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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Blog Tour Audio Book Review: Air and Ash (TIDES #1)

Release Date: September 8, 2017
Author: Alex Lidell
Narrator: Kaitlin Bellamy
Publisher: Danger Bearing Press
Length: 6 hours & 57 minutes
Source: Review Copy for Tour

Master and Commander meets Tamora Pierce in a seafaring adventure of duty, love, magic, and a princess’s quest to protect her kingdom on her own terms.

After a lifetime of training, seventeen-year-old Princess Nile Greysik, a lieutenant on the prestigious Ashing navy flagship, sails into battle with one vital mission—and fails.

Barred from the sea and facing a political marriage, Nile masquerades as a common sailor on the first ship she can find. With a cowardly captain, incompetent crew, and a cruel, too-handsome first officer intent on making her life a living hell, Nile must hide her identity while trying to turn the sorry frigate battleworthy. Worse, a terrifying and forbidden magic now tingles in Nile’s blood. If anyone catches wind of who Nile is or what she can do, her life is over.

But when disaster threatens the ship, Nile may have no choice but to unleash the truth that will curse her future.

AIR AND ASH is the thrilling first installment of the TIDES series. Recommended for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Tamora Pierce, and Naomi Novik.

    


Review:

Protagonist: Nile has spent most of her life on the water and loves nearly every minute of it, but after an important mission goes awry she's barred from the ocean and pushed toward a political marriage. Stealing away she enlists as a member of the first crew that will take her on. However, this crew is far different than her previous one and since (nearly) no one is aware who she is she cannot lean on her years of experience to outrank anyone. Honestly, I wasn't a huge fan of Nile. I sort of felt as though she is a bit too paragon for really any story. It almost always felt that she was right while everyone else was wrong and the only real adversity she faces is either because of the newly discovered magic she holds or proud or bigoted people not taking her seriously. I wish Nile was more flawed, that it would feel she has a lesson to learn here. I did feel as though sometimes the author would have Nile begin to learn something new or feel she was wrong, but I never felt that followed through.

Romance: There honestly isn't all that much romance in this story, which is just fine, though there is a bit of a forbidden romance element here as there isn't supposed to be romantic fraternization among crew members, but again since there isn't much that romance that isn't much of a problem for me, at least not yet. I did really enjoy the romance between Nile and her suitor, it's slow burning and there were quite a few times I really found myself rooting for them and wondering how the whole romance thing would play out, I'm interested in continuing the journey.

World Building: So, this part of the story is probably my biggest disappointment. I mean, sure there are a lot of great section to the book that flesh out the world and really give you a sense of understanding as to what goes on in the world and who thinks and believes what based on where they're from and that's all great, but the story itself just feels adrift. I wish I had a better handle on the heading for this story, by the end of this book there are so many different ways this story could go and I just wish I had some understanding of the true end goal of this series and Nile's journey, but as of now things just seem a little chaotic and lost.

Predictability: Since I never had a full understanding of where the story would go, other than Nile's immediate need to be free and discover more about the forbidden magic of this world, I never had a great idea for where things were heading other than the vaguest of notions. That being said it did help have some fantastic twists and turns in this story. There were some fantastic moments that really took me by surprise and captivated me.

Ending: So the final climax of this book is really well thought out and honestly quite intense. I instantly felt the weight of what was going on and the severity of the situation while I greatly admired. As the final climax came to a head I felt extremely invested in the outcome and the consequences. The cooldown period was nice though I do wish there was more attention paid to the world building and less on the romance, and the cliffhanger of this book, which isn't a huge one by any means, felt underwhelming.

Audio Book Notes: The audio book for this story is fantastic. Like I've said in previous audio book reviews I'm not great at articulating how enjoyable an audio book is unless there's something really special about it, such as an outstanding narrator, ambient sound that mixes with the story, etc. Here, the narrator was the standout. She delivers a captivating performance and her distinct voices and range of accents were a joy to behold. Bellamy brings this world to life and it was near impossible to stop listening to her masterful performance.

Rating:


If I was rating the story alone, I would give it 3 stars or maybe less, but Bellamy's performance was superb and I had to hike it up to 3.5. Don't get me wrong this story has a lot of promise and I hope to eventually continue with the story and I am interested to see where this story goes.

