Farley Hope is still dealing with the fallout of her mother's disappearance when Daniel, a mysteriously sexy guy, and the Reavers turn her world upside down. There is an entirely different world of super humans living beneath the city? Farley is a part of some ancient prophecy? What's a girl to do when all she wants is to find out what happened to her mother and get back to her normal life?
Sovereign Hope is definitely one of the best indies I've read this year and truthfully one of the best in the genre I've read in awhile. Mainstream YA has really let me down the past few years and it is a relief to read something where the characters and their reactions feel realistic and where the heroine doesn't play the damsel in distress. Farley may not be a sneaky ninja, an irresistible vamp, or an all-powerful slayer, but she still manages to contribute to the group. She doesn't just suddenly find out she has supernatural roots and become insta-cool. Her character arc shows that she has worked at and earned her badassery. And the best part is she remains relatable.
I'm not gonna lie, Daniel was what got me to start reading this and although I enjoyed the book for its many other assets, he really made the book for me. He's snarky, and sexy, and tries to keep his distance from Farley and not because, "he is no good for her," but because he can't let himself get to close without risking blowing things for himself. I guess what I'm trying to say here is it's not all about Farley. Too often the heroine dominates the book as far as importance. No other character could possibly be as important as her, she's a super special snowflake, blah blah blah. In Sovereign Hope Farley knows her worth and the worth of her comrades and doesn't take that for granted.
This was a nice start to a new series that has a lot of potential. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Eternal Hope to see what happens to Farley, Daniel, and their companions!
I was provided a review copy by the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for the views stated above. All opinions are my own. (less)
Chelsan is a young girl with the power to raise the dead. When tragedy strikes, she finds herself in the midst of a frightening conspiracy and discovers the truth about her past. Along with her gang of friends, Chelsan tries to uncover the whole truth and reveal it to the world.
I really thought this was going to be my kind of book. All the reviews have described it as a dark and gritty dystopia novel. While there is darkness involved, it was definitely muted by all the inane teenage drama. YA writers of science fiction, dystopia, fantasy, and paranormal romance are constantly having to balance their epic, heart pounding story lines with the everyday concerns of their teenage protagonists. Dating, mean girls, and homework are all things we expect to see these characters dealing with if they are living in a futuristic or contemporary world. The problem comes in when these things pop up in awkward moments. This happened a lot in Riser. Caught up in a life-threatening situation? Who cares! Let's go shopping! Or better yet, let's worry if my crush like, likes me. Yes, that term is actually used in this book by persons older than 11 years old. This part of the book overwhelmed the potentially gritty plot and just left me feeling like the book was just silly overall.
The main character Chelsan is your classic Mary Sue. She lives in a trailer park with her parents, has average looks, goes to a school for rich kids, and has two hot, wealthy guys vying for her attention. Wow, go figure. I'll give Chelsan this, at least she knows who she wants and isn't ping-ponging back and forth between the two. She makes a definitive choice early on and sticks with it. For that I definitely have some respect for her. Other than that I was a bit annoyed with her inner commentary that was constantly throwing me off of the dark vibe I so wanted out of this book. She sure says "ewww" a lot for a girl who has been playing with dead things her entire life. More often than not, the light-heartedness of the dialogue and narration just ruined any grittyness the book had. Here are some examples:
"I couldn't see his face, my sight was too blurred and the angle of the light made him look like a walking black shadow of doom coming toward me." (Black shadow of doom? Sounds like the name of some Dr. Doom wannabe)
"'Sleep.' He sounded like the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz." (Honestly, this quote made this particular bad guy much less scary for me)
"He was so cute when he was thinking." (Oh dear lord...)
"It was like walking into a safe haven of awesomeness."(Seriously? This from a straight A student at a prestigious academy of the wealthy who managed to get in based on her academic achievements alone?)
The characters are fairly two-dimensional for the most part and I never really felt a connection to any of them. However there was a scene with Chelsan's love interest, Ryan that got me pretty steamed. The mean girl of the school, Jill, finally gets on Ryan's last nerve. What does he do? He punches her in the face so hard she falls on her ass and has a nasty shiner the next day. Regardless of how cruel teenage girls can be, I think we can all agree that this is unacceptable behavior. So what does Chelsan do? She is totally gaga over the fact that Ryan is willing to beat on other girls for her. As this is a YA book and predominately directed toward teenage girls, I guess the thing that steams me the most is that this is teaching them (1) they do not have to fight their own battles and (2) to romanticize violence towards women. I'm positive this wasn't the author's intent, but the message is loud and clear. Beating on girls is sexy.
Another thing that really put me off this book was the poor editing. If there was actually any editing done on this book at all. I was constantly coming across grammar errors and incorrect vocabulary. I cringed every time I came across a sentence in which the author uses the completely wrong word. It was made even worse by the fact that I could tell exactly which word she had meant to use. Here are some examples:
"They were inhumanly pitch black and they began chanting illegible words." (Speak up! I can't read the words that are coming out of your mouth!)
"He was going to gauge my eyes out." (Obviously she meant gouge... Unless there is some new body modification fad I'm not aware of?)
"Would everyone stop obsessing about my bowl movements..." (Can I buy a vowel please?)
