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Monday, June 18, 2018

Blog Tour Book Review: Cinderella's Inferno (Cinderella, Necromancer #2) + Giveaway!

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Release Date: May 29, 2018
Author: F.M. Boughan
Publisher: Month9Books
Length: 324 pages
Source: Review Copy for Tour

Purity cannot abide the darkness.

It’s been two years since Ellison defeated her stepsisters and sent her evil stepmother back into the Abyss.

Though she’s learning to control her dark magic and has spent time traveling with Prince William and bringing peace to the kingdom, one fact remains. She is a necromancer and he is a paladin of light. And so, the king refuses to give his blessing for them to marry.

To appease his father, William has begun to avoid her. But when even her younger brother Edward grows distant, Ellison learns her mother’s spirit has been visiting Edward in secret, threatening to overwhelm him with her own loneliness and longing. When Ellison accidentally touches her mother’s spirit, her tainted touch condemns her mother’s spirit to eternal damnation.

Ellison resolves to descend into hell to save her mother’s soul and bring her physical body back to the world of the living. William hopes this good deed will bring Ellison into favor and finally allow them to be wed.

But the journey through hell is fraught with peril. Temptations abound and the demons Ellison sent back to the Abyss are thirsty for revenge.

Evil cannot be defeated without sacrifice—but when that sacrifice means choosing between the ones Ellison loves and her very own life, how far is she willing to go to make her family whole again?

    

Review:

Protagonist: After the events of the first book, I wasn't anticipating that this would turn out to be a series, and so Ellison's development at the end of the previous installment felt like a good stopping point, and at the beginning of this book she feels well, very mature for her age. She's been on a few daring quests since we last saw her, in fact, it's been two years, and for a good chunk of this book, I wasn't sure where Ellison's character development was going or even if she is meant to have any here. See, this was because the moments that are meant to tease or nudge the reader into figuring out how she's growing as a person are kind of muddled. It makes sense by the end, but for most of this book, I wasn't sure what lesson Ellison would learn on her journey to hell and back. At first, I was kind of put off by this fact. While character development isn't something that should be blatantly obvious the lessons that the character learns from are supposed to resonate with the reader in some way and for most of this book I was confused. That this until later when everything clicks into place. The thing is though, I don't know if that was intentional or not, and having a lesson that's more blatantly stated after confusing and at times conflicting character building "lessons," even though I really did enjoy how Ellison's personal journey ended up unfolding, did irk me quite a bit throughout the story.

Romance: While there is romance in this book, and some really heartwarming and touching romance at that, there wasn't a whole lot of romantic development. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to see Ellison and William constantly bicker or have serious problems in their relationship and I love that the author shows a really healthy relationship between two people, full of trust and support, it's just that I wish there was a slightly bigger focus on some of the problem(s) in their relationship, not huge one(s,) by the way, that show up, especially when they leak into other aspects of the story and character development, as they kind of just show up, are resolved rather quickly once acknowledged, and move on.

World Building: THIS is where this story truly shines. However, even though I was critical of other elements in this story, I did still enjoy the majority of them, here's where I don't think I have a single problem, in fact, I loved everything in this book that had to do with expanding the world. First off, even though it's never explicitly stated that they're in Germany, I finally figured that part out, or at least I hope that's where Ellison and William's kingdom is, and we hear more about the world surrounding their kingdom, mainly in passing but it does help bring a sense of presence to the story. That's not even the meat of the story though, the bulk of this tale takes place in the Abyss, or the underworld, or, well, Hell. In a very creative retelling of "Dante's Inferno" we see our characters travel through the circles of hell, and while this isn't a very strict adaptation of the first part of The Divine Comedy, the changes that were made make sense to tell this story and honestly some of the changes, or more specifically, one of the combinations of elements from the Inferno, was very creative, and while it didn't affect the overall story, it was still something I marveled at the ingenuity of, even if it does feel fairly obvious, I've never thought of it or really seen it done. The Inferno really added to the horror factor in this book, and while I'm not one to be scared by words on a page (or screen as was the case here) even I got a few shivers at some of the descriptions.

Predictability: This book was hard to read in a lot of ways. Some of it comes from the mixed messages I got when it came to Ellison's character development, but sometimes I almost felt that I was led astray from the truth a lot more than I was nudged, gently or otherwise toward it. While I could pretty much figure everything out before it was (officially) revealed, there wasn't a whole lot of time between my realization and the confirmation. Overall, I really enjoyed the twists and turns in this book, though I do wish there was a tiny bit more foreshadowing, I think it would have helped tie the story together just a little bit better. It's weird asking for more foreshadowing when I felt the first installment had perhaps a tad too much.

