I was torn between giving The Last Best Kiss a 3 or 4 star review. But in the end, I opted to go for the latter because I really liked the book. It’s a cute love story with wonderfully developed characters. Yes, I know that the story is a cliché what with the famous girl humiliating the nerdy guy. But Claire executed the story in a manner that is poignant, fluffy and sweet. Considering that I prefer angsty love stories, The Last Best Kiss really took me by surprise. And that alone is a good enough reason for me to be generous with this review.
The Last Best Kiss follows the story of Anna Elliot who prefers to listen to what her friends say rather than following the desire of her own heart. Three years ago, she met Finn Westbrook and although his physical appearance didn’t come up to Anna’s standard, she still found herself liking him more and more each day. Yet, she chose to humiliate the poor guy because Anna was too afraid that her friends might hate her for dating a guy who’s not only a nerd but a loser as well.
I really hated the old Anna. She was not only immature but very superficial as well. But she redeemed herself by accepting that losing the love of her life was her fault entirely. She actually owned up to her own mistakes and constantly apologized to Finn for her mistakes. Following Anna transform from a bitchy 15-year old to a carefree 17-year old was a very realistic experience for me.
The other characters were also adorable and I didn’t have a hard time distinguishing them from one another. Considering that there are so many of them, I found it very easy to determine who’s talking in a certain scene. And the way LaZebnik portrayed the teenagers here was perfect. Anna and her friends were just crazy and they’re just basically, well, teenagers.
The other thing that I liked about The Last Best Kiss is the romance. Claire Lazebnik handled it very well. The reconciliation between Finn and Anna was gradually developed. I like that Finn didn’t immediately forgive Anna and he made her work for it. And I like that Anna continued living despite the regret and the pain that resulted from her mistakes.
I have gripes about this book, however. I’m not going to give you the full details but Claire used a plot device that everything just fell into place conveniently at the end. I was expecting that there’s going to be a tension between Anna and a certain friend due to the fact they like the same boy. But then Claire manoeuvred the whole thing without subtlety.
I also have a slight issue regarding Claire’s tendency to describe in exhausting detail what each character is wearing. I mean, it would’ve been okay if she’s only doing it with the central characters. The problem is, she’s doing it with everyone else. It made me feel that I’m reading a fashion magazine. Lastly, some of the sub plots of The Last Best Kiss served more as fillers than a relevant part of the overall story. I just wished that the author had put more effort in knitting everything together.
Overall, the Last Best Kiss was a pretty decent story with well-developed characters that would certainly speak to the teenager in you.
***A free E-Arc was provided by HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review!***
I think I should take a break from reading ARCs. I swear that this is the nth ARC I’ve given a less than 3 star rating this year. And it makes me feel guilty because most of the ARCs that I’ve reviewed are debut novels. It’s like I am the Grinch, hellbent on crushing the dreams of new authors. >,<
Though the House of Ivy & Sorrow was a pretty decent read, the calculator side of my personality wouldn’t just give in. There are so many reasons for me to enjoy this book but things were just off. I was bored the whole time I was reading it. Halfway through the book, I was merely skimming… feeling distant and uncaring.
I really tried my best to like the characters but I just couldn’t. It seems that there’s an invisible force blocking me from connecting with them. Josephine, our protagonist, isn’t a bad character but the thing is, she isn’t remarkable either. And towards the end of the story, I was feeling contemptuous about her. She rose to power in an implausible manner that has my eyeballs almost popping out from their sockets. Throughout the story, I haven’t “seen” the girl practicing spells or doing admirable feats of magic on her own and suddenly, there she is concocting a brand new, extremely complicated potion to save her friends and family from getting the Curse (The name of the curse that has plague and killed witches for centuries and was proven to be incurable until Josephine’s potion). I bet my arm and leg that even Albus Dumbledore or let’s just say, Hermione Granger, couldn’t achieve such deed without experimenting first. Very convenient, eh?
Even the other characters exuded an aura of “meh.” Winn, Gwen, Kat, Joseph, Nana Dorothea, Levi…the whole lot of them. Le sigh. And the villains (renowned for their cruelty; and for defeating other powerful and seasoned witches) were just so lame that they were easily defeated by 6 witches in which 4 of the latter are a bunch of amateurs. Seriously???
Things could have still been saved if the relationships of the characters have just been developed wonderfully. But alas, it wasn’t. First, we have the friendship between Jo, Gwen, and Kat. That could have been outstanding, with girl power and all that. Second, we have a romance between Jo and Winn. Sure, it didn’t become overbearing but the thing is, I can hardly feel any spark between the two. And third, we have a father-daughter relationship that felt forced and rushed. Gaaaaah!
The plot of House of Ivy & Sorrow was simplistic, hence, my boredom. I mean, admit it or not, witches are already overused nowadays and authors should try harder to make stories about them interesting. I know it’s unfair but if you grew up reading Harry Potter books, you’re bound to make your standards higher. Another sigh.
I don’t despise House of Ivy & Sorrow for there are still some things about it that made my inner sorcerer happy. I adore the magical system created by Natalie Whipple. It wasn’t really new but it was realistic. It ought to remind us again that magic is not without its price. :D Additionally, the author was able to paint some scenes that are truly gross that turned the insides of my stomach into a knot.