"Perfectly coifed grass separated the parallel lined mansion-sized houses." (No, no, no, no!)
coiffed: past participle, past tense of coif (Verb) Verb:
1. Style or arrange (someone's hair), typically in an elaborate way. 2. Style or arrange the hair of (someone).
As my good friend Wigs said, "What is this English? How does it work? Does it have rules?" This had to be the most frustrating, and admittedly entertaining, part of the book for me. And before all the 4 and 5 star reviewers start jumping all over me, check out the FTC disclosure at the bottom of this review.
The Final Verdict
Riser has an interesting idea that is unfortunately executed poorly. The concept of a character with the power to raise the dead is far from new. If you want to read a YA necromancer story that balances the gritty and fluffy elements well, I would suggest you check out Kelly Armstrong's Darkest Powers Trilogy. Riser still needs some work and a thorough edit.
I was provided with a review copy of this book by the author and IO Tours in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions are my own.
Update Shout out to Becca C Smith for taking this review like a boss. It takes a truly awesome person to enjoy a negative review of her own book. Thanks again for your kindness and understanding.(less)
The Becoming, the first book in a new trilogy and Meigs' first novel follows three main characters as they experience the initial outbreak of the zombie virus Michaluk and fight to survive. Cade, Ethan, and Brandt pick up other survivors along the way, but when Ethan insists on returning to Memphis to find closure with the loss of his wife, Cade and Brandt forge on to find a safe place for their group.
Finally! A strong female lead character in a zombie series other than the Newsflesh Trilogy! I've been reading a lot of zombie fiction lately and I have to say I'm sickened with the amount of wimpy, whiny, practically useless female lead characters. The Becoming was a breath of fresh air for me and certainly for the genre itself. Finally a woman who can hold her own and is just as gritty as the boys. While there were still times I was frustrated with Cade's often overly dramatic actions, I still enjoyed her character.
Really each character Meigs has crafted for this novel is well developed and relatable. For me, there is nothing better than well written, character driven apocalypse fiction and this novel delivers it in droves!
One other thing that really stuck out to me was how much more cinematic this novel felt to me than others I've read of the genre. In the first chapters of the book, the tension is slowly and carefully built, setting the reader up for horror moviesque anticipation for the action to kick off. The tension had me biting my nails as I waited for the first zombie to rear its ugly head. This is one of the first zombie novels that truly made me experience horror rather than simulating it with over the top gore and action. Meigs played on my worst fears from the very beginning, sucking me into her world completely.
I think the only thing that rubbed me the wrong way about this book was the fact that the main characters took forever to catch on to what was happening. As this book is set in our world, which has been saturated with zombie movies, books, and pop culture for decades, I would have expected the main characters to have caught on right away. Instead, they spend the first quarter of the novel going, "This is so weird! I wonder what could be happening?" Umm... duh... A real world example would be the incident in Miami recently where a naked man was gunned down by police as he ate the face of another naked man. Although it has been ruled that the man was incredibly high on an illegal narcotic that caused him to act this way, many people associated the actions with zombie like behavior. No, I'm not insane, I don't think the zombie apocalypse is upon us, my point is, people are smarter than you think. It doesn't take an erstwhile Marine you randomly meet to tell you its freaking zombies chapters later. I really felt this dumbed down her otherwise impressive and capable heroes for me. Really, this may not make much of a difference for other readers, but it is kind of a sore spot for me when it comes to zombie fiction in general.
The Final Verdict
Regardless this was an amazing read for me full of action, true horror, and visceral emotion. Well written and superbly edited, The Becoming is a zombie novel you don't want to miss. Looking forward to the rest of the series!
I was provided a copy of this book by the author and IO Tours in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation for the views stated. All opinions are my own.(less)
I will not be rating this one as I didn't give up on it because it was bad, but because I just couldn't connect with the intricate world. I felt li...moreDNF
I will not be rating this one as I didn't give up on it because it was bad, but because I just couldn't connect with the intricate world. I felt like you had to have some kind of background understanding of Middle Eastern culture in order to get an idea of what is happening here and I just don't have it.
The characters and the world are all very gritty and complex which I normally love. However, there is very little time spent introducing the reader to the world and giving them the opportunity to adjust and feel familiar with it. I was constantly lost and frustrated and finally couldn't justify continuing. Reading a book, especially a fantasy/urban fantasy, shouldn't be work and this was nothing but that for me.
I'm hesitant to put a star rating on it, because while I didn't enjoy it, I felt that there was a depth that others readers of the genre would enjoy. So, if you have the time and patience for decoding some very subtle world building, please give this a try. Otherwise you might want to move on to something a bit lighter. (less)
Dahlia is a hardworking young lady who compulsively paints the angelic subjects of her dreams that torment her nightly. These aren't your everyday chubby cherubs, these angels are dark, vicious , and downright dangerous. Little does she know that her dreams are actually suppressed memories of another lifetime, and her new friend Belial and her crew are a group of Fallen angels Dahlia used to know very, very well.
I think I'll start off by discussing the kinds of things I look for in a great read. My ideal book is dark, dangerous, exciting, sexy, and thought provoking. I also love when an author can round these elements out with humor. Now, let me explain why Morningstar just didn't do it for me.
