Friday, May 22, 2015

DESCENT by Tara Fuller

Rating: A
Release Date: 6/3/15
Synopsis:
Easton doesn’t believe in love. He believes in Death. Darkness. Sin. As a reaper for Hell, it’s all he’s known for over four hundred years. When he gets slapped with the job of training the boss’s daughter, an angel who knows nothing but joy, he knows he’s in for a world of trouble.

Though he’s made it clear he wants nothing to do with her outside of work, Gwen would do anything to get closer to the dark and wounded reaper—even taint her angelic image and join the ranks of her father’s team of reapers. But in all her planning, she forgot to factor in one thing—how far the demons Easton doomed to hell would go to get revenge.

When the dangers of the Hell threaten Gwen, Easton will do whatever it takes to save her. But as the darkness closes in on them both, will he be able to save himself?


My thoughts on the book:
Descent is by far the best book in this trilogy. I absolutely loved getting to know Easton and Gwen. They developed organically throughout the story. The plot was full of suspense, and the pacing was spot on. Fuller's descriptions and world building were fantastic, and her writing was top notch. I'd recommend this book to just about anyone. 

Gwen was a really cute character, and I enjoyed reading from her perspective. There was much more to her than one would expect. Easton was also incredibly complex, and I was glad we finally got to know him better. He was such a tortured guy, but still good, somehow. Scout wasn't my favorite secondary character, but he was okay. The rest of the characters weren't incredibly developed, but they didn't really need to be. They each had their own personality, we just didn't get to hear much about them. 

The plot was fast paced and full of adventure. I was on the edge of my seat most of this novel, and Fuller did an excellent job of painting the horrors of hell. Her descriptions made it to where I could clearly picture how horrifying that place was. Also, her world building was top notch. Everything made sense, and I was easily able to achieve willing suspension of disbelief. The ending tied things up nicely and was a fantastic conclusion to this trilogy.

Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys angel and demon stories. It's a little bit different, and you can read it as a stand alone or as part of the trilogy.

Pre-order Descent by Tara Fuller

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

CRASH by Eve Silver

Rating: A-
Release Date: 6/9/15
Synopsis:
A thrilling action/suspense novel for fans of The Fifth Wave about contemporary teens pulled in and out of an alternate reality where battling aliens is more than a game—it's life and death.

Miki’s life is falling apart around her. Her dad and best friend are lying in the hospital. The Game is glitching, making missions more frequent and more deadly. And someone close to her is waiting for the right moment to betray her. 

Miki feels like she’s hanging on by a thread and the only thing keeping her tethered is Jackson’s hand in hers. Yet telling him how much she needs him, how much she loves him, feels like the biggest challenge of all. And if Miki really wants the missions to end for everyone, she’ll have to let go and be ready to fight when the walls between the Game and reality come crashing down. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned, it’s that she’s got a whole lot left to lose.

Crash is the pulse-pounding conclusion to the Game trilogy fans won’t want to miss.


My thoughts on the book:
Crash is a fantastic ending to this trilogy. It's fast paced and full of action and adventure. The characters grow even more, and the ending itself is satisfying. The romance is sweet, and there are a lot of plot twists. I've been a fan of this trilogy from the beginning because of its unique premise, and Silver finishes the series as strongly as she started it. 

Miki is a great narrator and a completely relatable character. She is flawed and battles with depression and anxiety, which I love. She shows her strength differently than characters who don't have these problems, but she is still very strong. I think it's so important for people to know you can be strong, even if you do have to fight a mental illness. Sometimes you're stronger because of that than you would be if you didn't have the illness. Jackson opens up some in this book, and I really enjoyed getting to know more about him. Lizzie is an intriguing character, and she added some mystery to the last two novels. 

The plot itself is full of twist, turns, and action. There is a lot going on in this book, and Silver does a good job keeping the mystery alive. The big reveal didn't surprise me that much, but it wasn't completely obvious either. It made perfect sense. One part bothered me, and that was when Jackson changes his mind suddenly. I don't want to say more than that to spoil it for anyone, but that part doesn't seem very realistic. Other than that, the plot was solid and the ending was satisfying. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book and series to anyone who is looking for a fun, exciting, and unique sci-fi read. 

