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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Dark Prophecy (The Trials of Apollo #2)

Release Date: May 2, 2017
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Length: 432 pages
Source: Purchased Book

Zeus has punished his son Apollo—god of the sun, music, archery, poetry, and more—by casting him down to earth in the form of a gawky, acne-covered sixteen-year-old mortal named Lester. The only way Apollo can reclaim his rightful place on Mount Olympus is by restoring several Oracles that have gone dark. What is affecting the Oracles, and how can Apollo do anything about them without his powers?

After experiencing a series of dangerous—and frankly, humiliating—trials at Camp Half-Blood, Apollo must now leave the relative safety of the demigod training ground and embark on a hair-raising journey across North America. Fortunately, what he lacks in godly graces he's gaining in new friendships—with heroes who will be very familiar to fans of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series. Come along for what promises to be a harrowing, hilarious, and haiku-filled ride. . . .

    

Review:

Protagonist: Apollo has overcome his trial at Camp Half-Blood and restored the Grove of Dodonna, now he and his new companions Leo and Calypso head to Indianapolis to restore another Oracle to help restore Apollo's god-deficiency problem. Honestly, out of all the first person POVs that Riordan has written, I have to love Apollo the best. That juxtaposition between his hubris and reality is hysterical and yet, it's that cold harsh reality that lets this newly mortal god have some real character development for probably the first time in four thousand years. What makes these moments of humility so great is that usually, it's because of the choices Apollo made as a deity, not his fragility as a mortal which adds some great depth and empathy to his character that doesn't seem like it would just all go away once, or if, he should ever regain his divinity.

World Building: Out of the two Trials of Apollo books, I'd have to say that the first one is better. It's not that this story isn't great, but the first installment had all of the things I was looking for, classic Greek myths that were recognizable to me, checking in with some of my favorite characters from the previous series, and seeing it all from the perspective of one of the most iconic Greek gods. Now this book technically hit all of those marks, but just not as well. The myths and history to this story were far more obscure and while I loved learning about new myths, there wasn't enough that I recognized to invest me in the story even more. Though I have to say that at least on the history aspect and the Roman Emperor we meet in this story I do like that Apollo had a more personal connection with him. As for checking in with old characters, this story, obviously, includes fan favorite character Leo Valdez, and his newly mortal girlfriend Calypso, as well as one other old character that I'll not disclose to keep their appearance more of a surprise. While Leo and Calypso did help out Apollo quite a bit, I felt that their role was more of an epilogue to their story than an actual contribution to the narrative of Apollo's trials. Plus, in the previous story, it was exciting to see a teenage mortal Apollo hanging out with his kids which didn't really happen here. Overall though it was still an exhilarating story set in a world of rich classic stories, myths, and history so it was still a home run, just not a grand slam.

Predictability: Since the influence for this tale; the myths, and history, is so obscure it was hard to find enough of a theme to see where things were going. In fact, even when I caught on to the main themes of this adventure, it the author does a fantastic job of subverting expectations to provide a wild and crazy ride filled with twists and turns that I wasn't really expecting at all. Now, there were still, of course, basic and grand vague things that I could pretty much count on happening or in some cases, not happening, that it wasn't like this story completely dumped all modern storytelling conventions and formulas in favor of a story that while shocking wouldn't be satisfying. I have to hand it to Riordan, he's been writing these books for a while and he really knows just which tropes and expectations need a bit of a twist to keep things interesting.

Ending: The ending this story is really where a lot of the subversion of tropes comes into play. Don't get me wrong, it's not an insane roller coaster ride, well not really, but it's more that after the first book in this series I had a set idea about how this story would end, on a grand vague scale at least, and while there were quite a few things that I was able to guess right, things still didn't go quite the way I had expected. The final climax was really amazing and had a ton of fabulous tension building everything up to a great head. Then we're treated to some foreshadowing of upcoming events and see just where this story will be going next and some clues to who we'll come upon in the next adventure.

