Friday, April 24, 2015

COLD BURN OF MAGIC by Jennifer Estep

B+
Release Date: 4/28/15
Synopsis:
It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power. 

I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick. 

But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her. 


My thoughts on the book:
As most of you know, I'm a huge fan of anything Jennifer Estep writes. I love her world-building, descriptions, and kick ass heroines. Cold Burn of Magic did not disappoint me. While this is very different from the Mythos Academy novels, it is an engrossing and thrilling series debut. Estep has created another terrific world and filled it with interesting and complex characters. I can't wait to see what happens next. 

Lila is so different from Gwen that it was impossible to compare the two, which is good. I hate when authors write the same characters all the time. Lila resembles Gin from Estep's Elemental Assassin series much more than she does Gwen. Lila isn't quite as cold, but she is pretty hardcore. I enjoyed reading from her perspective, and she was one of those types who you trust because she just doesn't care enough to lie. I respected that. She was emotionally closed off, which I understood, yet somehow she was likeable and easy to relate to. Devon was a fantastic love interest, and he seems like a genuinely good guy. I really enjoyed getting to know him and look forward to learning more about him in the next book. Felix and Mo were entertaining secondary characters, though they had similar personalities. Mo was a bit more used car salesman than Felix, though. 

The world-building was fantastic for this novel. I love how Estep creates her own towns and cities in the US. In this particular book, she mentioned the other worlds she's created, too, which served to broaden the world as a whole. I now feel that Lila and Gin could run into each other because they live in the same world, even though they're in different cities. The plot itself was intriguing and full of suspense and action. I had the bad guy figured out pretty quickly, but I usually am pretty good at figuring out who can't be trusted in books and TV shows. The powers introduced in this series are very different from the ones that Estep has worked with in the past, and I really liked learning about these new forms of magic. The ending tied things up nicely and left room for a sequel.

Overall, I really loved this book and can't wait to see what happens to Lila and company next. I'd recommend this for anyone who's looking for a kick-ass YA heroine to read about. 

Pre-order Cold Burn of Magic

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

THE FEARLESS by Emma Pass

Rating: D
Release Date: 4/24/15
Synopsis:
The Fearless. An army, powered by an incredible new serum that makes each soldier stronger, sharper, faster than their enemies. Intended as a force for good, the serum has a terrible side-effect - anyone who takes it is stripped of all humanity, empathy, love. And as the Fearless sweep through the country, forcing the serum on anyone in their path, society becomes a living nightmare.
Cass remembers the night they passed through her village. Her father was Altered. Her mother died soon after. All Cass has left is her little brother - and when Jory is snatched by the Fearless and taken to their hellish lair, Cass must risk everything to get him back.
My thoughts on the book:
This book had a lot of potential to be good, but it was just depressing. I couldn't connect to any of the characters, and I really didn't care what happened to any of them. The storyline itself wasn't as interesting as it could have been, and I had all of the "mysteries" figured out well before the "reveal" because the author basically told me what was happening instead of dropping hints. Because of all of these things, I had trouble working my way through this one, but I finally did manage to finish it. 
Cass had a rough life, and she was just existing instead of living. All she cared about was Jory, and when she lost him, she risked her own survival to save him. That was admirable, but her adventure was so boring. She just wasn't someone I could emotionally relate to at all. And the dull guy whose name I can't even remember who took her onto the mainland was also unrelatable. Furthermore, there was no chemistry between them. And her psychopath friend who supposedly loved her wasn't any better. 
Overall, I'd say skip this book, or check it out from the library before buying. I know some people liked it, but it really fell flat for me. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sorry for the lack of reviews

Hey everyone!

As those of you who follow my GoodReads account know, I've been reading a lot lately. However, I haven't been taking the time to review because I've been gathering my thoughts about each book. Anyway, expect a lot of reviews to come your way this week. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

BOUND BY FLAMES by Jeaniene Frost

Rating: A+
Synopsis:
Play with fire, pay the price.

