Monday, April 10, 2017

Pretty Fierce by Kieran Scott - Review, Excerpt, and Giveaway

Author: Kieran Scott
Publication Date:  4 April, 2017
Publisher: Source Books Fire
Series:  Stand Alone
Genre:  Young Adult, Suspense
Age Recommendation: 14 and up
Rating: 3 Stars
~ I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ~ 

Book Description:

An action-packed, edge-of-your-seat novel about a teen who, when backed into a corner, fights back, from the author of What Waits in the Woods

Kaia has been on the run her whole life. The daughter of professional assassins, she knows danger—and she’ll do anything to survive. After her parents vanished during a job gone bad, Kaia’s spent the last year in hiding, trying to blend in as an ordinary teenager, and there’s no one who makes her feel more normal, more special, than her boyfriend, Oliver.

But when she's attacked by someone from her mother's past and Oliver catches her fighting back, Kaia's secret is exposed. In a split-second decision, she flees the small town, taking Oliver with her. Stalked at every turn, Oliver and Kaia must protect each other...or die trying.

My Review:

I am going to start this review with a little bit of a side note, a little challenge that a reader who purchases a finished copy should not have, but something that may have colored my review just a tad. I am really disappointed to say that the advanced reader copy sent out was terribly formatted.  Entire sentences were run together with no spacing between the words.  Again, this isn't something (I hope) anyone who buys a finished copy will deal with but trying to read these smashed together words and sentences made for quite a few challenges.  I honestly never bring up problems with advanced copies; I completely understand that when you are gifted one of these books there will be some challenges, misspellings, some small formatting issues, etc.  The issues in this copy however were severe and as I mentioned above may be coloring my review because I found it so challenging to read, to stay in the moment, to grasp everything that was going on.

Okay, with that said lets get to the actual story.  Pretty Fierce is a YA Suspense full of action and adventure and a completely sweet romance that is perfect for the younger age range of YA readers.  I love the concept behind this story, a young teenage girl who has lived a more than unusual life with parents who are hired assassins.  You feel completely torn up for her when both her parents are 'killed' and she herself ends up on the run and thrown into a 'normal' teenage life...that is until her past starts to catch up to her and tries to kill her too.  I loved all the action and adventure, all the twists and turns even when things got way out of hand and down right unbelievable at times.  There were a number of things that you have to take with a grain of salt, but that's pretty much the truth of any suspense book I have ever read...Jason Bourne and Jack Reacher land in these situations that make me scratch my head all the time so two teenagers on the run from multiple threats, anything can and does happen.  

While I like Kaia just fine I was totally over the moon with Oliver.  He's this broken boy striving to make his world better.  He is literally fighting for his life on a regular basis and just trying to make it until he can escape the dark place he has landed in all while trying to protect the people he loves.  I could have used more of his story, more depth and detail....heck I could use an entire second book that goes into what happens after this one ends, what happens to Oliver.  We know that Kaia in the end is going to be okay and there are hints that Oliver will be too, but there is a lot of story left to be told when it comes to this hero and his future.  

I liked that this story had a kick ass Heroine but that the Hero could and did stand next to her when she needed him most.  Neither of these two main characters would ever let themselves be taken by surprise but together they made an awesome team, even when you wanted to shake Oliver for his moments of self-doubt and Kaia for her many moments of being self-absorbed. I loved their reactions to everything going on around them the most.  I loved that even though this crazy insanity is occurring, people are coming at the two of them from every angle and they don't know if they will live another day they don't come across as two super secret agents who know everything.  They are two teens who have ultimately had unusual and at times dangerous upbringings.  Their lives up to this point have nurtured them into two people who have skills that will help them survive but they are still teens who have no idea what's really happening.  They are two teens who are scared and on the run, but they have each other and they for the most part work together to stay alive and to solve the mystery of who is after Kaia.  

I really wish the ending hadn't come as quickly as it did.  There was a lot of build up and action in the first 60% percent of the book and then the last 30% came at you fast and furious.  Before you know it is is over and honestly I still have a lot of questions, like I mentioned above with Oliver.  Now, I could be totally wrong and there could end up being a second (or more) book, but I didn't get that vibe and that was a complete bummer.  Olivier and Kaia could easily find themselves in one sticky situation after another, we could get more detail on Kaia's parents, more about what they decide to do in the future, let's go back to more about what happens to Oliver...hint, hint.

There is a lot of good about this story, I think it will totally appeal to the younger YA crowd and that's a great thing as a lot of YA these days is skimming into areas that as a parent you may not want your younger teens falling into yet.  There is romance, there is death, there is abuse, there is fear but none of it is so in your face or over the top that it would be too much for a young teen who is really just now starting to notice 1. the opposite sex and 2. the reality that the world can be a harsh and hurtful place.  It's also going to be an enjoyable action read for older teens who maybe need a break from all the deep dark books that are out there these days, (books I love, do not get me wrong, haha) when they need something to sit back and relax with, get through quickly, enjoy, and be able to walk away satisfied with their read.  If you or a reader in your house or school room like suspense/mystery this could be a great choice for you.  If you are fans of Ally Carter and her Gallagher Girls or Embassy Row series, give this one a go. I won't say it is quite as dynamic but it has all the components and makes for a quick enjoyable read.  So if you are a fan of fast paced, plot (even when it is completely unrealistic...but then again like I said before, just think Bourne and Reacher....) driven, sweet romances, snatch up a copy and...




I turned on the speed, caught up to the van, and jumped off my board. It rolled ahead and bumped to a stop at a sewer drain next to the curb.

“Oliver!” I tried the door, but it didn’t budge. I pounded on it so hard my fists stung. Oliver shouted, but I couldn’t make out the words.