Rating:


So, I know I kind of ragged on this book for not being as good as the first, but it's still a stellar addition to this series. Apollo's character development alone deserves the five stars, but with an author that knows just how to formulate a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat without things becoming too chaotic, I mean, what more is there to ask for, plus the next book seems to have a huge load of potential.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Book Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

Release Date: May 2, 2017
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Length: 705 pages
Source: Purchased Book

Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin's maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

    

Review:

Protagonist: Feyre, High Lady of the Night Court, entered the Spring Court with one purpose, to discover what Hybern is up to and what it will take to bring them down. Tearing apart Tamlin's Court in the process, well that's mostly for fun. As Hybern prepares to launch an attack and bring down the wall separating humans and Fae, Feyre will need every bit of power, cunning, and skill she's gained since killing a Fae wolf in the woods to even hope to come out of it alive. Feyre starts off this book as a wolf in sheep's clothing, playing her part in the Spring Court to gather as much information as she can on Hybern before escaping back to her home and her family waiting for her. I seriously love how far Feyre has come in this series and this installment is a testament to that. Her mind is keen and she'll do anything and everything to protect those she loves. I started off this series hoping that Feyre would be a badass warrior, but I think it was much more fun watching her transformation from Fae hating huntress to powerful Fae warrior.

Romance: Honestly, there isn't all that much more that can happen with the romance between Feyre and Rhysand, their love is strong and it's been forged in even the hottest of fires, so going into this book there's not as much romantic development between the two, more moments that are a testament to their love. There are romances involving the friends and family around them, that while not taking center stage fill that void of needed development. I was surprised with how these romances unfolded over the course of the book and felt that where things ended up was very realistic and well written.

World Building: Ah, the world building for this book is fantastic. We see so much more from this world than I expected to see and as we follow Feyre's journey we venture back to places we've already seen with new information and context to show just how intricate and amazing this world is. We learn more about the history of this world, what went down in the last war, and how the past can help shape the future. Even with how much more we get to experience this world, there's still so much more to discover and I cannot wait for future installments in this series, no matter who they follow to discover even more about this rich and wonderous world.

Predictability: Dear lord, there are a lot of twists and turns this story takes. Many of the twists have some sort of foreshadowing to them, to help them feel more real and so we as readers don't interpret them as Deus Ex Machinas that undercut how amazing this story is. There are also plenty of twists that have no foreshadowing, twists that had there been any foreshadowing would have ruined it in some ways or another. Now I won't say that there aren't any moments that felt a bit too convenient or that I felt shouldn't have gone a different way, but looking at everything as a whole those moments are so small in comparison that I don't mind them at all.

Ending: The ending of this book played out in so many ways that I wasn't expecting. At its core, the ending is how I've always hoped it would be and yet how things transpired and how the war with Hybern turned out, in the end, I have to say I never quite saw it all coming. The final climaxes of this book were phenomenal, every moment of it fraught with tension and wondering. There are quite a few plot points that weren't wrapped up in a nice and neat little bow. Things that I could easily see becoming the focus of future installments and while I bask in how amazing this arc to the story ended, I also cannot wait to see what else has yet to come.

Rating:


As far as "final" books in series go, this book was spectacular. It hit all the right notes and while there are definitely things left hanging off a cliff, this arc of the story ended in an epic, non-idyllic way that spoke to me on so many different levels.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Blog Tour Book Review Re-Post: We Were Liars Deluxe Edition


Release Date: May 23, 2017
Author: E. Lockhart
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Length: 272 pages
Source: Library Book

The New York Times bestseller We Were Liars is now available as a not-to-be-missed hardcover deluxe edition! Whether you know how it ends (shh . . . don t tell!) or have let too many seasons go by without discovering the truth about the Liars for yourself, you will want to get your hands on the exclusive new content in this deluxe edition.

A beautiful and distinguished family.

A private island.

A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.

A group of four friends the Liars whose friendship turns destructive.

A revolution. An accident. A secret.

Lies upon lies.

True love.

The truth.