About the Author:


Alex Lidell is the author of Amazon bestsellers AIR AND ASH and WAR AND WIND (Danger Bearing Press, 2017) and an Amazon Breakout Novel Awards finalist author of THE CADET OF TILDOR (Penguin, 2013). She is an avid horseback rider, a (bad) hockey player, and an ice-cream addict. Born in Russia, Alex learned English in elementary school, where a thoughtful librarian placed a copy of Tamora Pierce’s ALANNA in Alex’s hands. In addition to becoming the first English book Alex read for fun, ALANNA started Alex’s lifelong love for YA fantasy books.
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About the Narrator:


​Kaitlin Bellamy is a freelance performer and acting coach residing in Central Florida, with a theatrical history spanning more than twenty-five years.

Since relocating to Orlando in 2012, she has worked at multiple theme parks and various theatrical venues, in a career style she calls “Buffet Performing:” or, the idea of keeping several jobs active at any given time, so she may pick and choose where to work, and life never gets boring. Her specialties include Shakespeare, Voice Acting, and Puppetry. But above all, she is passionate about the performing arts, and all they stand for.
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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Book Review: One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns #2)

Release Date: September 19, 2017
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 464 pages
Source: Purchased Book

The battle for the Crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?

With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

In this enthralling sequel to Kendare Blake’s New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns, Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must face the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other.

    

Review:

Characters: Going into this book almost right after reading the previous installment, I wasn't rooting for any queen, in particular, to be seated on the throne by the end of this tale. However, as the story expands and deepens, as it is no longer a duology, we really get to see more from these characters than I ever thought we would. Arsinoe, after discovering her true gift longs to discover more about it and why she was sent to the Naturalists. Mirabella, after nearly getting attacked at the Quickening, wants to win her crown, but her love for her sisters still persists and she's shocked that Arsinoe would try and attack her even after Mirabella saved her life. Katharine, after crawling out of the Breccia Domain, is stronger than ever and she has her sights set on being the next queen and her ambitions and tactics are frightening. Even if I liked one or more of these girls less in this installment, that was more for their conduct and their personality, as characters in this story though they are all fantastic and I really liked seeing how their dynamics shifted and evolved in this installment.

Romances: So, the romances in this book are about as important to the story as the first installment, which wasn't that much, but there was a good amount of development between all couples involved. Without going into it too much, Arsinoe and Billy haven't yet fully confronted their feelings for each other, if there are true feelings there at all, then there's the fact that Billy's still a suitor and required to spend time with the other queens as well. Katharine and Pietyr are in a very rocky place ever since he shoved her down a seemingly endless pit and subjected her to who knows what horrors. Finally, Mirabella is stuck being one side of a very awkward love triangle between Joseph and Jules. I was pleasantly satisfied with how the romances developed in this installment and how some newer romances also entangled into this very tangled and sticky web.

World Building: The Ascension year begins and it's time for one queen to be Crowned. After the initial shock of just how much political intrigue there is in this book, and not even done by the three triplet queens, but their foster families, I really enjoyed how the world building was built in the first installment and while I wished, and still wish, for more clarification on just who the goddess is, I'm still holding out hope. The world did expand quite a bit though there weren't a lot of jaw-dropping twists that fleshed out the world, there are places seen that have not been seen before and new characters only referred to in the previous installment, and I can see why the author expanded this series, there's a lot still left to explore, but the bits and pieces, however large or small, that we got in this installment was fascinating and I can't wait to see how everything comes together.

Predictability: I did not expect this story to go that way. I think I had very strict expectations for this series going in and even when I saw the story diverting quite a bit, I never thought that it would get so off track. Don't get me wrong this story still sticks to its hook, but how everything comes into play in this story is phenomenal and I barely saw any of it coming. As the story progressed I began to understand and anticipate more and more, but it wasn't until one scene that had my jaw dropping that I really began to see how this story was unfolding and even got some hints on where the story might continue.

