Before you read my review, I want you to know something about me. I am a very technical person. Things that don't matter to other people mean a lot to me. A lot of the negatives in this review will reflect the technical issues in this book.
It should be mentioned before you read this book that the protagonist and his family live in the UK. It isn't mentioned until about 80% through the book, and it threw me off completely.
Scare Me is a genius idea. If serial killing wasn't a horrible crime, I'd say the author has quite a talent for it. (Kidding, of course, it takes a lot more to kill someone than coming up with a murder-filled scavenger hunt). The way the plot for Scare Me was planned out was incredibly interesting, and what drew me to the book in the first place.
The things that brought the book down are (again) the technical aspects of it. Mostly, the phone calls and internet access that the protagonist seemed to have an unlimited supply of. He travels across continents, ditches and purchased phones, and keeps track of mobile devices through GPS, all without losing an internet connection or phone service. This is just completely unrealistic.
The author uses many different POVs to the point where it gets hard to follow. Throughout the book, we are following 6 different people at any given time. It's thoroughly confusing and obnoxious, you can't get more than a few pages before being thrown into another story-line.
Maybe that's how mystery novels are supposed to be, and maybe that's why I tend to stay away from the genre, but it took a 4 star book down a few notches, and that's always sad to see....more
DISCLAIMER: I received The Testing as a publisher ARC through Houghton Mifflin in exchange for my honest review.
This review can also be found at The TDISCLAIMER: I received The Testing as a publisher ARC through Houghton Mifflin in exchange for my honest review.
This review can also be found at The Title Page You can sign up for an ARC Tour for The Testing here!
My Rating: 4 Stars
The Testing follows Cia, a bright young girl, when she embarks on The Testing, a series of trials designed to weed out the weak. By finishing The Testing, Cia can go on to the University and become one of the country's next leaders.
Charbonneau does a great job of keeping The Testing separate from other dystopian novels. Yes, it has the same plot line as a lot of others, but when you actually read the book, you get a different feel for the characters and trials as with other books.
Cia was an interesting character. I'm not sure if I liked her, she did seem a bit weak. When it came down to it, Cia was not someone who could kill another human being. However, she had her wits about her, she kept a level head in hard situations and always thought the best about people. Tomas, however, annoyed me. Cia is supposed to trust him unconditionally because he loves her, but I never got that feel from him. Saying something and actually feeling something are two very different things and I just didn't get that feeling from Tomas.
The writing in this book was very well done. Things were well explained and while interesting things were expanded on, no time was wasted on the boring parts. My only issue with the writing was that there seemed to be too much of it. I found myself easily distracted while reading and ended up reading the same paragraphs multiple times. There was too much to read about each thing and it overdescribed the novel.
This was a good read, it was slow to start, but after the first hundred or so pages, it was hard to put down. I would say if you try it and are having trouble, keep going, give it about half the book before you put it down....more
Emilie and the Hollow World was a great read. I don't regret one second spent reading this book. It didn't take me long to read at all because it kept me interested every page.
The book starts out with a bang, we follow Emilie as she steals aboard the Merry Bell as she is running away from her uncle and aunt. She boards the ship by mistake, originally intending to stow away on another vessel. We are quickly engulfed in magic and transported, along with the crew, to a world-within-a-world like destination.
The novel reads as an adventure. The cast of the book is met with one challenge at a time as they stride to their eventual goal. It is a really good read that is worth the time you will put into it, but it did fall short in that I wasn't blown away by it. It wasn't a book that I just couldn't put down, but at the same time, I never didn't want to pick it up again.
If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be relatable. This book is easy to understand with a heroine you can really imagine in yourself. Emilie is strong-willed, but not pushy. She understands the extent of her knowledge and is willing to sit back and learn rather than insert herself into an issue.
There are deeper issues that are addressed in the book, in the Victorian world that it takes place, sexism is a common theme. The protagonists combat that in the best way possible. Two of the main characters, Emilie and Lady Marlende, are women. The way the author approaches this is very professional, the women aren't looked down upon, but are given less opportunity to advancement. While Emilie seems to have accepted her place in the world, Lady Marlende is a tough cookie who doesn't take that crap. She stands her ground and Emilie soon follows. Lady Marlende is definitely a winning character, she wins my favorite vote.