We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. In addition to the bestselling novel, the collectors edition includes:

  • Never-before-shared letters from Gat to Cadence
  • A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the author's creative process
  • The author s hand-drawn map of Beechwood Island and the Sinclair family tree
  • Unique ideas for book discussions Sinclair family style
  • An excerpt from E. Lockhart s upcoming novel Genuine Fraud a psychological thriller that will leave you breathless


Read it.

And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

    

Review:

Protagonist: Cadence Sinclair Eastman lives a charmed life. She comes from a long line of Old Money Blue-blood Democrats. She spends every summer on her family's private island with her cousins who, along with herself, have been deemed "The Liars." Now though, now she is broken. After an accident that leaves her with splitting migraines and amnesia about most of her summer Cadence goes back to her family's island two years later to try and figure out what happened. While I was reading the book Cady never really felt privileged. She never fit into rich girls stereotypes or felt that anything was owed her just because her family had money. This made her a very likable character in the face of her mother and aunts who flaunt their privilege like it's something they built instead of something built for them. Cady is very well-meaning and intelligent, but she's flawed in more ways than just her amnesia and migraines. She sometimes makes reckless and foolish choices and feels that she did the right thing in the end.

Romance: So very early on in this story it's established that Cady and Gat, the nephew of her aunt's long time live in boyfriend and also one of her fellow "Liars," are in love. Sure we see a bit of them falling in love here and there, but really this book almost starts out with an established love between the two. Normally I detest this sort of romance as it robs the reader from seeing the love grow, another reason why I hate insta-love besides it being unrealistic. However, this books overcame this in two ways. First off there are flashbacks that illustrate their romance and how it grows throughout the book in tandem with moments in the present, and the romance is such a small facet of the book that it feels so much more meaningful in the moments that it's there.

World-Building: So going into this book all I ever heard about it was that it was best to go in blind, to not know anything about the book going in, and I'm calling BS on that right now. Look, I get wanting to keep an air of mystery to this book, but there isn't anything that happens in even the first half of the book that I would consider shocking or well deserving of a blind dive into the book. In fact, I had so many expectations for this book going in that when it started I was so confused about what I was reading exactly that it took me a while to really get into it. Do you want to know what this book is about? It's about a girl from a seemingly perfect family who after a terrible accident and being away for a summer comes back to find out that things have changed and she needs to put together what happened two years before to make sense of the present.

Predictability: On the whole this book didn't seem too unpredictable in the beginning, though there were a few moments where I misread something and thought something crazy had happened, such as when Cady's father leaves their family and she compares it to being shot in the chest and I thought for a minute that her father actually pulled out a gun and shot her in the chest. However, as the story really hit it's stride things became much more mysterious and when the ending came about I do have to say that it was something I don't ever think I would have seen coming.

Ending: So the synopsis for the book says that if anyone asks me about the ending that I should lie. Well, I'm not going to do that. I won't tell you what happens of course, but I will give my general and vague feelings towards the end of this novel. So, in the end, there's a huge game changing twist as I said above and it's something that I will admit I cried over, not an ugly cry or weeping, but I did tear up quite a bit. I won't say whether it was a happy cry or a sad one, but I would caution tissues if you're prone to be emotional when reading books. The very end left nothing up in the air, of course, part of me still wonders how everyone's lives ended up, but there's only so much that I could ask from a stand alone novel.

Rating:


So, I honestly debated about this rating when I finally finished the book. When I was only about 1/3-1/2 of the way through I was only going to give it a 4-4.5 star rating, and I've never given a book a higher rating than my initial feelings (at least I don't think I have), but if there's any book that deserves it, it would be this one. How everything comes together, in the end, is absolutely amazing and made me go back to see all of the little things I hadn't given much thought to before.


About the Author:



I am the author of We Were Liars,  Fly on the Wall, Dramarama, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and the Ruby Oliver quartet: The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book,  The Treasure Map of Boys, and Real Live BoyfriendsHow to Be Bad was co-written with Lauren Myracle and Sarah Mlynowski.

