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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Book Review: Horizon (Horizon #1)

Release Date: March 28, 2017
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Length: 241 pages
Source: Purchased Book

When a plane crash-lands in the arctic, eight young survivors step from the wreckage expecting to see nothing but ice and snow. Instead they find themselves lost in a strange jungle with no way to get home and little hope of rescue.

Food is running out. Water is scarce. And the jungle is full of threats unlike anything the survivors have ever seen before -- from razor-beaked shredder birds to carnivorous vines and much, much worse.

With danger at every turn, these eight kids must learn to work together to survive. But cliques and rivalries threaten to tear them apart. And not everyone will make it out of the jungle alive.

    

Review:

Protagonists: There are a LOT of characters in this story. On a crashed flight to Japan, eight teens are the only ones who seemed to have survived the wreckage. If their flight path is right they should be in a much colder climate, however, a quick look around shows that they are instead in a dense and odd jungle and a rescue seems unlikely. My biggest problem with this book wasn't the characters themselves, there's a highly diverse cast of characters who each add a special element to this story and have their own strengths and weaknesses. However, there are eight main characters and while it was easy to get a handle on a few of them, it didn't take too long before I started to mix up names and lose or mix up character descriptions. While it does get a bit better as the story proceeds, I really wish the cast of characters was cut down to a more manageable size.

World Building: I went into this book expecting something a bit more paranormal, however, I was mildly surprised and delighted to find a much more sci-fi book on my hands. The world building in this story is fantastic, as new discoveries are made the tone of the book only gets darker. It's sci-fi for sure but there's an element of a thriller in this story as well. The treats in this book are fantastically terrifying and while this is a bit more character driven, the world is still a bit of a character itself, but without much more than this strange jungle to explore and a rather short book there wasn't much more than terrifying sci-fi jungle cliches to experience for most of the book. The world building does get expanded toward the end, but talking about that would be a spoiler.

Predictability: Looking back over this book, I can't really remember a time when I predicted anything in this book. I don't mean that none of my predictions came true, more than I just never made predictions for this book. There were things I hoped to happen that either did or didn't, but since this is such a short book and there's a wide range of characters that we follow, there wasn't a whole lot of time to make predictions. That being said there were a bunch of twists to this story, with varying levels of shock and excitement from me, don't get me wrong there are some fantastic twists, but there are also moments that seem like twists, but never impacted me in that way.

Ending: As for the ending I never saw it coming and by that I mean I was listening to an audiobook from the library, I often switch if I have both physical/ebook and audiobook, and didn't realize the end was nigh. I could pinpoint a final climax and while it did have its intense moments I was hoping for something a bit more intense to send of this story with. I wanted something that would glue me to the page, or headphones as it was, and keep me captivated until the very last word. While I did enjoy the ending to this story and there is a fantastic and mind-boggling twist at the end of this story, I think I was just hoping for a more intense final action scene.

Rating:


Due to a large (although diverse) cast of characters it was a bit hard to really get into this book but when I did it was a fun, action-packed ride, and while I had hoped for a more intense final climax, I'm excited to see where this story will go.

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Book Review: Cinderella, Necromancer

Release Date: September 5, 2017
Author: F. M. Boughan
Publisher: Month9Books
Length: 324 pages
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

Cinderella, Necromancer is Chime meets Anna Dressed in Blood and was inspired by a real medieval grimoire of necromancy from 15th-century Germany.

Ellison lost her mother at an early age. But since then, her father has found love again. He's happy and doesn't quite notice that Ellison does not get along with his new wife or her mean daughters. When Ellison discovers a necromantic tome while traveling the secret passages of her father's mansion, she wonders if it could be the key to her freedom. Until then, she must master her dark new power, even as her stepmother makes her a servant in her own home. And when her younger brother falls incurably ill, Ellison will do anything to ease his pain, including falling prey to her stepmother and stepsisters' every whim and fancy.

Stumbling into a chance meeting of Prince William during a secret visit to her mother's grave feels like a trick of fate when her stepmother refuses to allow Ellison to attend a palace festival. But what if Ellison could see the kind and handsome prince once more? What if she could attend the festival? What if she could have everything she ever wanted and deserved by conjuring spirits to take revenge on her cruel stepmother?