Leila’s years on the carnie circuit were certainly an education. What she didn’t learn: how to be a vampire, or how to be married to the most famous vampire of them all. Adjusting to both has Leila teetering on a knife edge between passion and peril, and now the real danger is about to begin…

Vlad must battle with a centuries-old enemy whose reach stretches across continents and whose strength equals his own. It isn’t like Vlad to feel fear, but he does…for Leila, because his enemy knows she is Vlad’s greatest weakness. As friend and foe alike align against him—and his overprotectiveness drives Leila away—Vlad’s love for his new bride could be the very thing that dooms them both…


My thoughts on the book:
Bound by Flames, in my opinion, is the best book that Jeaniene Frost has ever written. I absolutely adore all of her novels, but this one really stands out. It is difficult to read in places (graphic torture), but it has heart, grit, and suspense. I couldn't put this one down. I'm a huge fan of the Night Huntress Series, and Vlad has always been one of my favorite "spin-off" characters, but this book goes above and beyond any expectations I had for him and his series. Well done, Ms. Frost. I can't wait to see what you come up with next. 

The character growth in this novel is astounding and extremely organic. Vlad really grows as a man, vampire, and husband in this installment. He proves he loves Leila by actually listening to her (sometimes). Leila, for her part, is coming into her own as a woman, vampire, and wife. She is learning how to deal with Vlad's overbearing ways and how to work things out through compromise. I really had tons of respect for both of them in this book. Some of the secondary characters really grow and/or show who they really are as well, and there are some very touching moments. 

Like all of Frost's novels, the pacing is pretty quick, and the plot is suspenseful, and full of action and romance with a touch of comedy. Some of the plot twists really surprised me, and I loved the cameo by Cat and Fabian. This novel had to be difficult to write with the torture scenes, and Frost shows that she doesn't shy away from challenges. She paints the torture scenes as vividly as the romance scenes, and that impressed me. While some of it is a little stomach churning to read (being skinned alive, for instance), Frost's ability to not back down while writing these scenes is deserving of respect. The Epilogue delivers some much-needed lightheartedness, and it's clear from the direction of this book that the series is winding down naturally (the next installment will be the last, unfortunately). While I can't wait to see what Frost comes up with for Leila and Vlad in the 4th book, I dread the end of this series. I've come to enjoy it just as much, if not more than, Cat's and Bones' books. 

Overall, I'd recommend this series to anyone who is looking for a good vampire novel that pokes some fun at the old Dracula myths. Frost is a fun and talented writer, and if you haven't read anything by her yet, you're definitely missing out. 

Order Bound by Flames

Thursday, March 12, 2015

THE QUEEN OF ZOMBIE HEARTS by Gena Showalter

Rating: A
Synopsis:
I have a plan. 

We'll either destroy them for good, or they'll destroy us. 

Either way, only one of us is walking away. 

In the stunning conclusion to the wildly popular White Rabbit Chronicles, Alice "Ali" Bell thinks the worst is behind her. She's ready to take the next step with boyfriend Cole Holland, the leader of the zombie slayers…until Anima Industries, the agency controlling the zombies, launches a sneak attack, killing four of her friends. It's then she realizes that humans can be more dangerous than monsters…and the worst has only begun. 

As the surviving slayers prepare for war, Ali discovers she, too, can control the zombies…and she isn't the girl she thought she was. She's connected to the woman responsible for killing—and turning—Cole's mother. How can their relationship endure? As secrets come to light, and more slayers are taken or killed, Ali will fight harder than ever to bring down Anima—even sacrificing her own life for those she loves.


My thoughts on the book:
The Queen of Zombie Hearts is by far the best book in the White Rabbit Chronicles trilogy. I enjoyed all three books, but this one kept me hooked from page one. Showalter does not disappoint, and this book is equal parts romance, action, and emotion. Action packed and full of adventure, this novel will keep you on the edge of your seat from the first page to the very last. 