Ending: Ah, the ending. Much like with the first installment there were a couple of moments that could fall into the final climax category, though more spaced out than previous. The first, which I understand isn't a part of the ACTUAL ending, but it counts for me, was seriously epic because this is where everything really starts to come together and there's a really nice emotional scene involved and the showdown during this climactic moment was exhilarating. The actual final climax was less exciting but no less entertaining. Then there's a much better cooldown period than the previous installment and we get to see a great many interesting things. That being said though, even though certain aspects of this story, and perhaps even Ellison's personal story come to a close at the end of this book, I still have questions that need to be answered, one in particular, so I really hope that we get another book in this world, whether from Ellison's POV or not, whether it's a sequel or a prequel, I just need answers!

Rating:


So yeah, I didn't love this story as much as the first one, but I did really enjoy what the author did with the story, whether intentional or not, and while I was feeling that this installment was a superfluous and unnecessary installment towards the beginning, by the end I was totally on board and was pretty annoyed when it ended, without a cliffhanger, yet still leaving me with so many questions.

About the Author:



F.M. Boughan is a bibliophile, a writer, and an unabashed parrot enthusiast. She can often be found writing in local coffee shops, namely because it’s hard to concentrate with a cat lying on the keyboard and a small, colorful parrot screaming into her ear. Her work is somewhat dark, somewhat violent, somewhat hopeful, and always contains a hint of magic.

You can follow Faith on Twitter (@FaithBoughan) for plenty of flailing about food (she likes to cook!), TV shows (she watches too many), and world dance (did you know she's been performing & instructing in Bollywood-style dance for over 8 years?).

Or catch her on Facebook where she just might post pictures of her adorable cat & bird... among other things.

F.M. Boughan is represented by Bill Contardi of Brandt & Hochman


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Friday, June 8, 2018

Book Review: My Plain Jane (The Lady Janies #2)

Release Date: June 26, 2018
Authors: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 464 pages
Source: Edelweiss eARC

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

    

Review:

Protagonists: Much like My Lady Jane, this story is told from 3, third-person, POVs, Charlotte Brontë, the author of the Jane Eyre that many of us are familiar with, who is best friends with this story's version of Jane. Charlotte is a very observant and sharp young woman, who hopes to secure a job with the Society for the Relocation of Wayward Spirits, this book's version of Ghostbusters, more or less, as well as continue on with a certain story she's been writing. Jane Eyre, our titular character, can see ghosts, a fact that she does her best to keep well hidden so that no one will think she's crazy, still she's a polite and good-hearted protagonist who ends up in the middle of a supernatural mystery. Then there's Alexander Blackwood, the star agent of the SRWS, who is in pursuit of talented agents to help bring the Society back into good favor with the Crown, or at the very least save them from possible ruin. Alexander is dedicated to his work, and to finding out who murdered his father. Honestly, I loved all of these characters, depending on what was going on I would gravitate toward one more than the others, but they are all fantastic, and I love that they aren't perfect, Jane is very stubborn, Charlotte is a tad bit selfish, and Alexander's pursuit of his father's murderer may blind him from the task at hand. All these characters are so extraordinary which made it almost impossible to not get sucked into this story.

Romance: So, the romance in this book isn't the focus of the story and I appreciated how obvious that was throughout the story. This is a fun supernatural adventure and ghost hunt first, but there is a bit of romance. I don't want to say too much about the romance, or possibly romances depending on your definition, in this book because the romance is involved in quite a few of the twists and turns in this book. I will say this though, the main romance sort of snuck up on me, and I really enjoyed that, I wasn't sure what to expect going in and what I came out with was a really well paced and enjoyable romance. The romance wasn't as fast-paced or electric as most YA books are, or try to be, since this takes place in a Pre-Victorian era and there is the pressure of propriety. Still, once I got my bearings on the romance I really rooted for the couple and loved their scenes together.

World Building: So, I'm going to level with you, I've never read Jane Eyre, though I have read a book inspired by the Jane Eyre and I read the synopsis on Wikipedia before starting this book, still I found this story to be vastly entertaining. I was able to pick up on a few Easter Eggs regarding the source material, but honestly, I don't think it matters if you've read the source material or not. The world that the authors create, or well adapted from a time period in our world, is phenomenal. I loved all of the little call outs to pop culture here and there, none of which felt too out of place, and much like the characters the world and the writing style that the authors have chosen, once where they break the fourth wall every now and again to give numerous notes on the current scene, sucked me into this story so fully it was hard to put the book down at times. This isn't the Jane Eyre story you may be familiar with, and I'm sure classic purists would hate this book, but how the authors wove this tale into the story of Jane Eyre was highly entertaining, to say the least.