“Let him go!” I screeched. “He has nothing to do with this!”

The light turned green and they were off again. I groaned, grabbed my board, and followed. As I maneuvered Sophia around an ancient manhole cover I memorized the license plate.

Illinois 851 BCG.

Illinois 851 BCG.

Illinois 851 BCG.

My breath was short, and I honestly felt as if my heart was about to overload. I couldn’t keep up this pace much longer. Up ahead, a police car idled in front of a coffee shop. As I rolled closer I could see two men in blue through the plate glass window, sucking on coffee and laughing.

Would they help me? If I got the cops involved, they’d want my ID. And while I had a fake passport on me, I couldn’t risk it being entered in some database and possibly alerting the authorities of my whereabouts. Even more importantly, if the police got Oliver, they’d send him right back to South Carolina, to Robin, to that hell. I couldn’t let that happen. Anonymity was key. We really were in this together.

I pressed as hard as I could, almost biffing on some roadkill and hopping the larger cracks in the road. At each light, I closed the distance between us, and I nearly got close enough to grab the back fender, but then the van took off and changed lanes, and I lost my advantage. Then the kidnappers hooked a left onto a residential street, and I made it across the main drag seconds before the light turned green. A motorcycle zoomed past me, so close I swore the driver’s leather jacket brushed the back of my backpack.

I turned onto the street and didn’t see the van anywhere. It must have pulled into a driveway or a garage. I gave myself ten seconds, gasping for breath as I leaned against a wrought iron fence post, then kept moving.

The street was quiet, aside from dance music playing somewhere in the distance, the repetitive thump of the bass keeping time with my pulse. I hopped off Sophia and ducked down the first driveway on foot, thinking it would be better to stay away from the glare of the streetlights. For a second I crouched next to a busted wood fence and strapped Sophia to my backpack, then cut across a backyard with unkempt grass and a stone barbecue pit at its center.

The garages on the street were all detached and sat at the end of long driveways near the back corner of each property. I paused and took out my Beretta. The steel felt cool against my palm, and I prayed no one would give me a reason to use it. But I would if I had to. I would for Oliver.

At the next house, I peeked inside the foggy garage window and saw nothing but piles of boxes.

The dance music was getting louder. The next garage housed a small car covered by a brown tarp. The third was another mess of storage. At the fourth house, I was close enough to the music to hear the laughter and raised voices that went along with it. I had to scale a fence to get to this garage and when I came down on the other side, I nearly slammed my head against a pile of old kegs. The scent of stale beer hung in the air, and there were cigarette butts everywhere. Lovely.

I brushed myself off and righted my backpack. Cars packed the driveway, and the house was entirely lit up. Two girls hung out on the back porch, smoking and sipping from red cups. Over their heads, propped up on the porch roof, were three illuminated letters. BBΓ. And at the very edge of the driveway, hanging over onto the sidewalk, was a big, white, van.

What the hell?

A chorus of cheers went up inside the house. My eyes narrowed as I shoved my short, sweaty hair behind my ears. Suddenly, I wasn’t in such a huge rush. I pushed the gun into the back waistband of my jeans and made sure my jacket covered it.

Stepping out of the shadows, I cut across the lawn and walked up the steps to the rear porch where the two girls sat. They eyed me as I strode past and opened the back door.

“Ladies,” I said.

One of them scoffed, but neither made a move to stop me. Inside, I found myself in a huge, brightly lit, mostly white kitchen packed with dozens upon dozens of miniskirt-sporting, overly made-up girls with straightened hair. The dance music was deafening. Everyone was drinking, laughing, shrieking. And in the center of it all was my boyfriend, shirtless, leaning his head back while two buxom babes poured alcohol from two bottles directly down his throat.

“Um, Oliver?” I said.

He brought his chin down too fast and spit brown liquid everywhere. A few drops even landed on my cheek.

“Ew!” the girls chorused.

Oliver wiped the back of his hand across his lips and widened his eyes at me. “They made me do it!”

( 2 copies of Pretty Fierce)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Note from Kieran Scott about writing Pretty Fierce:

One of my favorite things about writing PRETTY FIERCE was trying to figure out what Kaia would do next. I don’t consider myself to be particularly brave—except for the fact that I don’t mind public speaking which is one of those things that keeps people awake at night. But I imagine that if I were ever in a situation like Kaia is in—being pursued by bad guys, hunted down at every turn, forced to try to protect the man I loved—I’d probably end up a ball of blubbering mush in a corner. So when I was writing her, I would try to imagine the exact opposite of what I would do in a given situation, and then write that. More often than not, it ended up being the thing that I wish I would have the guts to do, but really just couldn’t imagine myself doing. And that’s what I think makes a great kick-butt heroine—someone who allows us to see the possibilities of what we could do—what we could be—if we could find that deep well of courage within ourselves. 

Here is one of my favorite kick-butt heroines: 

Veronica Mars – Veronica Mars 

Veronica’s best kick-butt quality was her ability to slay with her tongue. That girl could cut down a redwood tree with one well-placed and sarcastically delivered barb—no roundhouse kicking or right-hook punching necessary. She was also constantly putting herself in dangerous situations in order to help others, never much caring for her own safety—and then she’d talk her way out of them whenever she was caught. The talent Veronica had was to say the thing you wished you’d said in the moment, but only thought of an hour later. She always had it ready to go. 

KIERAN SCOTT is the author of several acclaimed young adult novels, including the Non-Blonde Cheerleader trilogy, the He’s So/She’s So trilogy, and Geek Magnet. She also wrote the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Private and Privilege series under the pen name Kate Brian. She is a senior editor at Disney/Hyperion and resides in New Jersey with her family.

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