Monday, December 8, 2014

UNCHOSEN by Michele Vail

Rating: C+
Synopsis:
I thought the worst of my reaper training was behind me… turns out I was wrong. Dead wrong. 

Molly Bartolucci has done a lot of growing up but after being accused of using illegal magic at her school for necromancers, reaper-in-training Molly is treading lightly. As the destined leader of Anubis’s Chosen, she needs to study hard, train harder, and stay out of trouble. 

Uh, right. 

It doesn’t help that she’s feeling more than academic about her melt-your-bones hot reaping instructor, Rath. And if her relationship drama isn’t enough to drive her over the edge, she has to deal with mother issues, nosy little sisters, suspicious friends, and an unnamed force stalking her at school. 

Then her family is attacked, and her bio-dad ends up comatose in the hospital. Now, Molly has to uncover who’s trying to hurt her loved ones—and all without the help of Anubis.


My thoughts on the book:
I really enjoyed the story that Vail told with this novel, but the typos really ruined it for me. I would have rated the book an A had it not been for those. The plot, pacing, and writing were fantastic, and the characters were fun to read. The world-building continued, and the book itself was really good. If you don't mind typos, you'll fall in love with this novel. 

Molly is a fun character with a lot of sarcasm, and I really enjoy reading from her perspective. She deals with things very well, and she grows a lot in this book. Molly really learns what's important in her life, and she learns that she must make sacrifices. I'm happy with the direction in which her character is going. I wish Rath had been more present in this book. He's such an interesting character, and he's good for Molly. I really enjoyed learning more about Barbie, though, and the grandparents are much deeper than I originally thought. 

The plot is fast-paced and kept me interested. Vail's writing and descriptions are pretty good, though lacking in some areas. The story itself is a solid one, but the typos really detract from it. Sometimes characters' names were switched. For instance, Vail calls Rath Ralph in one sentence. Also, tenses switch randomly throughout the novel. There are duplicate words, as well, such as "He ran to to the other side of the street." That's not a direct quote from the book, by the way, I'm just giving an example of what was going on. Also, the back of the novel said that the next installment would be out in March of this year, and it's not out. I hope that the third book is released. I have to see what happens next with Molly since this one ends on a cliff hanger. Aside from the typos, I absolutely adored this book, though. I grew to better understand the world that Vail had created, and the characters and plot are evolving naturally. Nothing seemed forced. I really hope there is a third book. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book, and series, for people who are looking for something a bit different from your usual necromancer novels. This involves Egyptian mythology, which is a nice touch, and it makes it stand out. 

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

INTO THE NIGHT by Suzanne Rigdon

Rating: C
Synopsis:
When Selina Baker, a coordinator for a Boston non-profit, goes out on the town with her friend Jess, she never expects to meet the man of her dreams. And she certainly never expects him to be undead.


When things go from flirty to majorly flawed on her first date with James Lawton, he is forced to save her the only way he can--by killing her. Selina suddenly finds herself in the mix with the creatures she thought were made up solely for late-night TV. Into the Night follows Selina’s transformation from a wallflower into an impulsive and dangerous new vampire. With no choice in the matter, Selina becomes trapped between a new man, his wary brothers, and his cruel and controlling Queen, who wants nothing more than to watch her suffer. Selina must walk the fine line between adjusting to her new powers, life after death, and following the rules--all while avoiding disaster.

My thoughts on the book:
Into the Night was a decent urban fantasy offering, but it didn't really stand out. The characterization wasn't spectacular. None of the characters was really easy to relate to for some reason. The plot was a bit confused at times, and some of the occurrences were simply impossible, even in fantasy. The pacing was a bit slow in places, and the ending was a bit of a cliffhanger. The romance was lukewarm at best. I'm not sure if I'll continue this series or not.

I liked that Selina wasn't simply another detective or investigator of some sort because that is way too prevalent in the urban fantasy genre, and she was a likable enough character, albeit boring. All of the characters were kind of shallow. I mean they were fine, but they didn't grab me. No one's emotions made sense to me, and I couldn't relate to any of the characters. I just couldn't make myself get 100% invested in what happened to any of them. Even when something tragic happened to one of the characters, I was unmoved. Selina also annoyed me a lot. She was impulsive, and her emotions didn't really fit any normal pattern. She just didn't seem to feel enough, if that makes sense.