Predictability: So, I have to say, while I was able to predict quite a few of the twists in this book, it never once stopped me from enjoying the story. I would say this tale is predictable, though some twists did feel a little too obvious, there are still so many exciting moments that even when I know a reveal is coming, I was still blown away with how the twist was handled and the context around the reveal. There were a couple of twists in this story that really kept me on my toes, especially toward the end.

Ending: Dang, this story knows how to go out in a blaze of glory! The final climax of this story is exciting and intense and I loved every minute of it. This is a standalone, even though it's part of a companion novel series, so when the final climax comes to a close there's a sense of finality to everything, but then there's an epilogue. The epilogue serves to really tie up all those loose ends, but what I was not expecting is one, or, well, two more twists, the first just ties up a couple loose threads, the second one, which comes at the VERY end, shook me hard, like, "HOW DO YOU END A BOOK LIKE THAT" hard.

Rating:


Gah! I love this story so much, it's full of fun, ghosts, adventures, and hilarity. I don't know how they do it, but these authors seem to always offer up a fun and engaging time when they collaborate, and I hope their next book, My Calamity Jane, won't be their last.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Book Review: Reflection (Twisted Tales #4)

Release Date: March 27. 2018
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Publisher: Disney Press
Length: 400 pages
Source: Gifted ARC

What if Mulan had to travel to the Underworld?

When Captain Shang is mortally wounded by Shan Yu in battle, Mulan must travel to the Underworld, Diyu, in order to save him from certain death. But King Yama, the ruler of Diyu, is not willing to give Shang up easily. With the help of Shang's great lion guardian ShiShi, Mulan must traverse Diyu to find Shang's spirit, face harrowing obstacles, and leave by sunrise--or become King Yama's prisoner forever. Moreover, Mulan is still disguised as the soldier called Ping, wrestling with the decision to reveal her true identity to her closest friend. Will Mulan be able to save Shang before it's too late? Will he ever be able to trust her again? Or will she lose him--and be lost in the Underworld--forever?

    

Review:

Protagonist: After Shang takes a fatal blow meant for her, Mulan, a young woman who pretended to be a man to enter into the army to spare her ailing father from certain death, Mulan needs to go into the underworld, Diyu, in order to bring him back. That is easier said than done. Mulan is still masquerading as Ping since she's going after Shang who doesn't yet know her identity and if anyone finds out she could be put to death. This book does a lot to really flesh out Mulan's character, in fact, I would say that who Mulan is, is a huge part of the overall story. I really loved delving into who Mulan is at her core, seeing some more backstory and giving her character the time she needs to grow, whereas the movie sort of throws montages and songs at you to denote character growth and camaraderie among the soldiers, here we get a deeper look into Mulan's character and who she decides to become.

Romance: Much like with Mulan's character I felt the romance here wasn't nearly as rushed as it was in the movie. In fact, it almost felt like they threw in the whole Mulan/Shang pairing as an afterthought since it's a Disney movie and needs to have a romance. Here things are taken at a slower pace. I mean, there's still a time limit to get out of Diyu by, but still the time is taken to not only solidify the bond between Shang and "Ping" that was sort of hand waved in the movie until that point, but also the romantic tension is really drawn out, in a satisfying way, and when time comes for a romance to officially blossom, it feels earned and a part of the journey instead of just tacked on the end.

World Building: So when it comes to the world building I'm pretty split. On the one hand, I love the world of Diyu that the author has included in this story. Every moment, even the lighter ones, had a small bit of dread tied to it as their time was running out, the settings and places they visited were so vibrant and alive, or in some cases were sharp and pointy, or even filled with death and despair, hey, it is the underworld after all. This was such a fun adventure to see these two characters on, with the company of a very vain lion guardian from the Li family named ShiShi. Here's the thing though, while it was a fun and exciting adventure, other than Mulan and Shang, none of the other characters from the movie were seen that much, they didn't have a role to play in the story and it was hard to view this as a Twisted Tale, especially in comparison to the other installments in this series, because this twist felt like a bit too much of a stretch.

Predictability: This was a bit of an uncomfortable time going into this book because, well, this series has never had a different author before, that on top of a story that takes place almost entirely in Diyu, somewhere not even touched on or mentioned in the movie, going into this story felt a lot like going into a dark room. Everything was new, I didn't know how anything was going to go, other than some vague and vast predictions that are pretty standard expectations going into any novel. With that I found a great many moments in this story to be full of twists and turns, there are a few moments where things are easy to pick up on, but the reasoning behind those things are really where the surprises are in store. Though I will say there wasn't anything too shocking, and nothing really shook me like in other installments in this series.

Ending: This ending it too idyllic for me. I mean, there's no other way to get around it. I loved the final climax, I felt it really hammered home a lot of the messages for this book and really fit with story already written, it was the perfect way to push onward towards the end, but, and I hate that I keep bringing it up, in the other installments in this series, there are always some consequences that give the ending that extra level of gravity, almost as if there were some harder consequences for straying from the story, whereas here well, it's a good ending and a great story, I was just sort of hoping for something a bit less idyllic.