Disreputable History was a Printz Award honor book, a finalist for the National Book Award, and recipient of the Cybils Award for Best Young Adult Novel. We Were Liars is a New York Times bestseller. It won the Goodreads Choice Award and was Amazon's #1 YA novel of 2014.

I have a doctorate in English literature from Columbia University. My field was 19th-century British novel.  In 2013 I chaired the committee on Young People's Literature for the National Book Awards. I currently teach creative writing at Hamline University’s low-residency MFA program in Writing for Children.


Giveaway:


Giveaway Details:
3 winners will receive deluxe edition copies of WE WERE LIARS, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Book Review: A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2)

Release Date: May 3, 2016
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Length: 626 pages
Source: Purchased Book

Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

    

Review:

Protagonist: Feyre survived her ordeal with Amarantha, well... more or less. Now she's High Fae, but she still feels and hurts for what happened Under the Mountain, the things she had to do to free the land of Prythian from Amarantha's clutches. She also has new and strange powers to learn to control and discover for herself. Feyre's development throughout this story is stunning. I mean, she's almost a completely different person by the end. The development still feels realistic, but since this book is so long there's plenty of time for her to grow and develop by the end. I loved Feyre's development so much she really comes into her own in this story and this story is really a defining chapter for Feyre.

Romance: I want to talk about this romance, but I'm not sure what would be too spoilery and honestly since it's such a long book I could really only talk in detail about the very beginning. Let's just say there's a lot of romantic drama in this book. A love triangle of sorts does form, though by the end it's obvious what's become of that love triangle. I will say one thing though. The romance for this book did hit an overkill moment where I sort of felt like the author was trying too hard to sell me on the romance and it all felt very unnecessary and honestly sort of undercut some moments that happened in the past that were better without that extensive knowledge.

World Building: The world building in this story is also fantastic. I feel like we got to see so much more of the world than we did in the first book. We learn the secrets of the Night Court as Feyre's bargain with Rhysand is called in and the Night Court is very interesting. I don't want to give too much away but the Night Court is a finely tangled web. We also get to see other parts of this world, though I can't talk about that too much since, spoilers, but we do get to see other Courts, and the main focus of this series truly comes into view. There's so much that we get to explore in this world and there are so many questions I had about this world in the first book, and while not all of them were answered, quite a few were.

Predictability: I went into this story knowing a lot more about this story than I think I was meant to. First off, I watched a few booktubers' thoughts on the book and I knew where the romance was going and when I went to go pre-order my copy of ACOWAR, my gaze slipped and I knew where things, on a broad scale were going to end up, though I only read the first line so I didn't know that much. Still, I went into this book feeling like there wasn't a whole lot that could surprise me. Boy, did I get that wrong. The twists in this book were everything, I mean some of them there was foreshadowing for, but most of those were connected to what I already knew. No, it was the ones that came completely out of the blue that rocked me to my very core. The adrenaline running through my system isn't quite gone yet and I finished this book nearly an hour ago.

Ending: This ending utterly destroyed me. I mean, I've said that before and while I still stand by that, this is another level entirely. I'm so happy I waited until like right before ACOWAR releases to read this book. As of writing this, it's after midnight on the first of May, so I still have to wait for a day to get the next book and even that feels like too long. There are quite a few twists in the end of this book and while I was able to call, maybe one, the rest blew me away and helped set up what the next book will entail. There's a horrible, shame-on-the-author cliffhanger ending that I think I would still be mad over even if ACOWAR was sitting right next to me.

Rating:


Look, this book isn't PERFECTION or anything, there are some things I felt it did wrong, but the rest of it is so deliciously addicting that it's a definite 5 stars for me! I NEED A Court of Wings and Ruin in my hands this second!