Summing it up, House of Ivy & Sorrow is a fast paced read perfect for those readers who are just starting to know the world of witches. There’s a good chance that others might enjoy this more than I did. Well, that is if they’re able to let go of their nit-pickiness.
Dear Killer is not a book that would be enjoyed by everyone. I even have a feeling that a significant amount of readers will hate and burn it. For starters, the main character of this book is not someone that you can really call a “heroine.” Kit Ward is not the girl who will save the day. On the contrary, she’s the dragon who needs to be slain by your knight in shining armor. And the most disturbing thing is that she has a very disturbing view about morality.
Kit’s first rule in life is: There’s no right or wrong. To her, such notions are based on perspective. Every time she murders someone, she remains cool and indifferent about it. She’s not even haunted by the memories of her victims because everything is just a job to her. But suddenly, things made a significant turn when she killed someone who isn’t a part of her job. She started questioning herself, her rules, her beliefs. She even went as far as going into a killing slump.
Kit’s development as a character was really interesting to follow even if I couldn’t relate to her. I mean, how could I? I have never understood the workings of a killer’s mind. Though she got to a point where she almost regretted her actions as a murderer, she really didn’t work hard to redeem herself. The opposite actually happened. She got more determined to kill due to another crazy realization. At that point, I was already asking myself if I am as crazy as Kit because I wasn’t disgusted with the path that she chose in the end. And trust me, it was horrifying but it only fuelled my interest. I guess that I really had an open mind when I dove into Dear Killer. And there were times that I was able to put myself in Kit’s shoes enabling me to see things from her point of view.
It’s not only Kit that caught my attention. Her relationship with her mother made a disturbing impact on me. Yes, Kit might be worthy of eternal condemnation but can we really blame her? Her killer mother raised her to believe that that there’s no right or wrong and that they could kill any person as long as the others deemed it. To whom would you lay the blame?
With a philosophical vibe and definitely thought-provoking, Dear Killer is not without its faults. My enjoyment went a few notches down after identifying some glaring plotholes along the way. I am not a cop and I don’t have any idea how they investigate serial killings but this book really put the Scotland Yard police force in a very bad light. In here,they look like a bunch of incompetent idiots who never found any leads about Kit Ward when the evidences are as clear as daylight. And hurrah, you will also find that it is easy for a 16-year old turning 17 girl to befriend a cop-cum-detective. And to make matters more unbelievable, that 16 year old is allowed to go to crime scenes and her opinions are even sought out by the police. I could hardly suspend my disbelief.
Luckily enough, the theme explored by the book was enough to keep me hooked until the end. Dear Killer does not draw its power from the grisly killings nor from the chilling thoughts of our MC. Disregarding the blood lust of Kit, she’s a very likable person and her thoughts are not that morbid to make you shiver. Dear Killer is more of a philosophical story than a thriller/mystery one. It plants seeds of doubts in your mind. It causes you to question your beliefs. It makes you wonder how laws came to be. And eventually, it will compel you to think deeply of morality.
Overall, Dear Killer was a remarkable read with its rousing premise and realistic ending. It didn’t wow me but it’s the kind of story that will stay with you for the days to come. Highly recommended for those people who are fascinated with morality and for those who want to read a YA novel with zero romance. Yep, you’ve read that right.
***An e-ARC of this book was freely provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Harper Collins and Katherine Tegen Books!***
I am a big fan of Oliver. I’ve been carrying her torch for years now after I was greatly awed by her Before I Fall and Delirium (with the exception of that awful Requiem) novels. However, that torch started to lose its brightness after my sore disappointment with Requiem. As I now hold the said torch, I am afraid that its light will soon gonna die. Oliver is really losing her touch as a writer. Panic is not only a disappointment but it’s also an embodiment of my crushed dreams. I thought it’s going to be the book that would erase the horrors left by Requiem. Alas, it’s not.
As unique as the premise may sound, Panic really has nothing new to offer. It’s just about an 18 year old girl who participated in a deadly game called, Panic, because of her sister. Sounds familiar? No worries though. Before your mind starts shouting “THG rip off”, please know that this book is 60-70% different. Instead of a dystopian setting, Panic is set in a contemporary-ish world where people live normal lives. No totalitarian government to be afraid of, no technology to be wary of, no freaking plague to run from…everything is just realistic. And joining the game isn’t compulsory. It’s even illegal and anyone who will be caught participating in it will earn prison time.
My biggest problem with this novel is the whole crazy concept of Panic. Its history is really ambiguous. The author as well as the characters didn’t know how and why it existed. Two explanations were given: 1. The Carp populace was bored so instead of starting gambling dens or drag racing, they started Panic; 2. There was a massive unemployment and people need to earn extra income. Whether it’s number 1 or 2, both are stupid reasons. It’s even more idiotic because the prize money is only 50,000-60,000 U$ and yet, the participants will be doing crazy stunts that could result to invalidity and fatality. The game runs for the whole summer and every week, the participants will have to overcome deadly obstacles. The injury and death toll is high and senior students still do it because of the prize. Grrrr.
