline that I couldn't put down. Reminiscent of Veronica Mars, it follows the story of Julep, a sassy voice in a sea of the wealthy and elite. She makes dreams a reality for a fee, with intricate schemes ranging from setting up dates for the desperate, to criminal activity. Her single father teaching her all he knows, until she comes home from school and finds her place ransacked and her father missing. Suddenly her extracurricular activities pale in comparison. Apart from best friend Sam, Julep has connections but no other friends, not allowing herself to take comfort in anyone else, until she meets Tyler.

Tyler is wealthy, popular and after seeing a dead rat being placed in Julep's school locker, feels he needs to involve himself in her protection. Julep is wary of his sudden interest, and with good reason. Sam doesn't trust him and their once close friendship becomes strained with the introduction of Tyler as a possible love interest. Their dangerous adventure was enthralling, a mystery that unravels as the reader turns each page. I loved Julep's character and although she eludes a tough exterior, I felt incredibly sorry for her. She doesn't want to follow in her father's footsteps, even though he is pushing her into a life of crime and one day dreams of attending Yale.

The appeal of Trust Me, I'm lying comes from being so far fetched, that it borders on being a fun thriller and not to be taken seriously. It's entertaining, and will appeal to fans of young adult mystery. Looking forward to continuing on with the series.

There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake

There Will Be Lies
Written by Nick Lake
Contemporary, Diversity, Magic Realism
Published January 8th 2015
400 Pages
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
Shelby Jane Cooper is seventeen, pretty and quiet. It's just Shelby and her mom, Shaylene, a court stenographer who wears pyjama jeans, stitches tapestry, eats ice-cream for dinner and likes to keep Shelby safe. So safe she barely goes out. So safe she doesn't go to school. Because anything could happen, to a girl like Shelby. Anything.

When Shelby gets knocked down by a car, it's not just her leg that's broken. Shelby's world is shattered. Her mom turns up to collect her and drives off into the night, like it's the beginning of a road trip, like two criminals on the run, like Thelma and Louise or Bonnie and Clyde. And somehow, everywhere she looks, there's a coyote watching her, talking to her, telling her not to believe.

Who is Shelby Jane Cooper? If the person who keeps you safe also tells you lies, who can you trust?

Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

Stella by Starlight
Written by Sharon M. Draper
Historical Fiction, Middle Grade
Published January 6th 2015
336 Pages
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia
Add to Goodreads
Stella lives in the segregated South. In Bumblebee, North Carolina, to be exact about it. Some stores she can go into. Some stores she can't. Some folks are right pleasant. Others are a lot less so. To Stella, it sort of evens out, and heck, the Klan hasn't bothered them for years. But one late night, later than she should ever be up, much less wandering around outside, Stella and her little brother see something they're never supposed to see, something that is the first flicker of change to come, unwelcome change by any stretch of the imagination. As Stella's community, her world, is upended, she decides to fight fire with fire. And she learns that ashes don't necessarily signify an end.

Ensnared by A. G Howard

Contains mild spoilers for Splintered and Unhinged

Ensnared Splintered Book Three
Written by A. G Howard
Fantasy, Retelling
Published January 6th 2015
384 Pages
After surviving a disastrous battle at prom, Alyssa has embraced her madness and gained perspective. She’s determined to rescue her two worlds and the people and netherlings she loves. Even if it means challenging Queen Red to a final battle of wills and wiles... And even if the only way to Wonderland, now that the rabbit hole is closed, is through the looking glass world, a parallel dimension filled with mutated and sadistic netherling outcasts.

In the final installment of the Splintered trilogy, Alyssa and her dad journey into the heart of magic and mayhem in search of her mom and to set right all that’s gone wrong. Together with Jeb and Morpheus, they must salvage Wonderland from the decay and destruction that has ensnared it. But even if everyone succeeds and comes out alive, can they all truly have their happily ever after?
Time is running out for Alyssa to not only save her mother Wonderland, but her beloved Jeb and Morpheus who are trapped behind the looking glass. Having destroyed the only way in, Alyssa enlists the help of her father who is still coming to terms with his daughter being a a halfling and belonging to the mythical Wonderland that destroyed  her  mother's sanity. The Red Queen is now in possession of the Queen of Hearts body, and has unleashed a terrible fate upon the fantastical landscape. Wonderland is dying and has been temporarily saved by the Ivory Queen, who has cast a spell to freeze the decaying process. Wonderland residents are roaming free and blame Alyssa for the destruction of their home.