As Ellison's power grows, she loses control over the evil spirits meant to do her bidding. And as they begin to exert their own power over Ellison, she will have to decide whether it is she or her stepmother who is the true monster.

    

Review:

Protagonist: Ellison (sometimes referred to as Ella) has lived a charmed life, that is until her mother falls in and passes away, leaving her the lady of the house. Her father showed no interest in marrying again, but one day he brings home a new bride, much to Ella's dismay and aggravation. After he father leaves on a business trip Ella soon learns just how cruel and manipulative her new stepmother and stepsisters can be, and just how far they'll go to get what they want. It isn't too long before Ella discovers her houses secret passageways and a mysterious book of magic tucked within. A book that could lead to her freedom, or her undoing. I really loved the character of Ellison, well for the most part. There are times in this book where, even faced with nearly undeniable proof about what is happening, she doesn't quite comprehend it, which can be frustrating, but doesn't really detract from my enjoyment of her character or the story.

Romance: I wasn't quite sure what I'd think of the romance in this book, particularly when in the original Cinderella tale there isn't much more than insta-love between Cinderella and her prince, but like most retellings of Cinderella nowadays there's more than love at first sight between Ella and Prince William. In fact, they have a fun and witty rapport the fuels the annoyed but endearing quality to their romance. They are as open and honest as they can be with each other while still keeping their own secrets and while I wouldn't call this romance in any way "swoon-worthy" it's still a light and solidly defined romance that I couldn't help but root for.

World Building: It's really hard to write about the world building in this book, because most of the time Ella's in her house, the church graveyard, or the Palace, on top of that this story seems to be at least in some part historical fiction, but I'm not completely sure where this story takes place. That being said, the author's writing still breathes life into these pages and it's almost impossible not to understand how everything in this story looks and feels. The descriptions are rich and beautiful and the world comes to life on the page. This book is dark and captivating with moments that truly sent chills down my spine as Ella practices her necromancy and brings forth horrifying spirits to do her bidding. The way the author mixes aspects and elements from a real 15th-century grimoire into this novel is incredible and only serves to more fully bring this book to life... pardon the pun.

Predictability: The foreshadowing in this book is pretty strong. There are many twists in this book that I either predicted or at the very least guessed at. That being said this story isn't without it's captivating and intense twists that I wasn't able to predict. There's far more to this story than a simple Cinderella retelling and it's those aspects that hold a great many twists and turns as this story unfolds.

Ending: This story has one of those false beginnings that tells a bit about the ending without a lot of detail and a lot of vague intrigue, and I couldn't wait to get to that part of the book, but I would say the ending begins a little before that scene and while there were a couple of climaxes toward the end, I was far more entraced with the first one, the one that led up to that false beginning and it was so fantastic, the imagery in my head during that part was just indescribable. Then there's the true final climax which was awesome but in a very different way. There wasn't a huge cooldown in this book, in fact, this book ends almost right after the final climax which was a tad disappointing as I had hoped for a much more neatly tied up ending, but honestly after the amazingness of this book, I didn't mind too much.

Rating:


If you couldn't tell, I LOVED this book. It's haunting and spellbinding and if you're looking for a dark and atmospheric novel to read around Halloween time, pick this up! I urge you!

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Friday, September 8, 2017

Book Review: The Crowns of Croswald (The Croswald Series #1)

Release Date: July 21, 2017
Author: D.E. Night
Publisher: Stories Untold
Length: 320 pages
Source: Review Copy from Author

In Croswald, the only thing more powerful than dark magic is one secret…

For sixteen years Ivy Lovely has been hidden behind an enchanted boundary that separates the mundane from the magical. When Ivy crosses the border, her powers awaken. Curiosity leads her crashing through a series of adventures at the Halls of Ivy, a school where students learn to master their magical blood and the power of Croswald’s mysterious gems.

When Ivy’s magic––and her life––is threatened by the Dark Queen, she scrambles to unearth her history and save Croswald before the truth is swept away forever

    

Review:

Protagonist: Ivy Lovely has lived a rather ordinary life as a servant in Castle Plum, due to the magic repelling plants around the property. However, she can't stay cooped up inside the castle grounds forever and when she steps beyond them her magic, and her past, come crashing in and the only place to find the information she seeks is in the Halls of Ivy, a school where children learn to master their magical talents. On the whole, I really liked Ivy as a character, she's spunky, impulsive, and adventurous, but she also has a few concerning Mary Sue traits. There are quite a few moments where Ivy is just able to do what she wants without any real consequences. Sure she makes mistakes, but nothing too terrible happens and she gets at least a small bit of what she wants. Don't get me wrong, she doesn't just float through this book having people practically falling at her feet with nearly no conflict, it's just that sometimes it feels like she's a walking Deus Ex Machina.