The plot also had quite a few rough spots. Some of the things that happened were simply unbelievable - like the how Selina turned into a vampire. If James was a vampire and really fast, why did he just stand there gawking when she got stabbed? Also, how did he manage to kill those two people violently, in front of witnesses, and have nothing happen to him? I know this is fiction and vampires existing at all isn't realistic, but I wasn't able to attain a willing suspension of disbelief because of that. For the life of me, I couldn't understand how these dead bodies kept piling up and no one did anything about it. None of the vampires was very good at hiding his prey, so how did no one end up in jail? That distracted me a lot. Also, the world-building was unclear. Nothing was ever fully explained. It felt as if the author herself wasn't sure what the world entailed. On top of that, Selina's and James' romance wasn't really believable. It also wasn't exactly steamy. It bored me, to be honest. There was no chemistry at all between the two of them. I just didn't buy it. The writing was mediocre, and the pacing was off. Also, the falling action lasted too long and ended in a cliffhanger. I really didn't care if it was a cliffhanger or not because I don't really care what happens to any of the characters since I couldn't connect with any of them.

Overall, I'd say check this one out from the library before buying. The premise is a good one, and the novel itself isn't offensively awful or anything, but it's nothing that will blew me away, either. The problems mentioned above really bugged me throughout the course of the book, but I was interested enough to finish it, so that has to mean something, right? And I wasn't irritated at the book when I got done, so that's a good sign. I'm just not very excited about this one. At least it was something a bit different.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

DOG WITH A BONE by Hailey Edwards

Rating: B+
Synopsis:
Half-bloods with Thierry’s skill set are given two options. They can join the conclave’s marshal program, or they can pack their bags. Turn down the job offer, and you’ve just shredded your residency pass for the mortal realm and booked yourself a one-way ticket to Faerie.


Texas is the only home Thierry has ever known, and she’s not going anywhere. Even if it means following in her notorious father’s footsteps as a peacekeeper. But pinning on the badge opens her eyes to the fact sometimes fae need protection too, and that sometimes humans are the real monsters.

My thoughts on the book:
I always enjoy Hailey Edwards' books, and this one was no exception. My main complaint is that it was too short! I flew through the pages and wanted more. The characters were realistic and likable, and I found myself really rooting for Thierry and Shaw. I wish that she'd added a bit more world-building, but I'm excited to see what the next book brings.

Thierry was an interesting character, and she had a really dark past. I liked that about her. I hate when MCs seem perfect. She wasn't so tormented that she was angsty and whiney, though. She was very strong. I think Thierry was a good balance and remarkably well-adjusted, considering her life. Shaw was a bit more complicated, in my opinion, but I liked him quite a bit. He made for a good love interest, and he also wasn't angsty and angry, even though his past was also rough. The secondary characters weren't around a lot, but they were a colorful group - each one had his or her own personality, and I loved it. I can't wait to get to know them more.

The pacing and plot were fantastic in this novel, but the world-building was lacking, in my opinion. I still don't fully understand Thierry's gift - what are the runes for? I get that her left hand kills things and that her powers are growing, but I'm still confused about what she can do. I don't think Thierry knew all there was to know about her powers, either, though, so I'm hopeful that more explanations will be given in the next installment. Also, I would like to know more about the different types of fae and what their powers are. I just didn't feel like I understood the world fully. Of course the book was so short that there wasn't much room for world-building. The next one is supposed to be longer, so things should be explained in more detail. The romance in this book wasn't as hot as the romance in Edwards' other series. Every time it started to get steamy, something interrupted. Things were a bit sweeter and more genuine because of that, though, in my opinion. I'm looking forward to seeing where Shaw and Thierry go from here. The ending tied things up from this book, but set the scene for the next installment, which I can't wait to read.

