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Sekret (Sekret, #1)
From debut author Lindsay Smith comes an espionage thriller with a dash of both history and dystopia.

Yulia’s father always taught her that an empty mind is a safe mind. She has to hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive in Communist Russia, especially because she seems to be able to read the minds of the people she touches. When she’s captured by the KGB and forced to work as a psychic spy with a mission to undermine the U.S. space program, she’s thrust into a world of suspicion, deceit, and horrifying power where she can trust no one. 

She certainly can’t trust Rostov, the cruel KGB operative running the psychic program. Or handsome Sergei who encourages her to cooperate with the KGB. Or brooding Valentin who tells her to rebel against them. And not the CIA, who have a psychic so powerful he can erase a person’s mind with his own thoughts. Yulia quickly learns she must rely on her own wits and power to survive in this world where no SEKRET can stay hidden for long.

Lindsay  Smith
Author of the forthcoming YA historical thriller, SEKRET (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Children's, Winter 2014). I'm an ex-Oklahoman and an unapologetic Washingtonian. I'm a Russophile, analyst, nerd, devourer of books (and worlds), impractical shoe hoarder, and Sheltie mommy.

Goodreads  |  Website  |   Twitter

My Review:

*I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

I absolutely loved this book- the intrigue, the twists, the characters, the plot, EVERYTHING. 
The main character, Yulia, a girl with the ability to see other people's memories, is everything a strong female protagonist should be. She's strong on the outside, and will do anything to protect her family. However, her family seems to be hiding a secret from her too... When she's captured and taken to a boarding school for other teens, or psychics like her, she is unwilling to cooperate at first. She dreams of escape, but feels oppressed with so many mind-readers around her; there's no place for thoughts of escaping. Now obviously, there's a bit of a love triangle, but nothing too bad. Yulia meets two very different boys: the warm and funny hockey player Sergei, and the mysterious piano player Valentin, AKA Valya. (I hate to admit this, but I had trouble discerning the gender of the characters through their names in the beginning- I'm obviously no Russian fanatic). However, as time passes, Yulia begins to trust one of them; but in a place surrounded by lies, she can't trust anyone. Betrayals come at her from all times throughout the book, but she stays strong. Although both Sergei and Valentin sometimes treat her like a helpless lamb, Yulia makes it clear that she doesn't need to be coddled. I personally loved this characteristic of Yulia- she will accept help, but she's strong enough to survive alone. The secondary characters were amazing too. Everyone had their own story- how they got there, their own backstory. I personally loved reading about Larissa and Ivan, they're such a cute couple! 

The plot simply amazed me. At first, I was a bit skeptical of the overused "teens with special powers" theme, but Smith pulled it off really well. Yulia is constantly surrounded by deceit, and it keeps the readers guessing- Who can she trust? Who's the real enemy? The twist about the scrubber surprised me- it was completely unexpected. Of course, the antagonists are perfectly evil and despicable, and just seeing their names mentioned on the page made me want to shoot them right then and there. Personally, I loved the Russian setting; and Smith's writing really pulled me into the time of Khrushchev- the suspicion and fear that constantly enveloped the people's daily lives. 

A little tidbit about the romance- THE FEELS! I loved Yulia and her love interest's (no spoilers!) little moments, they were all wonderful. I'm looking forward to seeing more developments on their relationship in the sequel, the first book had a lot going on so they didn't get too many scenes with each other. But every moment counted!

Only one thing bothered me- I felt that there should have been a bit more about the setting; how life was outside in the streets, ect. There was just so much going on that I felt that Smith didn't have enough room 
to fit in the smaller details. 

Overall, I absolutely loved this book, and I will definitely go out and buy it when it's released. April 1, you are on the top of my "must go visit local bookstore" list. Trust me, you will definitely want to read this.

"*I received a copy of this book for free to review, this in no way influenced my review, all opinions are 100% honest and my own."
Disclaimer: Thanks to Goodreads and Amazon for the book cover, about the book, and author information.

Summary via Goodreads:
Claire Kincaid’s family has been in business for over fifty years.

The voodoo business.

Part of the International Guild of High Priests and Priestesses, a secret society that have practiced voodoo for generations, the Kincaid’s run an underground supply house for authentic voodoo supplies. Claire plays along, filling orders for powders, oils and other bizarre ingredients in the family store, but she has a secret.

She doesn’t believe.

Struggling to reconcile her modern sensibilities with a completely unscientific craft based on suspicion, Claire can’t wait to escape New Orleans – and voodoo – when she goes to college, a desire that creates almost constant conflict in her secret affair with Xander Toussaint, son of the Guild’s powerful founding family.

