Saturday 14 December 2013

Review: The Naturals

Title: The Naturals
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Quercus
Released: 7th November 2013
Rating: 3 stars

Cassie Hobbs doesn't think anything of her ability to read people.  It's just always been something she does, without even having to really think about it.  That's until she gets hired by the FBI to train as a profiler and help solve cold cases.  Nor is she the only one - this is a programme that consists of Naturals, people - teens - particularly adept at a certain skill.  At first this brings a sense of achievement and purpose, but that soon changes to simple danger.  Somewhere out there is a new serial killer who's getting uncomfortably close to home...and Cassie in particular.  The Naturals aren't simply solving cases anymore.  They have to survive this one.

The Naturals was generally an enjoyable read.  Jennifer Lynn Barnes has written a novel both easy to read and engaging, seeming to move effortlessly from humour to downright creepiness.  Such a compelling mix couldn't fail to keep me glued to the pages.  Though I knew this to be a thriller, there have been very few books that have truly disturbed me, even those claiming to be horror, making the darker parts of the book even easier to appreciate.  Those laugh-out-loud moments, too, were a delightful aspect, perhaps not something you'd expect with murder as a key theme.  Speaking of murder...Did anyone else see that ending coming?  I didn't.  All my theories, all my guesses...every one of them were wrong.  This author really does know how to write a thriller.  What does bother me, however, is that I still don't know whether this is meant to be a thriller pure and simple, or whether this has an element of the paranormal.  Are the Naturals' gifts otherworldly, or simply stronger versions of otherwise perfectly regular abilities?

My thoughts on the characters are mixed.  On the one hand, they're likeable - or at least, the one who you're supposed to like are - and somewhat interesting, especially in terms of their abilities.  On the other, I'm not sure how memorable they are.  Abilities aside, there's nothing in particular that makes them stand out.  Then, of course, there's the love triangle.  Immediately I felt exasperated.  Having said that, I do think there is potential for this one.  I like Cassie and I like Michael, and I think I may favour him as a love interest.   The relationship between Cassie and Dean I feel could be something more complex.  I'm hoping that Barnes will pull this out of a triangle and make something more interesting out of it, but we shall have to see.

Despite its flaws, I did like The Naturals, and I suspect it's a book easier to enjoy in the moment.  Looking back on it now and thinking of other books I've read it may perhaps not be amazing, but nevertheless it has very appealing qualities, and I look forward to entering this world again.

Friday 6 December 2013

Book Blitz: Tell Me When

By Stina Lindenblatt and Carina Press
Coming 20th January, 2014
New Adult Contemporary Romance
Amber Scott should be enjoying life as a college freshman. She should be pursuing her dream of becoming a veterinarian. She should be working hard to make sense of her precalculus math class. She shouldn’t be waking up her college roommate with screaming nightmares. She shouldn’t be flashing back, reliving the three weeks of hell she barely survived last year. And she definitely shouldn’t be spending time with sexy player Marcus Reid.   But engineering student Marcus is the only one keeping Amber from failing her math course, so she grudgingly lets him into her life. She never expects the king of hookups will share his painful past. Or that she’ll tell him her secrets in return, opening up and trusting him in a way she thought she’d never be able to again. When their fragile future together is threatened by a stalker Amber thought was locked away for good, Marcus is determined to protect her. And Amber is determined to protect Marcus…even if that means pushing him away.
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Amber (Chapter 1)
I'm inspecting a delicate fairy with wings like autumn leaves when the chimes above the store door ring.  Two guys, maybe twenty-one or twenty-two, enter.  Both are good-looking and have the tall muscular bodies of basketball players.  That's where the similarities between them end.
The dark-haired guy has that bad-boy vibe some girls find appealing, with his military boots, jeans and black leather jacket.  His blond-haired friend is the kind of guy most girls feel safe with.  He's wearing sneakers, jeans and a blood donor T-shirt.  The clothes and his friendly expression make him look trustworthy.  Like he won't break your heart or your body or your soul.
But I've long since learned appearances are never what they seem.  Either man could be sweet or he could be dangerous.  The trick is to never let them get close enough for you to find out the truth the hard way.
Blond guy walks to the counter and chats with the storeowner, a man not much older than us, with tattoos covering his arms.  Neither pays attention to me.  I go back to studying the wall.
From the corner of my eye, I notice the black-haired guy walking toward me.  Instead of checking out the designs on the wall, his gaze roams over my body, taking in the view.  Jerk.
A one-sided smile slides onto his face.  He's the kind of guy who uses his good looks to his advantage, the kind of guy whose sole mission in life is getting laid.
My hand tap-tap-taps against my right thigh, keeping pace with my heart, which has picked up speed as the jerk continues staring at me.  I narrow my eyes at him, silently telling him to find another girl.  He's wasting his time with me.
The men at the counter laugh.
"Dude, that's the first I've seen you got shot down by a female," blond guy says, still chuckling.
Dark-haired guy flips him the finger and points to the fairy.  "This would look hot on you right" - he strokes his finger against my lower back - "here."  His voice is low, the words slow and practiced.
I jerk away and stride to the back of the store.  The other two men laugh even louder.
"Give up, Marcus," blond guy says.  "She's a lot smarter than your usual girls.  I like her already."

About the Author
Born in England, Stina loves to travel, and has lived in England, the US, Canada, and Finland. She spent a semester in graduate school living in central Finland, and a summer during her undergrad degree working in Helsinki. She has a Master’s of Science degree in exercise physiology and has worked with elite athletes. In her free time, Stina is a photographer, mother of three adorable kids, and devoted wife. She currently lives in Calgary, Canada.
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