Sadly, the world building is where the novel suffered a bit, it could have used more depth. While reading the book, I didn't feel like I was transported to another world, which is normally my favorite part of alter-reality novels. While the world was creative enough, not enough description is given about the setting. We aren't told wether a place is supposed to be dark or light, forboding or inviting, etc. Things are explained in character conversation instead of the context of the book, and in that way it took away from the magic of the novel. I felt like I was reading a diary or memoir instead of a fiction novel.
To conclude my review, I suggest this book for the adventurous types, who don't like to waste time on romance. It is a quick, fun, read that you won't feel you've wasted time on....more
When I first finished Zenn Scarlett, I rated it in at 3 stars. The book was good, don't get me wrong, but it didn't really stand out to me at all. It was very typical for my tastes. But here I am, 3 days later, and every time I've tried to pick my next book to read, I can't find anything that peaks my interest. Apparently, Zenn Scarlett had a stronger effect on me than I thought.
It's one of those books where you get so involved in the story that you forget you are reading a book.
Zenn Scarlett starts out with Zenn, a hardcore teenage girl, if not a bit anti-social. She is an exoveterinarian novice, meaning she's training to become an veterinarian for alien species. She lives on a compound, or cloister, with her uncle and a few workers where they take care of the animals.
I don't know what I was expecting, Zenn to go on some crazy adventure to save the cloister? Zenn to get kidnapped away, and have to fight her way back? The entire book took place at the cloister and it was incredibly refreshing. It's not an adventure book, it's a creative look into a futuristic veterinarian life (with, of course, some exciting conflict).
Zenn is a refreshing and bold character. She's smart and knows it, but also has her faults. She's got passion and will do anything to be what she wants in life.
The cloister was very fun to read about, along with all of it's alien inhabitants. It was hard to picture some of the creatures at times, but as Zenn continued to work with them, the images slowly came to mind.
I would recommend this book for the younger crowd, it's a bit juvenile in that there's not much romantically going on. It's a really easy read, and I think anyone on the younger side of YA fantasy will really enjoy it....more
I really wanted to like The Lives of Tao, I really did. I have heard nothing but great things about it, and it's under one of my favorite publishing houses so I was excited when I was provided the ARC.
I'm not going to lie, The Lives of Tao is just as funny as everyone claims. It's filled with embarrassing moments and snarky conversations. In that sense, yes, it was entertaining.
The issue I has was that I was bored out of my mind reading this book. It follows Roen in his training by his alien-life-partner, Tao. He is enlisted by Tao to work for the Prophus, and be an undercover spy. Sounds exciting, no?
Just as Roen claims in the book, the job of being an international super spy is not as exciting as it looks, and this is where the book suffered. We are plagued by pointless conversations and training, and then when we finally get to the exciting part, it is skimmed over with just a few short sentences.
This book takes more focus than I can give it. Maybe I will return to it someday when I have more time to spend between the pages of a novel.
The random flashbacks to Tao's past lives reminded me a lot of The Amulet of Samarkand in that we caught a glimpse of historical figures from the inside of their minds. It was cool, but it subtracted from the already drizzling story.
I gave it a shot, and I'm willing to try again at another point in my life. This review is my opinion of the book and unless you are exactly like me, don't immediately throw it in the Abandoned pile. Give it a shot....more
I've read a fair bit of Angry Robot books lately, the publisher really knows how to find amazing sci-fi work. I eagerly applied for the ARC for Nexus on NetGalley and added it to the top of my to-read pile.
There were plenty of reviews present before I read it and I really thought I would enjoy the novel based on them. Unfortunately, I'm just not seeing why people think this novel was so amazing.
It wasn't a bad book, it just wasn't amazing.
The book dives right in to the science as if the reader has a standing expertise in technological programming. As you go through the novel, the technological lingo starts to make more sense, but in the beginning I was obtusely confused. I work with computers and technology in both of my jobs and I was still immediately lost.