Ending: The final climax of this story is incredible, I mean, if you didn't know that this isn't the end of the story you would once you read this ending. Things get really exciting and as the story unfolds and plans are devised I still wasn't quite sure how everything was going to go down, and once the dust settles it gets kicked back up with a doozy of a cliffhanger!

Rating:


Wow! I was blown away by this story and I can't wait to see what else comes in this story. I have so many theories and ideas for where I think the story can go and I just want to know if I'm right, I hope I am!

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Book Review: Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1)

Release Date: September 20, 2016
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 398 pages
Source: Purchased Book

When kingdom come, there will be one.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

    

Review:

Characters: So, before reading this story I wasn't quite sure what to make of the three queens in this story, well obviously, but mainly I wasn't sure how I would feel about all three. Going into this book I had the idea that I would glom onto one of the queens and hope that she'd make it. However, while all three queens are very different, I seriously cannot choose between them. As this story unfolds I really felt a connection to each and every one of the main characters. Katharine is a sweet little cinnamon bun that you just want to wrap up in your arms and protect, that is until you realize that perhaps she can protect herself. Arsinoe is fierce and brave, growing up in a community of love, even if her talent doesn't appear to be very strong. Mirabella, the girl that people say acts as if she's already Crowned with her stunning looks and powerful elemental gift, but deep down she remembers her sisters, specifically she remembers loving her sisters. Each of these queens is so well written and put together with an aspect to their personalities that makes it near impossible to choose between them.

Romances: With three main characters comes three different romances. Each romance has its own complications, mainly because whoever becomes queen is intended to marry someone from the Mainland in efforts to hold onto a peace treaty with them. I don't normally write about multiple romances in a single section but I'll try my best. Katharine's romance is the one least touched upon. A young lad named Pietyr offers to train her in the ways of flirting so that she can charm any and all of the suitors, however, real feelings develop, and that's really it in terms of non-spoilery things, and honestly I wish there was more to this because since it's not really touched upon there isn't really a whole lot leaving me to possibly root for them. Arsinoe's romance might not even be a romance at all, though she does form a connection of some sort with a boy from the mainland and a prospective suitor. I really enjoyed this relationship, even if it doesn't turn out to be romantic and I liked how these characters complimented each other. Finally, Mirabella's romance is too spoilery for me to talk much about but I will say that it both intrigues and infuriates me.

World Building: Going into this book I was expecting a Hunger Games-style survival story of these three queens ending in only one left standing. I knew there would most likely be other fantasy elements to it as well, but I never expected for it to be so detailed and well fleshed out. Don't get me wrong, I was expecting a fantastic book, I just assumed it would be more action-adventure and less intense fantasy. The really interesting part of this book is how the groups, that have raised these girls, interact and their own political schemes. How deeply rooted this tradition is in this kingdom is astonishing, though I do have to say that since the entire hook of this story is connected with the religious lore of this kingdom I wish we learned more about it. It just sort of feels like this is a thing that happens which people accept and there doesn't seem like a "good enough" reason as to why.

Predictability: I have to say this story threw me off my game a bit. I mean, on the whole, I wasn't able to predict that much of anything. as the story unfolded I was just along for the ride and I was totally okay with that. There were quite a few twists and turns that this story took some of which nearly made my jaw hit the floor. There is one twist though, arguably the biggest twist in this story and most definitely the last, that I thought about, dismissed, but still held onto despite what I thought was my better judgement, but when all was revealed I felt this surge of pride that I had truly picked up on something HUGE and I can't wait to see how it all ties into the next installment.

Ending: So the final climax of this story was a bit bittersweet, I mean it was awesome and epic in so many ways, but the consequences from that moment are pretty astronomical and while I was excited about the final climax, I can't help but shed a tear, metaphorically, for all that it set into motion. There is a bit of a cooldown period where things seem to get into position for the next installment followed up by a rather amazing cliffhanger.

Rating:


I really loved this tale and while it's more set up than I would have liked and I wish I knew more about the lore and mythology of this world, I have to say it's a fantastic first installment and I'm both excited and apprehensive about the next installment.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Blog Tour Book Review: Otherworld (Otherworld #1) + GIVEAWAY!