While there are darker core story elements, they are overwhelmed with the excessive lighthearted humor. Every time there was a flashback or talk of Lucifer and Dahlia's past, I would get excited and think I had finally reached the meat of the story, only to be disappointed when the silly romp continued on. I can see this kind of thing working for readers looking for a light, zany read, but for me The Fallen spent too much time being hyper and baking cookies, and not enough time being sexy bad-asses. All madness with very little direction made Morningstar a frustrating read. I just wanted to get to the good stuff!
A good romp can do wonders for your character development. Sending your characters off on a shopping trip, having them cook something together, or even letting them throw a house party allows the reader to become better acquainted with the aspects of their personalities that may not be visible in your current plot line. However in this case, Morningstar suffers from too much of a good thing. These character building vignettes shouldn't detract from the overall plot progression, or become the focus of your book and unfortunately in this case, both of these are true.
Of course, this book isn't without it's merits. For the first third of the book I enjoyed the writing style, well delivered one-liners and tender moments between Lucifer and Dahlia that pepper the narrative occasionally. I'm not talking about the gratuitous amounts of PDA. The scenes I'm referring to are the real heart-to-heart moments they have when they are, for the most part, alone. The tenderness of Lucifer and the wide-eyed wonder of Dahilia make for a truly beautiful combination.
The narrative is well written for the most part with the exception of the battle scenes which come off painfully technical.
"A knife came soaring at them. Lucifer caught it and threw it back at the attacker stopping him in his tracks. Furcas jumped on a man to their left. Dahlia kicked at another as he grabbed for them. A soldier stabbed Lucifer in the back. Dahlia screamed. Lucifer pulled the blade out and tore open the man's throat."
As you can see, any excitement these scenes possess is greatly overshadowed by the bland, "He did this and she did that" format. There are very few transitions or descriptors throughout. To be fair, battle scenes are very difficult to write without becoming repetitive if you don't have extensive practice, but with some blocking and the helping hand of a more action oriented writer, these scenes can become pivotal to your reader's emotional investment.
While reading, I mostly struggled between hope and frustration. There were moments when I could see a glimpse of what this book could have been. The material, characters, and history of this mythology that the author had to work with could have made for a truly epic story. I saw potential in the poeticlly written memories and flashbacks, and in my favorite line said by Lucifer near the end of the novel.
"This I deserve but you do not. Within you, you posses the power of Hell. Rage Dahlia. Tear Heaven down."
The Final Verdict While the characters are likeable and the core conflict is interesting enough, there just isn't enough real story. There are very few noticeable plot progression points and the action of the last twenty percent comes much too late.
If you are looking for a lighthearted read filled with colorful characters that is devoid of heavy themes, Morningstar could be the book for you. Unfortunately, it just wasn't my thing.
FTC Disclosure I received a review copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for the views stated above. All opinions are my own.(less)
Calder is enjoying himself in the Caribbean when he is abruptly called back to the shores of chilly Lake Superior by his sisters. Their blood calls them to avenge their mother, and it just so happens they finally found the man who can satisfy their blood lust. Calder is recruited to seduce Jason Hancock's daughter Lily in an attempt to gain his trust and get him alone on the water so his sisters can strike. Everything is going fine until Calder develops feelings for Lily and must fight between his emotions and his animal instincts, or risk losing the only warmth he has ever felt.
Murderous mermaids indeed! This dark take on possibly one of the most fanciful mythical creatures is breathtaking in its morbidity. Lies Beneath was a first for me in a couple of ways. First, it was my very first paranormal romance about mermaids. I hadn't yet taken the plunge into mermaid fiction as it seems to have been met with mixed reactions, but when I saw the cover for this one and read the blurb, I had to give it a go. As a friend recently pointed out to me, I tend to lean towards darker fantasy as opposed to fluffy fairy stories. With that in mind, this really was the perfect introduction to mermaids in popular fiction for me.
The other first that Lies Beneath presented me with was a first-person perspective, starring the male lead. I have read fathoms of paranormal romance from the perspective of the naive, human girl, but never have I come across a YA story told by the seductive otherworldly guy. A tale told by the predator has an entirely different tone. Had the narrative been more traditional, Calder's initial murderous intentions would have been unrelatable and could have very well made this more disturbing than darkly delightful. Thanks to Brown's foresight on this, you get to see their violently beautiful existence through his eyes, rather than discovering a completely alien way of life as experienced by another clueless teen.
One of the things I enjoyed the most about Lies Beneath was that the author stayed away from the Disney incarnation of mermaids and even poked a bit of fun at Ariel. Brown seems to have molded her merpeople around the dangerous sirens found in Homer's The Odyssey; those tantalizing, yet vicious creatures who lured sailors to their deaths in the murky depths. Calder and his sisters thrive off of absorbed energy from humans they drag beneath the waves. Creepy? Oh yes, but the author's well developed mythology and vivid writing style make this a tale about how truly transformative love can be for the soul.
