ARC Review: Proof of Lies by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

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Some secrets are best kept hidden…

Anastasia Phoenix has always been the odd girl out, whether moving from city to international city with her scientist parents or being the black belt who speaks four languages.

And most definitely as the orphan whose sister is missing, presumed dead.

She’s the only one who believes Keira is still alive, and when new evidence surfaces, Anastasia sets out to follow the trail—and lands in the middle of a massive conspiracy. Now she isn’t sure who she can trust. At her side is Marcus, the bad boy with a sexy accent who’s as secretive as she is. He may have followed her to Rome to help, but something about him seems too good to be true.

Nothing is as it appears, and when everything she’s ever known is revealed to be a lie, Anastasia has to believe in one impossibility.

She will find her sister.

review

4/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Entangled Teen

Proof of Lies is what’s missing in YA and exactly what I’ve been searching for. An adrenaline rush of mystery and danger, an intriguing and twisty plot, and characters that keep you invested, Proof of Lies is at the top of my 2017 reads. 

PROS:

  • The mystery is epic. It sucks you in and keeps you invested. I was dying to know what happened to Keira. The clues are all there and they’re tricky. Anastasia is basically sifting through trash to find gold and ends up lucking out. She follows the barest of clues and with the help of some tech savvy friends the mystery gets progressively more engaging. 
  • Twists. This story is like a narrow, winding road up Mount Everest. Complete with all the twists, deadly turns, near misses, and heart-pounding risks that are so unexpected. Usually I can guess what’s going to happen in the first few pages, Diana Rodriguez Wallach did a fantastic job at every turn…well except for one that was fairly obvious. I was super impressed. 
  • Anastasia isn’t perfect. She’s delightfully flawed. She realizes that she’s been an ungrateful brat and pretty terrible to her sister and endeavors to change. She recognizes her flaws and actively works to be better. I loved that about her. Plus, she’s trained in self-defense and martial arts, speaks multiple languages, and dives head first into danger. She’s a risk taker and she realizes that the choices she makes are totally stupid and owns up to it. I hate when characters know that they’re making bad decisions and are just like woops, yeah, no. Anastasia has a strong voice, she’s likable and so devoted to her mission that you can’t help but respect her drive. 
  • The romance. The few scenes that took place in high school setting were cute and memorable. Some were laugh out loud, others made me angry. The sheer racist b.s. that some kids go through. Sigh. But Anastasia is a true hero in those moments and Marcus is made of swoon. He’s got a bad boy look but is fiercely loyal, lovable, and complex. He is the arms that Anastasia needs to hold her up and the shoulder she can cry on. What’s best is that he lets her make her own decisions. He doesn’t prevent her from making choices. He knows she’s going to do crazy stuff and he’s like, I’ll back you up. ❤ I mean, who doesn’t adore a guy like that? And those makeout scenes are FIRE. 

CONS:

  • My biggest issue was the mourning section. I was having flashbacks to New Moon when it’s just a page with a month on it and nothing happens. That totally destroyed the pacing, but thankfully, once Anastasia was invested in sleuthing again it picked up quickly. 
  • There were some issues with secondary characters. They played key roles and yet felt like throwaways. I needed more personality, more interaction-just more to actually care about them. The subplot with Julian and Sofia was compelling, but didn’t fit into the story as well as it could have, it felt random, but definitely key. Towards the end, parts with Julian and Charlotte were rushed and more telling than showing. There, but not really. More for function than anything else. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Thrilling reading, 

Jordan

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ARC Review: Fanning the Flames by Chris Cannon

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Bryn McKenna has it all. Even though she’s a hybrid dragon, she’s finally fitting in the new shape-shifting dragon world that’s become her own. But her grandparent’s want to ruin everything by making Bryn’s nightmare of an arranged marriage to Jaxon Westgate a reality. It doesn’t help that Jaxon’s father is on a witch hunt for Rebel sympathizers and Bryn finds herself in his line of fire.

If she doesn’t say “I do,” she’ll lose everything. Good-bye flying. Good-bye best friends. Good-bye magic. But if she bends to her grandparents’ will and agrees to marry Jaxon she’ll lose the love of her life—her knight.

review3/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via Entangled and NetGalley

Fanning the Flames is the 4th book in the Going Down in Flames series and unfortunately, my least favorite so far. The story picks up right where Trial by Fire left off, Valmont and Bryn in a complex but joyous relationship, Bryn and Jaxon engaged but with a plan to make it work with their respective romantic partners, the dragon world recovering after the attack on the school dance. Everything is uncertain, but the one thing that seems solid is the way each couple feels about each other. 

Here’s the thing, I never want to say a story is too happy or too romantic or anything like that, but when there’s not a balance between the romance and the major plotline, it feels tired and slows down the pacing. While I love Valmont and Bryn, Bryn’s head was always on wondering about Valmont, about their relationship, getting jealous, etc., that the major tunnel mysteries were rushed and cut off and occasionally felt like filler because the romance played such a huge role in this book. You almost forget that there are politics, terrorists, and attacks happening. There were three heart-stopping scenes that should have had a killer impact on the reader, and while the final scene did tug at my heartstrings, it was nowhere near the emotional carnage that should have played out and I think it’s because focus was pretty much soley on Bryn and Valmont and the other characters were neglected and fleeting. 

That final scene should have been devastating, but honestly, it needed to happen to refresh the story. 