As if the above fact wasn’t infuriating enough, the mediocre or lack of world building grated on my nerves to no end. Carp is a civilized town (with ONLY 12,000 residents) which means that there are police officers enforcing the law. However, their incompetence was really laughable. Panic has been going on for years and their moronic asses didn’t even know where to look for leads. Every teenager student in town knows Panic since they’re pretty much bullied to contribute $$$ to form the prize money. And yet, all the police know are nonsensical information about the game. For the most part,they’re just grasping at straws. The only thing that they have managed so far is to put up notices banning everyone from joining Panic. Other than that, nada. What a mess!
Apart from the world building and concept, I also felt indifferent towards the characters. Panic has 4 main characters named Heather, Bishop, Dodge and Natalie. All of them are just so hard to like. I don’t know why… maybe we don’t have compatible zodiac signs or something. Heather and Natalie are whiny b-tches. Meanwhile, Dodge and Bishop are just average male leads who didn’t make my heart falter.
Panic’s plot suffered from predictability. There were some thrilling scenes here and there but I expected all of them. Even the author’s attempt at twists failed miserably. I was utterly bored while reading this book. There were times that I literally shook my laptop in the hopes that things will get better. But just like a jaded ox, I plowed a barren rice field with no hope of a golden harvest.
Summing it up, I would never rush to our local bookstores in a panic to get Panic. There are only two positive things about this book: 1. It’s a standalone (Woohoo) and 2. Lauren was able to maintain the lyrical quality of her prose. But still, both aren’t enough to save the whole story from becoming a gigantic fiasco.
Thanks to Harper Collins for the free ARC!
Death Sworn, I could have sworn that the 5 star rating is almost within your grasp. You could have rendered me on my knees. You could have made me suffer a terrible hangover. But sadly, you let your laziness get the best of you. Let me enumerate the things that I liked and disliked about you, alright?
The things that made my inner bibliophile happy:
1. The Characters- Ileni is a kick-ass heroine despite the fact that her magical powers are almost drained. Her realism and cockiness really made me a happy reader. Not to mention that she definitely know what her purpose in life is and she’s not afraid to achieve it even if it threatens her life. I think that she’s one of the few heroines who see death with realistic acceptance. She doesn’t mope about it… she just looks at it like it’s rain…an uncontrollable phenomenon that would occur any day.
Her love interest, Sorin, is also one interesting fellow. He’s a cold-bloodied assassin and he is a firm believer that every death serves a greater purpose. His first meeting with Ileni was quite antagonistic since they have differing beliefs when it comes to killing people. But over time, he warmed up to her. This event led me to another discovery of the other side of his personality. Sorin is somewhat naïve when it comes to girls and romance. And his reactions were really funny and at the same time, frustrating.
Even the other characters including the villains deserve commendation.
2. The Romance- Sweet and wasn’t interfering to the overall story. It was really interesting to see a romance unfolding between an arrogant sorcerer and a passionate murderer.
3. The Interactions and Dialogues- Highly amusing for the most part but chilling at certain times.
4. The prose- Beautiful and it really flowed well.
The things that made my inner bibliophile grumpy:
1. The Story- It wasn’t executed well. Death Sworn is the first book in the series and I expected that there’s going to be a lot of grounding works here. Apparently, there’s none. Death Sworn was relatively short for a High Fantasy book, consisting of only 191 pages. I want elaborate explanations about this and that. I want to understand the Rathian Empire, the Regenai and The Assassins. Being the first book, I actually anticipated that Cypress would supply solid rationalization about the community, about the world. She could have inserted back stories here and there. Or she could utilize any writing method that could fully immerse me in the world that she has painted.
Additionally, most of the twists were predictable and some of them were even loosely knitted.
2. The World Building- Almost non-existent. The whole story took place inside a huge cave full of glittering orb lights. Aside from that, I generally don’t have any idea what’s on the outside. What about the flora and fauna of the whole kingdom? What about religion? Does the community have beliefs and other customs? What about the laws enforced by the Rathian Empire, The Assassins and the Regenai? What about the lay out of the whole kingdom?
3. The Ending- Rushed. Cliffhangery. Riddled with inconsistencies and ambiguousness. There’s also an unbelievable scene that made me draw a question mark in the air. How did that happen?!!! What Ileni did was just ridiculous. Just can’t…Grrrr.
I don’t hate this book… please believe that. If truth be told, it was definitely a pleasurable read and I had a wonderful time in getting to know the other characters. The thing is, I want to be fair with my rating… I want to be fair with the potential readers of this book. There’s just no way I can ignore those glaring flaws.
All That Glows is another product of my failed attempts to search for “that” awesome fairy book. Sure, it has originality, but the author failed to take advantage of that as she messed up in terms of properly executing the whole story.
All That Glows is another reason why readers find themselves reluctant to read fairy stories. It is so reminiscent of those “books” that suffered from predictable and romance driven-plot, underdeveloped MCs, and lacklustre world building. *eyeroll* But I think, it would quite serve its purpose when one is looking for something light to read just to kill time. If truth be told, I enjoyed All That Glows despite its glowing flows.
All That Glows spins around the life of Emrys, a fairy who got assigned to guard Richard, the crowned prince of Britain. At first, everything was only a job to her but as the days passed by, her heart became more and more involved to the point that she was willing to forget the oath that she swore to Mab, the fairy queen.