But when a mysterious customer places an order for a deadly ingredient, Claire begins to realize that there’s more to voodoo – and the families that make up the Guild – than meets the eye.

Including her own.

As she bands together with the other firstborns of the Guild, she comes face to face with a deadly enemy – and the disbelief that may very well kill her.

My Review:

I'm sorry, I just...
I usually don't like giving a rating of one chocolate, but I just have to for this one. The beginning was slightly intriguing; I mean come on, how many books have you read about voodoo? However, that was the only decent part of the story. Not even the ending satisfied me.
I felt that the conflicts were a bit cliche and overused. Evil people that want to kill the good guys? Check. Secret boyfriend whose parents will never accept you? Check.
After getting past the third chapter, I was bored out of my mind. I put the book down and went to get some food... then came back and bribed myself with chocolate in order to finish this. The summary sounded amazing, so I went out and bought this book... Really not worth the money.
Anyway, I felt that everything needed improvement. The plot was boring, and I really couldn't feel the sense of mystery that would have pulled me in. All the characters were dull and static- there was no change, no maturation, just same, same, same.
Then there's Claire. She's a whole different level of problems.
She claims not to believe in the voodoo, yet everything she does and says completely contradicts that. Obviously, something is wrong here. Denial is not good for mental health. Next, she feels that she needs to solve everything herself. Normally, that would be fine, since I'm a strong feminist, but really. Girl, you have a loving and caring boyfriend right next to you, vying to help you, and what? You ditch him and go on a little fun "adventure" to prove your self worth. No. Just no. Claire obviously can't do shit, since she's never bothered to learn voodoo anyway, and still wants to go save the world by herself. Then, *POOF* out of nowhere, she becomes adept at voodoo magic; because apparently, she has POWERFUL BLOOD that runs through her veins. Just because you have a bloodline doesn't mean you are immediately a prodigy. NO! Everyone needs to practice, everyone goes through trial and error. Even then, at the end of the book, she STILL doesn't completely believe in voodoo. WTF. I've never hated a female protagonist as much as Claire.
Now that my ranting is over, let's move on to the world building, shall we?
One word.
Zink spends 90% of the story telling us about Claire and how she faces the conflict, yet she never spends time to tell us how. How does this work? Do the everyday civilians know about voodoo? Or are they isolated? Nothing makes sense. Why are there guilds? Why are some higher in rank then others? Just because of bloodline? Plus, if Claire expresses her dislike for voodoo so vehemently, why isn't she being ostracized like Crazy Eddie? WHY? WHY? WHY? I just have so many questions that are never answered.Overall, I'd recommend this book to people who are just looking for a nice adventure story, and don't look too deeply into it. 

One Chocolate... :(


Summary via Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides— especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own.

Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

My Review:

So, a lot of people have been hating on this book. I can understand that, but you have to give the book some credit. It has some pretty redeemable points too, so I rated it four stars. Not terrible, and pretty interesting. Barnes had to have a lot of prior knowledge about criminal psychology to write about one that was nearly realistic. 

A couple of strong points:
Barnes incorporated the character's abilities with their personalities quite well, and had a murder mystery that kept people guessing. Nowadays, it is becoming increasingly difficult to write a twist that will actually surprise people, and Barnes did that for me. I also enjoyed her little chapters with the serial killer's POV that kept me guessing throughout the whole novel until the end.
The weak points:
The love triangle. Ugh. Did she really have to do that? Cassie and Dean would have gone perfectly together, no need for Michael to be in the picture. Next, the trust between the "team" was terrible. Only Cassie actually looked like she had part to play in the novel; none of the side characters got many chapters. I was really disappointed by this because I felt that developing on the other characters' stories would have made the novel a whole lot more interesting. Barnes really should have written about teamwork between the teens, instead of Cassie going solo and saving the day like a Mary-Sue.
Why this got four chocolates:
Not many people can write a decent criminal/mystery YA novel nowadays, let alone keep me guessing. Just for that, I have to give Barnes four chocolates. Kudos for the fresh and new idea!

Four chocolates!


Summary via Goodreads: The orphaned daughter of a cabaret performer, Lilly Aphrodite finds refuge at a Catholic orphanage-and a trajectory of reinvention, seduction, and danger begins. From urchin to maid, war bride to model, Lilly eventually finds her destiny as a famous silent-film star, and enters into a sweeping romance that, crossing decades and continents, becomes inextricable from the astonishing historical events unfolding around it.

My Review:

I'm a huge fan of historical fiction, so I enjoyed this book a lot. However, this book had a few flaws that I didn't like, but not bad enough for me to rate it three stars.