Overall, I'd recommend this book to people who are tired of the same old paranormal romances. This one was a bit different and the characters definitely stand out in a good way.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

SUSPICION by Alexandra Monir

Rating: B-
Release Date: 12/9/14
Synopsis:
A modern-day twist on the classic thriller, Rebecca, with a dash of the supernatural, a powerful romance, and a deadly family mystery. 
 
“There’s something hidden in the maze.” 
 
Seventeen-year-old Imogen Rockford has never forgotten the last words her father said to her, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family’s English country manor.
 
For seven years, images of her parents’ death have haunted Imogen’s dreams. In an effort to escape the past, she leaves Rockford Manor and moves to New York City with her new guardians. But some attachments prove impossible to shake—including her love for her handsome neighbor Sebastian Stanhope.
 
Then a life-altering letter arrives that forces Imogen to return to the manor in England, where she quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind Rockford’s aristocratic exterior. At their center is Imogen herself—and Sebastian, the boy she never stopped loving.

Combining spine-tingling mystery, romance, and unforgettable characters, Suspicion is an action-packed thrill ride.


My thoughts on the book:
In a genre where a lot of books are carbon copies of each other, Suspicion stands out. I've never read a book quite like this one. It's quite different, even from Rebecca, though I do see the comparisons. There were parts of this novel that seriously creeped me out, and the mystery and realistic characters kept me reading. I was dying to see what would happen next. There were some parts that didn't fit, but overall, this was an excellent read. 

Imogen was a great leading character. However, the first chapter where she was ten years old didn't read like it was from a ten year old's perspective. Monir should have made her voice more child-like in that chapter to make it believable. It was more acceptable for her POV to read like an adult's once she was seventeen. Unlike a lot of leading characters, Imogen was extremely self-aware. She wanted to do what was right. She also knew how she felt and what she wanted, even if she felt guilty for wanting the things she did. Sebastian was a good leading male, and he was very sweet. He clearly had a lot going on, and I felt like we didn't get to know him as well as we should have. Theo was also interesting, and I would have liked to have seen more of him. The other characters were unique, and they seemed realistic, but they didn't really grab me the way these three did. 

The plot was extremely complex, and some parts of the story seemed more like plot devices that organic occurrences. For instance, Imogen's power was extremely interesting, and I would have loved to have seen more about it, but instead it was only used sparingly to move the plot along. It never really caused any problems, and she mastered it really quickly for not even having to practice. It just didn't ring true. Also, the huge plot twist at the end threw me, and it didn't really seem to fit. There weren't enough hints indicating that this was the case. Even thinking back, I can't really see how the plot twist fit. There just needed to be more there. All of these issues aside, the story and plot kept me reading, and I flew through this book in one sitting. I had to see what was going on in the mysterious Rockford Manor. Also, Monir's world-building was fantastic. I felt like I was in the English countryside at a huge castle-like mansion that had more than its share of ghosts. The romance was sweet and believable, but I don't feel like we got to see it develop enough. Again, it just felt like there were chunks of its story missing (like with the big plot twist and Imogen's powers). I just wish we'd been shown more of it and maybe less of Imogen's life in NY. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. If you're looking for something different that will hold your interest, look no further. However, there are some incomplete story threads in this book. It bothered me some, but they weren't so incomplete or lacking that I'd consider them plot holes. I just wish we'd had more information. Either way, I enjoyed the novel, and I'm sure most of you will, too. 

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

PRINCESS OF THORNS by Stacey Jay

Rating: B
Release Date: 12/9/14
Synopsis:
Game of Thrones meets the Grimm’s fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty’s daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora’s throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it’s too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?


My thoughts on the book:
Princess of Thorns is a captivating and lovely fantasy novel. I wasn't blown away by the writing or characters at first, but I was still curious enough about the plot to see things through, and I'm so glad that I did. I was never bored, and I fully intended on finishing the novel; I just didn't think that it'd grab me the way that it did in the end. There is enough action to keep anyone interested, and I obviously wasn't rooting for evil to win, but Aurora and Niklaas were really frustrating at times. When I finished this book, I was left with a happy feeling. I'm really glad I read it. 