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Monday, May 1, 2017

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1)

Release Date: May 5, 2015
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Length: 421 pages
Source: Purchased Book

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

    

Review:

Protagonist: One thing I can always count on Sarah J Maas for it seems is a strong heroine. While Feyre isn't nearly the badass from the start that Celaena is in the Throne of Glass series, she definitely has a lot of promise. Feyre is just trying to keep her family together after her father loses all his money. One day while out hunting for food she kills a rather large wolf to keep it from killing her own prey. Soon though a beast comes by seeking retribution for the wolf, who's revealed to be one of the fae. Feyre leaves with him for Prythian, the faerie lands, and learns he is actually Tamlin, the High Lord of the Spring Court. Over the course of this story, Feyre's feelings and prejudices toward the fae slowly shift as she gets to know them. While she's not happy about being a captive and doesn't take it lying down, she begins to bond with the people of the Spring Court and with it's charming High Lord. While Feyre doesn't have the expert skill and battle prowess that Celaena has, she can definitely hold her own in a fight, and she's not easily swayed by pretty words and promises. I like Feyre's fire and am excited to see where the author takes her character.

Romance: So the romance in this story is a bit complicated, but I can't talk about the complicated stuff without talking about something that I would consider to be a spoiler, so let's just talk about the simple stuff. I really enjoyed Tamlin and Feyre's romance. It's nowhere near an insta-love, though it did move faster than I anticipated, but every milestone in their relationship feels earned. Feyre and Tamlin do have some great chemistry, Tamlin's cool elegance mixed with Feyre's fire makes for some intense and even comical, though in a good way, scenes between the two. One of the things I really enjoyed about this romance was how realistically it showed not only the romantic love between these two individuals but the lust as well. You rarely see lust explored in a YA novel, though there are some reasons to not consider this YA, however, it's refreshing to see as it adds another layer to the romance that makes it feel more realistic.

World Building: Beauty and the Best retelling! I mean those five words alone will probably convince me to read a book. This story does a great job at really driving that home while at the same time adding a fresh spin on the classic tale. I will admit that even though I was utterly entranced by the retelling aspects and the Fae world that we learn about over the course of many chapters while Feyre explores the Spring Court, the story itself does drag quite a bit. I mean, I'm not complaining too much because if the author had sped things up then the pacing of the book would have been off for a different reason. There is a bit of a speed up towards the end where a majority of the tension and action come to light. Even though I'm a huge fairy tale retelling nerd, I really did like the unique parts of this story as well. Even when we're past all the retelling elements there's plenty more story to tell and I can't wait to further explore this world.

Predictability: I swear nowadays when I read a retelling it gets too much into my head and I have a hard time separating what I think will happen because I know the fairy tale or myth or whatever it is and I can't focus on the foreshadowing that staring me right in the face. Don't get me wrong, there are a great many things in this story that I was able to predict, but the more creative ways to adapt this story I was completely blind on. There were a few things brought up that I'm not sure got fully revealed so I'm wondering if that might come up in future installments or if I just flat out missed something.

Ending: I was honestly surprised with how nicely wrapped up this ending was. I mean, I know it's a series and there are definitely some serious questions I want the answers to, but if this was it, if there were no sequels, I would be okay with that. That being said, luckily this isn't the end and we can explore this world and these characters further. The final climax of this story is seriously intense and I reveled in every minute of it. There's quite a bit that goes down and when the dust settles, well things happen. The cooldown period does feel very plateaued, and I wouldn't see a lot of people clamoring for the next book if they had to wait for some reason, but since I don't have to wait it's a nice time to take a breath before continuing on.

Rating:


While I did read this book slowly over a long period of time, while I was reading other books I might add, I did really enjoy this story and while it did slow down quite a bit in certain areas, I'm excited to learn more about this world and where our characters will go from here. Plus the retelling elements really didn't hurt my enjoyability AT ALL.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Book Review: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Momotaro #1)

Release Date: April 5, 2016
Author: Margaret Dilloway
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Length: 320 pages
Source: Library Audiobook

Xander Miyamoto would rather do almost anything than listen to his sixth grade teacher, Mr. Stedman, drone on about weather disasters happening around the globe. If Xander could do stuff he's good at instead, like draw comics and create computer programs, and if Lovey would stop harassing him for being half Asian, he might not be counting the minutes until the dismissal bell.