The cast of characters is amazing in this final installment. Ali has been a terrific and strong character since the first book, but she learns to embrace her emotions and herself more in this installment. She really grows as a character, and she makes some serious sacrifices. Ali is a great narrator and her perspective is fun to read from. Cole is as swoon-worthy as ever, and he also grows into a much more impressive character. I really like how he's willing to fight for Ali, no matter what. Nana is also a bright spot with her teen slang, and of course the phrase "douche-purse" made a few appearances, which added some humor to some serious and/or steamy situations. Kat is charming as usual, and the new characters that are introduced in this book are also well-developed and personable. 

The plot is fast-paced and has more twists and turns that a rollercoaster. Some of the surprises I saw coming, but a lot of the things that happened actually shocked me. Showalter's writing is top-notch, and the world-building is well done. The romance between Ali and Cole is sweet with just the right amount of heat, and the friendships between characters is touching. I will admit that I cried toward the ending, and even though some parts are sad, I like that things aren't perfect for everyone. I hate convenient endings because life isn't always convenient or pretty. Things are complicated and messy, and the last chapters of this book really reflect that. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book and series for people who are looking for something that is different from the normal zombie and/or teen paranormal romance fare. This trilogy has heart and a kick ass leading female, fantastic writing, and a captivating world. What more could a person ask for? 

Order The Queen of Zombie Hearts

Sunday, March 8, 2015

RED by Alyxandra Harvey

Rating: C
Release Date: 3/10/15 
Synopsis:
Bad girls burn hot…

Red is the color of Kia Alcott's hair.
It's her temper, which blazes hot and always gets Kia into way too much trouble.
And it's the color of fire. Fires that Kia can start…just by thinking about them.

When her latest “episode” gets her kicked out of school, Kia is shipped off to her grandmother, who works for the wealthy Blackwoods. It's an estate shrouded in secrets, surrounded by rules, and presided over by a family that is far from normal…including the gorgeous and insolent Ethan Blackwood.

Ethan knows far more about the dangers of the forest surrounding the estate than Kia can ever imagine. For this forest has teeth, and Ethan is charged with protecting the outside world from its vicious mysteries.

But inside, even the most vibrant shade of red doesn't stand a chance against the dark secrets of the Blackwood family…


My thoughts on the book:
I'm a pretty big fan of Alyxandra Harvey's work. I generally enjoy everything she writes, and this novel was no exception. However, a lot of things just didn't make sense to the point that I could achieve a willing suspension of disbelief. The characters, for the most part were too extreme in their actions, and those actions often vacillated between love and hate with no warning. The world-building was also lacking a bit because things just didn't seem to fit. I've come to have relatively high expectations from Harvey, and this novel just didn't meet them. 

Kia was okay, but I kept forgetting her name (maybe because she's named after a car?). She didn't really stand out. She' was just your typical angsty teenager with authority and parental issues. Yeah, she could start fires, but not nearly enough was done with that. Ethan was also very typical. I mean yeah, he had secrets, but he was still just blah. He didn't intrigue me at all. Everyone else was as you'd imagine them. No surprises with the characters. I could have told you exactly what would happen with each character at the beginning of the book. 

The mythological characters that existed were there for some thrill factor. Nothing was done with the mythology of these creatures. It wasn't mentioned at all. One creature had its origins mentioned, but no mythology to go with it. That really bothered me. The stories of these creatures would have been much better than just following along with distorted folk tale imaginings of them and throwing them all in one place. They were there for a shock factor, but nothing was shocking about it. I wish that Harvey had actually done some research on these creatures. It would have added a dose of much-needed reality. In addition to the weak world-building, all of the surprises weren't really surprises at all. I had them all figured out before I hit the 50% mark. The writing itself was good, and the book was enjoyable in a light, doesn't-make-you-think sort of way. However, this story could have been so much more. 