World Building: So, going into this book I was completely wrong about the world building. I thought this book would be kind of like Stardust by Neil Gaiman, and in a small way it is, I guess, with Castle Plum acting more like the town of Wall where nothing magical can exist on one side, while the other side is extremely magical. Instead, this story reads more like Harry Potter. In fact, there are moments in this book that are scarily close to Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, however, the overall world building and the magic system are so different that it's extremely difficult to even entertain the notion that this could be a Harry Potter rip-off, it's just that some moments are a bit too reminiscent of classic HP scenes.

Predictability: While I do love the world building I have to say that some times it could get a bit confusing, or shall I say it's easy to misunderstand how certain bits of world building fit together. This was most present when I was trying to decipher the truth about Ivy's past before it was revealed in the book and due to a misunderstanding with some of the foreshadowing, I was hopelessly confused until everything came together. I do have to say that even with the misunderstanding I don't think I would have completely figured it all out anyway, and it's a rather complex answer at that.

Ending: The ending to this book is very interesting. On the one hand, the final climax is anything but anticlimactic, although in all honesty, in the final climactic battle of this installment I never felt like Ivy used what she learned at the Halls of Ivy to tackle the battle with her foe, instead, she just sort of does what she needs to do, adding to that Mary Sue feeling I talked about earlier. The cooldown period is great because it makes sure the reader fully understands all of the twists and turns and acts a really great debrief before launching into a really interesting cliffhanger.

Rating:


I thought long and hard about this rating and while this story is fairly slow paced it does pick up and begin to snowball but with a protagonist with Mary Sue aspects and some easily misinterpreted world building/foreshadowing I didn't feel a higher (or lower) rating would fit. I'm still extremely pumped about the sequel though!

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Book Review: The Vampire Trick (Dark World: The Vampire Wish #3)

Release Date: September 7, 2017
Author: Michelle Madow
Publisher: Dreamscape Publishing
Length: 242 pages
Source: Review Copy from Author

In a kingdom full of secrets, no one can be trusted.

Annika’s life was flipped upside down when she was kidnapped by vampires to become a blood slave in their hidden kingdom of the Vale. Now, the powerful witch Geneva has disguised her as a vampire princess, and Annika’s living in the palace to compete for Prince Jacen’s hand in marriage. But her quest to become his bride is just a facade. Her real goal? Kill the vampire queen Laila so the kingdom crumbles and she can set the human blood slaves free. 

When rebellious wolves attack the town, they leave a trail of vampire corpses in their wake, declaring war upon the Vale. But the wolves didn’t act alone. Someone on the inside is helping them, making everyone a suspect. And one major player won’t make it out alive.

Return to the mysterious, magical world of the Vale in The Vampire Trick and get ready for a major twist you’ll never see coming!

  

Review:

Characters: As the selection for Jacen's hand heats up these characters are in for a wild ride. Karina, still helping the wolves drive away the vampires on the Vale, wants nothing more than to be reunited with her one true love Peter, not knowing that Geneva's ring can never bring him back. Annika's life has been upended by vampires and she's still out for revenge but things are moving quickly and she might miss her one opening. Jacen doesn't really want this selection, he's just looking for someone who might help him take down Laila and bring a modicum of peace the Vale, but ousting Laila will be harder than he ever imagined. Finally, there's Camelia, still, on the path to immortality she prepares to meet with the fae, but what if they ask too much of her? I can't believe I'm saying this but I really love all of these characters, now that doesn't mean that some of these characters aren't evil and deserve to meet their end(s), but they are all written pretty well, and there's even a scene or two where I felt some modicum of sympathy for Camelia.