First, the characters were built very nicely, especially Lilly. Unfortunately, she came off to me as a fickle and weak-willed character after she passed childhood. I felt that she could have dealt with certain situations more assertively, and really needed to be bold.

The one thing that bothered me- the romance. Don't get me wrong, moving on from a first love is perfectly fine with me, but the romance just rubbed me the wrong way.
*spoiler* I really didn't like the ending. Seriously, WTF??? I know that life can't always have a happy ending, but that is some messed up shit. Lilly really needs to take better care of the ones close to her. And Eva. Oh. My. Gosh. I hated her so much when she finally showed her true colors as a jealous and insecure little girl. I felt that Lilly really didn't have any true friends, and she was always being used. ASSERTIVENESS. Come on, Lilly.

Anyway, the book was a nice overall read; the journey through Lilly's life was enjoyable. A good read for those who enjoy historical fiction near and before the time of Hitler.

Four chocolates!


Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

Fifteen-year-old Elsa Byrd is on the verge of becoming a woman in the summer of 1935. It seems to her that, in a world run by men, coming of age is more of a curse than a blessing. Elsa feels powerless when her father enters the tuberculosis sanitarium and she's forced to live on her grandparents' farm. When she stumbles upon a stranger hiding in the barn, it's a welcome diversion as hiding him becomes an intoxicating secret. When a dead girl is discovered floating in a dory, it quickly shifts from the kind of secret Elsa wants to hug close, to the kind she doesn't dare let out. Her mentor, Lavinia Twigg, joins the police investigation and Elsa's caught between silence and disclosure, trust and doubt, risk and fear.

My Review:

I loved this novel instantly from the first page. It was simply beautiful. There was a lot of vivid and breathtaking imagery, as well as an intriguing story line. Elsa is a fifteen year old girl who lives in a time where men dominate over men. Her mother, Rose, isn't much help for her free spirit, and Elsa finds a confidant and friend in Lavinia; her mentor. When Elsa finds a wounded man, Simon, in her barn, she decides to keep him a secret despite the consequences. However, at the same time, a dead girl's body is found in the river, and people are scrambling to find the killer.

I felt that this novel was one of self-exploration, for Elsa to find her place in society and life. All characters had a story to them, and I really connected with them all. Each and every character had a bit more of them revealed as the book went on, their life explained. I loved how Elsa matured through the story, and how she managed to find a place for herself, as a woman, in a male-dominated society. 

I should have seen that plot twist in the end coming, but I didn't. It was a nice surprise, and completely unexpected. 

This novel was a joy to read, and was a smooth mix of self-discovery and mystery.

Five chocolates!


Summary (via Goodreads):

It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone. 

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help. 

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.


A timeless love story, THESE BROKEN STARS sets into motion a sweeping science fiction series of companion novels. The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

My Review:

The plot starts out a bit similarly to Titanic, but Tarver is a war hero and Lilac is the untouchable daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver and Lilac hate each other before the crash of the Icarus, and when the two of them manage to escape in a pod, they must learn to work together and survive.

This novel definitely did NOT have the annoying cheesy insta-love that Titanic had. The only similar factors were the characters' social standings and the crashing of a seemingly unbreakable ship. Other than that, I'd have to say that These Broken Stars was one hundred times better than Titanic.

First, I absolutely LOVED the characters. Although Lilac at first seemed to be a snobby, spoiled rich girl, I found that the more I got to know her, the more I could feel her struggles. It was simply how she was raised and taught to do. I found myself sympathizing with her, and cheering for her as she showed her badass sides. She isn't afraid to stand up for herself and talk back; and she certainly knows how to handle a survival situation quite well despite privileged life. Tarver was an instantly likable character. He knew how to handle himself, and he wasn't one of those emo guys who decide to mope around because they had a hard life. No. He knew his own worth, and he wasn't overly sappy either. Both characters matured throughout the book, and I love that.

Second, the romance. YES. This is the romance I've been looking for my whole life. The romance was som nicely developed it was easy to connect to- it was that realistic. As they explore the new planet, the learn more about each other, and learn to love each other. I don't even know how to explain the romance, it's too beautiful to put into words.

Anyway, I had no objections to this book whatsoever, and I couldn't find any flaws. I LOVED this book, and I will definitely re-read this again in the future.

Recommended to EVERYONE! :D

If this could get six chocolates, I would definitely give it that.

Resist by Sarah Crossan

Summary via Goodreads:
The sequel—and conclusion—to Sarah Crossan's Breathe. Three teen outlaws must survive on their own in a world without air, exiled outside the glass dome that protects what's left of human civilization. Gripping action, provocative ideas, and shocking revelations in a dystopian novel that fans of Patrick Ness and Veronica Roth will devour.