When spring break begins, at last, Xander plans to spend it playing computer games with his best friend, Peyton. Xander's father briefly distracts him with a comic book about some samurai warrior that pops out of a peach pit. Xander tosses it aside, but Peyton finds it more interesting.

Little does either boy know that the comic is a warning. They are about to be thrust into the biggest adventure of their lives-a journey wilder than any Xander has ever imagined, full of weird monsters even worse than Lovey. To win at this deadly serious game they will have to rely on their wits, courage, faith, and especially, each other. Maybe Xander should have listened to Mr. Stedman about the weather after all....

    

Review:

Protagonist: Xander Miyamoto would rather play video games with his best friend Peyton than pay attention when his teacher is droning on and on about global warming and the natural disasters happening around the world. However, after his father is taken away by a giant tidal wave, he discovers a startling family secret and goes on a journey to save his father, and possibly the world. Xander is a pretty standard MG protagonist. He's not too into school, he has a wild and vivid imagination, and what sets him apart makes him special. I honestly wish I could have connected better with Xander, I think MG aged readers would connect better with him, but as an adult I honestly found him to be a bit too whiny and self-deprecating.

World Building: So, while this is an MG book that deals with foreign folklore, I wasn't expecting it to be like a Rick Riordan book, though with it being from the same publisher maybe I had a bit of hope. It's definitely not as gripping as a Riordan novel, though maybe I wasn't in the right headspace when I read it or maybe I didn't have enough knowledge of Japanese folklore for it to really pop out and grip me. The Japanese folklore elements, especially the story of Momotaro, were interesting to encounter in the story. Whenever I did know what something was or recognize a Japanese word I did perk up a bit, but honestly, the pacing and storytelling was a bit more juvenile than I would have liked. Again, I think it'd be great for someone who is MG aged but wasn't as gripping for me as an adult.

Predictability: Something I noticed pretty early in this story is that the author is pretty heavy-handed with the foreshadowing. I understand that covers are chosen after a book is, at the very least, mostly completed, but after acknowledging something on the cover, I almost felt constantly beaten over the head with foreshadowing that hints at that reveal, and honestly I think it would have felt that way even if I had never seen the cover. There are a few other twists where the foreshadowing was heavy-handed, I think there was only one large twist that wasn't completely obvious way before its reveal and I was still able to figure it out long before the secret came out.

Ending: The ending of this story really isn't that bad. In fact, I can appreciate how everything came together in the end and I really did enjoy the final climax of the story. It had a great bit of action and tension, and even after what happens with the main threat there's still a great bit of gripping tension before the final cooldown period begins. I think if the book had gripped me more during the bulk of the story I would have been more invested in the ending, but objectively it is quite an exciting ending. The story does end with a rather predictable twist at the end, but it's a twist that I'll admit I'm a bit curious to discover more about.

Rating:


Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy this book quite a bit, but it just wasn't as gripping as I would have liked and the protagonist did rub me the wrong way from time to time. That being said the second book does sound pretty compelling and while I don't think I'll get to it right away as I had planned, I will try to get to it sometime next month.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Book Review: Four Weeks, Five People

Release Date: May 2, 2017
Author: Jennifer Yu
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Length: 384 pages
Source: ARC from Publisher

They're more than their problems

Obsessive-compulsive teen Clarissa wants to get better, if only so her mother will stop asking her if she's okay.

Andrew wants to overcome his eating disorder so he can get back to his band and their dreams of becoming famous.

Film aficionado Ben would rather live in the movies than in reality.

Gorgeous and overly confident Mason thinks everyone is an idiot.

And Stella just doesn't want to be back for her second summer of wilderness therapy.

As the five teens get to know one another and work to overcome the various disorders that have affected their lives, they find themselves forming bonds they never thought they would, discovering new truths about themselves and actually looking forward to the future.