Rating:


I seriously debated about this with myself for a while, I mean, this was such a fun adventure and I don't regret reading this book at all, in fact, I'll probably reread it someday, but I was hoping for a story that felt like it flowed from the movie better and an ending that held more weight.

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Monday, June 4, 2018

Book Review: Oath of Deception (Reign of Secrets #4)

Release Date: June 5, 2018
Author: Jennifer Anne Davis
Publisher: Reign Publishing
Length: 300 pages
Source: Electronic Review Copy from Author

For Savenek, there is no greater honor than protecting Emperion. While other young men his age study a trade, he attends a secret, elite military academy where he has been honed into a lethal asset for his kingdom. He can gather information without detection and kill from the shadows. Savenek’s own father is the schoolmaster, and he forces Savenek to train harder than any other student. As graduation draws near, Savenek eagerly awaits the vows inducting him into the Brotherhood of the Crown.

When a messenger arrives with news of war brewing on the horizon, the Brotherhood is called into action. Eager to prove himself, Savenek goes on his first mission alone. He doesn’t expect to uncover a treacherous plot to destroy Emperion. He doesn’t expect to join forces with someone outside the Brotherhood, let alone a woman. He certainly doesn’t expect to fail.

But then again, his father taught him nothing ever goes as planned.

Political intrigue clashes with romance in this thrilling story that continues the Reign of Secrets saga.

    

Review:

Protagonist: Savenek, has trained since he was seven years old to join The Brotherhood of the Crown, a secret spy network that dedicates themselves to protecting Emperion, no matter what. Ven is set to take his vows and become a full-fledged brother, but first, he is sent on a dangerous mission alone to a neighboring kingdom, or at least alone in the sense that another member of the Brotherhood will not be with him, instead he finds himself in the company of Ari, a whip-smart girl who may just be too much for Ven to handle, and who may be harboring secrets of her own. Together they venture into the neighboring kingdom of Apethaga in order to secure a weapons deal and snoop around for any pertinent information. I love Ven so much, he's a bit of an incorrigible flirt, using his charm to get him out of a few sticky situations, he's confident and while he can slip up from time to time, he's a capable spy and assassin, his development is mostly internal as he needs to learn to work with somebody rather than alone, and he has a hard time getting close to people, which with his line of work makes a lot of sense.

Romance: The romance in this story starts off a bit combative, though nothing close to a hate to love relationship. While Ven has had some experience with women, in fact, he has a kind of, sort of, girlfriend back home, but from the moment he meets Ari, not only does she challenge him, but she's plenty capable at taking care of herself. I really loved the balance between these two characters, how even though they didn't get off on the best foot, they still find a way to work together without either being held back due to the other. I don't know if I can put it in any better terms than that they just fit together. I do wish that Savenek wasn't held back by his feelings for another girl towards the beginning, but I do understand and appreciate why it's there.

World Building: So, I didn't expect to go as far back in time as we do in this installment. I knew that we would skip back quite a bit to learn more about Savenek's life prior to Cage of Darkness, and to see another aspect of the war with Russek, an aspect that I have to say was absolutely fantastic, but I didn't quite account for how early in the timeline it would take place. In this story, we see more kingdoms on the mainland and learn about how some of these kingdoms approached the upcoming war between Russek and Emperion. This story is about our heroes going into a foreign kingdom, where they are almost completely at the mercy of their hosts, and finding the information they need before escaping, which is pretty much easier said than done. The author does a phenomenal job of expanding the story of this series to see the broader scope of this war and see how those on the sidelines reacted to what was brewing. It's almost impossible not to get sucked into this world as nearly every facet of this world is brilliantly detailed,

Predictability: Given that I've read the rest of the Reign of Secrets books, there wasn't all that much about this story that I found unpredictable, at least when it came to larger issues in the story. There were a few moments here and there where I would be surprised by what was going on, and even though I knew more or less how things would turn out, that didn't stop the tension from rising in certain scenes, especially certain scenes toward the end. In the end, I do have to say I was a bit bummed by the fact that there weren't any huge twists, though I'm hoping that with the biggest stuff out of the way things will get a lot more mysterious for the next installment.

Ending: As this story came crashing to a close there were so many intense scenes with barely a breather in between, once the ending starts it really doesn't stop. I freaking loved every minute of this story as it winds to a close and some pretty kick-ass scenes. After all of the excitement is over there is a pretty sizable cooldown period where lingering questions from this story were more or less tied up for now, all leading to yet another cliffhanger from this author, a cliffhanger by the way, that I know more or less how it pans out, yet I'm still chomping at the bit to see what happens next.

