Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Review: The Immortals

The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

1.5 Stars

This started out really strong with interesting characters, an intriguing mystery unfolding, funny quips and situations to keep me reading.

And then it just changed and I was left wondering what the hell just happened to the promising book I'd originally started reading.

I'll start with Selene. I thought she was selfish, spoiled, stubborn and naive. The entire course of the novel has her making demands of people and getting angry when she wasn't obeyed. She made excuses when the truth was staring her in the face. She ran away from any situation that forced her to care because she couldn't handle true emotion. She dove into situations without thinking them through and got angry when others tried to help her despite the fact that she needed the help. She got jealous when she didn't have the right to be.

And last but not least, Selene made excuses for the villain once they were revealed, saying things like she'd explain why what they were doing was wrong and then they'd understand and change their actions for the better. Which was ridiculous when she was ready to destroy the person she'd originally accused. I hate when the protagonist makes excuses like that. Just because they want to make the world fit their beliefs does not change the fact that sometimes evil people choose to destroy others. A calm discussion with them about right and wrong will not change a villain no matter how much you wish it would work like that.

I know other readers feel like Selene was strong and a protector but I couldn't support what she did throughout the book. She'd say one thing and then quickly change her mind about that decision. She only saved women because she was obligated to as a "protector of the innocent". It wasn't a choice and more than half the time she didnt give a damn about the women she saved. Selene didnt even care all that much about the women she'd known in the past, the ones that had called her a friend.

The entire novel had Selene talking about how she kept herself apart from human interactions, leaving me waiting for her to finally wise up for a life changing lesson that never arrived. She didn't have any real growth until the last 20 pages and even then it felt hokey because there wasn't enough build-up to make me believe that she'd learned anything. I didn't really like Theo either because of all the decisions he made at the expense of himself all thanks to Selene. I hate when guys are willing to throw themselves at the mercy of a woman they just met and hardly know. When Theo said Selene was a friend, Selene actually wondered when that had happened, them becoming friends. At that point, I was wondering the exact same thing myself. It was that kind of situation with them the whole time.

The book was filled with weird situations that just gave away too much for me in terms of figuring out where the mystery was going. I saw too much of it coming a mile away. I made myself finish reading it just to be sure that it didn't have some awesome twist that changed the whole book for the better. It didn't and now I can be sure that the sequel is not something I'll pick up in the future.

My rating on a scale of 1 to 10 Stars: 2.5 Stars

I really wasn't impressed with this book.

Review: The Girl from Everywhere

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I don't remember how I heard about this book but I was determined to give it a try. However, I feel that the story took ages to get anywhere with the development. I got to a plot detail around the 100 page mark and I thought, "Wait, it took that long to get info like that? If I'd had some of that from the start, maybe I wouldn't have been so bored all this time!"

That's the sad part of this for me. The book was a long, extremely drawn out family drama that was essentially boring. Nix wanted to be a strong character but she made mistakes because she didn't know enough which frustrated me. As a reader, I was expecting her to know more considering her background but she made a lot of fumbles for the sake of the plot that made me grumble.

The love triangle was an unnecessary plot point and the guys involved were a just okay, there for the sake of making Nix question her future. The Captain was both pitiful and horrible considering the driving force behind his actions.

I almost feel like the story is incomplete. As if there were excerpts cut out or something in the editing process. There wasn't enough meat to this story and as a result, I'm not particularly hungry to get the next book.

My rating on a scale of 1 to 10 Stars: 3.5 Stars

My forgiving mood came with an expiration date so this book is only getting this many stars. I'm leaving this review alone before I start thinking of taking more stars away for just how disappointed I still am about what this book turned out to be.

Review: Riders

Riders by Veronica Rossi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

More like 2.5 stars

In the end this turned out to be a fast read. The idea of the Four Horsemen being 4 teenagers from around the world was intriguing and the demons that went after them were definitely an interesting aspect to the book.

One of my quibbles was the characterisation of Gideon and the constant fighting he got into. I understand that he's War but it was ridiculous how quick he was to start a fight. His constant need to compete was really eye-roll worthy as well. It was a lot of things like, and I'm paraphrasing here, "Gideon has a sword but hey, the other guy has a bow and arrow, that's so much cooler, in fact, the sword actually sucks. Why couldn't Gideon have a better weapon?"