The only issue I had with this fantastic first title in the new YA series was that there were some continuity problems. Especially near the end of the novel when the hectic climax was in full-tilt, I found that certain events weren't explained enough or were just dropped entirely. I don't know whether this was because they will be expanded on in the coming sequel, or if the author lost sight of them during the frenzy and hoped readers wouldn't notice. Regardless Brown's writing style, while wonderfully depictive, reveals that it is still in need of development.
The Final Verdict An impressive debut that fans of dark fantasy will delight in.
FTC Disclosure I received an advanced reading copy of this book from Netgalley and Random House Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for the views expressed above. All opinions are my own. (less)
'Burn a Pure and breathe the ash. Take his guts and make a sash. Twist his hair and make a rope. Use his bones to make Pure soap.'
When I first picked up Pure I was relieved. My review queue was a mile high and I was looking forward to a fast-paced YA read. With all the great press this book has gotten, I figured it was going to be highly addicting and a nice diversion from all the so-so books I had been slogging through recently. Quick and dirty. Easy Breezy. In retrospect, I don't know if anything could have prepared me for Pure.
My initial reaction to Pure was frustration, confusion, and morbid fascination. I hated the narrative perspective. The third-person present tense completely threw me off and made the experience that much more grating. ie. "Pressia is waiting..." I kept thinking, "Who writes like that?" and "Why write like that?" I even considered updating my Goodreads status to make a point as, "Jess is thinking she does not like this book..." I wondered if this was some strange attempt at making "stream of consciousness" the new literary fad, but no, Pure was still understandable, just frustrating. The strange world I had been tossed into without warning had me struggling to acclimate and I spent the first quarter of the book in aggravated confusion.
Then something strange happened. I couldn't even tell you exactly when, but I began to become attached to the characters and the story was slowly drawing me in by taunting me with little peeks at the big picture. Once the main male character Partridge leaves the Dome and begins to experience the outside world, I had a truly awesome lightbulb moment. What I realized was, Baggott meant for her readers to be confused at first. The strange and disturbing elements of the alien world created by the detonations is shocking and the true gravity of the consequences of nuclear warfare could not be better related to readers than to force them to feel it for themselves.
While this book is classified as young adult fiction because it follows teenaged characters, it carries a much more graphic and intense nature than most book in the genre. I have seen reviewers classify this book as "icky" or "just gross", but let's be honest here. What did you expect? This book chronicles the struggles and survival of individuals who have been deeply scarred, mutated, and even fused to the world around them. The weight of the message this story carries was meant to challenge your way of thinking and immerse you in a world where teenagers must be brave, strong, and decisive as opposed to the often more fickle nature of YA characters. Do I recommend this book for everyone. Absolutely not. There are scenes that made me cringe from their graphicness and scenes that I never saw coming from a young adult title. I'm not talking about sexual content. The novel is very mild in that aspect with mostly a chaste kiss that is few and far between. I'm talking about gore and death. There is a particular twist at the end (I won't spoil it for you) that completely shocked me with it's disturbing abruptness. That being said, it felt completely right within the context of the story. As an adult, I was elated that Baggott was not afraid to truly express the gritty, dark nature of her world.
The Final Verdict
Pure is a hauntingly brilliant story that combines the impact of more literary dystopia with the sneaky addictiveness of modern day young adult fiction. This is a story I will not soon forget and I look forward to future volumes in this series with hungry anticipation. I would recommend this book to adult fans of YA and dystopia and more mature teens.(less)
Alice's Adventures In Wonderland meets Greek Mythology when Teenager Cora Alexander falls through a sinkhole during her abusive father's funeral and finds herself in the Underworld! Together with her strange and not entirely trustworthy guide, Minotaur, Cora must navigate the Underworld to find her genius brother Lucas. But what's a living girl to do in the land of the dead?
The White Oak suffers from a raw narrative riddled with short, choppy sentences. However, there is an undeniably captivating quality regardless of the overall unpolished feel. From start to finish I was pulled into the strangely wonderful world White has created. The chapters are a reasonable length making it easy to read one chapter at a time during a busy schedule, but you may find it difficult to stop. Cora's surroundings are so unique and fantastic that you will devour many chapters at a time just to see what comes next. Despite its obvious Alice roots, the entire reading experience fondly reminded me of Jim Henson's movie Labyrinth with all the bizarre and fiercely beautiful creatures and locations.
My main problem with The White Oak is that it felt more like half of a book than a whole one. Just as the conflict with Minos began to reveal itself, the story ended. I felt like the moment I began to truly love this tale, it was over and I was left feeling like I had been majorly jipped! There was just not enough actual story and there is no real character development in sight. I never felt like I got a chance to really know Cora as a person. I understand this is going to be a series, but this felt more like a novella companion than an actual first novel in a set. I really would have liked it to be much longer
Although this book didn't match up to my standards with length and polish, I still can't deny there is something magical about this book. An immense potential lingers in the background showing itself in brief spurts throughout the novel. I kept waiting for it to reveal itself during my read, but just as I thought, "Yes! Here it is!" the book abruptly ended. Regardless of my disappointments, you can bet I will be reading the next book in this series. This author has the potential to be amazing, and I want to be reading her books when that happens. (less)
After being saved by, and feeling up, a shadowy man in the alleyway behind her home, Miranda dreams steamy dreams of him every night. Three years later, the destitute status of her father forces her to marry The Dread Lord Archer, a darkly eccentric nobleman whose face is perpetually covered with a mask in public. He makes ladies faint in fright at the thought of what deformity he is hiding, but really he cares only for the affections of one lady in particular. The young lady he saved in that alleyway three years ago. The beauty marries the beast in an attempt to pay back her father for ruining him forever as a merchant with her dangerous gift. Can this beauty ever truly learn to love a beast?
