Review: This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada 
Release Date: November 27, 2017 
Publisher: Simon Pulse 
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian 
Source: Library 
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In this gripping debut novel, seventeen-year-old Cat must use her gene-hacking skills to decode her late father’s message concealing a vaccine to a horrifying plague.

Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.

That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.

When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.

Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?

Books with lots of hype worry me. Why? Because I don't want to be that one person who doesn't see the greatness. So even though I've been dying to read Emily Suvada's This Mortal Coil since the moment I first heard about it, I've been putting it off; however, a couple of weeks I decided to get over my worries and order a copy. As it turns out, I'm so glad I did, because now that I've read this book all I can think is: "Why did I wait so long to read it?!" and also "WHAT?! NO! I NEED MORE!?" but I'll get to that portion later on. 

This Mortal Coil is a very smart book. It's easy to tell that Emily knew what she was talking about it, and more importantly, she does a great job of conveying the science behind the virus and its implications. I have a chemistry degree so I was already familiar with the majority of science she talked about it; however, even if I didn't have that background, I would have had an easy time digesting it. Better yet, even though this book was incredibly science based, it didn't read like a textbook; instead, she perfectly intertwined the science into the characters, romance, and action, leaving me a very happy reader. Basically, this book shows that science can be so COOL, and as a science nerd/lover, this made me so incredibly happy - my heart was rapidly beating from the excitement of it all! 

Catarina, the main character, was easy to like. She was strong as well as talented and always willing to go the extra yard to help the people she loved and valued the most. When the story first begins, she's in a bad place. Living on her own has only gotten harder since her father's disappearance. She's running out of food and supplies and the virus is closing in her more and more as the days continue. Because of this, she trusts almost no one. She's been taught to believe that no one, especially Cartaxus, can help her.

As the book progresses, though, she begins to open up and starts to question and ponder the things she knew about her father, the supposed truths he told her to live by, and her world is torn upside down. I felt bad for Catarina. It's bad enough to loose a loved one, but to loose a loved one and then learn some shady stuff about them? Even worse. I thought Catarina did a great job of weighing both sides to the story - she was never quick to jump to a conclusion. I also liked that she learned to stand on her own in this. Yes, she was strong when the book began, but she got even stronger and grew confidence in her smarts and talents. 

The Mortal Coil also introduces Cole, Catarina's love interest and protector. Sexy, strong, and mysterious, Cole's the kind of boy I love in a dystopian type novel. I especially enjoyed that Catarina's influence and eventual friendship humanized him to a point. At first, he was so cold and aloof, but by the end, he was the kind of guy you'd want on your side no matter what. Also, Catarina and Cole were an unstoppable force. Most of the book only involved them and their adventures, and honestly, I could read about those all day. Seriously, book boyfriend right here, ladies and gentlemen! 

The plot described in two words? Action packed! Honestly, I don't think there was one time where this book lagged or made me feel bored. The twists and turns kept me on my toes, and while some of them seemed slightly out there, I could deal.  

My only compliant? The sort-of love triangle that occurred. In The Mortal Coil, we're presented with two boys: Cole and Dax. I've already talked about Cole above so I won't go into anymore about him other than to say: team Cole all the way. Dax, on the other hand, is the best friend/young teenage crush. When the story begins, Catarina hasn't seen him for two years, as he was taken away with her father, but she's been pinning about him to a certain degree. We're introduced to him in an flashback scene, and at that point, I mostly liked what I saw - he was a tad bit arrogant but him and Catarina had some good chemistry. Then flash forward to the point where he's eventually introduced in present times, and gosh is he now such an arrogant piece of work. I couldn't stand him, and I just wished he would go away. He treated Catarina like dirt so all I can say is please don't let the tables turn in the future - let him stay a forgotten crush and a current annoyance. 

In all, This Mortal Coil is smart, fresh, and fast paced. Despite its large size (over 400 pages), I raced through it in one sitting. Simply put, The Mortal Coil is reminiscent of The Hunger Games just with an extra large helping of mad scientists and DNA. 

5 stars!! 


Review: Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage 
Release Date: July 17, 2018 
Publisher: St. Martin's Press 
Genre: Adult, Thriller & Mystery 
SourceARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
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Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette's husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

From blazing new talent Zoje Stage, Baby Teeth is a story about a perfect-looking family, and a darling little girl who wants nothing more than to kill her mother.

Those are just some of the words that describe Zoje Stage's explosive debut. 

When Baby Teeth first appeared on my radar, I wasn't too sure about it. It sounded unique and interesting, but a book about a young girl wanting to kill her mother? It definitely wasn't my typical read. However, the other week I decided to read a chapter to get a feel for it. Luckily, that chapter turned into two, and before I knew it, it was 2 am and not only was I finished but also completely and utterly shook. That last scene? I reread it twice, because I couldn't believe my own eyes! 

Baby Teeth contains two POVs - Suzette's as well as Hannah's. Zoje did a fantastic job of bringing the two voices together. It was also incredibly worthwhile as well as eye-opening to see from both of their perspectives. The interesting thing here, however, is that I could never exactly pinpoint a villain.  Instead, Suzette and Hannah are both victims as well as instigators, in my opinion. In their minds, they both believe they are doing the "right" thing. Suzette is attempting to save her marriage, daughter, and health through her occasional tough-love yet mostly understandable actions while Hannah believes the only way to be happy is to get rid of her mother. While Hannah's reasoning is a bit more wild, I felt bad for the girl. Yes, she did some truly evil things in this book; however, at the end of the day, she was a little girl who needed help. The only problem was that no one seemed to know what that help should be. 