The explanations of how Nexus works, and plenty of other programs, were not simply given to us. They were mixed in as interview transcriptions and discussions. A daring angle for the author to make, but one that, sadly, felt short. By reading transcriptions, the reader is completely separated from any emotional attachment the character had to their work. These characters are supposed to be completely involved in their life's work and be deeply attached to it, but I just didn't get that feeling in reading the novel.
The character's were boring and unobservant. For people who are supposed to have a deep understanding of the technological underworld of the future, they seemed overly idiotic. They had issues putting two and two together, and I feel like the author did this to help the reader figure things out for themselves. It left me feeling like the author thought I was stupid and needed a fun little detective game to keep me interested.
There were two redeeming qualities of this book, the plot and the antagonist.
The plot was very intriguing. Technological genius turned double agent in a battle for his friends freedom. We follow Kade as he struggles to figure out what is right or wrong, and Sam who has an equally powerful struggle against what she's always been trained to believe. While both main characters were annoyingly dry, the plot was able to string them together enough to make a respectable attempt.
The antagonist in this novel is up to the reader. You decide who's side you are on, because it does bring up some very good points for either side. The main characters' internal struggles accent the debates against right or wrong in this novel.
Having the ability to communicate with other humans through only the connections in your minds, it can be used for a plethora of good in the world. The danger is the misuse of the technology, to control people and bend their will. Is it worth the risk?
Favorite character: Sam Least Favorite Character: none, no clear antagonist Recommended for: Sci-fi fans with a basic understanding of computer technology...more
The blurb for this book is a bit misleading, not so much in a bad way. Don't expect a book from the point of view of an android, that's not what this is about. This book is about a young girl's growth from adolescence to adulthood. It follows Cat in her journey to find herself and figure out who she is in the midst of normalcy.
Catarina Novak is a tangled woman cursed with the burden of beauty and an icy heart. Living a life of denial and empiness, she struggles between being happy and doing what society demands of her. She acts out to make herself feel human in a world running rampant with robots.
She's the daughter of two scientists, raised so that she discovers herself instead of having someone else discover who she is for her. She is tutored from age six by Finn, an android her father has attained. Finn is more realistic than any other androids, and has the ability to think and feel. Cat spends her life as if floating through a dream, she conforms for the sake of conforming. She considers the opinions of her parents before her own, and it ultimately leads her into situations that knows she will regret. It isn't until Cat is almost 30 that she discovers what it is that she really wants, and decides to pursue happiness.
I do not like romance books. If I had known before I read this that it was mostly a romance novel, I never would have requested the ARC. I can't believe how close-minded I can be sometimes. This book was amazing, it was better than most science fiction, dystopian, or romance novels put together. It had me pulling my hair out, crying, and laughing with joy.
There are two things I want to point out before you pick up this novel that accounts for the half a star less than perfect on my rating.
1. This book is very slow. It takes a long time for anything to happen, but that in no way means that it is boring. I enjoyed every minute of it, but it can get frustrating waiting for the obvious to happen. 2. Catarina is frustratingly selfless. To the point where it was hard to believe she would sacrifice so much of her happiness to make her parents and society happy.
I loved Cat's character. She was ballsy, and she stood up for those she loved. She is impulsive and stubborn, but she never really knew what she wanted. As the reader, of course I knew what she wanted, but we had to watch Cat figure it out, and she also had to figure out that it was okay to be different in order to be happy.
This novel is a beautifully written, incomparably powerful love story. I loved and hated it for how it made me feel. My heart broke (along with Cat's) multiple times. The perspective throughout the book as Cat ages is impeccable. In the beginning, I felt like I was reading through a five year old's thoughts, in her teenage years, I felt exactly as I did as a troubled young girl, and in her older years, I felt her passion and contempt for the life she had chosen more powerfully than anything I've ever felt about my own life.
This books contains sexual situations, I don't recommend you let your 9 year old read it, but it's a great Science Fiction novel (though lacking a bit in the actual sci-fi department, it doesn't take away from the story at all). If you love romance novels, and want romance with a twist, it's a must read....more
A Conspiracy of Alchemists follows air-pilot, Elle, and her warlock companion, Hugh on a quest to find her kidnapped father. Elle discovers that she holds powers she never even imagined in this adventure that takes place in a magical, historical, alternate universe.