Rating:


It's not really much of a surprise that I gave this book 5 stars, I mean it did take a second to adjust to the shift in narrators and the fact that this doesn't start where Book 3 ends, but after that I just got sucked in and could hardly put the book down!

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Friday, June 1, 2018

Book Review: The Burning Maze (The Trials of Apollo #3)

Release Date: May 1, 2018
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Length: 442 pages
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

The formerly glorious god Apollo, cast down to earth in punishment by Zeus, is now an awkward mortal teenager named Lester Papadopoulos. In order to regain his place on Mount Olympus, Lester must restore five Oracles that have gone dark. But he has to achieve this impossible task without having any godly powers and while being duty-bound to a confounding young daughter of Demeter named Meg. Thanks a lot, Dad.

With the help of some demigod friends, Lester managed to survive his first two trials, one at Camp Half-Blood, and one in Indianapolis, where Meg received the Dark Prophecy. The words she uttered while seated on the Throne of Memory revealed that an evil triumvirate of Roman emperors plans to attack Camp Jupiter. While Leo flies ahead on Festus to warn the Roman camp, Lester and Meg must go through the Labyrinth to find the third emperor—and an Oracle who speaks in word puzzles—somewhere in the American Southwest. There is one glimmer of hope in the gloom-filled prophecy: The cloven guide alone the way does know. They will have a satyr companion, and Meg knows just who to call upon....

    

Review:

Protagonist: After two adventures Apollo and Meg are joined by Grover as they take the Labyrinth west to Southern California and the next Oracle. When they arrive at their destination they find out that a massive heat wave is affecting the area, and the only way to disperse it is to find a specific part of the Labyrinth, defeat the evil growing there, and free the Oracle. Which of course is easier said than done. As always I loved reading more from Apollo's POV, though in this book things really start to get serious as the dangers they face are greater than they have before. Apollo's humor is sort of tempered in this installment, that humorous ego is still there, but Apollo is also growing after millennia of living and learning what it means to be human, and what mortality really means.

World Building: Once again our heroes, Apollo and Meg, are joined by some of your favorite (or maybe not so favorite) characters from Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus series, and again Apollo's (immortal and godly) life touches every little aspect of the story as we're introduced to our villainous new emperor, who, unlike Commodus, I have actually heard of and when his name is revealed it sent shivers down my spine. This book is by far the darkest installment in this series so far, seemingly matching up with the third installments from the other Camp Half-Blood series, The Titan's Curse and The Mark of Athena, which isn't a spoiler to tell you as Apollo pretty much tells you exactly that at the beginning of the book. This book also delves into Meg's backstory quite a bit and I loved learning more about where she came from and her "ancient roots." Honestly, there's a whole freaking lot packed into this book and by the end of it, you may be an emotional wreck waiting for the next book.

Predictability: Like I said, this book is the darkest installment so far, full of twists and turns I didn't see coming. Honestly, I'm not sure if I should even write more than that. Riordan has done an amazing job with his foreshadowing in recent years and this installment really proves that as I can't think of a single twist or turn I saw coming, yet when they happened, everything made sense, everything just fit.

Ending: So, much like the previous installments in this series, there isn't really a cliffhanger for this installment, mainly there is a fantastic and intense final climax, that in all honesty may have made me shed a tear or two, once the dust settles, then it's time to set up the next installment, though there are clues all throughout the final chapters, including the final climax, but it's when almost all is said and done that we get some crucial intel on what's coming next and more importantly, who will make an appearance in the next installment, well, it's pretty freaking amazing. The cooldown period really just ties up most of the lingering threads of this installment while showing that there is more to come and more challenges to face head-on.

Rating:


Yeah, like this rating is much of a shock. I love this book so much, even though it hurt me in irreparable ways, but still, I cannot wait to continue Apollo's tale and hopefully, he'll catch a lucky break one of these days, I doubt it though.

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Blog Tour Book Review: LIFEL1K3 (Lifelike #1) + GIVEAWAY!


Release Date: May 29, 2018
Author: Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Length: 416 pages
Source: Review ARC from Publisher

On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap.

Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it.

But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past.

Even if those secrets were better off staying buried.

    

Review:

Protagonist: Eve has spent the days since her family's death doing everything she can to keep her grandfather from succumbing to cancer that is slowly killing him. She does this by fighting in the ring of the WarDome, using her machina to take down other robots and earn money for her grandfather's medicine, but when she loses, in turn discovering a power within her, a power people will kill her over, she didn't think she could have a worse day, but coming across a lifelike in the barren wasteland of the Scrap, and coming home to many forces willing to kill her, her friends Lemon and Cricket, and her grandfather, she's set off on a journey of self-discovery, to find out who she truly is. Eve is such a complex character, who goes through a whole gambit of emotions in just this one book. As she voyages on, with Lemon, Cricket, and Ezekiel in tow, she has to face so much more than who she is. This journey forges her into someone, something stronger, and I was completely blown away by how she doesn't so much change, as she finds out who she is, in more than one sense.