Aurora is stubborn and obsessed with freeing her brother. I get it. I mean I'm an only child, but if my mom, dad, cat, or best friend were trapped by an evil ogre, you'd better believe I'd be obsessed with saving them. I hope that I wouldn't be as stupid and reckless with it as Aurora is, though. Also, her inability to trust anyone really grated on my nerves. I'm not a big truster myself, but communication is key to success in anything. When people don't know what they're up against or the gender of the person they're traveling with, you can't expect your quest to go well. And how stupid is Niklaas? "Ror" refuses to bathe with him, has a high pitched voice, doesn't have any face hair, carries on and on about women's rights, and stares at Niklaas like a creeper from time to time. How did he not know Aurora was female until 60% in? That just seemed too convenient and a bit forced, in my opinion. It was my main pet peeve with the story. Also, Niklaas is terribly stubborn to the point of stupidity, too. I spent a lot of time wanting to slap some sense into him and Aurora. However, they are flawed and real characters, and they grow throughout the story. I can appreciate that. 

The plot is action-packed and full of adventure. It will keep you on the edge of your seat and dying to know what happens next. Yea, Niklaas not knowing Aurora is female is a bit of a stretch, but the rest of the plot (except the ending) is believable and extremely intriguing. I really didn't know if they'd make it in time to save Jor or not. The ending works out a little too well - at least part of it does, but some of the lines at the end are just beautiful and really grabbed at my heart. Some of the lines even made me tear up a bit. I also enjoyed seeing how everything comes together and how Aurora changes to adapt to her different situations. Furthermore, the alternating points of view are decently written. Aurora and Niklaas sound a bit alike, and since they speak different dialects, I wish their voices had more differences, but Ekeeta was very well-written, I thought. I liked getting different points of view in this novel, and normally I don't. However, it adds some depth and allowed me to trust the story more. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book for anyone who loves fairy tale retellings and fantasy novels. It's a bit different, and there are nods to different fairy tales throughout the novel, which I enjoyed. Check this one out. You won't be sorry. 

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

BLACK WIDOW by Jennifer Estep

Rating: A
Synopsis:
There’s nothing worse than a cruel, cunning enemy with time to kill—and my murder to plan.

With wicked Fire elemental Mab Monroe long gone, you’d think I could finally catch a break. But someone’s always trying to take me down, either as Gin Blanco or my assassin alter-ago. Now along comes the Spider’s new arch-nemesis, the mysteriously named M. M. Monroe, who is gleefully working overtime to trap me in a sticky web of deceit.


The thing is, I’m not the only target. I can see through the tangled threads enough to know that every bit of bad luck my friends have been having lately is no accident—and that each unfortunate “coincidence” is just one more arrow drawing ever closer to hitting the real bulls-eye. Though new to Ashland, this M. M. Monroe is no stranger to irony, trying to get me, an assassin, framed for murder. Yet, as my enemy’s master plan is slowly revealed, I have a sinking feeling that it will take more than my powerful Ice and Stone magic to stop my whole life from going up in flames.

My thoughts on the book:
Black Widow reignited the magic in this series. I was really bored with the past couple of books, and I was about to break up with this series, but this novel changed my mind. Gin got put through a lot in this installment, and she really showed her strength. Gone were the weak and easily remedied problems from the previous two installments, where there were either no problems at all and the entire book was a memory, or the problems were too easily solved, in my opinion. Gin really had to fight to survive again, and I loved that.

Gin really grew quite a bit in this series and showed her good side along with her bad ass side. I really loved how she evolved, and the ending made me really proud of her. This was very much a Gin-focused book, and I enjoyed that. I'm not a fan of Bria and Finn's relationship, and it was nice that I didn't have to see that forced on me (and them) any this time. Owen was present some, and everything he did just reaffirmed the fact that he's perfect for Gin. Her friends supported her from afar, but they were still there for her. I liked the balance in this novel and how it focused on Gin's growth instead of her dependence on others. I felt like it took her back to her roots a bit.

The plot was fast moving and full of action and suspense. More than once, Gin defied odds and survived. There were some tense moments, for sure, but I had faith she'd pull through. She kind of has to, since she's the narrator. The big reveal at the end completely blindsided me. I did not see that coming, and I loved how Gin handled it and set herself apart from the Monroes. This plot was much more complex, in my opinion, than the last novel. Estep's writing was top notch, and the only weird thing I noticed was that Gin kept telling the reader when she went to the bathroom. That was just odd to me. Oh well, whatever. The ending tied things up nicely and left me dying for the next book.