Pre-order Crash

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

NOWHERE BUT HERE by Katie McGarry

Rating: C
Release Date: 5/26/15
Synopsis:
An unforgettable new series from acclaimed author Katie McGarry about taking risks, opening your heart and ending up in a place you never imagined possible.

Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she's curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn't mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both. 

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They're the good guys. They protect people. They're…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club's most respected member—is in town, he's gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it's his shot at his dream. What he doesn't count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down. 

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.


My thoughts on the book:
As you guys know, I'm not a huge fan of contemporary lit. Reading is my form of escapism, and when I escape, I want to visit worlds that don't really exist. However, Katie McGarry is one of the few contemporary authors I really like. Her characters always have fantastic chemistry, and her stories tug at your heart strings. Nowhere but Here didn't stand out to me like the Pushing the Limits series did, though. The characters aren't quite as likable, and the world they reside in isn't as captivating. That being said, the chemistry and wonderful writing make up for the things this story lacks, and I did enjoy this novel. 

I wasn't a huge fan of Emily, and that was part of why I didn't like this book as much as the others by McGarry. I just felt like Emily was too much of a goody-goody, and Oz was too much of a bad boy. It was just too much of a clash. However, there were tons of sparks between the two, and even though I couldn't stand their personalities that much, the chemistry between them really did make up for their annoying habits/personality traits.

The plot was pretty run of the mill for teen romance. Good girl meets bad boy. They fall in love. No one wants them to be together. They "rebel" against society and do what they want. Happy endings for all. Regardless of that, it's still sweet to read stories like that some times. They do tug at one's heart strings and let's face it, there are a lot worse things out there people could be reading and watching. 

Overall, this book was okay. It wasn't what I'd come to expect from McGarry, but it wasn't a complete disappointment, either. 

Pre-order Nowhere but Here

Monday, May 18, 2015

THE MEMORY HIT by Carla Spradbery

Rating: D
Release Date: 6/4/15
Synopsis:
On New Year's Eve, Jess's life is unrecognizable: her best friend is in the hospital, her boyfriend is a cheater. A drug-dealing cheater it would seem, after finding a stash of Nostalgex in his bag.

Nostalgex: a drug that stimulates memory. In small doses, a person can remember the order of a deck of cards, or an entire revision guide read the day before an exam. In larger doses it allows the user detailed access to their past, almost like watching a DVD with the ability to pause a moment in time, to focus on previously unnoticed details and to see everything they've ever experienced with fresh eyes. As Leon, the local dealer, says 'it's like life, only better.' What he fails to mention is that most memories are clouded by emotions. Even the most vivid memories can look very different when visited.

Across town Sam Cooper is in trouble. Again. This time, gagged and bound in the boot of a car. Getting on the wrong side of a drug dealer is never a good idea, but if he doesn't make enough money to feed and clothe his sister, who will?

On New Year's Day, Jess and Cooper's worlds collide. They must put behind their differences and work together to look into their pasts to uncover a series of events that will lead them to know what really happened on that fateful New Year's Eve. But what they find is that everything they had once believed to be true, turns out to be a lie ...

'A pleasingly dark teen thriller with fun, fresh characters. Spradbery is a debut author to watch.' James Dawson


My thoughts on the book:
I feel like The Memory Hit tried to be Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and failed miserably. That's not to say there was nothing good about this book. It just wasn't captivating enough. It jumped around so much, it was hard to keep up with what was happening and what character we were supposed to be following, and the characters felt a little like stereotypes. The ending was a shocker, though, and I did read it all the way through because I wanted to see what happened, so at least I was able to get invested in it, even if the story's potential wasn't fully realized. 

Jess and Cooper were okay characters. I didn't feel much for them either way. They weren't as defined as they could have been. The rest of the cast (Leon, Luke, Scarlett, etc.) all just felt like stereotypes to me. Leon the drug dealer whose dad was in jail was the biggest cliche. I just couldn't take any of the characters seriously because of their pasts. I did feel some sympathy for Scarlett, even though she had cheated with her best friend's boyfriend. That doesn't mean she deserved to be in the hospital severely injured like she was. 