I will begin by saying I absolutely adored this book! As a fan of historical romance and urban fantasy, I about died when I read the description for Firelight. A sassy heroine with supernatural skills forced to marry a mysterious masked man with a frightening reputation in Victorian London? Yes please! Usually, I bounce back and forth between a saucy historical romance and a gritty urban fantasy, however in this case, both of my cravings were equally and undeniable satisfied. Callihan's ability to place the reader directly in her world without getting too into the often tedious societal explanations is astonishing. I literally felt like I had jumped straight into Victorian London from page one. The world building is done flawlessly throughout the span of the novel as Miranda and Archer attempt to keep their secrets from each other. The third person perspective jumps from Archer to Miranda nicely offering readers intimate insights on each of the characters and their back stories. I ended up soaring right through this book and was left desperate for more. Not to say Miranda and Archer's story isn't wrapped up, it is, and very nicely so. Now to discuss my new favorite couple...
The chemistry between Miranda and Archer is incendiary! I can honestly say I have never been that hot and bothered over a near-kiss scene before. I mean, they don't even really kiss and I was fanning myself due to my furiously flushed face. The tone set between the two of them left my skin tingling in anticipation of the next heady moment.
“With the suddenness of a cat leaping upon its prey, he leaned forward and caught up her wrist. "Tread lightly, Miranda Fair." His thumb moved lightly over her fluttering pulse, as she stared with her mouth assuredly hanging open in shock, her heart beating furiously within her breast."You know, it's never wise to tempt the devil." His gaze lowered to her hand, still locked in his grip, her fingers glistening with pear juice. "Had I not this mask, I should be of a mind to suck that juice right off of your fingers.”
After ridiculously sexy scenes like this I was dying to get to the good stuff. The frustration Archer and Miranda felt at being so close to each other, but still kept at arms length due to their secrets was so palpable, I ended up writing this short poem to express my own longing.
Oh sweet frustration!
Oh agonizing fascination!
Oh desperately desiring delight!
Oh despair for I am doomed to die without Dread Lord Archer's dark dalliance!
And oh what dreams may come!
Archer's secret was definitely not what I was expecting, and a tad bit disappointing, however I think it is fair to say given such a wonderfully intriguing tool as a masked man, it is easy for what we imagine to be much wilder than reality. All in all, I am thoroughly impressed and delighted! Calihan has been added to my list of must have authors. I don't have too many series or authors that I will go right out and buy without seeing if the library has it first, however anything Callihan releases from now on will be sure to appear on my bookshelf!
To Be Continued? Absolutely! I will be impatiently, agonizing until book two, Moonglow, comes out in August! (less)
Dominic Paget awakens in the home of Julianne Greystone where he has been taken to receive care after being ghosted out of France by Julianne's smuggler brother, Jack. Dominic was shot in the back by an assassin, because, you see, Dom is an English spy working to help end the threat of the French Revolution. Unaware of his location, and the sympathies of the household, Dom pretends to be an officer in the French military, appealing to Julianne's Jacobin leanings. Will the love that forms between them survive his lie? Can two people on opposite sides of a war make their love work?
I didn't like this one as much as i thought I was going to. The prologue was very exciting and the concept intriguing, but the first half of the book really ruined it for me. The development of Julianne and Dominic's love while he is masquerading as Charles comes across as silly, fake, and over the top. Julianne's character is so naive. I get that she is innocent and doesn't really understand the world around her, but her thought processes come across very childish. Unfortunately, she makes for a very wimpy heroine and when paired with the very alpha Dominic, she just looks pathetic.
The second half of the book made this book more enjoyable for me because once Dom was no longer pretending to be Charles, I like him a lot more. I loved his uber alpha male attitude, for some reason, that cold exterior really did it for me. Plus, he doesn't baby Julianne at this point. I ended up enjoying the book just for him and the intrigue.
Speaking of intrigue, there wasn't much to begin with and I almost gave up and put this in the silly romance pile. However, the second half of the book makes up for this and brings to the table all sorts of plots, betrayals, and blackmail.
Even though I didn't like the heroine, I did enjoy the book as a whole. It was a very quick, and fun read once Dominic was unmasked. You could also see the author pulling the strings of characters who will star in books to come. Although this wasn't a great read for me, I will still be looking out for the next book. Sometimes, the first book in a series is just ok, but the rest ends up being amazing. I can see that being the case here. Plus, I want to read a romance staring the Greystone brothers! They sound dreamy! Lucas' blonde hair and grey eyes, Jack's roguishly charming demeanor! Oh and, Dom's ex-fiance, Nadine, just so happens to be lonely and in need! There is definitely lots of potential for future great reads there. (less)
The intriguing first installment of the Veiled Isles Trilogy gives readers a taste of its rich world and the cataclysm to come. Jianna is the spoiled daughter of Magnifico Aureste Belandor. While on her way to a new land and a future husband, Jianna is kidnapped by an enemy her father discounted long ago. Jianna must overcome her pampered upbringing and naivety of her father's past deeds in order to escape the fate that awaits her.