Romance: Another thing I wasn't quite expecting was for there to be some real romance between Annika and Jacen in this book. There's obviously the tricky aspect of Anikka's true identity to deal with, but I feel as though the author did a fantastic job with making me start rooting for this couple all over again. Now there are parts of this romance that did grate on me quite a bit, mainly that these two characters are pretty much the densest beings when it comes to each other. I mean Jacen keeps seeing bits of Annika in the alluring Princess Ana and even after he notes that their kiss felt familiar he still doesn't get it, and Annika doesn't realize that Jacen's cold demeanor is all an act, even when given nearly every shred of evidence needed. Even still they have a great chemistry and I'll be interested to see how much that will develop before the end of the series.

World-Building: Now this is what I'm talking about! After the previous installment, I was a bit worried going into this story. The Vampire Prince is almost entirely set up for the rest of (I assume) the series, and so not all that much happened in that book, but this book has all of the needed pay off of the previous installment. If it weren't for the fact that some of the stuff that happens in this book would feel too soon in the second book, I'd say that books 2 & 3 should have been combined. In this story, there's a lot that not only moves the plot of this story along further but also reveals a great deal about the world and still finds time to set up some pretty incredible stuff for the final installments. I really want to talk more and go into what about the world building was amazing and why, but to avoid spoilers I can't all I'll say is that if you thought about abandoning the series after the previous book, this book makes up for it and more.

Predictability: I honestly thought I knew what was going to happen in this book. I thought I knew how it would end, and a good idea of how it would be resolved, but nope. While I was able to predict a good chunk of this story it was mainly the obvious parts where the author never even attempted to be subtle with the foreshadowing. No, the really big stuff comes later, however, while I'll agree there is a twist I never saw coming, I don't think it's the twist the author was thinking of when writing the synopsis.

Ending: As much as I love this book and, in all honesty, the ending, it was a bit anticlimactic. There's something that happens at the end that while I wouldn't call it foreshadowing, practically gives arguably the biggest twist of this book away. Now, everything that happens after that anticlimactic climax is pretty fast paced and there's a definite cliffhanger here. I mean, the cliffhanger is the twist I never saw coming because there's never really any foreshadowing for it, and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Book 4 can't come soon enough!

Rating:


Don't get me wrong, there's a part of me that really wants to give this book 5 stars. I mean it's so good and in comparison to book 2 it's astronomically better, but I just can't get over how, as much as I love them, these characters can be really dumb sometimes, and how the ending just fell flat and anticlimactic for me.

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Monday, September 4, 2017

Book Review: Yellow Brick War (Dorothy Must Die #3)

Release Date: March 15, 2016
Author: Danielle Paige
Publisher: HarperCollins
Length: 270 pages
Source: Purchased Book

Once upon a time, there was a girl from Kansas named Dorothy.

You might know her as the Girl Who Rode the Cyclone. She ended up in Oz, where she became friends with the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion. But the temptation of magic was too much for her. She let it change her. Her friends became twisted versions of their former selves.

The magical land of Oz is now a dark and menacing place.

My name is Amy Gumm. Tornadoes must have a thing about girls from Kansas, because I got swept away on one too. I also landed in Oz, where Good is Wicked, Wicked is Good, and the Wicked Witches clued me in to my true calling:

Assassin.

The only way to stop Dorothy from destroying Oz—and Kansas—is to kill her. And I’m the only one who can do it.

But I failed. Others died for my mistakes. Because of me, the portal between the worlds has been opened and Kansas and Oz are both in danger. And if I don’t find a way to close it?

Dorothy will make sure I never get to go home again.

    

Review:

Protagonist: At the end of The Wicked Will Rise Amy Gumm finds herself and Dorothy transported back to Kansas and a group of witches welcoming her into the fold... or so it all seems. Amy is truly back in Kansas but it's not too long before things get hairy and Amy, Nox, and the witches are all stuck in Kansas and need a very special item to find their way back to Oz, but until then Amy needs to insert herself back into her old life and do her best to help with the search for the way back to Oz. This book gives readers a wonderful opportunity to see that while Dorothy and Amy are similar in where they come from and that they both wind up in Oz, they're very different deep down. Dorothy led a bit of an idyllic life while Amy was an outcast, upon arriving in Oz Dorothy wanted to go home, but Amy wants to stay, and best of all, upon returning home Dorothy saw her idyllic life as stale and wanted to return to the wonder of Oz while Amy sees what her time away from Kansas has changed in her life and she may not be too willing to head back to Oz and leave her new old life behind.