Dude, seriously, quit with the whining! A sword is just as badass of a weapon as anything else. Get over it!

My other quibble was the framing device of the narrative. I never felt any real anticipation during the course of the book because I knew where Gideon was as he related his story to us. That kept me from being really invested in the story until some time in the later half of the book.

Last, but not least, the sudden devoted romance. I didn't buy Giedon's need to protect Daryn, the young woman set with the task of gathering the Four Horsemen together. If this is intended to be a series, perhaps that development could have had some time to grow in later books.

Still, overall the book was interesting and the other characters kept my attention even when Gideon was acting like a moron. I might read the next one in the series when it's released.

My rating on a scale of 1 to 10 Stars: 5 Stars

I'm in a forgiving mood. I'm giving it 5 Stars because I'm optimistic and if the library orders it, I'll read the next one when it's released.

Review: The Forbidden Wish

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was one of those kids that grew up watching Disney's Aladdin to the point that I still know all the words to the soundtrack by heart. However, this is the story I wish young girls would be told.

This was the story of a powerful jinni, a girl enslaved to a lamp for thousands of years, forced to serve countless masters. Zahra will do whatever she can to gain her freedom while learning the truth about what makes her strong and what makes her free. But it's also the story about a young princess, Caspida, and a handful of warrior maidens who fight to change a city for the sake of the people and for each other.

Everywhere you turn in this book, there are powerful women working to make changes happen and it was wondrous to behold. Seeing the story of Aladdin shift to become this tale of warrior women taking charge of their lives was brilliant. I had no idea going into this that the story would evolve into that but I'm so grateful that it did.

Zahra was a poignant narrator, and the story has her speaking to her Habiba, Roshana, her previous master and dear friend, detailing the current adventure and struggle she's on to gain her desire to become free. Aladdin was charming and reckless and motivation all rolled into one. Caspida and her Watchmaidens were a driving force, their strength and devotion to each other an uplifting angle to the story. Even Roshana was given enough development to allow the reader to understand the loss and regret that Zahra still feels after losing her friend hundreds of years before the events of this story.

The writing was detailed, flowing with enough snark, humor and charm to make the characters breathe and shift and grow as the story reached its end. I'm looking forward to reading more books by Jessica Khoury in the future.

Rating on my scale of 1 to 10 Stars: 9 Stars

I plan to add this to my personal library as soon as possible. And once I have it, I'll read it again, just for fun.

Review: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was sold on this book the moment our main character Sam, real name Samhain, explained that his name was pronounced Sowen, despite the fact that everyone calls him Sam. That there cemented this book as a great read for me.

I loved the development, the friendships, the risks taken for family. Because the characters were so well-crafted it was easy to care for the situations, to understand their strife and to root for the good guys to win.

My only qualm comes from a certain extra point of view that I didn't really care for. It didn't help me care for the character or understand their motivations because there wasn't enough actual feeling in their narration of their past and current situations for me to give a damn about them. I understand that the character is detached from emotion but if the point was to draw sympathy, it needed something to make me care for that particular person. Instead, I was just glad when the end, whatever end that was because I don't want to spoil it for others, came for that point of view.

Despite that, overall this was a great book. The world is interesting and I have book 2 ready to read. My only concern before I read it is that it looks like there's nothing more to read in McBride's Necromancer world after that and that fact saddens me.

My rating on my scale of 1 to 10 Stars: 8.5 Stars

Review: The Dark Days Club

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'm giving this 2 stars because I have to respect an author that puts so much effort and detail into their book. However, I can't say that I liked this book. In fact, I found it really boring and just a little tedious to get through.

My main complaint is Helen. I know a lot of reviewers believe she's the best part of the book but I felt that she spent too much time allowing other opinions to change her own. She was too quick to take the words of others as truth instead of making the choices for herself. As for the Dark Days Club itself, she kept going back and forth about whether to embrace her destiny or turn her back on it and the Club, right to the very end of the book. Maybe it wouldn't have bothered me so much if the choice she'd ended up making hadn't been the result of the situation she'd found herself in. The choice was practically made for her and I can't help feeling it was a bit of an easy out for Helen.