The whimsy of this book caught me right away with the prologue and the humorous banter between Grix Orlazu and his automaton I never felt forced to read this as the style and quality of writing were wonderful, however I felt like there was a veil between myself and the characters. Although I wanted to get to know them better I could never really connect or relate to any of the character except Jianna. Jianna annoyed me at first with her bratty attitude and complete dependency on her father to rescue her, however as the story progressed and it become more and more clear that her father would not be coming to her rescue, I was pleasantly surprised at Jianna's development. . I especially enjoyed her nursing of the patients with Falaste Rione. Instead of complaining and getting grossed out, she rose to the challenge and helped heal the battle injuries of her patients. I loved her growing sense of responsibility and her eventual willingness to devise her own way of escape. It was nice to read about a heroine who tries to save herself rather than just waits for someone else to do it. I look forward to seeing how much she grows in the next book as well.
There was were very little romance elements in this book. You could tell the author is setting up Jianna to have feelings for Rione, but instead of focusing on a romance, the Paula Brandon focuses on her world building, characters, and story. Although I felt the chapters focusing on Vinz Corvestri slowed down the pace of the novel quite a bit, I still enjoyed getting to know the characters. Rione was my least favorite character in this story, mostly because he was a complete and utter wimp until the last couple chapters. I absolutely hated that he just stood around and let Jianna be hurt and treated as a prisoner. If Jianna does develop feelings for him and he becomes the love interest, I hope the author gives Rione a way to redeem himself because he is still on my shit list.
Readers will find this first installment to be more of a precursor to the main story which seems to be set to unfold in book 2. While reviews I have read complain about this, I was compelled to find out more and actually excited by the way it all ended. The end perfectly sets up book 2 for readers and gives them a pretty good idea of what is happening to the world around its characters. As a zombie fanatic, I am not completely convinced about the zombies of Brandon's world, but am looking forward to finding out more about them. I think Brandon had the right idea when she set up The Traitor's Daughter to mostly set everything up so that she could get into the meat of things in book 2 The Ruined City set to be released February 28th of 2012.
Recommendation: Fantasy fans will recognize the elements of an epic tale, but will want more clarification. Not for readers looking for a romance novel, this is pure fantasy and adventure. (less)
Allison Sekemoto has spent her life surviving day to day in the Fringe of New Covington, a sprawling vampire city. When she is ravaged by rabids, Kagawa's version of zombies, she is given a choice between death and becoming what she hates most.
This first book in the Blood of Eden series was a likeable read that fell a bit short of my expectations. The idea of mixing dsytopia with vampires caught my interest right away, but while The Immortal Rules is set in the future, it's dystopian aspects mirror another popular series a bit too closely. The beginning of this book is very similar to The Morgainville Vampires series by Rachel Caine. Vampires have contracted with humans to provide them with protection, food, and work in their cities in exchange for keeping the vamps supplied with blood. The exact same statement can be made for Caine's YA vampire series, except the vampires' power extends to the boundaries of the city of Morganville. There is also another key element to Kagawa's vampire lore that is also exactly the same in Caine's series, but it is a spoiler for both so I won't discuss it here. The likenesses between The Immortal Rules and The Morganville Vampires series will be painfully obvious to fans of the latter. This could have ruined the book for me, but thankfully the core structure of the dystopian element isn't the focus of the novel. The story Kagawa tells once Allison leaves the city is one worth reading.
Once Allison gets past New Covington, the story becomes more unique and enjoyable. She spends some time surviving in the outside world alone for a time, but it isn't long before Allison meets up with a wayward group looking for the legendary Eden, a sanctuary for humans devoid of vampires and the threats they bring. This was by far my favorite part of the book. Allison is constantly covering up her vampire nature as she tries to maintain her tenuous alliance with the people and their formidable "man of God" leader. I definitely bonded with these characters and experienced some heart-wrenching moments throughout their journey.
Allison is a breath of fresh air in the YA heroine category. She isn't your average sweet, but misunderstood, pretty princess. Allison begins her journey by becoming what she most hates and proceeds on a progressive and satisfying character arc. This girl is tough and often times stoic in her need to disguise her nature. The best part about her is there is not once an instance of whiny, pathetic damsel in distress syndrome! She is hardly perfect, but she soldiers on and doesn't rely on others to save the day. I'm looking forward to future books staring this badass, lone wolf heroine.
My only complaint about Allison? There is a scene at the beginning of the book that was so cliche I cringed. Allison's vampire sire asks her to pick a weapon from an abandoned museum and what does she pick without fail? Of course! the Asian girl picks a katana as her weapon of choice even though she has no identification with or knowledge of her Japanese heritage. Given, a katana is a generally perfect weapon of choice for any situation, I thought this was just way too obvious and was left shaking my head.