The battle description, the gore, the fighting, the tension was A+ as usual. Definitely edge of your seat material. And Bryn was beyond fierce. She raged, she conquered, she slayed. 

The underground tunnels were interesting. I enjoyed the history and the knight stories that shed light on the past-it’s its own mythology.

While this might not seem like a positive review, it is. I enjoyed this book, I wanted to read it, and I will continue to follow the story, especially after that explosive ending. I just wanted more. It felt surface level. 

Lovely reading, 

Jordan

Guest Post: Proof of Lies Playlist by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

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syn

Some secrets are best kept hidden…

Anastasia Phoenix has always been the odd girl out, whether moving from city to international city with her scientist parents or being the black belt who speaks four languages.

And most definitely as the orphan whose sister is missing, presumed dead.

She’s the only one who believes Keira is still alive, and when new evidence surfaces, Anastasia sets out to follow the trail—and lands in the middle of a massive conspiracy. Now she isn’t sure who she can trust. At her side is Marcus, the bad boy with a sexy accent who’s as secretive as she is. He may have followed her to Rome to help, but something about him seems too good to be true.

Nothing is as it appears, and when everything she’s ever known is revealed to be a lie, Anastasia has to believe in one impossibility.

She will find her sister.

a294d-playlist

PROOF OF LIES Playlist by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

It’s hard to make a playlist for a new book without giving away too many spoilers. Let’s face it, if you include a funeral song (“In the arms of the Angel,” Sarah McLachlan), wedding song (“At Last,” Etta James), or a just plain depressing song (“Hallelujah”, Jeff Buckley), it gives a rather large hint as to what’s to come. But as a reader, I also don’t like when playlists are too obscure (songs you’ve never heard of) or not in the order in which they would appear in the book. It’s nice to know exactly what scene is playing in an author’s mind when she hears a song.

So behold—my playlist for PROOF OF LIES equipped with the exact chapters that the songs fit. I can’t say too much beyond that, but after you read the book, take another look at this list and see how you think I did.

Epigraph

One by U2 & Mary J. Blige  

For a very long time, the bellow lyrics were the epigraph at the beginning of the PROOF OF LIES manuscript. I had to change it, because you know, U2 lyrics don’t come cheap. But in my head, these worse are still there (and they’re being song as a duet by Bono and Mary J).

“Have you come here for forgiveness

Have you come to raise the dead

Have you come here to play Jesus

To the lepers in your head

Did I ask too much

More than a lot

You gave me nothing

Now it’s all I got

We’re one

But we’re not the same”

Chapter 2: House Party Scene

Momma I’m Coming Home by Ozzy Osbourne

“I’ve seen your face a hundred times

Everyday we’ve been apart

I don’t care about the sunshine, yeah

‘Cause mama, mama, I’m coming home

I’m coming home”

Chapter 4: Talking to the Police

Unsteady by X Ambassadors

“Mama, come here

Approach, appear

Daddy, I’m alone

‘Cause this house don’t feel like home

If you love me, don’t let go

If you love me, don’t let go

Hold

Hold on

Hold on to me

‘Cause I’m a little unsteady

A little unsteady”

Chapter 20: Cortona, Italy with Luis

Demons by Imagine Dragons

“Don’t want to let you down

But I am hell bound

Though this is all for you

Don’t want to hide the truth

No matter what we breed

We still are made of greed

This is my kingdom come

This is my kingdom come

When you feel my heat

Look into my eyes

It’s where my demons hide

It’s where my demons hide

Don’t get too close

It’s dark inside

It’s where my demons hide

It’s where my demons hide”

 

Chapter 26: Leaving Rome, Italy

Don’t Let Me Down by The Chainsmokers

“I need you, I need you, I need you right now

Yeah, I need you right now

So don’t let me, don’t let me, don’t let me down

I think I’m losing my mind now

It’s in my head, darling I hope

That you’ll be here, when I need you the most

So don’t let me, don’t let me, don’t let me down

D-Don’t let me down

Don’t let me down”

Chapter 30: Venice, Italy with Marcus

I Will Follow You into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie

“You and me have seen everything to see

From Bangkok to Calgary

The soles of your shoes are all worn down

The time for sleep is now

It’s nothing to cry about

Cause we’ll hold each other soon

The blackest of rooms

If Heaven and Hell decide that they both are satisfied

Illuminate the no’s on their vacancy signs

If there’s no one beside you when your soul embarks

Then I’ll follow you into the dark”

Chapter 33: Venice, Italy preparations

Hero by Family Of the Year

“So let me go

I don’t wanna be your hero

I don’t wanna be a big man

I Just wanna fight with everyone else

Your masquerade

I don’t wanna be a part of your parade

Everyone deserves a chance to

Walk with everyone else”

Chapter 34: Venice, Italy Piazza

Helena by My Chemical Romance

“Burning on just like a match you strike to incinerate

The lives of everyone you know

And what’s the worst you take (worst you take)

From every heart you break (heart you break)

And like the blade you stain (blade you stain)

Well, I’ve been holding on tonight

What’s the worst that I can say?

Things are better if I stay

So long and goodnight

So long and goodnight”

Chapter 35: Venice, Italy

Fix You by Coldplay

“When the tears come streaming down your face

When you lose something you can’t replace

When you love someone but it goes to waste

Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home

And ignite your bones

And I will try to fix you”

Exciting reading, 

Jordan