     

Review:

Protagonists: This story has five first person POVs, which on its own is a serious challenge, but it really works in this story. While there is a central plot of sorts that these characters all participate in they each have their own trials and struggles and add serious depth to this story. It's funny but since this is a standalone novel, for some reason, I expected that the development of these characters would have been more dramatic and that by the end they'd be, well maybe not "cured," but better, but that's not how mental health works, and I appreciated that the author didn't provide an idyllic view of mental health, but, from what I could tell, a very real one. I can't say I necessarily loved all the characters because Mason could be severely insufferable, and Ben could be overly dramatic at times, even though I think I identified with Ben the most. I loved Stella's sardonic and sarcastic personality, though she does soften a bit as the story goes on. Clarissa feels like this sweet and innocent creature you want to protect from the world, but also hope she can find a way to stand on her own to feet. Andrew, who is probably my favorite character, but ironically it's more for his interactions with Stella than who he is as a character, though he is a pretty great character who adds a lot of comic relief to this story.

Romance: I don't know why but I went into this book expecting a romance, but I was unprepared for the romance that actually formed in this story. I don't want to say too much about it because I fear if I say too much it will shatter your experience of this romance. I will say though that I really respect how the author handled this romance. It's tricky to write a realistic story where people dealing with mental health issues are attracted to each other, but they still have to deal and work to overcome their own issues. I really liked the way the romance unfolded and how it added another element to the overall story and where these characters end up by the end of the book.

World Building: For those who do not know, I suffer from clinical depression as well as anxiety, so I feel I can only really comment on how well those aspects are portrayed in this story. I feel as though those aspects were portrayed in an extremely realistic way. There was a moment when a character has a complete breakdown and I could very easily relate to how he was feeling and it kind of scared me just how connected I felt to that character in that moment, even though the rational side of my brain was telling me he was being completely unreasonable. As for the other mental health issues addressed in this story, while I don't have first-hand experience with them, from what I understand about them the author did a great job of showing off these characters' struggles.

Predictability: Since the author takes such a realistic stance with this story it's not as if everything fits in that YA fiction formula, and instead there are twists that happen with no warning at all, or things that don't happen because this isn't some cheesy YA contemporary where everyone pairs off or discovers some hidden truth about the world. Instead, there is a bit of foreshadowing if you know where t look for it, and there are secrets that these characters keep that over the course of the story and as we get to know them, slowly come to light.

Ending: I feel a bit like this book tricked me. When I first received it I wrote it off as one of those deep, heavy, books that focus on serious topics and while they may be amazing, they really drain a lot out of you. However, I decided to read the first chapter and found there was a levity to the story and some humor to break up moments that could be very draining, and that pattern continued for quite a while. However, as the story got closer and closer to ending, those fluffy moments or those moments filled with comedy spread out more and things got pretty heavy. The ending to this book deals with some pretty intense stuff and while there are still moments of serenity or humor to break it up, I did feel pretty drained by the end of the book. It is a standalone story so I expected a wrapped up, but it's also a realistic story and while I'm not completely dying for another installment, there are still some things left up in the air.

Rating:


This book drained me good. I loved it so much and while I still have a few questions about some of the characters, I'm fine with this being a standalone, but I can't wait to see what this author will write next.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Blog Tour Book Review: The Sky Throne


Release Date: April 17, 2017
Author: Chris Ledbetter
Publisher: Month9Books
Length: 300 pages
Source: Ebook for Blog Tour Review

Duality dwells at every turn, and an adolescent Zeus will learn that all too well when Hyperion attacks his family on Crete.

When the dust settles, his mother is unconscious and his best friend left for dead.

Stacking epic insult upon fatal injury, Zeus discovers the woman who raised him is not his biological mother. But to ensure her safety while she recovers, a heavy-hearted Zeus leaves her behind to seek answers at Mount Olympus Preparatory Academia.

Zeus embarks on a quest to discover who ordered the attack on his home, avenge the death of his friend, and find his birth mother. When some of his new schoolmates vanish, Zeus's quest is turned upside down, and the only way to make things right is to access the power of The Sky Throne, confront a most dangerous enemy, and take his life back.

On his way to becoming king of the Greek gods, Zeus will learn to seize power, neutralize his enemies, and fall in love.