Emrys has a great potential to become a kick ass heroine particularly that she has the power and the position to enforce it. However, her initial attraction to Richard made her ignore all her rules and behaved like she hadn’t endured the world for centuries. Granted that she didn’t completely lost her wits when she’s around Richard but she’s not behaving according to her age. She’s supposed to be more in control, to be defiant, to be stern, to be wise and all that but in here, she’s just your average heroine with no spunk in her personality… easily forgettable in a sea of female fairy characters.
Prince Richard is also as boring as a slug. And I seriously think that he’s making a bad reputation of the British Monarchy. All throughout the story, I haven’t felt the depth of his struggle while he rose from being the bratty prince to being a capable monarch. A lot of his potential got wasted. If you are expecting a witty or a funny or an arrogant prince in here, please… try to pick up another book because All That Glows will surely disappoint you.
Graudin also made a lame attempt at portraying the British Monarchy in its full glory. While I was reading this book, it’s like I was just seeing a tiny portion of it. Heck, the author didn’t even make an effort to throw in some political intrigue here and there or even… let’s just say a solid historical foundation for the story.
The world building of All That Glows was unexceptional. Most of the events took place in modern London and Graudin’s prose didn’t manage to transform the City into something fantastical. Even the haven of the fairies was worthy of an eyeroll.
Talking about the plot, it was, as I’ve said earlier, predictable and romance driven. At first, the story gives you an impression that some dark machinations are about to happen but as the story advanced, you will find yourself sorely disappointed. The romance took hold and the twist became a side story. Graudin, however, offered a little mercy to the readers by developing the romance properly. And there’s no messy love triangle to put up with.
I don’t know if All That Glows is a series or a standalone. But its ending was neatly wrapped up even if the conflict was easily resolved. To be honest, I hope Graudin will just leave this book as it is and perhaps write another story that is more promising.
All in all, All That Glows is not your hardcore fairy story that would perhaps rival that of Julie Kagawa’s works. But then again, if you are looking for something light that has Monarch princes in it, then this is the book for you. All that Glows has the same feel with those films, say The Prince and Me or What a Girl Wants… they’re crappy but I enjoyed them.
***A free e-ARC of this book was freely provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Harper Teen!***
It is clear that Rachel Caine has a unique story to tell with Prince of Shadows. But it wasn’t clear which story she wanted to tell from the various storylines this book has. For starters, the story of Prince of Shadows is imbalanced and it forgot what “prioritizing” means.
The synopsis was clear that Prince of Shadows will be about Benvolio’s royal thievery exploits and his romance with Rosaline Capulet. Alas, that wasn’t the case. Instead, we get a book that can be summarized as:
• 35% of Mercutio and Thomasso’s gay love story
• 35% of Romeo and Juliet’s love story
• 10 % nonsensical stuff about the a curse that suddenly sprung up
• 10 % of Benvolio and Rosaline’s love story
• 10% of Benvolio’s ala-Robinhood exploits
You know what? I really couldn’t have cared less if there are 3 story arcs in this book if it was longer, say around 400-500 pages so there’s a right balance to everything. Unfortunately, we’re only talking about 200+ pages here. As a consequence, you get half-baked characters, carelessly done romance and an indecisive plot.
Prince of Shadows covered three love stories and not one of them has caught my attention. There’s a gay romance that should have been interesting, but it resulted into something tragic that eventually led to the Capulet and Montague Houses being cursed. That last bit really didn’t click well with the overall story. But Rachel Caine didn’t stop with that and also covered in a lengthy detail the romantic adventures of Romeo and Rosaline and afterwards, of Romeo and Juliet. They fell in love at first sight, they have clandestine meetings and of course, they died. Lastly, we have Benvolio and Rosaline’s affair that was more of a side story than being the meat of Prince of Shadows.
Regardless, I did find some enjoyment from this disappointment of a novel. I haven’t read the original version of Romeo and Juliet yet and most of my knowledge about the story was acquired from short classroom discussions and of course, from watching movies like Claire Danes and Leonardo Di Caprio’s Romeo and Juliet. For what it’s worth, I did learn some things from Prince of Shadows. For example, I didn’t know that Romeo’s first apple of the eye was Rosaline and that he has a cousin named Benvolio who also fell in love with the girl. That sort of stuff. I am not sure if that’s important but additional knowledge can’t hurt, right?'
Thanks to NAL for the free e-ARC
MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEH. My mind has been bleating the said word when I fully realized that Me Since You is going to be one hell of a boring read. The characters endlessly wallowed on grief to the point that I was exhausted by it all. And friends, this book was supposed to make me cry particularly that its theme revolves around a very delicate subject which is suicide. Yet I found my tear glands dry and coming from me, that’s saying something because I am a heavy crier. I cry at even the slightest provocation. Petty sad events can already put me on the verge of tears. But Me Since You saved me a 2-dollar worth of tissue box. And after I finished it, I got depressed because I think I was the only one who didn’t grasp how painful this book is. I even got to a point wherein I was thinking that it’s going to be another Perks of Being a Wallflower where everything just drag on and on without real direction. Thankfully, it ended just when I thought of DNF-ing it temporarily. >,<
Me Since You is not your typical angsty contemporary read for it delved into the uglier points of human loss, acceptance of painful truths, remembering that you’re not alone and moving on. There’s so much to learn from this book that at some point, it could already qualify as a self-help journal. The premise promised of another cliché’ contemporary but Me Since You is more than that. Kudos to Wiess for having the guts of writing something new out of a pile of an overly done story subject.