Romance: While this story seems to be the most romantic of the books in this series so far, I have to say the romance never really appealed to me in this book. Honestly, though, I don't think it's because the romance is handled badly, I think it's more because it's been so long since I've read a main installment in this series and I've forgotten most of the romance that's happened between Nox and Amy. It's not that I don't want them together, the romance doesn't seem problematic in any way, but the author introduces a forbidden love aspect to the romance that was extremely unnecessary and just gave me an overall meh feeling in relation to the romance.

World Building: One of the things that always bothered me about the first installment in this series is that we never really got to see a good chunk of Amy's life before Oz, we saw enough to know what she was going through, but I still felt like the book jumped to Oz too quickly. In this book, we get to see more of Amy's world and her day to day life, though it's nowhere near the same as before she left, it's the touch of normalcy and the effect of her disappearance that lead to a very interesting adventure in Kansas before she has to go back to Oz and finish the job assigned to her. I do have to say one thing though, this story has too many villains. I mean, Glinda and Dorothy are one thing, we go into this story knowing that they are villains, but between the Wizard in the previous book and a new "mega" villain introduced in this book things have gone from complex to complicated in the villain department. This world is getting more and more complex in ways that I do enjoy, but there are spin-off feeling aspects that seem to be leaking into the flagship series.

Predictability: So after this book got off to a rip roaring start, I thought I knew exactly where things were going to go. I knew the formula for this type of a book and saw where the end point should have been. Boy, was I wrong though. Not too far into this book, there's a shift and things only get crazier from there. There were a few twists that I was quickly able to pick up on, things that felt way too predictable to be true, but were anyway. There's a lot that goes down in this short book, but much like the fact that there were things I could easily predict there were things that I could have never even dreamed about predicting. This book is a wild ride and crazy twists are to be expected.

Ending: With a few tweaks this could have easily been the final book in this series. I mean, this series doesn't NEED to be more than three books, but things were introduced in this book that extended it by one more book. That being said though the final climax of this book was pretty awesome, and while I do feel that the series is being stretched a bit thin, I am really excited to see where things will go from here and how everything will be tied up by the end of the series. The story does end on a bit of a cliffhanger, but not as crazy a cliffhanger as the previous book did.

Rating:


This book was pretty amazing. Like I said, I do feel like things were stretched a bit thin and things are getting more complicated than complex, but this is still a very addicting and enjoyable series and I can't wait to see how it all wraps up.

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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Novella Review: Ruler of Beasts (Dorothy Must Die #0.6)

Release Date: February 16, 2016
Author: Danielle Paige
Publisher: HarperCollins
Length: 84 pages
Source: Library Audio Book

Danielle Paige delivers a dark and compelling reimagining of a beloved classic, perfect for fans of Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Beastly by Alex Flinn, and Wicked by Gregory Maguire.

When the Cowardly Lion set off for the Emerald City in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with Dorothy and the others, he sought courage above all else. This digital original novella is the sixth installment in the prequel arc to the edgy and thrilling New York Times bestsellers Dorothy Must Die and The Wicked Will Rise, and is the Lion’s story after he got what he’s always wanted.

The Lion’s wish has finally come true—he is the courageous ruler of the forest and all of its beasts. But the Lion is bored—he misses the days of his adventures with Dorothy, the Tin Woodman, and the Scarecrow. When Glinda the Good Witch shows up unexpectedly and tasks him with a mission back in the Emerald City, he jumps at the chance to do something exciting, even though he knows she’s not telling him the entire truth.

    

SPOILER WARNING: So I wrote this while very tired, still a little tired, and there are mild/medium level spoilers in this review. I'll try and come back and edit this review later so there are as few spoilers as possible, but I'm kind of going to pass out right now.

Review:

Protagonist: Lion is bored, after the excitement of confronting General Ginger, all Lion wants is something to do and a purpose in his life. Enter the puppet master, Glinda, who asks Lion to watch over Ozma and try and find a long lost necklace capable of helping bring back an old friend. I can't believe I'm saying this since Lion seemed to have the most "red flags" when it came to turning to the dark side, but he's sort of the most sympathetic of Dorothy's friends. I was surprised to find that underneath his rough exterior, is a soft little kitty cat, well sort of. This is still a story of his turn to the dark side, but there's a large part of me that really wanted him to be forced into it, or it really wasn't him we saw in the main series because a large part of me bleeds for this character we see in this book. Lion wants to be good, but since he's not as shrewd and cunning as Scare, or as ambivalent as Tin, his perception of what is truly "Good" is off.

