REVIEW: THE MASKED TRUTH

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SUMMARY: 

Riley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for.

Max Cross is suffering under the shadow of a life-altering diagnosis he doesn’t dare reveal.

The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with “issues.” But that’s exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage.

The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree.

Riley and Max know that if they can’t get out, they’ll be next—but they’re about to discover that even escape doesn’t equal freedom.

MY THOUGHTS:

PLOT: Mrmgh. Eh. Sigh. I didn’t reread the summary when I picked this one up. My interpretation (aka what I remembered) was that it was one of the kids, picking off the others one by one, you never know who you can trust.

Nope. From the start you know who the dangerous ones are, and then it’s just a lot of running and hiding and running and people being absolute idiots. And then it’s just a lot of self-doubt and wandering around a hospital and that’s where I stopped. So I guess this is more of a baby book review, because I skimmed just about the last 50 pages. I guess the end was kind of a surprise? But not…really? Honestly, there were about a hundred pages that were really interesting, and then I just…wasn’t feeling it. It was too fast a climb in action that led to too fast a fall in action.

CHARACTERS: I hoped a lot from these characters. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t connect with them, and I wanted a lot more. From Max and his schizophrenia, I wanted more hallucination, more of that unreliable narrator, instead of thinking it MIGHT be unreliable, but probably not really. I understand that it’s much more realistic this way, but I would have loved more drama from him.

As for Riley, I just…couldn’t get behind her trauma. The survivor’s remorse and the PTSD, once again, I realize were crafted for the realism, but I wanted…more. More than just her calling herself a coward every five paragraphs.

As for secondary characters, I really liked Sloane after the entire incident. Brash and confident, she was just my kind of character. I did think Armstrong did a great job writing an interesting and varied group of characters. (even if a lot of them did bite the dust).

Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for a thriller, or contemporary, or…I don’t know. This one just didn’t strike me, but maybe I’ll revisit it when I know that’s what mood I’m in.

WHAT TO WATCH:

Violence. This one was pretty graphic, too, lots of descriptions and shooting and fighting and just…violence. So this one is definitely not for young or sensitive readers.

What did you think of The Masked Truth? I heard a lot of great things about it, and I want some reasons to try it again someday!

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BETWEEN THE SPARK AND THE BURN

“People like you don’t go mad, Vi. They’re quiet on the outside and loud on the inside and sane as the day is long”  

My Rating: PG-13, for some language, sexual content, and horror elements

Official Summary: Freddie once told me that the Devil created all the fear in the world.
But then, the Devil once told me that it’s easier to forgive someone for scaring you than for making you cry.
The problem with River West Redding was that he’d done both to me.

The crooked-smiling liar River West Redding, who drove into Violet’s life one summer day and shook her world to pieces, is gone. Violet and Neely, River’s other brother, are left to worry—until they catch a two a.m. radio program about strange events in a distant mountain town. They take off in search of River but are always a step behind, finding instead frenzied towns, witch hunts, and a wind-whipped island with the thrum of something strange and dangerous just under the surface. It isn’t long before Violet begins to wonder if Neely, the one Redding brother she thought trustworthy, has been hiding a secret of his own . . .

My Thoughts: (SPOILER ALERT) Basically this whole post is a spoiler, because this book is a sequel.

I hated this one. Book one was a fantastic roller coaster of romance, thrills, and mystery, and in book one, ‘Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’, you fall in love, along with Violet, with River Redding, the enigmatic hotshot. And in book two, River goes to find his evil brother and Violet falls in love with his brother, Neely. Even though you already love River. The idea is that she parallels her grandmother, who was also in love with two boys in her day, but it ends up just being frustrating and you lose respect for Violet and even Neely with his ‘kisses full of sunshine.’ Which makes me sad, because everything has to be a love triangle. And then they find River, and he’s crazy. That’s right, an absolute loon, sparked to the brim with his brother’s mind control to make him think he’s the sea king of a little island. But, enough of my hatred. Here’s what to watch in this book:

There is some cursing, not too much, but Violet gets pretty angry sometimes. And the sexual content- well, there’s a love triangle, and River, with his mind control and in his sleep, gets Violet to do things she thinks she’s dreaming about. So, to prevent her from having sex with River first (because even she admits that she wants to) she does it with Neely. Nothing graphic, just subtle hints that “later, much later” there’s some bare skin and some ‘feels’ moments that no one feels because you’re just angry that suddenly she’s in love with Neely.

But the big issue is that you don’t know where Neely, River, and their brother Brodie get their powers (the glow, the spark, the burn). You get the feeling that it’s just a genetic mutation that gave the family these different powers, but even so often you wonder if it’s something more sinister. Violet even speculates that these boys are descendants of the devil. Which is not a good thing. I prefer to choose that the powers are a result of a genetic thing, like the X-Men, but some more conservative readers may choose otherwise.  It’s up to you.

The first book (unreviewed) was awesome, but if you read it, stick to it, because this one was a sore disappointment. But then, that could just be my love of River pouring into my disappointment that the mind-blowing writing was wasted on a love triangle when a couple had already been established.

Questions? Comments? Have a book you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and tell me what you think!

 

PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG

“The man she had loved as a father was a fraud.
He kissed the back of her hands and advocated war; he had played with her on the carpet with toy soldiers, and all along he had been planning the extinction of an entire people.”

Rating: PG-13 for intense scenes and language (in the form of racial slurs against Jews- it does take place in Hitler’s Germany), as well as brief romantic themes

Official Summary: In1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.
        Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.
        Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.
        As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

My thoughts: I am in love with this book. I don’t normally like Nazi/WWII/Hitler themed novels, but all I can say about this one is…wow. Blankman reaches into the soul and brings out the most passionate part of you, pulling forward every emotion she intends to with ease- compassion, fear, confusion- you never know what’s going to happen next. From Gretchen’s cold older brother Reinhard to the passion of Daniel Cohen,  the Jew she befriends, to Gretchen herself, every character evokes an intense emotional reaction that leaves your head spinning.

The research that went into this book is incredible, and it shows in the impeccable details you read as Gretchen and Daniel try to find out the truth about her ‘Uncle Dolf’ and what happened to her father.

There is, of course, some things that may not be considered appropriate for younger readers. As Hitler’s ‘golden children’ Gretchen and Reinhard are fully convinced of the status of Jews as ‘subhuman’ and Reinhard and his friends get in many fights, as well as calling the Jews by names that are, well, unsavory. People do get killed, and there are brief description of that, as well as some animals (Reinhard is not a nice boy).

There are some romantic themes. Daniel and Gretchen (SPOILER SPECIFIC ALERT) end up in love, and they do kiss a few times. Hitler also makes a move on Gretchen, but she escapes, and there is talk of him being in love with Geli, his half-niece, as well as another young woman.  (END spoiler alert).

Overall, I would not recommend this for younger readers simply because of the nature of the book (1930’s Germany was not a child-friendly place), but for more mature readers (13+) I give it a standing ovation for the skillful way the author merges fact with fiction.

Questions? Comments? Books you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and I’ll be sure to check it out!

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