This book starts out interestingly enough, pushing us straight into this universe with no explanation. I was able to pick up enough from the setting and character description to figure out some of the mythology going on throughout the book, but it took a while for me to fully understand what was going on. I ended up googling different mythology just to get an image in my head of certain characters.
The characters were very in-depth, I enjoyed the people I was reading about. Consistency could have been better. In the beginning of the novel, Hugh was a hardened gentleman with a snarky attitude but by the end of the book he had turned into a useless boy pining for a girl's love.
Everything seemed to move slower in this world too. Elle is determined to find her father (who she fears may be dead), but only after she's had her breakfast. Hugh and Elle travel to Venice to speak to the only people who can help them, but the first thing they do is check into a hotel. Once Elle is kidnapped, Hugh visits a few friends and checks into a hotel for a few days before finally freeing her. They just seem really calm in the situations they're in. Panic should be their first reaction.
And then, of course, in the end we have the inevitable 'bad guy reveals entire plan because, hey "you're going to die anyways"' cliche, that I did not enjoy from such an original novel. And we wouldn't miss the Prologue designed only to set up for the next novel. (which I really think it could have done without. This book would have been a great standalone novel, I fear the sequels will only bring it down.)
I was not overly impressed with the novel, but I didn't hate it. The world building was fascinating, if not a bit overwhelming. It's a good read, but not the top of my list....more
I wanted to review A Shimmer of Angels while it was still fresh in my mind. I finished the book yesterday and have mixed feelings about the title.
I have to admit, I went into this book expecting it to be just another high school novel, I feared it would be on par with Marked and I would be putting it down before I let too many of my brain cells rot.
Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised.
Ray is a refreshing take on the teenage girl. Having lived three years of her life in a mental hospital, she isn't the standard high school teen queen. Of course, there is the typical love triangle, which seems to be standard among YA novels these days. (let me tell you now girls, you'll be lucky to ever have one perfect guy falling head over heels for you, the chances of two would be slim to none.)
The writing leaves much to be improved on, I got the feeling that the author was trying too hard to sound like a teenage girl. The dialogue Ray used did not match her thoughts. She was emotionally more mature than a normal 16 year old would be because she had gone through so much more than most teens. It should reflect in the way she speaks along with the way she processes information.
I love Ray's 'descent into madness' throughout the beginning of the books. I put this in quotes because it's not so much a descent into madness as an ascent from madness. The best part of the novel is the section where Ray comes to terms with the fact that she is not crazy.
The author would use filler sentences that didn't make too much sense, which gave me the feeling that she was trying too hard. She'd use words like...
"Have a seat," the waitress invited, her voice sharp with sarcasm."
He might look my age, but sometimes, when he said weird things like that, I couldn't shake the feeling he was much older.
The first qualm I had with these was trying to figure out how one would sarcastically tell someone to take a seat for a job interview. I spent a few minutes trying to figure that one out. As for the second quote, you'll probably need some context. She says this about Cam, a person she's known for approximately 2.5 minutes and said 3 words to.
This is what I'm talking about, a good editing and this would be a really great book.
I like the topic, fallen angels, guardian angels, angels from hell. This all interests me, but I'd have to say I haven't read many novels on the subject. This is because I'm writing my own angel-based novel and don't want to be influenced by any other work.
I took a chance with A Shimmer of Angels and I'm glad I did. I'm not sure I'll read the following 2 novels, but that is to be discovered.
Favorite character: Kade Least Favorite Character: Cam Recommended for: Young readers, readers interested in angel/demon work....more
The immature dialogue, the unimpressive world building, the annoying teenage attitude, the overbearing parental figures, and the lack of character depth added together makes me wonder how this ever got a publisher's attention. Not to mention the secret-but-not-really-a-secret we've got going on. At 1% into it, I dreaded reading the rest of this novel.
I am completely unimpressed with this novel.