Romance: So, fairly early on there were a few red flags when it came to the romance in this book, things that, if another author had written this, I might have had cause to be worried about as some of the tropes in this romance felt almost like narrative shortcuts, something to fast-track the romance, luckily that wasn't the case at all. The romance between Eve and Zeke is fairly layered and very compelling. I will say now though, that there isn't really a focus put on the romance too much, which makes sense with everything else that's going on in this book, but that doesn't mean that the romance wasn't extremely compelling, and it does impact the story in some major ways. It was interesting to see how the author transformed a couple rather tired romance tropes, things that, as I said before, felt like shortcuts and made them very poignant elements to the romance, and in some ways hindered the romance more than helped it.

World Building: If I had one bad thing to say about this book it's that the beginning is a bit hard to get into. This is one of those books that likes to throw you right into the story, into an almost completely new world, built on the near destruction of our own, filled with its own (luckily creative) slang and a history that the reader isn't privy to from the start. It took me a little while to get used to and to fully understand what's going on, but once I did I practically sunk into this world. There are a lot of post-apocalyptic elements to this world, in addition to the more sci-fi elements, and even when the author is describing a barren wasteland, everything still feels so real and so alive, because the author's words truly bring this world to life. Then there's how robots fit in this world, the three cardinal Laws of robots, and how there are some robots that don't follow those rules added so much depth to the story and a great philosophical angle overall. I loved learning about the different types of machines in this world, how some are mindless, only doing what they're programmed to do and nothing else, some are manually controlled by a human, and some have a mind of their own, minds that can be used to help or harm. Finally, there are a few retelling elements sprinkled into this story, one that may be very obvious is Pinocchio, as Cricket is described as Eve's conscience, but there's another one, a bigger one, and one that completely caught me by surprise.

Predictability: While there are one or two twists in this book that felt like they got a bit too obvious before they're suddenly revealed, most of the twists in this book caught me completely off guard. Obviously this is the trickiest section to write as it's the closest to spoilers and there isn't a whole lot I can say other than whether the twists in this book hit home, but the final twist, the biggest twist, well I'll just say that while I had a few inklings before the final revelation, they didn't come too early in the book, and the twist still laid me out flat.

Ending: Holy crap, the ending of this book is so freaking intense. I mean, the final climax alone knocked my socks off, but there was still a great deal after that. The final climax is full of tension as our heroes make their stand, there's a great deal of action and emotion all packed into a couple chapters, if that much, then we have a twist, that as I said before completely laid me out flat and that I'm still reeling from, all leading to a game-changing cliffhanger that left me wildly speculating about where the next book will even lead, though I do have a few ideas.

Rating:


Gah! I wanted to give this book 5 stars so bad, but the thing is, as much as this book completely blew me away and will undoubtedly leave me with a major book hangover, the beginning of this story is a bit tricky to get immersed into, but when you do, you're in for one hell of a ride!

About the Author:



Jay Kristoff is a #1 international, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of science fiction and fantasy. He grew up in the second most isolated capital city on earth and fled at his earliest convenience, although he’s been known to trek back for weddings of the particularly nice and funerals of the particularly wealthy. Being the holder of an Arts degree, he has no education to speak of.

His LOTUS WAR trilogy was critically acclaimed in Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, nominated for the David Gemmell Morningstar and Legend awards and won the 2014 Aurealis Award. Jay’s new series, the SciFi thriller THE ILLUMINAE FILES, was co-authored with Amie Kaufman. Book 1, ILLUMINAE, became a New York Times and international bestseller, was named among the Kirkus, Amazon and YALSA Best Books of 2015, became a finalist for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award and won the 2016 Aurealis Award and an ABIA Book of the Year award. ILLUMINAE is currently slated to be published in thirty five countries, and film rights have been acquired by Brad Pitt and Plan B Entertainment.

Jay’s new fantasy series, THE NEVERNIGHT CHRONICLE, commenced in 2016. The novel was an international bestseller, won the Aurealis award and earned Kristoff his second Gemmell nomination. Part 2, GODSGRAVE, was published in 2017, and won the series its second Aurealis award. A new YA series, LIFEL1K3 has also been acquired by Knopf/Random House Kids, and commences publication in early 2018. A new series with Amie Kaufman, THE ANDROMEDA CYCLE, begins in 2019 with Knopf/Random House Kids. Jay is as surprised about all this as you are. He is represented by Josh Adams at Adams Literary.