Overall, I'd recommend this novel and series to anyone who enjoys tough urban fantasy female leads. This is one of my favorite series, and Gin is one of my favorite characters.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

CAPTIVE by Aimée Carter

Rating: B- 
Release Date: 11/25/14
Synopsis: 
For the past two months, Kitty Doe's life has been a lie. Forced to impersonate the Prime Minister's niece, her frustration grows as her trust in her fake fiancé cracks, her real boyfriend is forbidden and the Blackcoats keep her in the dark more than ever. 

But in the midst of discovering that her role in the Hart family may not be as coincidental as she thought, she's accused of treason and is forced to face her greatest fear: Elsewhere. A prison where no one can escape. 

As one shocking revelation leads to the next, Kitty learns the hard way that she can trust no one, not even the people she thought were on her side. With her back against the wall, Kitty wants to believe she'll do whatever it takes to support the rebellion she believes in—but is she prepared to pay the ultimate price?


My thoughts on the book:
I have always been an Aimée Carter fan. I loved her Goddess Test series, and I absolutely adored the first book in this trilogy. The story in Captive did not disappoint, but Kitty was one of the most annoying protagonists I've read lately. I spent the majority of the book wanting to beat her over the head with a shoe. And I don't feel like she grew as much as she should have. Hopefully that'll be rectified in the final installment. The plot itself was fast-paced and had me hooked instantly. Carter's world-building was top notch, and I felt like I was in the new America she created. The romance was obnoxious and lukewarm at best, though. While this book didn't exactly fall flat for me, I'm a big character person, and disliking two of the main characters really made it hard for me to enjoy this novel as much as I could have had they not been so unlikable. 

Kitty, Kitty, Kitty, why are you such a selfish and ignorant brat? It blew my mind that anyone in this book thought she was brave or inspirational because she was anything but. Maybe if you couldn't read her inner thoughts, she didn't seem like such a little bitch, but my lord she was terrible. All she cared about was herself, her own comfort, and Benjy. The entire country is suffering as badly, if not worse than you once did? Oh well, let's go screw Benjy. That's all that matters. Also, let's ruin all of the plans for the revolution and tell random strangers about what's going on. That sounds super smart. Agh! The revolution would have been better off if Kitty had gotten killed, and so would the book. She was a useless idiot for the entire novel. Benjy was weak and pathetic as ever, and I really wanted him to go away. Even if he wasn't around, he was still there, because apparently Kitty has an obsession problem. Knox was the only redeeming character in the novel. I absolutely adored him, and I really hope to see more of him in the next installment. I also hope Kitty grows the hell up and stops being such a whiny, self-centered brat. She came very close to ruining a really well-written novel. 

The plot was amazing, and I really loved all of the secondary characters who were willing to give up their lives for a chance at freedom. The thing I love about dystopian novels is the revolution, and this novel had plenty of that. Also, Carter completely messed with me a few times while I was reading this. Something would happen, and I'd be like, "no... that can't be what actually happened. Surely the author is messing with me right now because wow. wtf." I really love when writers do that, and it kept me reading, even when I wanted to strangle Kitty for being such a stubborn idiot. The events in this novel were heart-wrenching and beautiful and everything a revolution should be. The world-building was spectacular. I felt like I was in every place that Kitty was, and everything was believable and made sense. I was able to willingly suspend my disbelief and completely immerse myself in the world that Carter created. I love when that happens. The twist at the very end shocked me, and I can't wait to see what happens next. This book ended on a tiny bit of a cliffhanger, though a lot of things were resolved as well, so I wasn't annoyed at the ending. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book and trilogy to anyone who enjoys a good dystopian plot. If you're looking for likable characters, it may not be for you (though I'm trying to reserve judgment until the final book comes out. Characters do change, and I didn't absolutely hate Kitty in the first novel). If you read and enjoyed Pawn, like I did, then this book is a must-read. 

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