World Building: So, I've said before that the world building for these novellas isn't that big, especially these ones that deal with how Dorothy's friends turned evil, but if I'm not mistaken, and I sincerely hope I'm not, it seems that this story does hold a good amount of world building that will hopefully serve as foreshadowing to what might happen next in the main series. Also, after six prequel novellas, it's interesting to look back and put everything in chronological order to see how some of these carefully laid plans fell into place. I said Glinda's a puppet master and this story shows just how much she is.

Predictability: Going into this book I had so many expectations on how this story would unfold, especially after reading the previous two novellas, but I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Not only did it sort of break the streak of interesting yet unnecessary novellas, at least presumably, but even after finishing it, I still felt sympathetic towards this character, which the only other time that happened in one of these novellas is in The Witch Must Burn. There are a few twists this book holds as well, some things that are hopefully foreshadowing for the future and some things that show more of how everything ties together.

Ending: I was really surprised and excited by how this story ended. Again, I still felt the Lion is a sympathetic character, and I almost wish we had seen more of how he turned evil, but I liked seeing that there was still a little bit of humanity in him, however much of an oxymoron that is, by the end of this story. The final climaxes, yes there are two, were really interesting and show not only how the Lion has come a good way since the beginning, but also set the stage for more in this world.

Rating:


I was not expecting to give this book five stars, I thought the Lion would be the least sympathetic of the bunch but there's a part of me that wants to just give him a hug, and the story was actually really fun and hopefully foreshadows what the future holds.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Book Review: Cage of Destiny (Reign of Secrets #3)

Release Date: August 21, 2017
Author: Jennifer Anne Davis
Publisher: Reign Publishing
Length: 272 pages
Source: Review Copy from Author

Destined from birth to be the next empress of Emperion, Allyssa grew up at court weighed down by the expectations of the crown. Kingdom and duty always came first.

Until now.

Having survived the brutal kingdom of Russek, she is given the choice to walk away and live a peaceful, quiet life. But it also means giving up everything she knows and everyone she loves. Before she decides, word reaches her about an assassination attempt. Donning her secret persona—that of a vigilante—she sets out to eliminate her enemy once and for all.

As Allyssa fights the demons of her past to save her future, she realizes she never had a choice. She can either embrace her destiny or be caged by it.

    

Review:

Protagonist: I feel like I say this with all final installments, but Allyssa really has come a long way since the first book in this series. Once a girl caged by her responsibility, she now has the choice to live whatever life she chooses, and because of her character development throughout this series, she has everything she needs to make the choice that works best for her. Once a girl against marriage, especially one forced upon her, she wants to do what is best for her country, even if that's creating a political match. Allyssa still has a great amount of development in this book, she's haunted by the terrors she went through in Russek at the hands of Soma, she's still heartbroken after Odar severed their marriage contract, and she's not entirely sure what her future holds, but she can't rest until Jana is dealt with and the threat on her life no longer hangs over her head. Allyssa's development in this story is fantastic, some things she learns from other, some is learned through experience and growing up. Every step Allyssa takes feels natural and earned. She isn't perfect, but to be a realistic and believable character she shouldn't be.

Romance: I have to tread carefully here. At the end of the previous installment, Odar made the selfish decision to break off his relationship with Allyssa and Kerdan, the crown prince of Russek, had proposed a strategic marriage between the two. Even though I shipped Odar and Allyssa throughout (most) of Cage of Darkness, he definitely made a HUGE mistake and honestly, I wouldn't have minded Allyssa making a strategic match founded in friendship, especially with Kerdan. That's honestly all I can say with specifics, because how the author handles the romance in this story, and Allyssa's decision is phenomenal, but I'm afraid if I talk more specifics I'll ruin it. I'll just say that my heart swelled so many times throughout this book, and what Allyssa chooses in the end made me cry a little bit... a lot.

