Mini-Reviews: Gray Wolf Island, The Divine Heart, and First We Were IV

Gray Wolf Island by Tracey Neithercot 

Synopsis/Cover Image from Publisher's Website
For fans of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender comes a compelling story of five friends in search of a legendary treasure. They’ll face adventure, supernatural elements, and what it means to trust your friends with the darkest of secrets.
Ruby’s sister had one dying wish: that Ruby explore the infamous Gray Wolf Island and find the treasure long rumored to be buried there. 
Ruby sets off to find it, with only a poem, serving as a treasure map, to guide her. She teams up with some local friends—a boy supposedly born of a virgin, a girl who doesn’t sleep, a boy who has visions of his own death, and another with a dark family history. Together, they must face their own demons and give their secrets to the island in order to find their treasure. Along the way, they’ll learn things about themselves, and each other, that they never thought possible. 
But on an island that demands both truth and death, how far will they go to reach the end? 

Gray Wolf Island was one of my most anticipated debuts of 2017. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this nearly as much as I had hoped. The premise - five teenagers hiding secrets go treasure hunting - was what originally drew me in. It sounded mystical, thrilling, and adventurous, but the execution wasn't really any of those things. Instead, I felt underwhelmed. It's hard to describe but there wasn't anything that truly kept my interest. More times than not I was skipping paragraphs and even pages to get to the big point. The characters were nice enough, and I liked how they each had their own unique trait, but I never could connect with them. Ruby also seemed incredibly young for her age, and some of her decisions towards the end left a bad taste in my mouth. She's someone who just won't speak up no matter how bad the outcome might be, and it drove me insane. I did enjoy the island scenery. I thought Tracey did a nice job of setting the scene and fleshing out the different parts of the island. Her writing is also nice. It flows well, but again, it just didn't hold my attention. Overall, I wanted to love this one - I really did - but it just wasn't my cup of tea. Many others have enjoyed this (the majority of reviews are 4/5 stars) so don't let me hold you back from trying it. Hopefully, you'll see something I just couldn't! 

2 stars
Gray Wolf Island is now out! 

Source: Won ARC in giveaway - thanks Tracey! 

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The Divine Heart by Danielle R. Mani 

Summary/Cover Image from Goodreads: 
Seventeen-year-old Elle Collins spent most her life waiting for someone else to die…

When a heart donor is found, Elle awakes from surgery gifted with more than just a new heart—clairaudient messages and spiritual apparitions haunt her until she is convinced that she must be insane. Either that, or her donor is sending a message.

Desperate for answers the medical community can’t provide, Elle’s divination leads her to the family of her donor—a young girl named, Cas. With the help of her best friend, Rob—the guy who’s a testament that her new heart is capable of love, Elle must make sense of the clues Cas is sending. As pieces of Cas’s life and death emerge, Elle will discover that she and Cas share more than just a heart.

Have any of you ever read Meg Cabot's The Mediator series before? It's about a teenage girl who can speak to the dead, helping them crossover into the great beyond. Essentially, Danielle R. Mani's The Divine Heart is The Mediator series with the topics of heart donation and family secrets thrown in. I liked it but I didn't love it. 

So lets start with what worked...

  • The overall mystery - It gave enough twists and turns to keep me intrigued, and there were several mysterious players in it - Elle's doctor, Elle's doctor's mother, Elle's father, etc. Some parts of it I was able to figure out, but others still managed to shock me. 
  • The characters - Elle was strong and determined, and while sometimes I thought she was little too much regarding her infatuation with her doctor, it didn't hinder my opinion of her too much. Rob, Elle's best friend, was my favorite, though. He sweet and charming, always ready for an adventure. 
  • The paranormal aspect - Clairvoyants always fascinate me so it was interesting to see Elle explore this area of her life. 

Now for what didn't work...

  • Romance - I wanted more. Rob and Elle's connection was sweet, but I felt that it was very rushed. I wanted more development, more hanging out moments, more swoon. 
  • The ending - It felt rather abrupt. Don't get me wrong there was a conclusion, but I felt like it went BANG climax BANG happily-ever-after. I had so many questions still swirling in my mind. 

Overall, The Divine Heart is a decent blend of YA contemporary with mystery and paranormal. Did I love it? No, but it was still a grew way to spend a Saturday afternoon. 

3.5 stars!! 

The Divine Heart is now out! 

Source: Paperback provided by author - thanks Danielle! 

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First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy 

Summary/Cover Image from Publisher
A group of friends start a secret society in this out-of-control thriller from the author of The Telling and The Creeping that examines the all-consuming love of lifelong friendship—and what someone is capable of when they’re afraid of losing it.

Izzie loves nothing more than her three best friends, Viv, Graham, and Harry, and the bond the four of them share. And she’s terrified of their friendship falling apart next year when they go off to college. To bind them together, she decides to create something that will belong only to them, a special thing that they’ll always share between the four of them. And so they dream up the Order of IV, a secret society devoted to mischief that rights wrongs and pays back debts. At first, it works like a charm—but when the Order of IV’s escapades get recognition beyond their wildest expectations, other people start wanting in. And soon, what started as a game of friendship is spiraling into something dangerous and beyond their control—and before it’s over, they’ll pay the ultimate sacrifice.

Alexandra Sirowy's First We Were IV is a difficult book to sum up. On one side, I really liked it - it was thrilling, dark, and even a tad bit chilling. The perfect Halloween read. On the other side, some parts just didn't work for me. 

    So lets start with what worked...
    • The prologue/flash-foward - Prologues are always a tough sell for me. I like them when they're well done and serve a purpose by either setting the scene or inducing intrigue. I don't like them when they feel unnecessary. Here the prologue was done well, very well in fact. It was chilling and thought-provoking  Some things were revealed while others were not. We knew that something had gone wrong - very wrong - but other than that we didn't know much. 
    • The characters - They're complex. An interesting combination of likable and unlikable. When the story begins, the four best friends want to do something exciting, something to make their senior year incredible. I could understand that; however, what I liked the most was how close-knit the group was. They seemed completely unbreakable at first. 
    • The mystery - There's a couple of different mysteries at play here, and all of them were well developed. I also never could quite predict how everything was going to end. 

    What I Didn't Like: 

    • The pacing: It started off fast, but then dwindled down to a turtle speed. I actually read the first 100 or so pages and then put the book aside for a few weeks. I just didn't feel the need to finish it as soon as possible. 
    • The romance: The romance here gives off a Juliet-and-Romeo feel. It's very do-or-die, and I'm all for high-stakes romance, but I just didn't feel the connection between the main character and her love interest. It felt more like a matter of convenience  rather than passion. 
    What I'm Conflicted About: 
    • The ending - I don't want to spoil anything so I'll keep my comments short here. I understood why Alexandra decided to end the story this way - it was dramatic as well as impactful. However, at the same time I just wanted something different. It didn't even have to be more hopeful; instead, I wanted better for the characters. Here's these four best friends who have everything at first and then they end up with nothing. It just didn't feel good. 
    Would I suggest First We Were IV? Yes, I would suggest it to fans of thrillers. It's not the best thriller in the world; however, it's still decent and it provides an interesting ending. 

    3 stars!! 

    First We Were IV is now out! 

    Source: eARC provided by Author/Publisher 

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    1. Aww that's a bummer about Gray Wolf Island. I would have thought the same things though, going off the blurb. Glad the other two were a little better...

    2. First We Were IV sounds interesting, and I'm kind of intrigued by the ending - I don't see a lot of unhappy endings, and they don't usually bother me, either.


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