Jay is 6’7 and has approximately 12,000 days to live. He abides in Melbourne with his secret agent kung-fu assassin wife, and the world’s laziest Jack Russell.
He does not believe in happy endings.


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Monday, May 14, 2018

Book Review: The Angel Hunt (Dark World: The Angel Trials #2)

Release Date: May 17, 2018
Author: Michelle Madow
Publisher: Dreamscape Publishing
Length: 266 pages
Source: Review Copy

The hunt for demons is about to heat up.

Somehow Raven has convinced Noah and Sage—the two wolf shifters who saved her from a demon attack—to let her tag along on their quest to kill ten demons. The payoff for completing the mission? Entrance to the mystical island of Avalon, where Raven will go through trials to gain the strength she needs to save her mom’s life.

Raven wants to help the shifters on their quest. But Noah refuses to put her in any danger—which makes no sense, since he hates her. At least she thinks he hates her… until he catches her off guard and kisses her. Suddenly they’re connected in ways she doesn’t understand, and she feels closer to him than ever.

If she didn’t know any better, she’d think they imprinted on each other. But that’s impossible. Because shifters can’t imprint on humans.

And if they did imprint on each other, then the supernatural world is changing—and Raven’s right in the center of it.

Emotions will flare between Raven and Noah in the second book in The Angel Trials series, an urban fantasy adventure with romance, magic, and twists that will keep you reading long into the night!

  

Review:

Protagonist: Once again I wish I could add an "s" to the end of this section and talk about seeing various POVs in this series, but alas Raven, again, has the vast majority of the story to tell. It's not that I dislike Raven in any way, I really love how she grows and changes over the course of this book, she's still a stubborn spitfire, but in this installment, she really starts to find her groove with her demon hunter companions and starts to feel necessary to their plans of finally getting to Avalon. Raven really starts to take more control of her destiny and pushes herself further in this book. However, I still really wish that we could see from more characters' perspectives, like Noah and Sage, particularly Sage as we learn a little bit more about her and the little that we get seems like it could snowball into something great.

Romance: This is definitely where most of the attention in this installment is placed. In the first installment, the romance between Raven and Noah was merely set up, where here things are turned up to a whole new level. The romance was what really intrigued me most about the first installment, apart from the main plot, I was so interested in seeing how a relationship between Raven and Noah might work if they could never imprint (which is a word I'm not particularly a fan of as it has too many Twilight connotations for my liking, but since it's based on how many animals find a mate, I've sorta let it go.) Then I read the synopsis, and I sort of felt all my interest leave for the romance in this series, I mean, if they can just imprint anyway, where's the struggle, where's the fight to be with each other if their only known roadblock isn't actually a roadblock. All I'll say on the matter is that after reading this book, I might be even more into the romance than ever, I really like the connection between Raven and Noah, even if Noah can be a grumpy little tool sometimes, and I really enjoyed how the author chose to handle their feelings for one another, seriously it's taking so much in me to not gush out spoilers when talking about this.

World Building: Honestly, I don't even know what to write here. There is a decent amount of plot progression and world building in this book, but much like the first installment in this series, I never felt there was enough for a full installment, even by Michelle Madow standards, while we do learn quite a bit more about shifters, and we see more about how the supernatural world works outside of Vampire Kingdoms. Since a large portion of this book is much more about character development and romance, there isn't a whole lot of time to move things along, which kind of bugged me at times as I'm itching to really get things started in this series. There are so many questions hanging in the air going into this book, and I honestly aside from some romance related ones, we don't get a whole lot of answers. In a lot of ways, this felt like the second third of a book, full of action, adventure, and romance, but while the main plot and world building are not forgotten, they're more pushed off to the side for a while, only to spring up when absolutely necessary.

Predictability: There wasn't a single thing in this book that surprised me. Now, that's not the same thing as being able to predict everything, which I was pretty much able to do, but more that when there was something revealed that I didn't know, it didn't shock me in any way. I was really hoping to be surprised by something in this book, even something small, but aside from the synopsis giving a little too much detail and the things I know from the previous series, nothing here took me by surprise.

Ending: So, this was a really great ending. I mean, sure, the final climax could have been better, much like the final climax in the previous installment I felt no real emotional investment on the part of our heroes that would make it special, I mean sure they have their lives to protect and they want to make it to Avalon, both very good driving forces, but for a final climax I feel it should have more depth and mean something more to the characters, now the outcome of the final climax, there's your emotional investment, and it's a really intese few chapters leading to the end of this installment, but since I wouldn't consider that part of the final climax, even though it was to some extent, or really all extent, a byproduct of the final climax, I just wish there was more at stake before the final climax starts than after it's over. Much like nearly all of Madow's previous Dark World books, this story ends with an epilogue chapter of sorts that seems to tee up not only where Book 3 will begin but also introduces a rather interesting new character.