Release Date: November 7, 2017
Authors: Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Length: 368 pages
Source: ARC for Tour

The Company says Otherworld is amazing—like nothing you’ve ever seen before. They say it’s addictive—that you’ll want to stay forever. They promise Otherworld will make all your dreams come true.

Simon thought Otherworld was a game. Turns out he knew nothing. Otherworld is the next phase of reality. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted.

And it’s about to change humanity forever.
Welcome to the Otherworld. No one could have seen it coming.

    

Review:

Protagonist: Simon has lived a rather lackluster life. Sure his parents are rich and ever since he was little he's had practically every toy he's ever wanted, but it all seemed like a mask. His friends weren't really his friends, his parents never seemed to care about him, and on the whole, he was extremely lonely. That is until he meets Kat, a girl who lives on the other side of the woods from his house. Years later he's run into some trouble with the law and he hasn't talked to Kat in months. To try and change all that he signs both Kat and himself up to beta test a new virtual reality game that sets off a chain reaction into secrets and lies about this amazing new technology. I actually really liked the character of Simon, I felt that all of his motivations felt incredibly realistic and while his life isn't exactly the most relatable, his overall character and how grounded he is, is very relatable.

Romance: I was a bit cautious when it came to the romance in this story. I wasn't exactly sure if there was even going to be a romance in this story, but after learning about Simon and Kat's history and the things they've each gone through in their lives I was quickly drawn to their romance. Their romance isn't a HUGE part of this story as they're only around each other for maybe 20% of the book at most, but their romance is very easy to root for and the connection between these two characters is almost like nothing I've seen before. Don't get me wrong there are characters that I've rooted for harder than these two, but something about their connection and who they are both as individuals as well as together just establishes a rightness between these two characters.

World Building: So, this is a story about virtual reality and how if it gets too real it can get very, very dangerous. This story reminded me a whole lot of both Sword Art Online (an anime) and Spy Kids 3: Game Over (a movie), all three stories deal with the threat of virtual reality but I really enjoyed seeing it in this form. The story takes place in both worlds, reality, and the Otherworld, so while the Otherworld type of stuff felt like adventuring in various locales and felt almost like a fantasy adventure, the stuff that takes place in reality, which eventually seeps into Otherworld, is more of a contemporary thriller, with a technological edge to it. Both worlds have their complexities, which really add to the depths this story goes.

Predictability: This story (and by extension its authors) does a great job of subverting expectations. I think a lot of that has to do with the rather vague synopsis, but that really does help to catch you off guard with the numerous twists and turns this story takes before even getting fully set up. Once the story takes off it does keep you on your toes. As for my reactions to the twists this story has in store, well honestly I didn't see a whole lot of them coming and that made it a rather wild ride. There were things I had vague notions about that were cleared up and cemented but in a way that still managed to make my jaw drop.

Ending: The ending to this story is really great. How the authors decided to tackle the final climax, or should I say climaxes? here was done really well. These characters really shone as the climax went down and I really loved where things left off at the end of it all. As for the epilogue, this story had, well it sort of felt unnecessary, I mean we do get to see some of the fall out from the final climax, but not enough that it couldn't have been in the beginning of the next installment.

Rating:


This story is an addictive and wild ride from start to finish. I can't wait to see where the authors are taking the characters and the story in the next installment!

About the Authors:


New York Times bestselling author Jason Segel used to have nightmares just like Charlie, and just like Charlie, he's learned that the things we're most afraid of are the things that can make us strong...if we're brave enough to face them. Jason likes acting, writing, making music, and hanging out with his friends. Sometimes he writes movies. Sometimes he writes songs for movies. Sometimes he stars in those movies and sings those songs. You might know him from The Muppets and Despicable Me. Your parents might know him from other stuff. Nightmares! is his first novel.



I write books.

Some of my books are what librarians call middle grade. (Kiki Strike, Nightmares!)

Some should be kept away from small children and people with weak stomachs. (How to Lead a Life of Crime, The Eternal Ones, Otherworld)

I write some books with Jason Segel.

I've written quite a few books on my own.

I'm an Aquarius.

My favorite food is cauliflower. (No joke.)

I will eat almost anything. And I'm weirdly proud of it.

I believe New York City is the most magical place on earth.