But I guess I can't be too hard on Helen because it seemed that she came from a terrible family. I thought her brother Andrew had a tendency to sulk (honestly, it seemed like every time he appeared it was to look at Helen with disappointment), and her Uncle was a horrible, disgusting bully. Lord Carlston seemed to fit the mysterious suitor parameters but aside from that, nothing truly interesting or personal was ever given in the book to really develop his character. The man is suspected of a horrible crime and Helen never managed to ask him about it. She asked other characters about it but not him and that just feels wrong, especially when you take into account that Helen has to decide whether she trusts Lord Carlston over the course of the book and the answer to that question could have put everything in a different light. Helen just takes the others at their word, decides it wouldn't matter even if she did ask because she couldn't be sure if his answer was the truth, and then forgets about it for the rest of the book. Good grief, that drove me nuts.

The rest of the characters received the same treatment, tiny details to explain their current actions but not enough to make anyone a true standout in the story. For a book that nearly came out to 500 pages, I feel that the only character we really came to learn anything about was Helen and since I really didn't like Helen, the whole book was disappointing. And the monsters were weird. Just their descriptions of what they looked like and what they could do. It was all very simple but at the same time almost underdeveloped. I expected more threat but they seemed almost tame, which didn't help to make the story interesting.

I have no idea if I'll try reading the next book. I can only hope that the sequel actually delves into each of the characters, explaining their choices and how they came to be part of the Dark Days Club, while at the same time really exploring the threat that the Club is meant to fight. That's a book I would be interested in reading, a story that explores the true details of the world that Goodman only gave glimpses of in this book.

Rating on my scale of 1 to 10 Stars: 2 Stars.

What do you know? My scale still worked with this one.

Review: Starflight

Starflight by Melissa Landers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm one of those readers that gave the Alienated series a shot but didn't quite like them as much as I wanted to. One thing for certain is that I truly believed that Landers was a talented author, so I waited for a book release to prove that and I'm happy to say that Starflight is that book.

The development for this book worked and the characters were well-rounded and grew over the course of the story. Each member of the crew was charming in their own way and their dynamic together provided some of the most heartwarming scenes in the book. Even the romance turned out to be one of the strongest points of the story because it took a believable amount of time to shift and develop.

The plot was interesting and the pace moved with enough momentum to make this a fast read. Nothing dragged or felt out of place, and I definitely agree with the comparisons to Firefly. This book was entertaining and fun and, without a doubt, I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

My rating on a scale of 1 to 10 Stars: 9 Stars.

I just loved this crew and the slow-burn romance and I want the next book now but I have to be patient.

Review: Ink and Bone

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was amazing.

When I first started reading it, I worried that the tone and the point of view would keep me from really caring about the plot or characters. But within a few chapters, I was swept up into Jess Brightwell's world, his family of book smugglers and their plan to get him on the inside of the Great Library as a spy. Pages flew by fast while reading this book.

Once Jess makes it into training, all bets are off. Jess has to prove his worth, not only with his intelligence but with his quick thinking under pressure and his strength, taking on every challenge the Library sees fit to throw at him. He kept much of himself secret to everyone but his determination and need to succeed made him enthralling and someone to root for as he worked to win one of the spots to work at the Library.

The sheer scope of the Great Library, its beliefs and methods, from what they do with books to what they do with perceived threats, was mind boggling. I could see it in my head how this force began to twist and turn on the people left in the world, presenting a public-friendly image while hiding its true self behind the lies and secrets. The plot was intriguing and entertaining, making me wish that the next book would be released that much sooner.

Rating on my scale of 1 to 10 Stars: 9 Stars.

As much as I loved this, some people might not stick with it long enough to see how awesome it is.

Review: Spinning Starlight

Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book gets big credit for tackling the subject matter of an unfamiliar fairytale. That fact alone cemented my resolve in buying this book. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this as much as Stitching Snow.

There is a lot more in terms of science in this book concerning the lead, Liddi Jantzen, and her family. I liked Liddi and her near crippling anxiety about her destiny as part of a family of technical geniuses. She had a lot to live up to but at the same time, she wanted to make something of herself.

Her story is familiar, the same struggle of finding who you are in a big family and how you fit in but stand apart, but the best part about her was her devotion to her older brothers and their devotion to her. Liddi was determined to do whatever it took to save her brothers and it was an admirable trait in the end. In addition, their work at protecting Liddi when they could despite their situation spoke volumes about the stable family unit they worked to be. I wish Lewis had added more scenes with Liddi and her brothers so that the reader could become more familiar with who each brother was and be able to tell them apart better.