Entering Anyelsewhere, at least one of her loves still has faith in her, with the volatile Jeb turning his back on their relationship after seeing Alyssa and Morpheus sharing a passionate embrace. But where the surrounds mute magic from being used, Jeb embodies the power of the Red Queen, his paintings being brought to life, literally. To survive, Morpheus and Jeb have needed to work together, putting aside their differences and the quest to win Alyssa's heart. The Red Queen wants to take back her crown and rule Wonderland once more, but only by inhabiting Alyssa and vowing to heal the magical landscape once more.

But as Alyssa is torn between her love for Wonderland and her mortal realm, she will need to choose. Wonderland and Morpheus, leaving her family behind. Or Jeb, leading Wonderland to a fate worse then death.

Kelly's Thoughts

Ensnared has been one of my most anticipated releases. Even though I have a paperback on it's way, I couldn't wait and also bought a copy on Kindle as well. Unhinged left readers on tenterhooks, with Alyssa's ultimate choice between her Mortal Knight in Jeb, or the fabulously manipulative Morpheus.

Each guys occupies a different side of my dual heart. Together, they bridge my netherling and human worlds.

But before Alyssa can make a decision, she has a wonderland to save. Yet again, the world building is phenomenal. The morbidly fascinating creatures that have now been driven from their homes blame Alyssa, and rightly so. She halfheartedly invested in their world, then left them all to deal with the consequences of a Queen gone mad. But the underlying storyline still remains her decision on which suitor she will choose.

I was enthralled from the opening chapters, revisiting the world of Splintered with the verge of Wonderland being all but destroyed. The royal politics at play, the deception and manipulation were delicious. Alyssa is forced to become the heroine, or risk the lives of her family and the two men in her life. Her wicked streak was enchanting, on the verge of becoming the cruel tyrant Red Queen once was, while trying to hold onto her own humanity. So where did Ensnared begin to fall apart? The romance.

It completely engulfed the second half of the storyline. Now kids, this is where I'm kicking off with the complaints. The romance was strung along throughout the storyline, Alyssa's inner thoughts and soapbox speeches teasing readers, while teasing both Morpheus and her Mortal Knight as she fluttered between the two. She would be pinning over Jeb, who was still angry at her deception, while allowing Morpheus to flirt and she willingly accepted his advances. It was irritating. It turned the suspense and intensity into a mockery. I don't usually buy into love triangles, and rarely ever support one side over the other, but Morpheus left me no choice.

He's manipulative, deceptive and incredibly dreamy. He's made of imagination and I was adamant that I'd be flipping tables and readying myself with a fork if I didn't get my way. But did I enjoy the ending? The short answer is yes.

Readers will see it coming. But overall it's a worthy series finale, although may hint at further installments in the series. We can only hope.

The Vanishing by Kate Kae Myers

The Vanishing Game
Written by Kate Kae Myers
Paranormal Thriller
Published December 1st 2014
384 Pages
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
Add to Goodreads
Seventeen year old Jocelyn follows clues apparently from her dead twin, Jack, in and around Seale House, the terrifying foster home where they once lived. With help from childhood friend Noah she begins to uncover the truth about Jack's death and the company that employed him and Noah.

Jocelyn's twin brother Jack was the only family she had growing up in a world of foster homes, and now he's dead, and she has nothing. Then she gets a cryptic letter from 'Jason December', the code name her brother used to use when they were children at Seale House, a terrifying foster home that they believed had dark powers. Only one other person knows about Jason December. Noah, Jocelyn's childhood crush and their only real friend among the troubled children at Seale House.

But when Jocelyn returns to Seale House and the city where she last saw Noah, she gets more than she bargained for. Turns out the house's powers weren't just a figment of a childish imagination. And someone is following Jocelyn. Is Jack still alive? And if he is, what kind of trouble is he in? The answer is revealed in a shocking twist that turns this story on its head and will send readers straight back to page one to read the book in a whole new light.