I love Dolly Parton and David Attenborough. Equally.

I cannot sing or play any musical instruments.

I'm obsessed with sewers and sanitation systems.

I once broke into a Mayan temple with my brother, Spike.

Spike is an alias. It's not his real name.

I also have a sister. She prefers to remain anonymous.

We have the same birthday.

Yes, that sucks.

I think that's all you need to know.


Giveaway!


3 winners will receive a finished copy of OTHERWORLD, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



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Friday, October 6, 2017

Book Review: The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #3)

Release Date: October 3, 2017
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Length: 432 pages
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

Magnus Chase, a once-homeless teen, is a resident of the Hotel Valhalla and one of Odin's chosen warriors.

As the son of Frey, the god of summer, fertility, and health, Magnus isn't naturally inclined to fighting. But he has strong and steadfast friends, including Hearthstone the elf, Blitzen the dwarf, and Samirah the Valkyrie, and together they have achieved brave deeds, such as defeating Fenris Wolf and battling giants for Thor's hammer, Mjolnir.

Now Magnus and his crew must sail to the farthest borders of Jotunheim and Niflheim in pursuit of Asgard's greatest threat. Will they succeed in their perilous journey, or is Ragnarok lurking on the horizon

    

Review:

Protagonist: Magnus Chase, a once homeless teen, now resides at Hotel Valhalla and after Loki gets free it's up to him and his friends to stop Loki and by extension Ragnarok, all in a day's work right? I love Magnus so much, his sarcastic sense of humor practically sings to my pessimistic side. In this story, Magnus does have some great character development, though it isn't much because while Magnus definitely has flaws, they aren't exactly the types of flaws that could be changed in one installment, and honestly, they aren't completely bad flaws, more the "it makes him more human" kind. As for his character development in this story, well I can't really describe it without giving some spoilers away, so I'll just say that it's pretty freaking fantastic.

World Building: So, I debated writing a romance section and as you can see there isn't one. There is romance in this book, just a bit, but not enough spoiler free romance to write a whole section on, but all I feel comfortable saying is that it's amazing! Now, with that out of the way, there's a great deal of world building in this story. First, there is a cameo appearance from everyone's favorite son of Poseidon and while he's not in the story for very long, I was perfectly fine with that, a check in was all I wanted and it was a pretty hilarious time. We get to see more of the Nine Worlds and even meet some extended family of Magnus's as well as tie up a few loose ends from the previous installment, things I didn't quite expect to see tied up. The new myths that we learn aren't anything new for me, but they were still entertaining nonetheless and there is even a part of this book that parallels a Celtic myth and that may or may not have made me squeal, more because I recognized it and less because it was in the story though that was cool too.

Predictability: So, I didn't really feel like there was a whole lot of foreshadowing, at least not foreshadowing that didn't feel purposely too revealing, but that never bothered me. I was definitely in it more for the ride and what a ride it was. There are a few twists and turns in this book that had my heart racing, or that made squeal like a fangirl at a convention, or fanboy I guess. There was one scene where romancy things were kind of sort of happening, but I wasn't too sure so jokingly I said to my book (and the characters inside,) "Now kiss." AND THEY DID! I felt pretty proud of that one!

Ending: So, the final climax of this book was a little cheesy for me. Don't get me wrong it was awesome and I loved every minute of it, but there was a quality to it that just felt a little too Middle Grade. I wasn't expecting a bloodbath of battle or anything but how things go down, and how Loki is defeated just skewed a bit too young for me, still loved it just not as much as I had hoped. Now, the cooldown period was perfect, I felt like Riordan did a fantastic job at wrapping up most of the dangling threads of this series, but... I still came away from it feeling as though I had read a cliffhanger. There are a few things brought up in the very end that I'm not sure if they're supposed to have a "this has ended, but life moves on" feel or an "A Spin-Off is Coming" feel. Personally, if there are more Magnus book(s) I think one more would suffice, but we'll cross the Bifrost when we come to it I guess.

Rating:


YES! I can finally give a book in this series 5 stars. Don't get me wrong, I loved the other books in this series, but I did have minor problems with them that were extremely hard to overlook, but this installment had nearly everything I wanted and more!