The biggest drawback was the characterization of the villain. The book reveals the villain quickly and gives the motivation for what serves as one of the major conflicts of the book. However, things are left at that, just simply stated that the villain is crazy or obsessed and determined to follow through on their dastardly plot. And then the villain is widely removed from the central storyline for almost the entirety of the book. I didn't feel enough tension with the villain and Liddi. It almost felt as if the villain could have been done away with completely and the book would have still had the majority of its content remain intact.

In the end though, I read this book quickly. It dragged the slightest bit in the middle but it's not that much of a detraction. I hope Lewis continues with her fairytale adaptations and also manages to surprise readers again with another tale inspired by a not so common fairytale.

Rating on my scale of 1 to 10 Stars: 6.5 Stars

Review: The Nightmare Affair

The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was charming and unique. I loved the idea of Dusty, a Nightmare like her mother, attending a school where she had to take classes with other magickind like her siren best friend and a wizard bully, mermaids, hags, werewolves and demons. She's not the usual new kid at school but she's still on the outside trying to both fit in and live down her mother's rebellious reputation, which gives her enough room to question her new magic and her surroundings so that the reader can learn the rules of this book's world. I never felt like I was bored reading about the way the school worked or the divisions between students because the info was given in just the right places to draw interest and keep the pace moving.

I really enjoyed Dusty as a character. She had a good head on her shoulders and was silly enough to be a teenager while still being able to think for herself, work out clues and ask the right questions. When her help was needed to solve a murder at the school, she stepped up with the right amount of trepidation, quirky charm and intelligence that a lead character needs to keep the reader engaged in the story.

To me, the best part of this book dealt with Dusty's background as a Nightmare and her particular family heritage. The mythology and folklore seen in the book was something I've always been interested in and to see it used as inspiration this way was brilliant. I hope Arnett expands on this a little more in the next book.

I went out and got The Nightmare Dilemma before I'd finished chapter 5 of The Nightmare Affair, that's how much I really liked this book.

Rating on my scale of 1 to 10 Stars: 9 Stars. Dusty was just that awesome, she deserves that many stars.

Review: The Creeping

The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

My problem with this book was that there was too much telling being done, as in the reader was always being told about events and relationships but never shown enough in scenes to make the facts believable or give them any worth. As a result, when it came time for the big reveals and subsequent betrayals, I didn't feel anything about the course the plot took or the people involved with it.

Everything started out at a good pace, I was intrigued enough to think maybe my first impression had been wrong and this would turn out to be a great book. But somewhere in the second half, things veered off course and what started out as a solid mystery devolved into the average tale about teens in love with a bit of monsters thrown in.

My biggest peeve was the main character Stella and her supposed best friend Zoey. Stella came off as a bit spineless and Zoey seemed unbearable. If I had a friend who treated me like Zoey did Stella, I would have punched her teeth out. While I could almost admire their sisterly devotion to each other, I couldn't help feeling that theirs was a toxic friendship at best.

By the time I got to the end of this book, I was tired of all of it. The book I started reading was not the same as the book I finished.

My rating on my scale of 1 to 10 Stars: 2 Stars

Review: The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall

The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had a big problem with the setup to this book. There was just too much in terms of getting the story going that I disagreed with in Part One. The parents bugged me to no end and I didn't agree with the actions that took place before Part Two kicked off.

I also was not a big fan of Delia as a character. She seemed extremely inconsiderate and a bit self-centered. I liked the fact that others pointed these things out to her because I just wanted to slap her upside the head when she kept mucking things up when she failed to think before she spoke. Also, her characterization seemed to go back and forth too many times before it settled back into what seemed to be the same level-headed teen from the beginning of the book.

Pacing was a little choppy for me with too many time jumps that were more a blink and you miss them kind of deal explained with characters that showed up and then moved on because they weren't necessary to the plot. And the story behind the events at the house was a little simple and conveniently dealt with in the end. I didn't find this scary or creepy but I'll try Alender's other books to see if something else really catches my attention.

Rating on my scale of 1 to 10 Stars: 3.5 Stars

Review: Lady Midnight

First off, I wanted to explain the new look to the single book reviews. I've managed to link my Goodreads account to my Blogger so that now whenever I write a review on Goodreads, it gets published here at the same time. The links in this review are to my Goodreads account and the reviews are exactly the same.