Bea, Alina, and Quinn are on the run. They started a rebellion and were thrown out of the pod, the only place where there's enough oxygen to breathe. Bea has lost her family. Alina has lost her home. And Quinn has lost his privileged life. Can they survive in the perilous Outlands? Can they finish the revolution they began? Especially when a young operative from the pod's Special Forces is sent after them. Their only chance is to stand together, even when terrible circumstances force them apart. When the future of human society is in danger, these four teens must decide where their allegiances lie. Sarah Crossan has created a dangerous, and shattered society in this wrenching, thought-provoking, and unforgettable post-apocalyptic novel.


*I received a free copy from Goodreads First Reads*

Although I didn't read the first book, I did enjoy Resist as a nice way to pass time. I enjoyed the pacing, the strong female leads, and the action, but some things were just missing. At first, I was going to rate this four stars but some things just really annoyed me.

First, Crossan is way too repetitive. She mentions people's eyes hardening and softening over five times. "I could feel my eyes harden..."
Really? Can you really feel your eyes harden?

Then, her world-building. Since I didn't read the first book, Breathe, I had a pretty bad idea of the world they were living in. Although she did a mediocre job of explaining the oxygen deficiency stuff and the whole gas mask things, a lot of things didn't fit in. Like in the ending, where it just started raining out of nowhere. Where did the rain come from? I call this book logic-everything is magical and has no reasonable explanation. 

The characters were great, but needed a bit more depth. All I saw from Alina was "Abel yay, Abel you annoy me, Abel I'm happy you're here, Abel you are a wimp" when she encountered Abel. However, I have to give Bea and Alina points for being badass- they don't have breakdowns and sob-fests wherever they are. I DID like how the whole book wasn't focused on romance, and how it centered more on action and change. 

Overall, a nice book if you aren't too picky about what you read. I really need to go read the first book- hopefully that will change my mind about this book.


My favorite part of the book:

Alina, you badass girl, you. I LOVE how she sacrifices herself for the sake of everyone. I could feel my tear ducts activate- Bea's reaction was very nicely written. BEAUTIFUL way to die, but I feel kind of bad for Abel (although they probably would have never worked out).
I'll read Breathe just for Alina...

Three chocolates!

The Last Camellia

Synopsis via Goodreads: 

A romantic and suspenseful tale about two women whose destiny is bound across the years.

On the eve of World War II, the last surviving specimen of a camellia plant known as the Middlebury Pink lies secreted away on an English country estate. Flora, an amateur American botanist, is contracted by an international ring of flower thieves to infiltrate the household and acquire the coveted bloom. Her search is at once brightened by new love and threatened by her discovery of a series of ghastly crimes.

More than half a century later, garden designer Addison takes up residence at the manor, now owned by the family of her husband, Rex. The couple’s shared passion for mysteries is fueled by the enchanting camellia orchard and an old gardener’s notebook. Yet its pages hint at dark acts ingeniously concealed. If the danger that Flora once faced remains very much alive, will Addison share her fate?

Goodreads link:


This book is AMAZING! I could not put it down and I ended up staying up until 2 A.M. trying to finish it. 

Flora is first introduced, and she must find an extremely rare camellia at the Livingston manor under the guise of a maid to save her family. Her parents are poor bakers, and her father takes pity on those with no food by giving them free bread. 

Addison or Amanda is a young woman who is married to her husband, Rex. However, she has a dark past that is slowly revealed and is being stalked/tormented by a man named Sean. She moves to Europe, and lives in the Livingston manor to hide from Sean. 

Both characters are incredibly well-crafted, and we get a new taste of their personalities each chapter. 

As Addison explores the mansion and finds items that only add to the intrigue, she also attempts to befriend Ms.Dilloway, the creepy old house keeper. She stumbles on pictures of camellias with mysterious inscriptions that belonged to the late Anna Livingston, the dead wife of Lord Livingston.

Flora meets the children of Livingston manor and is slowly wrapped into the mystery of Anna Livingston's death. She befriends Ms.Dilloway, who is a now a young woman in her twenties, and explores the gardens with caution. 

Of course, this novel has the classic adultery theme, and is mixed in with a bit of murder and plot twists. 

Does Flora ever got the camellia? What is Addison's past, and what happened to the inhabitants of Livingston manor?
All these questions are slowly explored and answered in this beautifully written novel sprinkled with a bit of romance. 

Wonderful world-building, a nice side of historical fiction, nicely crafted characters, and a crazy plot with an unexpected ending all join together in The Last Camellia.