While Me Since You is certainly an unforgettable journey for me, it has its glaring flaws that left me frustrated. For starters, I wasn’t able to connect with all of the characters. You see, in order for me give a d-mn about their plight, I have to connect with them first. But the case with Me Since You was that it started with the characters already troubled with the death of two strangers. If truth be told, I haven’t seen any significant development about them other than the constant and exhausting grieving and lashing out at people. That kind of ploy already gets old if you’re reading a 360+ page book. And all the characters do is swim in the ocean of grief.
The plot, though unique, could have benefitted from a major overhaul and trimming out those taxing repetitive moments. The book could have been shortened so as not to lose the novelty of the painfulness of the whole story. The romance, while it didn’t become overbearing, was sloppily made. I hardly feel any chemistry between Eli and Rowan that I couldn’t stop myself from thinking that the author should have just scrapped it. I mean, if you’re just going to make a lame job out of it, then better ditch it instead of ruining the whole thing. I’m sorry but the romance in this book wasn’t probed well that it failed to make a substantial contribution to the whole story.
Overall, Me Since You could have easily gotten a 1 star rating from me but the lessons that it imparted is quite valuable and that in itself is enough to merit a 3.5 star rating. I highly recommend it to those people who are interested in getting over extreme depressions and moving over loss. Heck, I would even recommend it to those who want to read something new in an overly done genre.
***An ARC was freely provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, MTV Books!***
OMFG! The Shadow Prince is another book that had me reeling in the world of awesomeness. I was actually ashamed by the fact that I went into it with a pre-conceived notion that it’s going to be another crap mythos. Can’t blame me because just months ago, I was unfortunate to read another Greek myth based novel entitled Silent Echo. What’s worst is the fact that this book is also about a singing heroine which is so reminiscent of Portia, the heroine of Silent Echo. I thought I was in for another hellish ride but was so relieved that The Shadow Prince was able to prove that it’s not just your run-of-the-mill mythos. It has spunk and certainly offered something new to the table.
While the Percy Jackson series is a tale of all the greek gods and goddesses, The Shadow Prince is a rendition of Hades and Orpheus’ story. Haden, The Shadow Prince, is the son of the interim ruler of the Underworld, King Ren. Disowned and stripped of his royal privileges, a sudden twist of fate has offered him a chance to restore his lost glory and honor. That chance involved bringing a mortal girl in the person of Daphne Raines to the Underworld to retrieve something that has been stolen from Hades. While Haden is endowed with godly powers, it certainly wouldn’t help in ensuring Daphne’s willingness to go to the other side with him.
I just couldn’t express how much I love this book. Charged with an atmosphere of tension and interesting vibe, its beginning immediately pulled me in. It’s such a powerful opening salvo that I found it hard to put the book down. And as I navigated through the whole book, it wasn’t just the beginning that drew me in. The main characters were perfect for me despite that some of the second characters were kind of left out. Haden is your typical underdog, but what sets him apart from those typical pitiful boys is that when he’s consumed with uncertainty and self-pity, he just powers through even if it puts him in a very bad but funny situation. This book has enough humor to set me off to mental land. OMFG, the way he adjusted to the mortal world and attempted to get Daphne’s attention were heartwarming and something I needed after reading a lot of books that had eyerolling jokes.
Daphne didn’t disappoint either. I liked that the author created her without using the generic pattern of YA heroines which is pathetic, simple, naïve, has a low self-esteem, and that entire BS. Daphne is tall, confident and knows how to use her strengths when they’re needed. She’s ambitious without being bitchy. She asserts herself without being bossy. Really, she’s just a very likeable character who spends her day not thinking about boys. Instead, she makes her day worthwhile by doing her passion, thinking about her family and obsessing about the mystery that surrounds Olympus Hills.
The second characters were kind of average though. For me, they’re okay but I think the author could still do something to make them okayER. I am already on the verge of really loving them but not quite there yet if that even makes sense.
Another selling point of this book is the world building. On one hand, Despain managed to paint a very vivid picture of the Underrealm without resorting to an infodump. And then she constructed another one called Olympus Hills. It’s pretty impressive because Olympus Hills is supposed to be another high end community where celebrities lived but Despain made it in a way that it has the feel of coming out straight from a fantasy book whilst maintaining a semblance of realism.
While the plot may not be that original considering that it’s about the retelling of Orpheus and Hades’ story, Despain was creative enough to weave something extraordinary out of it. It has equal amounts of romance, creepy mystery, funky humor and of course, a mythos that you would certainly love. Though pleased with the plot, I must say that it’s not perfect. Near the end of the book, our characters were put in a situation where they just solved it too easily. Maybe things would’ve been more awesome if Despain tried to infuse more action into it than just going the easy way out. But anyway, my love for this book is enough to make me overlook that problem.
And that ending, it was very satisfying and thrilling. It explained a lot of things, but still contained enough secrets to make you restless for the next book to come out.
All in all, The Shadow Prince is another book that I don’t want to end. I hope Bree is sensible enough to get her a—working double time and release the sequel.