The plot was disjointed and jumped around too much. There was no flow to it at all, and that made the story seem longer than it was. I lost interest a few times and had to put the book down and come back to it later because of the ADD-style writing. The ending shocked me, but it made sense, at least. I didn't feel much emotion other than shock at the big reveal due to the fact that I couldn't get invested in the characters.

Overall, I didn't really enjoy this book. That doesn't mean that other people won't, though. The jumpy plot just really ruined it for me. If you try it, I hope you like it more than I did.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

THE CAGE by Megan Shepherd

Rating: A- 
Release Date: 5/26/15
Synopsis:
The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in this gripping new series about teens held captive in a human zoo by an otherworldly race. From Megan Shepherd, the acclaimed author of The Madman's Daughter trilogy.

When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn't know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures—all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn't alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora's past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer—a handsome young guard called Cassian—appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren't from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans.

As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer—though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so . . . what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?


My thoughts on the book:
The Cage is the weirdest book I have read in awhile, and I mean that in a good way. It was so strange, and I felt like the Kindred were messing with my head, too. Shepherd created a really complex and creepy world, and she was able to give each character his or her own voice when a chapter was being told from his or her POV. The switching viewpoints didn't bother me like they often times do, and the plot was full of twists and turns. The characters were complicated, realistic, and flawed. I'm really looking forward to this sequel.

The character development was pretty top notch, in my opinion. Each character had a distinct personality and their own voice. Furthermore, they all had complicated and messy pasts which formed how they interacted with one another. None of the main or secondary characters really felt like stock characters to me... not even the Kindred, even though they weren't supposed to show emotion. I thought that Cora was really strong, though she struggled with being brave sometimes. That made her seem more realistic than someone who was constantly strong. I also adored Cassian, even though I probably shouldn't. I can't wait to get to know him better, though. Lucky annoyed me quite a bit, and I really hope the author isn't planning to set up a love triangle. 

The plot was complex, and the big reveal actually shocked me. That rarely happens for me in books, but this one was surprising. Looking back, it made sense, but I definitely didn't see it coming. The pacing was pretty fast, and I flew through the ending. Shepherd did a good job with the world-building, too, and I could clearly picture the different biomes. The rules of the world were a bit confusing, even at the end, but answers were slowly being given. I feel like the next book will answer a lot more questions. The ending tied up a lot of the issues in the novel, but was also kind of a cliffhanger, which I didn't care for. I hate cliffhangers, and now I have to wait a whole year to see what happens. Sigh. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something unique in the YA Sci-Fi genre. This is an enjoyable book, and it will definitely keep you on your toes as you try to figure out what, exactly is happening and why. 

Pre-order The Cage

Thursday, May 14, 2015

THE RISE AND FALL OF THE GALLIVANTERS by M. J. Beaufrand

Rating: F
Synopsis:
In Portland in 1983, girls are disappearing. Noah, a teen punk with a dark past, becomes obsessed with finding out where they've gone—and he's convinced their disappearance has something to do with the creepy German owners of a local brewery, the PfefferBrau Haus. Noah worries about the missing girls as a way of avoiding the fact that something's seriously wrong with his best friend, Evan. Could it be the same dark force that's pulling them all down?

When the PfefferBrau Haus opens its doors for a battle of the bands, Noah pulls his band, the Gallivanters, back together in order to get to the bottom of the mystery. But there's a new addition to the band: an enigmatic David Bowie look-alike named Ziggy. And secrets other than where the bodies are buried will be revealed. From Edgar-nominated author M. J. Beaufrand, this is a story that gets to the heart of grief and loss while also being hilarious, fast paced, and heartbreaking.


My thoughts on the book:
As someone who moved to Chicago in the early 2000s because of the resurgence of the punk scene (though it was different and more of a pop punk scene, it was still glorious), I generally love books about the original US punk scene. Novels like this are usually gritty and realistic and speak to a part of me that the fantasy books I adore can't. However, this book didn't speak to me at all. It was lacking in all aspects: character development, plot development, writing, descriptions. This concept had the potential to be a fantastic story, but instead fell flat. Needless to say, this book was a big disappointment. 