Here is what I have put together:
1. The book has all of the standard crap that makes a crappy high-school novel crappy; -twin-like friends -roommate best friend -super obviously gay guy friend -super hot popular guy who's into main character -super evil popular bitch who is dating said popular guy -the black friend -the girly friend -the tomboy friend -the hot teacher
2. The book is riddled with inconsistencies. In just the first quarter of the book, I have a list of stupid little things that just didn't make sense. It makes the scenes that much harder to imagine, like the author didn't really care about what she was writing.
Example: At 18% Steffie is said to have chain earrings. At 21% Steffie 'turned one of her hoop earrings absentmindedly'. Same setting, same scene, not time to change her earings. (Also, why is the author so obsessed with Steffie's earrings?)
3. The book is bogged down with useless crap that no reader cares about. I don't care if Steffie reaches up to touch her earring, I don't CARE if TJ adjusted the strap of her high heeled sandal as she climbed the stairs, I DON'T CARE IF BLAINE BUMPED INTO AN EMPTY SEAT!
It feels like it is wasting my time.
4. The POV is confusing and irritating. It's hard to remember it's a 3rd person perspective when reading through it, you get confused as to who Vanessa is when you feel like it should be 1st person.
I gave it a shot, but it just wasn't an enjoyable book to me....more
When books end in a way that makes me hate myself for being alive... I normally hate them in return. I hate the writing, I hate the author, I hate the plot, the characters, the dialogue. Basically, I wish the book had never been written and in that, I had never read it.
I simply cannot bring myself to hate this book. In fact, I can't do anything but love it. It is simply amazing, and I don't think I've ever read such an original, creative, lovely piece of work.
Pantomime has a little bit of magic, a little bit of steampunk, a little bit of kick-ass, and a whole lot of secrets.
The book follows both Micah Grey, a runaway in search of a new life in the circus, and Gene Laurus, a noble young girl who has yet to find her place in the world. The two come together in the most unexpected of ways, and must hide the fact that they are not what they appear. The novel is set in Ellada, an alternate society in which magical things can and have happened. Traces of magic are left behind in the cities in the form of Artifacts and giant domes of Penglass, a mysterious material that cannot be removed nor broken.
The world building in this novel is, in the simplest of words, perfect. There is not an overwhelming amount of time spent on describing the setting, but not a lax enough description that we are left completely to our own imaginations. Lam has captured the world that was created in her imagination and presented it to us with such descreet detail and vigor that we do not even notice that we have been transported to another world until we are there entirely.
Micah and Gene's story's are intertwined in a way that you would never expect. The author is brave and original in the way that secrets are revealed to us. I never would have guessed when I began reading that these plot points would unveil so seamlessly in the novel.
Once you really become a part of the book, it is difficult to put it down. I got to the last few chapters right when I ran out of time to read, and I couldn't properly focus on anything the rest of the night and into the next morning until I was able to pick the book up once more and let it engulf me.
The way the novel is written is completely original and invigorating. It inspires you to think outside of the box, and come up with creative new ways to tell your own stories.
Yet, throughout the entire novel, we are nagged with reminders that all of this is part of something bigger yet to come. By the end of the book, plot lines are left open to be elaborated on in the future of the series. There is so much left open and, while you have a small inkling of where this story may be headed, there is a plethora of ways it could be taken. I eagerly await the upcoming sequels and strongly urge new readers to take on this book. You'll learn so much about yourself and open bits of your imagination that you never even knew you had.
I applaud Laura Lam for such an amazing debut novel.
I recommend this book for: People who enjoy any or all of the following: Steampunk, science fiction, mystery, circus's, great novels. Favorite character: Aenea and Micah Least favorite character: Bil
P.S. The memory of the last solid copy book I purchased doesn't even grace my mind, but (even though I've read it already) I guarantee that this one will be the next....more
I have to say, The Best of all Possible Worlds may be the breakthrough novel of it's time.
With a slow start, this book shoots forward with a booming magnetism, embodied in beautiful writing and exquisite world building. As soon as the plot begins rolling, you are dragged into this exhorbent love story between two unlike beings in a scientific future.