World Building: Davis is a master at world building, I swear. While we don't get to really see more kingdoms in this world, we do get to see another side to Russek. We get to learn more about their culture and who they are as people, not just the violent and brutal thugs we saw in the previous story. This book also felt like a bit of a love letter to the fans of the True Reign series, I won't quite say why, because of annoying spoilers, but there was something about this story that brought back a sort of nostalgic feeling for the previous series. Obviously, Nathenek's back and as badass and awesome as ever. His relationship with Allyssa is fantastic and how they bond and grow is very reminiscent of his relationship with Rema. Seriously, I'm trying to figure out more to say that won't be spoilery, but you just have to read this book, everything the author does to develop and flesh out this world, even more than it was, is incredible.

Predictability: So, after finishing the previous installment I thought I knew where the story would go next, I thought we'd get a more politically motivated story, but I was dead wrong. Even after reading the synopsis I thought I knew the outcome of mostly everything, and granted there are some things that I was able to predict, some things hinted at in the previous installment and some things that just felt inevitable. That being said though, there were things I was never 100% sure about with this book. In this book, the author seems to have had a lot of fun subverting tropes and kept me guessing. The way everything unfolds is incredible and the twists and turns in this book are mind blowingly amazing.

Ending: This is another section that I need to tread lightly on. The thing is, at the beginning of this book, before the story even starts there's a disclaimer that this is the third book in a series of an undisclosed number of books, which of course made me curious if the author changed her mind and this wasn't the end. As the final climax drew near, everything is fraught with tension, it's clear that something big is on the horizon, and the final climax of this book is everything I wanted and everything I didn't know I needed. The cooldown though, that's where things get tricky. There are definitely some things left unanswered and while I feel comfortable saying that this ends the arc started in Cage of Deceit, as for whether the author will return to this world, well we'll have to wait and see.

Rating:


It should come as no surprise that I think this book is exceptional. Seriously, though this book is EVERYTHING! I mean it, it's a little typical for people to love either the first or especially last, book in a series the most but here it just can't be beaten. I loved every second of it and I'm hoping it doesn't, but this book probably gave me the biggest book hangover ever.

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Monday, August 21, 2017

Book Review: Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #1)

Release Date: September 12, 2017
Author: Scott Reintgen
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Length: 384 pages
Source: Penguin First To Read Program

Every life has a price in this sci-fi thriller that has the nonstop action of The Maze Runner and the high-stakes space setting of Illuminae. This is the first in a new three-book series called the Nyxia Triad that will take a group of broken teens to the far reaches of the universe and force them to decide what they're willing to risk for a lifetime of fortune.

Emmett Atwater isn't just leaving Detroit; he's leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.

Forever.

Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden--a planet that Babel has kept hidden--where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel's ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won't forever compromise what it means to be human.

    

Review:

Protagonist: Emmett Atwater is given a once in a lifetime opportunity to voyage through space to a newly discovered habitable planet where he will be tasked with mining an ultra-rare and expensive material called Nyxia. First, though, he needs to secure his place while onboard the Genesis 11, against a diverse group of teens with backgrounds and pasts similar to him. Only eight out of ten will land on Eden, and Emmett will do whatever is necessary to be one of them. On the whole, I liked Emmett's character. I did feel like some of his character development wasn't quite earned, though that might be more because the author does jump forward in time quite a bit so while we see defining moments, we don't always see a good aftermath and results of those defining moments. There were also a few quirks that Emmett has during the first part of this story that nearly disappear, only to reappear without any preamble or solid explanation toward the end that really bothered me.

World Building: I love the world building in this book. I've sort of started to become a sucker for sci-fi and this story definitely scratches that itch. The way that Nyxia is introduced and all of the intricacies of the material that are discovered over the course of this story are incredible. The competition aspect of this story is fairly text book, but how the contestants treat it isn't quite as predictable. I did really enjoy all of the aspects to the competition. It isn't just one challenge but many that this group is forced to compete in and each challenge will test their mastery of Nyxia, the environment on Eden, as well as their endurance and strength. Overall, I really enjoyed the world building for this story and while there is an extremely diverse cast of characters, I'm in no position to comment on how well represented they are, I didn't find anything I would think of as misrepresentation or offensive, but again I'm in no position to adequately give feedback.