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Captivate frustrated me so much that I was tempted to give it a zero star rating. Except for the interesting premise, almost everything about it was off. Not to mention that I was angry at myself for not really checking it out. I thought that it’s going to be a mermaid book but it’s not. In actuality, it’s about an underwater kingdom of humans.
My interest was very high during the first 20% of the book and then it dwindled as the story progressed. The main character, Miranda, was average and easily forgettable. I wouldn’t even bat an eyelash if the underwater people decide to drown her or feed her to the sharks. Her indecisiveness was really irritating and halfway through the book, she slowly succumbed to the Stockholm syndrome. As if Miranda wasn’t torture enough, I was introduced to the two male love interests who were 1-D and definitely, not swoon-worthy.
Slow-paced and very dull, the plot didn’t make any efforts to redeem the book in my eyes. It was brimming with holes. A lot of things didn’t make sense at all. As what the synopsis suggest, Captivate tells the story of Miranda getting kidnapped by the underwater people. It was immediately explained that she was taken because she will become the wife of Marko—the King of Marin (the underwater kingdom)—and that she will be the one to produce an heir. Sadly, the female populace of the kingdom was barren and the king has to produce a successor so his fugitive older brother will not usurp the throne. What a flimsy foundation for a story.
First and foremost, Marko visits the mainland once every month to sell pearls. Why does he need to kidnap someone when he can properly court a girl while he’s doing business? I am pretty sure that with his good looks and noble attitude, it would be easy for a girl to fall in love with him and become his queen in Marin. Aside from that, the female populace of the kingdom is barren. Kidnapping someone would definitely not solve the said problem. Why is it that Marko and his minions are not doing something about it? Instead, all their attentions are solely focused on keeping Miranda secure.
To irritate me further, why is Marko really fussed about his older brother, Damir, usurping the throne if he can’t produce an heir? For one, Damir is already considered a fugitive and shouldn’t Marko be planning on how to capture him? Second, I don’t really understand why Damir is still waiting for Marko to produce an heir before usurping the throne when the former could just rally his troops and invade the castle.
As irritating as it may sound, I still held some hope that everything could still be saved. To my severe disappointment, Miranda was captured by Damir in the later part of the book. Marko and his troops came to the rescue and easily overpowered Damir. And Miranda was sent home because the threat to the kingdom was already eliminated. At that point, I was literally shouting “WHAT THE F****?” at myself. Again, why in the heavens did Marko kidnap Miranda when he could have just spent his resources hunting Damir in the first place?
Captivate also contained a plot device that really gave me a headache. As mentioned earlier, Miranda has two love interests. Of course, the first is Marko and the other one is Robbie. The latter is a member of the king’s guard. When Marko caught him and Miranda in a compromising situation, he was thrown inside a gigantic aquarium wherein the pet sharks of the kingdom can devour him to death. But luckily, he lived because a dagger magically appeared in the bottom of the aquarium. While I was reading the book, the death sentence by sharks was mentioned repeatedly and it was never mentioned that the accused would still have a chance to live as long as he can kill the sharks. But when it was time for Robbie to die, presto, the rules changed all of a sudden so that he could live.
Even Captivate’s romance was badly crafted that it has the vibe of instalove. For the most part of the book, Marko and Miranda didn’t have enough page time getting to know each other. It was only at 60% when I saw an actual development in their relationship and heavens, it was really rushed. They were immediately saying “I love you” even if Miranda is still confused about her feelings. Eww. I was cringing the whole time I was following their interactions.
The only redeeming quality of this book was the world building. It may not have wowed me, but it was sufficient to make me imagine what Marin looks like.
I am really sorry if I bored you with this review. But I just can’t stop myself from ranting. Captivate has almost caused me to go on a reading slump. It’s supposed to be my first underwater (not including the Little Mermaid) book and it tremendously flopped. Overall, it’s a story perfect for fans of the Pick-a-Trope game.
***An ARC of this book was freely provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Harlequin TEEN!***
So you think you’ve read it all? You think you’re already so tough after reading all the gruesome things in THG and Divergent? But friends, you haven’t seen anything yet without reading this monstrosity of a book. Red Rising will break you and pound you to an amazeballs of powdered bones and you will not do anything about it. It’s 1/3 dystopia, 1/3 sci-fi, and 1/3 epic fantasy. Heavens forgive me but this is even better than The Hunger Games. Coming from a die hard THG fan, saying that can already be considered a blasphemy but I don’t care… I don’t care… this book has it all… extremely bad-ass characters, action scenes full of carnage that will make your nightmares laughable, heart, drama, complex relationships and sweet good ol’ romance.
Red Rising is one of those books that everyone should read before they die or die trying. I don’t even know how to begin this gorydamn review without making myself look like an obsessed blabbering fool. Add the fact that I am afraid that this review will not do the book the justice it deserves. Holy shit! This book might just murder me in cold blood if I fail to make this review as awesome as the book.
Red Rising is about a slave named, Darrow, who is contented of living a life digging in the pits of planet Mars to harvest helium 3. He believed that his sweat and sacrifices will better the lives of his future children. However, he found that he and his fellow slaves were betrayed and that drove him into a mad longing to seek out justice for all the misery that they had suffered.