I'd say if you're looking for a light, quick, read, then give this book a try. If you want something with some depth, then pass this one up. It's enjoyable enough, and it's cute, sure. It just isn't something that will stick with you. 

Pre-order Red

Saturday, March 7, 2015

STRANGE SWEET SONG by Adi Rule

Rating: A
Release Date: In stores now!
Synopsis:
A young soprano enrolls in a remote music academy where nothing, not even her mysterious young vocal coach, is as it seems.

Outside Dunhammond Conservatory, there lies a dark forest. And in the forest, they say, lives a great beast called the Felix. But Sing da Navelli never put much faith in the rumors and myths surrounding the school; music flows in her blood, and she is there to sing for real. This prestigious academy will finally give her the chance to prove her worth—not as the daughter of world-renowned musicians—but as an artist and leading lady in her own right.

Yet despite her best efforts, there seems to be something missing from her voice. Her doubts about her own talent are underscored by the fact that she is cast as the understudy in the school's production of her favorite opera, Angelique. Angelique was written at Dunhammond, and the legend says that the composer was inspired by forest surrounding the school, a place steeped in history, magic, and danger. But was it all a figment of his imagination, or are the fantastic figures in the opera more than imaginary?

Sing must work with the mysterious Apprentice Nathan Daysmoor as her vocal coach, who is both her harshest critic and staunchest advocate. But Nathan has secrets of his own, secrets that are entwined with the myths and legends surrounding Dunhammond, and the great creature they say lives there.

Lyrical, gothic, and magical, Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule will captivate and enchant readers.
 


Read the first two chapters here!

My thoughts on the book:
It is very rare that I read a book that sweeps me away into its world and touches my very soul with its story. Strange Sweet Song is one of those rare books. This is one of the most beautiful stories I've ever read. Reminiscent of a modern-day Bronte sister, Rule's writing is almost poetic in its beauty. The contemporary Gothic world she created is described in lush detail, and the reader can't help but immerse himself or herself in the lyrical prose. 

The characters in this novel are both modern and classic. They have an air about them that most contemporary people don't have, and I think that Dunhammond being set in the middle of nowhere, with technology having to be abandoned due to no internet access or cell phone reception, really helped the gothic feel of this novel. Instead of playing on computers and texting their friends, the characters had to find other ways to entertain themselves. The addition of classical music made this a beautifully haunting Gothic tale. 

Sing, whose name I'm not a fan of, is a complex leading character. She is weak at times, and her voice reflects her inner turmoil. It takes her a long time to find her voice and a long time to find herself. In a large way, this story is Sing's coming of age tale. Furthermore, Sing's name has a deeper meaning. She wears it like a command, and feels that she has no choice but to sing how and when people want her to. The depth of her name choice is reminiscent to the great Gothic writers' ability to add layers of meaning to every word they wrote. The other characters each stand on their own as well, and while some are typical (Ryan and Lori, for instance), others are intriguing (Nathan). The mixture of typical and unique character gives the story a sense of reality that many books lack. Even The Felix and Tamino stand out. I, personally, adore Tamino. 

Romance takes a backseat in this book, but it is present. The novel really illustrates the different types of love that one person can have. Love for music, love for nature, love for parents, love for oneself, and love for significant others all compete in this book. One of the main questions Strange Sweet Song raises is can one person have everything? Is anyone allowed to have all of their loves, or must everyone sacrifice at least one love for the sake of the others? I think the answer to this problem ends up being a bit ambiguous, and the reader is left to decide for himself or herself. 

My favorite thing about Strange Sweet Song is that it makes you think without being too heavy. The story itself is enjoyable, but there are so many questions and deeper meanings woven into the fabric of this tale that one can't help but question his or her own reality while reading this novel. Because of that, along with the lovely prose, wonderful characterization, and captivating world, I would recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a bit of a change. This is one book that will definitely get you out of any reading slump you're in. 

Order Strange Sweet Song