Also, the ratings under the titles are based on the Goodreads scale of 1 to 5 Stars. In the end, it's just easier for me to access my account over there to write my reviews but I'm determined to keep this site updated as well.

Now I get to do both, just the way I've always wanted to. Hooray for me!

Now on towards the latest review, one of my most highly anticipated releases of 2016.

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Starting off here with the plain old truth.

I don't like The Mortal Instruments, I don't like Jace, and I definitely don't like Clary. But I did take a chance and tried reading Lady Midnight.

And damn if I didn't end up loving this book compared to the The Mortal Instruments.

In fact, I only read The Mortal Instruments because my sister told me about Magnus and Alec. Listening to her talk about them, I thought I'd give the books a chance and initially only borrowed City of Bones from her. But I only managed to get through the first 40 pages before I put the book down. I just couldn't connect with Clary. I thought she was selfish and childish, with nothing really appealing to her as a character. And Jace was even worse. Eventually I picked the book up again and finally managed to get past the 50 page mark, after which a good number of the characters were introduced and I didn't have to stick with only Clary and Jace for large amounts of time while reading. So from there, I actually managed to get around to reading the rest of the original trilogy of books. And I thought they were good. Nothing to write home about but I definitely didn't feel like I'd wasted my time with reading them.

But then I heard about this book, Lady Midnight, set in the world of The Mortal Instruments but focused on a different set of characters.

Really? I thought. No Clary and Jace?......

Dare I? I wondered. Dare I take a chance and read this book?

Well, the point of the matter is that YES, I gave this book a chance. I spent an entire day going around to different stores on errands and seeing this book on the shelf and doing the whole do I, don't I? dance about buying it. But I did buy a copy and once I had the chance, I took a deep breath and started reading.

By the time I looked up again, I'd read close to 150 pages. So again, YES, definitely a good decision to read this book.

I loved the character of Emma Carstairs. I thought she was awesome, a great fighter with a good head on her shoulders. Realistically, she made mistakes and did her damned best to fix things when she had the power to do so. She made great sacrifices for her family and she was 10x better to me than Clary Fray ever was. I loved her relationship with Julian Blackthorn and the rest of the Blackthorn family. I thought the plot and the writing was tight, everything done with a clear sense of getting to a certain goal and knowing every thread to get there. Nothing seemed out of place or unnecessary which is impressive considering the massive amount of pages this book has to its name. My thoughts were, and I told my sister this, that Cassandra Clare had definitely managed to hone her skills as a writer, and Lady Midnight was the proof.

I was particularly impressed with the use of Annabel Lee for both the plot and the chapter headings. I've always loved that poem, the heartbreak and tragedy in Poe's words, so to see it used like this made me that much more invested in the story. I knew there would be some big significance to its use and Clare did not disappoint when all was said and done by the end of the book. By the time I finished reading, I immediately checked to see when the next book would be released and also learned about the companion series, The Last Hours, which will interconnect with this series. I'm looking forward to reading those books as well.

Thanks to Lady Midnight, I finally got my copies of The Infernal Devices off the shelf and started reading them. I'm grateful I got copies of those when I did because I've been enjoying those books so much more than I expected myself to.

Again, if you tried reading The Mortal Instruments and just couldn't get yourself to finish them, like I kept doing, I do think you should give Lady Midnight a chance. Just try finding a copy at the library and give it a shot. Clare managed to work some great book magic with this release and I hope that more readers will give it a shot for the sake of its contents because yeah, I really ended up loving this book.

My rating on a scale of 1 to 10 Stars: 10 Stars. That's how much I loved this.

Reading Challenge: Reviews on An Ember in the Ashes, Mary: The Summoning, Heart's Blood and Magonia

Back again for more reviews on my Reading Challenge!

First up, a review on An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.

I'd seen so much hype about this book. I'd read the raving reviews and when my library ordered it, I made sure to be one of the first to get my hands on a copy.

Unfortunately, I was just so bored with this book.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Reading Challenge: Reviews on The Holders, Uprooted, Angelfall and The DUFF

And now I'm finally back!!

In my defense, in February my guy and I decided to get things going on finally moving into a house. That has a LOT of decisions tied to it but we did move forward and for the last month I've been unpacking boxes and cleaning our old place. It's been a lot of work but looking around at my new comfortable, beautiful home, I'd say it was worth it.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.