Drawn in by the stunning cover and unique premise, I picked up Illuminate as soon as there was a reading slot free on my e-reader, thanks to the lov...more Drawn in by the stunning cover and unique premise, I picked up Illuminate as soon as there was a reading slot free on my e-reader, thanks to the lovely people in the publishing department for the book and Netgalley. Unfortunately the book took me many weeks to finish, mainly because it was so lengthy and I couldn't find myself as drawn into Haven's world as I wanted to be.
The main drawback for this book for me was the length. At over 500-pages, I felt that Illuminate was too clunky to really hold my interest. There were loads of scenes and pieces of dialogue that could've been scrapped in the final draft to make the book more engaging and flowy; such as the scenes of Haven unpacking with Dante, etc. I felt they didn't add any 'weight' to the book, and as soon as my interest was piqued, a slow, uncessary scene would pop up and dull my reading splurge.
I found myself having to muster the energy and patience to pick up Illuminate. I was previously on a reading-high until I picked this one up, sadly. While the ideas behind the book were fresh and unique, there just wasn't enough suspense sprinkled evenly throughout the story to keep me entertained. I didnt find myself clinging to Haven as a narrator and there was no love story to speak of (well, unless you call the interactions between her and Lucian) until the very last pages.
I wish that more of the historical concepts behind the Lexington Hotel had played a bigger role in the book, too. I liked hearing about the hotel's history with Al Capone, the secret passageways, etc. and I first went into the book thinking that our cast of characters would somehow be interacting with the past. What we get instead was a lot of 'work life' to do with the hotel, which quite honestly bored me throughout most of the novel.
There was an 'angel' aspect throughout the book that's hinted quite early on, but doesn't actually come into play until the final chapters. I was hoping for some new take on angel mythology, but Illuminate doesn't offer anything more just yet - it's all still shrouded in mystery. I also felt that the characters themselves were rather cardboard-like, with the token gay best friend and unsure heroine. I came to quite appreciate Lance toward the end, but for a good part of the book he felt rather hollow and ghostlike in regards to his personality. Haven's parental figure problems and all that side-story of the hospital and her checking in seemed to throw me off the story, too. It was another piece of the book I felt could have been cut altogether.
All in all, it was just an 'okay' book, and sadly offered nothing special for me personally as a reader. From what I can gather from the ending, there are more books to come, but I won't be reading them. After a 500-page haul of trying to overthrow Aurelia and the Outfit, I'm not sure I can go through it again. After all, we learn in the last few pages that Illuminate was just 'the first test' for Haven and friends.
Recommended to: I'm sure a lot of readers out there will love Illuminate, however it just wasn't the book for me. If you're willing to invest in a 500-page read, by all means check it out. However if you feel that it's not to your tastes early on, as I did, maybe listen to your instincts.(less)
Kiss of Frost marks my second and final venture into the world of Gwen Frost and Mythos Academy. Unfortunately, this one didn't improve upon the pro...more Kiss of Frost marks my second and final venture into the world of Gwen Frost and Mythos Academy. Unfortunately, this one didn't improve upon the problems I had with it's predecessor and spent a lot of time recapping the storyline or following a predictable plotline.
I had a few problems with the first 'Mythos Academy' book, Touch of Frost, however I felt it did offer a unique spin on the boarding school/kids with magic storyline and decided to continue with the next book to see if it improved. Sadly, it didn't. Kiss of Frost was no better - in fact, I felt it was a lot worse - and offered nothing new or surprising to the series.
I just can't get behind Gwen Frost as a hero or likeable main character. Even her hot/cold relationship with Logan failed to inject life into the wintery landscape that was Kiss of Frost.
As for the main plot twist, I had it picked out as soon as she met the 'swoonworthy' Preston. The same thing can be said for all the 'mini-plots' within this story such as Oliver's secret, Grace Frost's death and Logan's relationship with Savannah. I felt as if Jennifer Estep was gathering all the predictable plot devices known to YA and using them in Kiss of Frost. I don't want to give too much away for those who haven't read the book, but it was just really silly and I expected something more - something more intelligent.
It's pretty bad when the most shocking/unforseen thing you learn in a 300-page book regards an uncle-nephew relationship.
I also drew a lot of comparisons to the 'Vampire Academy' series with this one. The second book in 'Vampire Academy', called Frostbite, is also set in the snowy mountains as a school getaway.
A good 25% of this book felt recycled from the first, too. I like a small recap with a second installment in a series - especially if there has been a large amount of time between their release - but in this case, it was just excessive. As soon as Gwen mentioned something, such as the library, I immediately knew I was in for a convoluted spiel about just how intricate and lifelike the stone creatures that adorned its exterior were, and so on and so forth. I wouldn't be surprised to find out certain paragraphs were simply copied and pasted from Touch of Frost into Kiss of Frost.
The irksome catch phrases Gwen chooses on using every two pages are back, too; 'magic mumbo jumbo', 'warrior whiz kids', 'my gypsy gift', 'froufrou', 'The Powers That Were'... My teeth were basically grinding from page one. I've seen this complaint in a lot of other reviews, too, with some readers using the 'find' tool on their electronic copies to see just how many times a certain phrase comes up. I bet it's a ridiculous amount.
All in all, Kiss of Frost was just downright disappointing. I had a lot of trouble finishing this one - the only thing that kept me going was my desire to write about just how unhappy I was with it. I really wanted to get behind the 'Mythos Academy' series, but unfortunately it just wasn't meant to be.
Recommended to: If you really loved the first book, you may like this one. However, if like me you had your doubts, I'd say steer clear of Kiss of Frost.(less)