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Book Review: The Vampire Fate (Dark World: The Vampire Wish #4)

Release Date: October 5, 2017
Author: Michelle Madow
Publisher: Dreamscape Publishing
Length: TBA
Source: ARC from Author

The vampire queen is dead.

Annika shouldn’t have been able to kill the vampire queen Laila—such a task can only be done by the Nephilim, whose race is extinct. But somehow, she did kill the queen. Now she’s the number one target on multiple hit lists, and she’s only alive because she’s a fugitive at the neutral kingdom of the Haven.

As if that weren’t enough to deal with, the world is in danger and she’s the one prophesied to save it. But she doesn’t have to do it alone. When fate brings her and Prince Jacen together again, they team up on a quest to find the only object that can save the world as they know it—the Holy Grail itself.

The adventure continues in the fourth book of The Vampire Wish series, and get ready to brace yourselves, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

  

Review:

Characters: I seriously love the characters in this story. I mean, as much of an ax wound as Camelia is, there's a small part of me that really and truly wants her to have a happy ending, one that doesn't conflict with the more heroic characters that is. While for the most part, this is still Annika's story, and boy what a story it is, Karina definitely rules the second half of this book and the lengths that she'll go to to get her soulmate Peter back are staggering. Her mission takes a few twists and turns in this story and where it ended up had me gasping for air. Annika, after kind of, sort of, accidentally killing Queen Laila flees to the Haven where she learns of her Nephilim blood and what that means for her fate. She embarks on a dangerous quest that will determine the fate of the world and I loved every minute of it. Annika is a strong and capable character and watching her adjust to her newfound abilities, and her reactions to said abilities, is fantastic.

Romance: After the end of the previous installment, where Jacen learns that not only did Annika not die as he thought, but she deceived him for reasons he doesn't quite know or understand, their romance is sort of left up in the air. It doesn't take too long to know where things lie with these characters. The romance in this book isn't the building of relationships, in fact, all in all, most of the romances in this series have already been established and now they just get the chance to evolve and strengthen, or weaken should that be the case. I liked seeing Annika and Jacen interact truly as each other, and there were a few moments that really solidified why I root for them as a couple. As I said above, Karina will stop at next to nothing to be reunited with her soulmate, but she's bonded with Noah, the First Prophet, and that bond may or may not be romantic, throwing a possible wrench into her plans. Will she drop her mission to try and find love again, or will she risk it all for the smallest of chances to raise the dead?

World Building: So, I'll say that this story doesn't feel as much like filler (without actually being filler) as The Vampire Prince did, and honestly there is enough of a story for me to not even think of describing it as anything even adjacent to filler, but I did feel like there was something in this book. I think because I still feel like there's more to tell for just one more book, as this series is tentatively a five book series, and soon the whole it feels like it's missing something. As for what is in this story though, there's quite a bit. We learn a whole lot more about the Nephilim and the supernatural community at large. We learn more about the origins of certain supernatural(s) and there's some serious magic in this tale. Things are definitely coming to a head, though I was sad that there was no more plot progression on the cliffhanger twist at the end of the previous installment... maybe that's what was missing.

Predictability: In terms of things with actual foreshadowing to them, I pretty much nailed those "twists," I mean part of me doesn't even want to call them twists since the author's biggest twists don't usually have that much, if any, foreshadowing to them, and, well, this book had a few great twists. There are a few really interesting twists in this story that will be interesting to see explored as this series comes to a close and I can already see some seeds for the extensions to this world.

Ending: So, this ending is neither as anticlimactic as the previous one, nor does it have as mind-shattering of a cliffhanger. There is a cliffhanger, as this author loves to torture her readers, though she writes books quickly so it's not like there's a long wait, and this cliffhanger is more of one to really ponder on the ramifications rather than freak out over some big reveal. The final climax of this story is fantastic, and while I would have liked a bit less of a straight up cliffhanger on one character's story, overall I'm excited to see where this all leads.

Rating:


I'm honestly shocked I'm giving this book 5 stars, but looking back on it, even if there feels like something's off, it's not a big enough thing to get annoyed over since it probably won't be that long of a wait for the next (final?) book, and even though sometimes elements of this story might feel a tad derivative (something I didn't go into in this review to avoid spoilers) it's still a fun adventure and an exciting ride!