5 chocolates!

The Selection by Kiera Cass


Synopsis (via Goodreads):

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

My Review:

I saw a lot of positive reviews for this book, so I decided to give it a try. (The cover is so pretty!) Worst mistake ever.

I had high hopes for this book at first. The first couple of chapters wre great, and then everything went downhill from there. The only reason why it got two stars was because of America's strong personality and the breathtaking cover.

First off:
Although I loved America's dislike for the fancy and care for her servants, I found myself frowning at her actions. Everything she did was awkward, and she always put herself down.
America thinks she is average-looking, yet she is pretty enough to be chosen.
"If you don't want me to be in love with you, you're going to have to stop looking so lovely."-Maxon

Maxon is a nice breath of fresh air- he's an awkwardly shy prince, but that's what makes him so lovable  he's not like those other asshole princes who expect every girl to be in love with them. The way he fell in love with America was quite realistic but I didn't like their interactions very much.
America knees him in the balls for trying to be nice, and the next day, they're BFFs.
How did this happen?
Maxon also appears to be very uptight, but is actually an unsure baby on the inside.

The world that Cass built was beautifully written, but had too many loopholes. She never explained how the world became that way, and did not elaborate enough on the caste system. 
WHY? I felt that if Cass had focused on the world-building a bit more, her novel could have been MUCH better.

95% of the novel was America struggling to sort out her feelings for Maxon and Aspen. HELLO? Does it really take THREE books for America to finally find the guy she loves? I HATED the love triangle. After Aspen crushed her love and hopes, America still was unsure of her feelings. "Hey, let's just kiss my ex-boyfriend when I just kissed this prince that I am supposed to make fall in love with me."

I am definitely not reading the next two books, and I have lost all interest in fantasy novels for now.

Thank you for ruining my whole month. I will now go back to reading dystopian novels and give up on romance-centered novels.

Two chocolates...

The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi


Synopsis (via Goodreads):
Soldier boys emerged from the darkness. Guns gleamed dully. Bullet bandoliers and scars draped their bare chests. Ugly brands scored their faces. She knew why these soldier boys had come. She knew what they sought, and she knew, too, that if they found it, her best friend would surely die. In a dark future America where violence, terror, and grief touch everyone, young refugees Mahlia and Mouse have managed to leave behind the war-torn lands of the Drowned Cities by escaping into the jungle outskirts. But when they discover a wounded half-man--a bioengineered war beast named Tool--who is being hunted by a vengeful band of soldiers, their fragile existence quickly collapses. One is taken prisoner by merciless soldier boys, and the other is faced with an impossible decision: Risk everything to save a friend, or flee to a place where freedom might finally be possible.
This thrilling companion to Paolo Bacigalupi's highly acclaimed Ship Breaker is a haunting and powerful story of loyalty, survival, and heart-pounding adventure.

Goodreads link:

My Review:

WOOT! Kahlia, you are SUCH a boss!

The Drowned Cities is an AMAZING novel. The plot is basically about Mouse and Mahlia, two best friends living in a war-torn world where they only have each other to rely on. The two are disliked for being half Peacekeeper, and find no kindness from others except for a kind old doctor. Tool is a half-breed, half human and half beast. His survival instincts often override his human emotions in the beginning, and he has loyalty to no one but himself. The soldier boys are ruthless men who kill without a second thought- only strongest survive.

The novel starts out with Tool escaping from his prison. He has no desire to serve humans as a war tool. The soldier boys are dispatched to find him, and eventually stop at where Kahlia and Mouse are living. 
Kahlia is a young, war-hardened girl who is missing a hand. She is strong, and never backs down- earning the eventual loyalty of Tool.

Ocho is a soldier boy that Kahlia saves, and eventually returns that favor.
As I read the book, I couldn't help but think that there was implied future romance between Kahlia and Ocho. If there is, I will SHIP THEM FOREVER. :D

I loved the world building that Paolo Bacigalupi built- a war hardened world is a merciless one. He isn't afraid to kill off any of the characters. His descriptions of the inner turmoil of his characters really emphasize the cruelty of war. We definitely don't want America to become like this in the future.

Although I was a bit upset at Bacigalupi for killing off Mouse at first, I realized at the end that it was crucial for Mouse to die in order for Mahlia to mature further. What can I say? Mahlia is just badass.
Eating raw meat? 
Hanging out with a guy who can kill you at any time?
Having four fingers and surviving in a war-torn world?

Really. This was just amazing. Mahlia has now become one of my favorite strong female heroines. 

Great book, and awesome action! Recommended for those looking for a fast-paced action novel to read.

4 Chocolates! :D