Predictability and Writing: So, my biggest problem with this story is the writing. I appreciate the author trying to subvert all of these common tropes that he includes in this story, but unfortunately, it felt that how he went about subverting these tropes that ended up shifting the normal story structure. Now, not all story structures are exactly the same, but when you boil the most successful ones down there is a similar pattern of climaxes and cooldowns and where certain elements are introduced, and at least for me that's not something that should be subverted, since I've rarely seen a subverted story structure work out very well. There are sections of the story that I love, but there were moments that should have packed more of a punch where I had a similar feeling to the age old "show don't tell" advice where I know I was shown, but given how the story structure worked out, I felt like I was told. There are also characters in this story that do things that don't quite make sense, things feel forced in order to progress the plot that I never fully understood. As for how predictable this book is, since (and I'm starting to feel like a broken record here) the story structure is so off for me, I wasn't able to predict a majority of the twists but as I said earlier, a lot of them didn't pack the punch I felt they were supposed to.

Ending: So the ending is actually something that I wasn't sure about, but after mulling it over I really liked how everything went down. As the end neared, I didn't really notice that there wasn't a big final climax, I mean there's something that could have been, but since (again broken record) the story structure was off I didn't notice it. Then, right at the end, there's this fantastic scene that I can't talk too much about because it's a really twisted scene and it needs to be experienced fully, but it's so good. There isn't really a cooldown period after, but I also didn't feel a cliffhanger vibe from the ending because it ends right where I expected it too, so since I was waiting for it, it didn't hit me as a cliffhanger would, but I don't mind since I'd rather not wait in agony for the next book.

Rating:


I did really enjoy this book. The world building is phenomenal and there are elements to the story that are incredibly compelling, but I did feel some problems mainly with the story structure and how the author went about subverting some classic tropes. Some moments fell flat when I know they should have had more impact. That being said though, I will be back for Book 2.

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Book Review: Before She Ignites (Fallen Isles Trilogy #1)

Release Date: September 12, 2017
Author: Jodi Meadows
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Length: 496 pages
Source: Edelweiss Review Copy

Before

Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

After

Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

    

Review:

Protagonist: For all of Mira's life she's been the Hopebringer. She's always stood for the treaty that united the Fallen Isles that was signed on the day of her birth and named after her. Then one day, she learns a secret that gets her sent to the Pit, a secret that she would take to her grave. The Pit is a dark and hopeless prison, there a cruel and sadistic guard will do anything to uncover the reason Mira was sent there. One of the things I loved about Mira is that she's flawed. At the beginning she believes everything told to her, she never questions it and while she never comes across as stuck up, she never realizes the priveledges she has, not only being the Hopebearer but also being the daughter of a rich politician. However, over the course of the book she slowly begins to develop, learning important lessons from her new comrades in prison, and going through things no one should have to endure, she'll come out stronger, and while she's still flawed, her development is remarkable and exciting.

World Building: This world revolves around the Fallen Isles and the mythology associated with the islands. I'm a huge mythology buff and even though this isn't based on classic mythologies, at least as far as I can tell, the mythology t the author created for this world is still as captivating and rich as if she had. I loved learning about how this world works, or at the very least how the denizens of this world believe it to work, and of the various gifts given by the gods of this world. I was kind of saddened that even though dragons are a key plot element, they didn't show up as much as I was expecting. This entire world was, more or less, perfectly crafted for this first installment, however, there are still a great many things I hope to learn more about in the future, particularly one island's people that were rarely if ever, mentioned past the prologue.

Predictability: The writing and plot structure for this book were also well crafted. There's a certain formula to YA books where if you know what to look for you can pretty much guess how at least sixty-five percent of the book is going to go. However, in this story, I couldn't detect traces of the YA formula. I mean, sure there are things that with most books are a given, but I had next to no idea where this story was going to go. I mean, I felt like I was flying completely blind with this book and I was so excited to see where this book would take me next.

Ending: The ending, well, the ending I sort of guessed. I mean, it doesn't take a formula to figure out roughly what will happen toward the end of this book. Still, it was an exciting and exhilarating ride the whole way through. This story ends much the same way most first books in series do. There wasn't a huge cliffhanger or anything. However, it didn't quite plateau out as much as I hoped it would. I'm clamoring for the next book in this series, there are so many questions brought up at the end of this book that I need to be answered ASAP and unfortunately with this book not even released yet, the wait for book 2 is going to be killer.

Rating:


I wasn't quite sure what rating to give this book, but after writing this review I know it deserves five glorious and brightly burning stars. The pacing can be a bit slow in parts, but that doesn't last long and the book as a whole is a fantastic story in a brilliantly crafted world.

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