    

Review:

Protagonist: Zeus, supreme ruler of the gods, started out as a prankster mortal, or at least that's how this story goes. After an attack on his family, Zeus learns some harsh truths about his life, and the only way he can be safe is by going to Mount Olympus Prep. There he hopes to discover more about who he is and why his family was attacked. Gah, I feel that this author did a spectacular job at showing off a young Zeus. I mean, don't get me wrong, in mythology Zeus isn't a hero, in fact, most of Greek Mythology's problem could have been solved if Zeus just kept it in his pants, but for a book that shows off a heroic Zeus, this was a fantastic job. First off are his flaws, Zeus has a great many and while they are shown a bit softer here, I do like the little references to the Zeus I'm most familiar with. Then we have his strengths, this Zeus is much more compassionate than the one we normally see in Greek Myths, but I like it, it humanizes his character a bit more in ways other than flaws.

Romance: Another large characteristic is Zeus's lust for women. Granted, since this is a YA book, that lust is dampened quite a bit, but there are quite a few women that catch Zeus's eye. Now, honestly, I'm not quite sure where I stand on the romance in this book, because of how things ended up. Obviously, I won't give away spoilers, but for most of the book there seemed to be a love triangle blooming, and since I know my Greek Myths I knew more or less how it should end up, but how it did is another story. I guess all I'll say is that for the most part I really enjoyed the romance in this book. Zeus's bond with the women he romances is really strong and while I was a bit too distracted by how things end up in the myths, I can appreciate how they ended up in the story.

World Building: My biggest annoyance with this book was how it's presented. I mean, I should have known what I was getting into when the synopsis talked about Zeus going to a prep school, but I wasn't prepared for just how much mix between modern day and Ancient Greece there would be. The thing is, mixing modern day ideals and colloquial themes into an Ancient Greek or fantasy setting is something that shouldn't bleed into YA, at least in my opinion. I loved that sort of thing as a kid, but as I grew up it all felt very cheesy and kind of lazy. This story could have been one of two things, a modern day story about an underdog sports team facing up against their fierce rivals, in a loose retelling of the Titanomachy, or a high fantasy retelling of the Titanomachy. However, even though I wasn't a fan of the mixing, it did kind of get to me and the plot of this story, maybe because of the weird mixing or maybe in spite of that, was super addicting, I read nearly all of the book in one sitting, which I hadn't planned on doing, because I needed to know what happened next. This isn't a by the books retelling on any level and so getting to a much broader and interesting take on a classic myth was exciting.

Predictability: As I said this is by no means a by the numbers retelling. While I thought many times I would know where this story was going to go, with how this story is set up there were quite a few twists that I didn't see coming, mostly because I was clinging to what I know about Greek Mythology and didn't leave room in my brain to cover more creative ways this story could go. There was a fair bit of foreshadowing on a few things though and so while there was a great deal I couldn't predict, there were also some things that we very easy to predict.

Ending: Another concern I have with this story was how rushed the ending was. I mean, this is a standalone, but there were ways I could have easily seen it become a series or even just a duology. While the real final climax of this story was great and had a lot of great action and tension, I didn't think it was the actual final climax until what I thought would be the final battle was kind of just swept away at the end.

Rating:


This was probably the review I've debated about the most. I mean, I stand by my rating, but there's a lot to this book that bothered me, but at the end of the day despite all that I really did enjoy this story and I actually loved the changes from the myths.

About the Author:


Chris Ledbetter grew up in Durham, NC before moving to Charlottesville, VA in 11th grade. After high school, he attended Hampton University where he promptly “walked-on” to the best drum line in the conference without any prior percussion experience. He carried the bass drum for four years, something his back is not very happy about now.

After a change of heart and major, he enrolled in Old Dominion University and
earned his degree in Business Administration. He’s worked in various managerial and marketing capacities throughout his life. He taught high school for six years in Culpeper, VA, and also coached football.

He has walked the streets of Los Angeles and New York City, waded in the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and climbed Diamond Head crater on Hawaii and rang in the New Year in Tokyo, Japan. But he dreams of one day visiting Greece and Italy.


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