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Monday, October 2, 2017

Blog Tour Book Review: Sparked + GIVEAWAY!


Release Date: October 3, 2017
Authors: Helena Echlin & Malena Watrous
Publisher: Geek and Sundry
Length: 310 pages
Source: Review Copy for Tour

Fifteen-year-old Laurel Goodwin wakes up to find her older sister Ivy missing from their Airstream trailer in the Oregon redwoods. A recurring nightmare convinces her that Ivy was abducted, but no one takes her dream seriously, including her mom. Laurel, a loner, has to learn to ask for help, and Jasper Blake, a mysterious new kid who shares her love of old books, quickly becomes her ally. Together they find their quiet town holds a deep secret and is the epicenter of a dark prophecy.

Laurel soon learns that her worst enemies, mean girls Peyton Andersen and Mei Rosen, are developing powers that she needs to find and save Ivy. With time running out, Laurel realizes that power doesn't always take the form that you expect. And once she learns to look beyond her snap judgments, she develops an unexpected gift of her own.

    

Review:

Protagonist: Laurel wakes up to find her sister Ivy is missing, trying to rationalize it to herself she keeps a pretty level head for most of the day, but with her sister not back by that night, a suspicious note left that explains her sister's absence with a vague explanation and a dream where Ivy is being held in a dark and grim cellar or basement, Laurel suspects her sister has been kidnapped but no one seems to believe her. The only people that might have a chance to help her are the new bay in school that shares her love of older books and the two girls that have made her life hell since elementary school. I liked Laurel a lot as a character, I did feel she fell into the whole self-deprecating protagonist role a bit much sometimes, but overall I really did like her character development. I liked seeing her really begin to come into her own and take control of her life. There was something so indulgent about watching someone figure things out and mature in a week.

Romance: As for the romance I wasn't a huge fan. The romance between Laurel and Jasper felt very cliche and by the numbers. It felt like your typical paranormal romance and there wasn't really anything to set it apart. Honestly, there isn't all that much romance in this book, and ironically I think that's where it suffers. There wasn't enough time to build the romance between these two characters, and while it's understandable why the authors chose not to, it was kind of sad that the chemistry between these two characters, which there wasn't all that much of, never really got to achieve its full potential.

World Building: Going into this book I was expecting a YA paranormal thriller. A girl gets possibly kidnapped and her sister needs to find out what happened to her. However, this story wasn't nearly as dark as I expected it to be, which is fine, but this isn't really a thriller by any means, it reads far more like a standard paranormal book with a bit of a mystery aspect. I really like the paranormal elements to this tale and how the powers of each individual character work. Even though this is told from the first person POV of Laurel we do get a few chapters told from the third person POV of other characters such as Peyton and Mei and we learn more about how they get their powers and how they work which is really interesting. This book takes place in Oregon, which is a reason I decided to give it a try and I really like the woodsy feel this story has, granted I live in a big city in Oregon, but there's so much greenery that it's nearly impossible to not understand what things must look like in this town. The world really came alive as I read the book and everything was very easy to grasp.

Predictability: When it comes to the twists in this book it's pretty easy to see what they are from a fair distance. The thing is that the foreshadowing is just way too obvious. I felt like things should have been a bit more subtle so that the twists could really pack a punch, but every time it felt like the twist was given away far too soon by something that could have been completely avoided. That being said there are a few good twists in this book, but nothing that made it stand out.

Ending: So... is this a standalone or part of a series. On the whole, it feels like a standalone. The final climax felt very final and was quite an interesting showdown. The cooldown period was also really well done answering a few lingering questions and leaving pretty much nothing left to hold onto, but suddenly out of nowhere comes a cliffhanger like ending and I have no idea where things would go from here. I'm not against a sequel, but I wish I knew whether this was an artistic choice the authors made for a standalone, or if there really is a sequel coming.

Rating:


The characters and world building really saved this book for me. I really enjoyed the story, even if it could be a tad predictable at times, and am interested to see what these authors write next because other than one thing, this story seems perfectly wrapped up.