While the synopsis is quite unappealing to me as a potential reader, it was immediately cured as soon as I got into the story. The beginning instantly clutched me without ever letting go until the very end. I was swept into a world where people are hierarchized according to their colors with Reds being the lowest. The caste system created by Pierce Brown is interesting, exceptional and conceivable. My dear friends, this book has just restored my faith to the dystopian genre. I initially thought that dystopian authors have finally exhausted any possible means to make the said genre as awesome as the first time I got acquainted with it through The Giver and The Hunger Games but worry not, Pierce Brown is here to save the dying genre.
The world building and the community are just a small part of the awesomeness of Red Rising. Once you meet the characters, I know for sure that you will be on your knees clutching you heart and telling it to stop from becoming a pathetic mess. Our main character, Darrow, is just OWNING! His rise from the dregs of the society to become the most brilliant student of the Gold Institute was impressive yet heartbreaking. His journey was so painful that I couldn’t help myself from tearing up every time I relive the things that he did to achieve the most coveted student position in the Institute. Yes, he got ambitious, cunning and ruthless during his development phase but it was all justified. His love for his late wife, Eo, was so moving that it was impossible not to shed tears for a character that you only knew for a few pages. Guys, I rarely root for male characters as greatly as I rooted for Harry P. but Darrow has managed to usurp the number 2 spot of my “Best Male Characters of All-Time” list. That, my friends, is an honor you do not take lightly from me. Ahem.
Even the secondary characters including the gorydamn antagonists are well fleshed out and there was never a time I had difficulty discerning every one of them considering their impressive numbers. If Pierce Brown will quiz me now, I know I would ace it. *smiles smugly*
The plot of Red Rising…I couldn’t even… In this book, it’s not just about brute force but it’s also about Brown’s genius machinations to make this book’s plot at par with that of an epic fantasy story. Goodness gracious but everything that happened In Red Rising is a product of military ingenuity. And the most brilliant thing is, Pierce Brown never holds back when it comes to the bloodbath. He will describe every gory detail with relish. Interwoven into the plot are political intrigue, vengeance, unlikely friendship and a semblance of a bittersweet romance. It is a tragic story and yet one full of hope, honor and amazing goodness.
Though I recommended this book to everyone, I must suggest that those who are quite delicate must toughen up prior to reading it. Pierce Brown is a sadist Peerless Scarred who will crush you with no hesitancy. You must be ready.
***An ARC of this book was freely provided by the publisher via Netgalley. Thank you, Del Rey and Random House!***
Before I start my rant and exaltations for Cruel Beauty, let it be known that it has nothing to do with Graceling. I really don’t know what’s gotten into the mind of the marketers of this book to say that it’s a sweeping fantasy where Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast. Seriously? Now that we’re clear about that, my second advice is to take this book with zero expectations. Don’t overanalyse it or somewhat because if you do, you might end up hating it.
Cruel Beauty might have gotten a 4-star rating from me, but it doesn’t mean that it’s one my greatest reads for 2013. It has flaws that might very well push some readers to despise it, but thank goodness, my patience got the best of me and thus, it surprisingly entertained me. Cruel Beauty is a story about Nyx Triskelion, a 17 year old girl who had been affianced to the Evil Prince of their village since her birth. Almost all her life, she harbored bitter feelings towards her family for her doomed future and at the same time, schemed morbid thoughts on how to kill her would-be husband and eventually, free the people of Arcadia. Will she succeed or not?
One of the most remarkable things about Cruel Beauty is that the main character is not your typical martyr “Belle” whose goodness of heart is beyond compare whatever. Nix is a bitter, malicious, vengeful and a scheming young lady who dances between the fine line of goodness and meanness. She hates her family, including her long dead mother, but at the same time, she loves them. It is when her feelings are so conflicted that I truly admire her. There were even times that I was almost convinced that she maybe the beast in the guise of a pretty maiden. Her personality greatly depicts that humans are innately bad, but ultimately, it is your choice whether you let darkness control you or you rise from your baser nature.
Nyx’s significant half, Ignifex, is also an enigma. Is he really the beast or the beauty trapped in his own prison? As much as I want to dissect his character, I couldn’t lest I risk you getting spoiled, my dears. I can, however, assure you that he will make you dizzy… he will make you frown… he will make you pause… he will make you curse… xD
The relationship between the characters was also praise worthy considering that Nyx is a vortex of conflicting emotions. You could never guess how she would exactly react when she’s interacting with her family, particularly her sister and with her husband, Ignifex.
Cruel Beauty is heavily entwined with Greek Mythology which I think would be a hit or miss for the readers. As for me, I was okay with it to the point that I was just taking a lot of things at face value. I didn’t overanalyse whether Hodge did her Greek assignment well or not because I didn’t pick this book because I want to read a greek mythos. I picked it up because it’s a retelling of one of my beloved fairy tales and I want to see if Hodge accomplished what she’s expected to deliver. And she did, folks. She did.
The world building was also commendable. Arcadia and the Prince’s castle are beautifully crafted and quite unique considering that fairy tale world building typically means that you have this castle in a far far away land whatever. But Hodge did something more to the setting that will leave you unsettled.