This novel was told from Noah's perspective. It was his first person account of his life, and while a lot of things happened that should have made his life exciting, the whole thing was dull, probably because he was dull. For a punk, Noah was extremely boring. He didn't really have a personality, and the way he spoke was forced. It seemed like the author just read some dictionary of punk words and tried to make boring and plain Noah use them. It didn't work for me. Evan also didn't grab me, and I couldn't make myself care about his well-being because he didn't seem like a real person. He was very flat and one dimensional. Ziggy wasn't half as exciting and mysterious as the author intended, either. Sonia was a cliche of what non-punk guys think punk girls should be/are. Everything really just made a mockery of the whole US Scene. 

The plot was ridiculous, and with Noah's details - or lack thereof - about his plans, there were times that it was hard to make sense of what he was thinking. Also, with missing girls and whatever, you'd think that there would be some excitement or tension in the plot. Nope, not really. It was so flat that it took me forever to get through this novel. I just couldn't bring myself to care. However, I kept reading in hopes that it'd somehow get better and be the book I knew it could be. The writing was pretty forced and terrible. The descriptions were lacking. I wasn't able to really achieve a willing suspension of disbelief, and I wasn't invested in the book at all. The ending even bored me. 

Overall, I'd say skip this one. It doesn't do the memory of the US Punk Scene any favors, and it doesn't reflect it accurately. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

THROUGH FIRE & SEA by Nicole Luiken

Rating: D
Synopsis:
Mirror mirror, hear my call…

In the Fire world, seventeen-year-old Leah is the illegitimate daughter of one of the realm's most powerful lords. She's hot-blooded—able to communicate with the tempestuous volcano gods that either bless a civilization or destroy it. But then Leah discovers she's a Caller, gifted with the unique—and dangerous—ability to “call” her Otherselves in mirror worlds. And her father will do anything to use her powers for his own purposes.

In the Water world, Holly nearly drowns when she sees—and interacts with—Leah, a mirror image of herself. She’s rescued by Ryan, a boy from school with a secret he’d die to protect. Little do they know, his Otherself is the son of a powerful volcano god at war in the Fire world…and he’s about to fall.

As Leah and Holly's lives intersect, the Fire and Water worlds descend into darkness. The only way to protect the mirror worlds is to break every rule they've ever known. If they don’t, the evil seeping through the mirrors will destroy everything—and everyone—they love…
 


My thoughts on the book:
I had high hopes for Through Fire & Sea. It was a brilliant concept, but poorly executed. I loved the idea of two worlds and mirror versions of ourselves. However, the characters fell flat, the plots were underdeveloped, and the pacing either dragged or felt rushed. The world building was okay, and that's the only reason this book didn't get an F from me. I had to force myself to finish this one, and it took a long time. I was just so bored and uninvested in the outcome that I couldn't make myself care. 

The characters, Holly, Ryan, Leah, Gideon, the whole lot of them, were underdeveloped. None of them felt like real people. They were cliches at best. I think Holly was supposed to be somewhat interesting with her pink streak in her hair, but that just seemed like a tired attempt at originality. The characters were dull and I could not relate to any of them. I had no feelings about them at all because I felt as if I were reading about paper dolls instead of people. Very two dimensional. Also, their actions didn't make sense, often times. They'd just do random weird things, which made it hard to keep up a willing suspension of disbelief. 

The world-building was extremely well done, and I could picture the Fire World clearly. Our world also was nicely painted. The mythology behind the mirror worlds was a bit vague, but it made sense. That's where the good things stopped, though. The plots (there were two, one in each world) were severely underdeveloped. I felt like I was reading two partial stories, but those two stories didn't fit together to form one cohesive tale. The romance was rushed and unbelievable, not to mention weird. There was no passion at all. The pacing went from rushed to a snail's pace in the blink of an eye. Also, the changing POVs (third person limited) gave me a headache. Since neither Holly nor Leah were well developed, it was difficult to tell them apart. The ending felt extremely rushed and was not satisfying. 

Overall, I'd say skip this book. I know a lot of people liked it, but I'm not sure that we even read the same book as it really did not set well with me at all. Maybe it takes a certain type of person to appreciate this writing style. I'm clearly not that type of person. At best, I'd say check it out from the library before buying.