About the Authors:



Hello! We are both novelists, but if you've ever tried to write anything, you know that writing can be a lonely, angst-filled business. So one night over a cocktail or two, we came up with a solution: write our next book together. Malena already had an idea: a girl's sister is kidnapped and she has to rely on mean girls with superpowers to get her sister back. We couldn't resist seeing where that story would take us – a wild ride that includes a loner girl who wants to be a writer and a gorgeous boy who can shoot fire from his eyes but also loves to talk about books. And an ancient Zoroastrian prophecy. And pie shakes. (OK, so maybe we got a little carried away.)
We've both published solo novels (check them out here and here) and had no idea how co-writing would work out, but we pounded out the first draft in a white-hot frenzy of inspiration we called "the Vortex." One of us would write a scene and send it to the other with a note: "My apartment is a pigsty and I haven't eaten all day. #inthevortex." We wrote the book we wanted to read as teenagers: a supernatural thriller with healthy doses of horror and humor. Oh, and of course there's romance. You have to wait a long time for the only kiss in the book, but isn't that the case with all the best kisses in books?

Giveaway!


Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of SPARKED, US Only.

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Book Review: Mean Girls: A Novel

Release Date: September 12, 2017
Author: Micol Ostow
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Length: 304 pages
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

You know the story--or do you?

Cady Heron grew up homeschooled in Africa with scientist parents as her teachers, monkeys as her classmates and the African plains as her playground. But when her family moves to the suburbs of Illinois, she finds herself a stranger in a strange land: high school.

With no prior research to guide her, Cady's forced to figure out North Shore High all on her own. Suddenly she finds herself sucked into Girl World as a new member of the social elite dubbed "The Plastics." Cady discovers that unlike the wild, Girl World doesn't have any rules--especially when you maybe, possibly, okay definitely, have a giant crush on their ruthless leader's ex-boyfriend. Turns out, life in high school might be even more brutal than a showdown on the Savannah.

Based on the screenplay by Tina Fey, this retelling of the cult classic film includes tons of extra, never-before-seen bonus content.

    

Review:

Reviewer's Note: So, it's obvious that this isn't an original work of fiction. The movie this novel is based on is a cult classic film and I have yet to meet a person who hasn't seen it. Because of that, I won't be reviewing the story in this book, but more of a look at how well the story was adapted for this novel.

"Behind the Scenes" Extras: This book is riddled with North Shore Announcements, School Newspaper Articles, text messages between characters and other random extra little bits. At first, it felt a bit awkward because it mostly felt like a way for the author to inject forced easter eggs into the story, however later I came to really enjoy them as they started to feel more like a peek behind the curtain and showing a wider look at the larger story and the bits of the story that we might not have seen watching the movie.

General Adaptation Notes: Okay, so this is mostly a faithful novelization of the movie, however, there are minor changes and additions to the movie. The minor changes didn't bother me that much, only really one time during the first 3-way calling attack where a now infamous line is changed to make more sense. However, it was the additions to the tale that really got me in the end. There aren't too many and really only one that stuck with me, the fact that we actually see what happens after Cady visits Regina after her bus accident, and it really felt like it could have been in the movie, there's even a line that made me seriously crack up.

Audiobook Notes: So, even though Scholastic generously provided me with a physical review copy, I decided to listen to the audiobook through my local library and honestly I wish I hadn't. The performance wasn't so bad that I would have stopped listening to it, obviously, but it seriously felt that either the narrator hadn't ever seen the movie, or that she was trying to put her own spin on the characters which seriously rubbed me the wrong way. The characters sounded nothing like their movie counterparts and at times they sounded too similar to each other and if I hadn't seen the movie about a hundred times I might have gotten confused on who was talking. The audiobook won't factor into my overall rating, but I thought I'd let you know my experience with it.

Rating:


Sorry for such a short review but without reviewing the actual story there wasn't all that much to talk about. I did like all the little extras and while there were a few moments that rubbed me the wrong way in the text, I don't really fault the author for trying to make a narrative choice. The additions felt seamless and the characters really felt like the ones from the movie. Overall, if you're a fan of the movie this book is definitely a fun and interesting ride.

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