At its core, Baby Teeth is a game of cat-and-mouse. The majority of the book focuses on the back-and-forth between Hannah and Suzette, their constant need to one-up each other as well as win. I was always on the edge of my seat, dying to know what would happen next. Would Hannah finally succeed in killing her mother? Would Suzette find help that would work? Those were just some of the questions swirling around in my head. As the book progressed, things only became crazier. I couldn't believe some of what I was reading. Gosh, if I was Suzette, I would've been running from that house screaming. I also enjoyed the conflict Suzette's husband/Hannah's father brought to the table. In a way, he played a Switzerland type role. He refused to believe that his little angle could be so evil but he also couldn't believe his wife could be lying about such things. For the majority of the book, he tries to play the middle man, sometimes making things better but sometimes making them even worse... 

In addition to the conflict/dynamic between Hannah and Suzette, the book also includes Suzette's struggles with Crohn's disease. I appreciated the fact that Zoje included this and addressed the everyday issues that arise with the disease. Several people close to me have suffered from Chron's, and I thought Zoje did a fantastic job of giving it a realistic, honest feel. 

Overall, Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage is an edge-of-your-seat thriller. While I don't think this book will be for everyone, I think it will definitely find its audience within those craving a dark, mind-bending thriller. I look forward to reading more by Zoje in the future. 

4 stars!!


Review: Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

Not My Daughter by Rea Frey
Release Date: August 21, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: Adult, Women's Fiction, Thriller & Suspense
Source: ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
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Gripping, emotional, and wire-taut, Not Her Daughter raises the question of what it means to be a mother—and how far someone will go to keep a child safe.

Emma Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes, brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.

Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal. When a second-chance encounter with Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her—far away from home. But if it’s to rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?

Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother. Unsure whether she wants her daughter back.

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now Emma is gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But what about Emma’s real mother, back at home?


Not Her Daughter completely surprised me. I had heard numerous good things about it - almost all the reviews on Goodreads are 4 or 5 stars - and the synopsis had me intrigued. I expected to like it but I never expected to love it as much as I did. This book grabbed my heart from the start and never let it go.  

Simply put, Not Her Daughter is a whirlwind of a read. It made me feel so many different emotions - happiness, sadness, hope, anger, etc. I feared yet anticipated the ending. How could it possibly end happily for everyone? More importantly, did I want it to end happily for everyone? I wasn't too sure...

Not Her Daughter starts off slow. The reader is slowly immersed into the lives of Sarah Walker and Amy Townshed, two women who couldn't be any more different yet are connected through a little girl named Emma. 

Sarah had a difficult childhood. Her mother wasn't much of a mother, forever making Sarah feel as if she was a burden rather than a blessing. Even to this day it has a strong hold on Sarah. No matter how much she accomplishes, it's a pain that forever lingers. At first, I didn't know if I liked or disliked Sarah. One part of me felt so incredibly bad for her. It was easy to see how much she was hurting from her past as well as her recent break-up, and I could somewhat understand why she would be so desperate to save a child from pain and disappoint like hers. On the other side, I didn't like how willing she was to grab a child. While I know obsessions can grab ahold of someone, sometimes it was hard to believe that a women who was so successful, so steadfast would do something as reckless as go on the run with a child. Throughout the book, I shifted back and forth with my feelings. Did she have good intentions? Yes. Did she go about them in the right way? No. But did she love Emma? Completely! Her bond with Emma was one of my favorite parts of the book. It was heartwarming yet bittersweet, and it made me happy to see how much they helped one another. 

Amy, on the other hand, is struggling. Struggling with the challenges of motherhood, a marriage based on settling rather than love, and the overwhelming desire that something was missing in her life, that she took the wrong path. I could see that Amy was doing the best that she could, but at the same time, I didn't approve of her actions. I didn't like that she bullied her daughter, that she was so willing to lie to the police to save face. It wasn't right; however, as more was revealed about her past, my empathy towards her increased. At the end of the day, she was broken. Did it excuse her behavior? No, but I still wanted her to find peace as well as happiness even if it meant turning her whole world upside down. Her bond with Emma was much different than Sarah's. Even though she knew she shouldn't, she resented Emma, sometimes she was even a tad jealous of her. It was hard to stomach, but it was realistic. 

Not Her Daughter switches back and forth between Amy and Sarah's POVs and shows during three time periods (before the kidnapping, during the kidnapping, and the aftermath). I thought Rea did a great job of developing both voices. The book wouldn't be the same without both, and I appreciated how they should two very different type of women - one who wanted a child so desperately and one who regretted ever having children. The plot here mainly focuses on the kidnapping; however, it also includes details about both women's pasts. While this book can't exactly be described as an edge-of-your-seat thriller, it's still a readable, addicting story. I devoured the entire book in one sitting simply because I needed to know what would happen next. Would Sarah return Emma? Would Amy tell the truth? What went wrong in both of their lives? Those were the questions swirling around in my head. I also appreciated the way in which Rea went about discussing abduction. The abduction storyline, in particular wasn't very black-and-white. There was many layers to it, and it truly made me think. For most of the book, I was torn. I didn't know who I wanted to "win" - Amy or Sarah - but I did know one thing: I wanted Emma to be happy. 

Bittersweet as well as thought provoking, Rea Frey's Not Her Daughter is the kind of that makes me wish I was part of a book club, because I want to discuss it with everyone! 

5 stars!!
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