Rating:


So, I did like this book better than the first in this series, but it also suffers from a few of the same problems as the first one, mainly that even for a Michelle Madow book, the pacing is just off and it doesn't quite feel like a full installment, nor does it feel like the second half of an installment. I am still very invested in this series and cannot wait for the next book, I'm just hoping for something a bit more than what we have been getting.

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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Novella Review: A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.1)

Release Date: May 1, 2018
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Length: 229 pages
Source: Purchased Book

Narrated by Feyre and Rhysand, this bridges the events in A Court of Wings and Ruin and the upcoming novels in the series.

Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve. Yet even the festive atmosphere can't keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated--scars that will have a far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.

    

Review:

Protagonists: So, while the synopsis says that this book is narrated by both Feyre and Rhysand, that's not (technically) true. See, while all of the first person POV chapters are from Feyre and Rhysand, there are chapters, and parts of chapters, that are told in a limited third person POV that follow other members of Feyre's Night Court family. First off, I have to say how amazing it was to see these characters again, and even though it's been a while since I read A Court of Wings and Ruin, the minute I sat down to read this book it was like I never left and that's very much due to how these characters fly off the page. Honestly, there aren't that many characters that have internal conflicts that get even a little bit resolved in this story. Mostly this book felt like a set up for where certain characters will be when the series officially resumes. As you would expect it's Feyre who has the most internal conflict and character development in this story, mostly relating to the aftermath of the war with Hybern and how she'll deal with not only being the High Lady of the Night Court but also someone who suffered the loss of her father at the hands of the King of Hybern. When it comes to Rhys, I loved seeing from his POV, even if he is a big horndog from time to time, it was great to really see what he's going through in this story and really see how much he loves his family and Feyre. When it comes to the other characters, well they all have rather small arcs in comparison to Feyre and Rhys, but even with that third person POV, there's a lot of information about these characters revealed in this story, which is definitely another reason why these characters feel like they come to life when reading this story.

Romances: I was going to start this section about how, while I love the romance and relationship between Feyre and Rhys, it almost seems too stable, as much as I don't want anything bad to happen to this couple, I kind of wish there was some sort of conflict with their relationship, nothing major or threatening, but something normal, something that made their relationship a bit more relatable, however, this is just a short novella and with it not have that much conflict within well, I couldn't fault the author on that. Besides, I did love every freaking minute between those two, it's more that I barely have anything to write when it comes to their relationship, other than how strong it is in this book. As for the other characters in this story, well you'll see where Nesta and Cassian are at, and possibly have a hint at where that tumultuous relationship is headed and I can't wait to see how that all plays out. Then there's whatever is going on between Az, Elain, and Lucien, which again, I feel is more set up in this story than it actually having any development, we sort of see where things lie for these other relationships, but the author's intent is clearly to go deeper into those romances in the upcoming books.

World Building: With this not being a full installment in the series I wasn't exactly sure what to expect out of not only the story but the world building as well. I know this novella is described as a story to "bridge the gap" between the two the last book and the next, but honestly, that's pretty vague since we don't really have a concrete idea of what the next book will be about. In the end, the world building in this book is all about the ramifications caused during the war with Hybern, specifically the fact that the Wall is down and that there are Illyrian warriors who blame the heavy losses of their warriors on Rhys and Cassian. However, I was sort of disappointed to see that there isn't all that clear of a view for where the series is heading from here on out. Sure, we have a few plotlines teed up for the next few books, but I was kind of hoping to see a bit of a bigger picture, and instead, it feels like I got tiny glimpses but nothing close to the full thing.

Predictability: Since this story is so short there isn't a lot of time for big twists, and for most of this story it felt like I was just following along rather than picking up pieces of foreshadowing and trying to figure out some big twist. With that being said, there are a few surprises in this book, but usually, they're very obvious if you're good at picking up foreshadowing it's not hard to see where certain plotlines will go, but that never ruined the fun for me. I still relished every moment of this story.

Ending: Again, with this not being a full installment, there wasn't really much of an external conflict for these characters to overcome, so the ending of this story isn't as climactic as one of the novels in this series, so there isn't a whole lot I feel I can comfortably write in this section without spoiling something. All I'll say is that the last chapter feels a lot like an epilogue and wraps up some of the plotlines in this story while still leaving a lot to be resolved in the upcoming books. Oh, and the last few sentences melted my freaking heart.

Rating:


Have you ever wanted to read a story about your favorite characters (assuming the ACOTAR characters are some of your favorites) having fun and interacting without a whole lot of conflict getting in the way? Then this story is for you. Seriously, there isn't all that much conflict in this story and I didn't think it could be done, as I feel conflict, and its resolution, can lead to an even sweeter ending, but here it really works.

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