Finally, the book's version of zombies suffer from an unfortunate title. Rabids and rabidism remind me too much of Raving Rabbids.
I couldn't help but imagine a bunch of these crazy cute little guys every time the "rabids" appeared in the book, regardless of their vicious and frightening natures. This is obviously hardly the author's fault, it was just something that messed with my overall enjoyment.
The Final Verdict
The Immortal Rules is a decent start to a new and exciting dystopian series. While the painful similarities to The Morgainville Vampires series are unfortunate and a bit off-putting, the characters, running plot, and lethal heroine will keep readers coming back for more. This could be the start of something beautiful if Kagawa keeps up the excellent character writing and puts a more unique spin on her dystopian world.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for stating any of the above views. All opinions are my own. (less)
I'm terribly conflicted in my feelings for this book. You see, I was so excited to begin reading. I received this book in a Secret Santa exchange and immediately fell in love with its gorgeous appearance.The hardback version of Miss Peregrine's is stunningly beautiful with its superb dust jacket artwork, inclusion of vintage photographs and letters in each chapter, and smooth, luxurious pages. The publisher succeeded in making the packaging alone worthy of today's high prices. However in the growing cover lust market it seems more focus is being put on making an outwardly beautiful book with less emphasis on the quality of its content. The old adage, "Don't judge a book by its cover," could not be truer here and ultimately leads to an experience that is downright disappointing.
Theintriguing premise along with the deliciously macabre vintage photos makes for perpetually limitless peculiar plot possibilities. Yes, I'm a fan of alliteration. With this seemingly bottomless well of literary wealth, how the hell did Riggs completely miss the mark? Let me explain.
I'm the sort of reader who loves a deeply visceral and emotionally engaging read. The superficial appearance of Miss Peregrine's along with all the sparkling reviews led me to believe my experience would be like this:
When in actuality, It ended up being more like this...
Scary monsters huh? Cool...
So what happened? The storytelling is at first pleasantly creepy and the inclusion of the strange and disturbing photos made it that much better. I anticipated being drawn in deeper and waited patiently for the core plot to be revealed. To my surprise, and dismay, the actual action/conflict doesn't begin until the last 100 pages! This subsequently led to the author shoving me down a hill and leaving me with brief glimpses of depth as I tumbled toward the end. The first half of the book sets you up and slowly reels you in with cleverly deceptive photographs that never quite pay off and are often awkwardly placed. This ends up slowing the story down considerably rather than enhancing it. The farther I got into the story, the more I cringed each time Riggs planted another photo op. If that wasn't frustrating enough, certain plot twists happen way too late in the story cutting off any actual character development.
Speaking of characters, I enjoyed Jacob's snarky wit and general dry attitude up until he turns into one of the freaking Hardy Boys (with much less sleuthing ability) halfway though. Jacob takes the express route from charmingly cynical to dauntingly featherbrained. I won't go into depth on the shallow secondary characters and their even shallower relationships with Jacob, but yeah... Very unconvincing to say the least.
The sporadic and often random spurts of gore miss unsettling and go straight to just plain awkward. I don't mind gruesome details, but if you are going to do graphic then be consistent! The majority of the book is spent picnicking, making out with an eighty year old teen, and arguing the pros and cons of terrorizing a sweet little village in a time loop. So when out of the blue disemboweled sheep (and people) appear, the general impression comes off as an afterthought.
Finally, I have to say...WHERE THE F*** ARE ALL THE CHILDREN? We are tantalized with creepy photographs of the peculiar children from beginning to end and are introduced to barely any of them! This wouldn't have been such a big deal if I had just gotten even a whiff of the disturbing clown faced twins! There are two separate instances where Jacob finds a picture of them and they are just so damn creepy you would think Riggs wouldn't pass up the chance to use them to his advantage. But no! Not even an honorable mention is made throughout the entire book. Some of the more off-the-wall peculiars are a real treat and helped keep me interested, but this fact alone was not enough to save Miss Peregrine's for me.
The Final Verdict: A promising premise is poorly executed. If only an actual writer had written this... (less)
Fifty Shades of Grey huh? Well James has certainly delved into the ethical grey area that's for sure. I know this trilogy has amassed a legion of fans in a fairly short amount of time, however I feel the majority of those fans don't realize their romance/smut fix is actually a re-vamped Twilight fanfic. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the term, a fanfic is a story written by a fan of a particular movie, television show, video game, book/series of books, etc. These stories are supposed to be written entirely for fun and the enjoyment of fellow fans of said fan base and usually come with a disclaimer that the characters, settings, etc. belong to the original author or creator and that the fan writer is in no way making any profit off of their fanfiction. Popular fanfiction archiving sites like FanFiction.Net require these disclaimers and even have a list of authors/creators who have specifically asked that their works not be reproduced and archived on fanfiction websites. Obviously, people are going to do what they want and write what they want about whatever they want. I myself have enjoyed reading fanfiction for favorite anime and book series. There is nothing wrong with exploring the depths of a world you love, as long as you realize it is not your world in any way shape or form. You do not own the world, the characters, or any of the plot lines therein.