In the aftermath of their home world being destroyed, a human race must reorganize and rebuild while avoiding infringement of the hospitality of the world they have chosen to inhabit. Our story follows Delarua, an assistant biotechnition with an affinity for languages, who is assigned to be the Sadiri's liaison to the citizens of Cygnus Beta. They set out on a journey to find taSadiri descendents so to help rebuild this forsaken race's bloodline.
The depth that Lord delves to better help the reader understand the world she has created is breathtaking. You are drawn into the novel with a fervor of which is hard to come by. I haven't experienced world building such as this since I read the Lord of the Rings many, many, years ago.
Sociology is a large basis of the story, experiencing the social aspects of how these different versions of human society react. The characters, at times, impress distress over a misunderstanding of each other's social norms. In a way, the novel is comical in how we get to envision firsthand, the thought process that comes to understand another's social patterns.
The Best of all Possible Worlds is thick in plot development and character growth. If it is any indication, I hope to read many more electrifying builds from Karen Lord....more
Break My Heart 1,000 Times was one of the best books I've read all year. Keep in mind that I am on book 80 of 2012.
The main character, Veronica isn't your typical Sci-fi protagonist teenager. She's pretty (and knows it), flirty (and proud of it), and extremely moody.
In short: she's not perfect.
Her love interest, Kirk is nerdy and cute, but nothing compared to his tall, muscular friend, James.
Romance Lets start with the love triangle in this novel. Because, of course, a YA novel needs to have a love triangle.
This love triangle is perfect and creepy. You think it's going to be between Veronica, Kirk, and James, but in reality, you'll soon find that James is not even a runner. Brian is Veronica's other love interest. And Brian is a ghost.
Maybe I should have started by mentioning that this book has ghosts. Oh well.
Brian is one of the super rare ghosts who is coherent. He cannot speak to Veronica, but he can look at her. He can think, and he tries his best to protect her. Veronica has never spoken to him or seen him do more than brush his hair in the mirror, but she has this pull towards him that she doesn't understand.
Throughout the novel, I was rooting for Kirk because logically, he is the only one actually alive. Brian couldn't interact with Veronica, and we find out from delving into his mind that he is madly in love with the deceased, Mary.
Ghosts Veronica's father is a ghost. He sits every morning at the kitchen table reading the paper and drinking coffee. Then he looks up, smiles, and disappears.
I love the ghosts in this novel. They are everywhere, images of their past selves and hauntingly beautiful. The ghosts in Veronica's world have no purpose. They are what they are and no one knows why they're there.
My favorite part of the novel, I think, was the detective work that Kirk and his professor did. They classify certain ghosts by why their images show up at a certain place or time. It's interesting to hear about the different types of this mystery. This book is a puzzle that never fully gets solved.
Why was one ghost able to grab someone's hand? Why was one ghost able to point at her murderer? Why was one ghost able to make a phone call?
It's all a mystery, because we don't know any more than the characters in the novel.
Mystery A large focus in the novel is on Mr. Bittner, Veronica's History teacher. He is a murderer (no, this is not a spoiler).
One of the reasons this book interested me so was because we knew the entire time who the murderer was. Because of this, we were able to understand his complete thinking. We were able to see his reasoning.
This novel, at times, had me yelling out "No! Don't do it! The voices aren't real!". Everyone at the office gave me weird looks.
The Writing Daniel Waters' writing in this novel is poetic and beautiful. The way he can jump from one character to another without losing their personalities was breathtaking. It is not easy to write a multi-view novel without all of the characters sort of merging into one giant protagonist, trust me, I've tried.
The book was mysterious. We aren't just told things, we are shown them. We don't find out Veronica's father is a ghost until he just happens to disappear. We naturally assumed he was just her dad, sitting at the table before going to work. Then poof, he's gone.
The Event Oh, the Event. A term used by many a novel as we are thrust into their post-apocalyptic world.
We are told a few things about the Event, but not what actually happened. It's a mystery in itself that is never fully explained.
Conclusion All in all, I rate this book 5 stars. Everything was impeccable. It has earned a place on my 'Favorites' shelf. I am completely impressed, and upset that it is not the first in a series.