Diva Uncensored: Throne Of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass
Throne of Glass Book One
Written by Sarah J. Maas
Fantasy, Romance
Published August 2nd 2012
404 Pages
Thanks to Gina at Behind The Pages
Add to Goodreads
Warning. Review is part of the Diva Uncensored series
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, eighteen year old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition. She must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... But it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... Quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Soulprint by Megan Miranda

Written by Megan Miranda
Science Fiction, Survival
Expected Publication February 1st 2015
368 Pages
Thanks to Bloomsbury via Netgalley
With the science of soul fingerprinting a reality, Alina Chase has spent her entire life imprisoned for the crimes her past self committed. In an attempt to clear her name, Alina unintentionally trades one prison for another when she escapes, aided by a group of teens whose intentions and motivations are a mystery to her. As she gets to know one of the boys, sparks fly, and Alina believes she may finally be able to trust someone. But when she uncovers clues left behind from her past life that only she can decipher, secrets begin to unravel. Alina must figure out whether she’s more than the soul she inherited, or if she’s fated to repeat the past.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks
Written by E. Lockhart
Contemporary, Coming of Age
Published January 1st 2015
352 Pages
Add to Goodreads
Frankie Landau Banks at age 14. Debate Club. Her father's Bunny Rabbit. A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.

Frankie Landau Banks at age 15. A knockout figure. A sharp tongue. A chip on her shoulder.

And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend. The supremely goofy, word obsessed Matthew Livingston.

Frankie Landau Banks. No longer the kind of girl to take no for an answer. Especially when no means she's excluded from her boyfriend's all male secret society. Not when her former boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places. Not when she knows she's smarter than any of them. When she knows Matthew's lying to her. And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.

Frankie Landau Banks at age 16. Possibly a criminal mastermind.

This is the story of how she got that way.
The summer is over and Frankie Landau Banks finds herself back at Alabaster, minus sister Zada and with added curves. She's no longer the shrinking wallflower that blends in with the crowd. It isn't long until popular high school senior Matthew Livingston begins to notice Frankie and invites her to join his circle of friends, the wealthy and elite of the private boarding school where Frankie's own father attended. Once an all boys college, little has changed at Alabaster Preparatory Academy where the son's of the former alumni carry on the tradition of the Basset Hounds.
It was part of their mission as a secret society. As it is part of the mission of most secret societies, actually, to not be entirely secret.
It seems Matthew is a member along with Alpha, who has just returned to Alabaster and asserts himself as leader of the Basset Hounds once more. As Frankie vies for Matthew's attention, it's clear that she's only seen as another attractive girl who has no business prying into his affairs. But Frankie is determined to play the secret society at their own game, proving that she can outwit, outsmart and won't be the victim of Matthew's deception.


The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks is sassy and intelligent with a touch of feminism. It follows the story of Frankie, her father's Bunny Rabbit and the girl who blends into life as just another teen in the crowd. Not anymore. Frankie was once the unassuming girl, but at just the mention of the Basset Hounds, finds herself on the defensive. Her father was once a member, and the secretive all boys exclusive club is about to find themselves as mere puppets in Frankie's game.

Frankie is sassy, impulsive and tends to fly off the handle when she feels she's being excluded or judged. So when Matthew shows an interest in getting to know her, Frankie is wary of his motives. But as their relationship develops, it's clear she's sharing his affections with best friend and apparent leader of the Basset Hounds, Alpha. Time and time again, Frankie is pushed aside, until she decides to take matters into her own hands.

The storyline is incredibly slow to start. Frankie is intelligent and self aware, but comes across as pretentious and self centered at times. Her quick wit and cunning is her downfall. I wavered between admiration towards Frankie wanting to infiltrate the Basset Hounds, to loathing her argumentative streak. Secondary characters Matthew, Alpha, her best friend and also former boyfriend barely rate a mention. Although present, their characters are only surface deep and aren't developed any further than their part in Frankie's storyline. Told in third person narrative, I felt I couldn't connect with Frankie and her plight for equality sadly.


Regardless, it was entertaining once the storyline picked up. Fans of Melina Marchetta's Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca will enjoy this one. It's clever, wonderfully written and serves up sassy young adult feminism.

My Blogaversary Giveaway and Year in Review

There's nothing like a awkward womansing dance party to kick off the new year.

Last year I was plodding along with a very small readership, a comment here or there on my content and I read more books that really should have been possible. This year, thanks to you lovely readers who have yet to deem me as insane, Diva Booknerd has grown well beyond any of my expectations. New blogging friends, old favourites, ones that have pissed me off for greener pastures and more review copies than I could poke a stick at. So I'm wrapping up my year by numbers, lists and other boring facts that most of you will skim over. Oh, and I'm celebrating two years of blogging with a giveaway.
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