This is where my issue with Fifty Shades of Grey comes in. Originally published as the Twilight fanfic online Master of the Universe, this story was James' attempt at taking Bella, Edward, and their fellow cast of characters, and setting them up in a real-world situation. Trading claws and fangs for whips and chains if you will. This is what we call an AU or Alternate Universe fic in the world of fanfiction. Yes, the characters find themselves in different situations than the original Twilight story, however not by much. There were several instances during the reading of Fifty Shades that I snorted with derision and shook my head because the parallels were so blatantly obvious. If this were being portrayed for what it is, a fanfiction of another author's work, I probably would have enjoyed it. However the case is, James is selling this as her own work. After her fanfic became popular, James decided to change everyone's names, slap a new title on it, and sell it as her OWN work. Some other reviewers who are aware of its regurgitation status are claiming that James has taken out all the Twilight references and made this book undoubtedly her own. This is absolute delusion as the characters, locales, and many of the plot and back story details mirror the original Twilight story almost exactly with only a minor tweak here and there.
The main character Anastasia is clumsy, plain, and works at a ... hardware store... Dear god, i wonder who that could be? It also doesn't help how wimpy and pathetic she is. She is constantly telling Christen no and standing up for herself, only to cave not five minutes later. There is a constant theme here of, "Oh gosh! I can't believe he likes me! How can someone soooooo gorgeous want me?" It gets extremely irritating as I like a strong, heroine who can stand on her own two feet without swooning every time her man comes through a door. There is nothing wrong with drooling over a sexy man, but when you start acting like a brainless husk, well, you've lost my respect. Ana is not the only character who has retained her Twilight character trait roots. She can tell her friend Jose wants more, but she just doesn't see him that way even though he is super muscular and sexy. Mexican Jacob, nice save.
Oh and our copper haired hero is none other than... Christen? He was adopted by a loving family and even at his young age, he is rich and successful and acts like a much older man. He warns Ana to stay away because he is dangerous, but doesn't do a very good job of actually keeping his distance. Stalker much? Oh and he is just OMG gorgeous of course! Literally he is just... the epitome of a beautiful man. No seriously, he's fucking hot, ok? If you're not convinced, James will keep reminding you that he is the hottest man ever without really explaining why. I was surprised he didn't sparkle at some point.
This book read more like a draft than a final product. I quickly got sick of hearing Ana's internal dialogue. Apparently she is not intelligent enough to come up with something better than "Holy Crap" "Holy Shit" "Holy Cow" or "Holy Fuck" She says these phrases constantly throughout the entire span of the book. It was so bad, it felt like she used at least one of these every couple of paragraphs. Also the number of reflections beginning with "I can't believe..." is just over the top. This baffles me because James spends so much time telling her reader how literary Ana is. Ana loves classic novels, especially Jane Austen, and is a graduate with a degree in literature. So why does she come across as a vapid teenager with a very limited vocabulary? Oh yes, that's because she started out as Bella, had her name changed, and underwent little to no character change.
Repetitive, unimaginative writing makes Fifty Shades of Grey a complete slog until we begin to hit the sex scenes. I admit, the concept of the Dom/Sub contract leading into their relationship was intriguing and is what ultimately kept me reading. However, as you get further into the book, you realize the promised BDSM element is a sham. Christen is constantly indulging in what he calls "vanilla sex" even though he insists it is just not for him. James is trying to get across to her readers that Ana is just so gosh darn special that even control freak Christen Grey can't help himself when he's around her. However, she continues to portray Christen as dark, unmoving, and unreachable. And the control freak thing? James continues to remind her readers how much of a control freak he is by having Ana reiterate it over and over and over again in her internal dialogue, emails, and conversations. We get it! He's a Dom! We are not children who need repetition to grasp a simple concept. As the novel goes on, the sex becomes less and less sexy until near the end, it became blase and anatomical at which point I was dying to finish the damn thing so I could get back to quality romance novels.
Overall, it felt like I was reading a fanfiction, probably because I was, but you would think the author and the subsequent publisher who picked it up, would have done some better cover up here. There is just no excuse for the poor quality of writing, shoddy narrative, and uncanny resemblances to another author's work. And what the hell is with charging $29.99 for a paperback copy? How can the publishing company justify that when it is so poorly written? At least do a good edit and take out every Twilight reference. The sad thing is, I probably could have liked this had she been original. The fact that this series has gained so much success riding on the coattails of Stephanie Meyer's empire makes me ill. Seeing a cover on my favorite book website has never made me so furious before.
Angry fangirls, I'm sorry I couldn't like this book. You have every right to like any book you want. On that note, I also have the right to not like any book that doesn't do it for me. If you enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey, I'm happy for you and respect your opinion. Unfortunately I couldn't get past the completely unethical use of another author's material and the inexcusable poor quality for the sake of a cheap thrill. You want to take a shot at me? That's fine, but my opinion on plagiarism and sub par writing is not going to change.
Flat and underdeveloped narrative Choppy sentences Poorly edited Immature style Not Harlequin huh? Well these people sure gasp more than a flustered regency debutante who has found herself in a shamefully compromising position. And what the hell is wrong with Harlequin anyway? Snobs... (less)