Though the plot was unique in its own way, I was not entirely happy with it. There were moments that it moved sluggishly and some events were getting repetitive. But for the most part of the journey, I was undeniably entertained. And friends, I think this is the only book where the instalove was slightly mindblowing. It seems like an instalove but it wasn’t really. I wish I could explain it without spoiling you. Please be happy though that Cruel Beauty didn’t rely on its romance to move forward. Its plot is dark, so please don’t expect that you’re going to read about tea pots animated to life and all that nonsense. It seamlessly combined a Greek Mythology and a levelled-up Beauty and the Beast story to tell a haunting tale that is Cruel Beauty.
Overall, this book did a great justice to our beloved Beauty and the Beast even with its faults. Rosamund Hodge certainly made an unforgettable debut out of Cruel Beauty.
***An ARC was freely provided by the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Harper Collins and Balzer and Bray!***
Now, this is one book I immediately devoured after Harper Collins approved my ARC request via Edelweiss. Ever since Through The Ever Night ended, I was feeling incomplete especially with that terrible cliffhanger concerning Cinder and of course, Liv’s death. There’s just no way I could enjoy life when my favourite characters are in turmoil. You could never imagine how time stopped for me when I saw the ARC of Into the Still Blue being offered in Edelweiss. Obviously, you could stop a bullet train from running but not this gal from putting in the request. And after the request has been sent, I did a lot of these…
And when my hard work came into fruition, I thought I had just experienced one of the best moments of my life. Seems ridiculous but Under The Never Sky has converted me into an obsessed reader that couldn’t eat, talk and sleep without the healthy fix of Perry, Aria and Roar. Yeah, I know. I’m clingy, needy and demanding but that’s just how I roll when it comes to my favourite series.
Into The Still Blue immediately accounted the events right after the Through The Ever Night happenings. Among the three Under the Never Sky books, I must say that Into The Still Blue is more action packed. This is expected since our leads are racing against time to do the things that need to be done: saving Cinder and finding a way to evacuate the Tides and the rescued Dwellers to Into The Still Blue. Although things were quite predictable, I still love how Veronica constructed the whole plot. It did not deviate from her brand of writing which means: the romance didn’t propel the story to move forward and she peppered it with another set of heartbreaking moments.
It is also worth mentioning that Veronica Rossi’s beautiful writing is also one factor for my leniency of the predictable plot. It did not only compensate for the said flaw but had me on tenterhooks all throughout the 271 pages of the book.
But what really fuelled this book (and the previous installments) to be what it is right now—awesome and inducer of a lot of feels—is the fact that it is a very character-and-relationship driven book. In Into The Still Blue, Veronica was able to maintain the sturdiness of her characters without resorting to over the top character development. And throw in some believable, vibrant and multi-faceted character relationships into the mixture, you’ll have a wonderful story worth rooting dying for. I am not only talking about the romance between Aria and Perry here but also their relationships with the other book characters. And well, is it still worth discussing that Aria and Roar have the best platonic relationship ever? Yep! Yep! Yep! I am very pleased that until the end, Veronica managed on not jumping into the bandwagon of love triangle authors and was able to conserve Roar and Aria’s “we’re just friends” bond.
I was really tempted to give this book a 5 star rating but the calculator side of my personality wouldn’t just permit it. There’s still a gaping hole about the world building that Veronica failed to cover on this book. Until now, I am still wondering what the Aether is all about. And for that, I have to knock off a half star from this review.
Into the Still Blue, despite its flaws, has still exceeded my expectations. I must admit that this conclusion lacked the zest that its two predecessors have contained. But still… Into the Still Blue was good in its own way. It certainly ended the Under the Never Sky with a loud BANG. Although I am happy to tick this series off my monitoring book, I am still sad. Saying goodbye to an old beloved friend is always a thing that I don’t want to confront.
What are you waiting for? Get your copies now.
***An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Harper Collins!***
After finishing Uninvited, the first thought that came to mind is “I don’t know anything about James Patterson, Michelle Hodkin, and Lisa McMann or any of that Scarlet Letter meets Minority Report. All I know is that this is a cross between Mean Girls x Twilight x Divergent.” And I’m not sure if that is good for Uninvited’s reputation. As for me, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I want to.
Being the first book in a duology series, Uninvited is a futuristic story where Earth Nations are on the verge of collapsing due to the increasing number of people who are HTS (Homicidal Tendency Syndrome) carriers. Davina a.k.a Davy, our main protagonist, is a music prodigy and has lived a sheltered life ever since she was born. Everything was perfect in her life until the day that she was diagnosed positive for HTS. Her boyfriend and bestfriend ditched her, her parents are scared of her and her chance of a bright future in Juilliard is suddenly gone.
Uninvited’s premise is not only interesting but also unique. Imagine how much easier it would be to protect this world from sociopaths if there’s an existing technology to detect them before they become one. Alas, my friends, what we currently have is the highly unreliable MacDonald triad which until now is under severe criticisms. But if I am to compare it with Jordan’s method of detecting HTS, I think I’d rather go for the MacDonald triad in terms of rationality. You see, the first glaring flaw that immediately struck me when I dove into Uninvited was that it didn’t give any solid account as to why HTS became prevalent in the society. Nor it offered any enlightenment as to the exact science behind the detection of the kill gene. Now if you’re a nitpick about genetics then this may not be the book for you because trust me, all Jordan was able to do was tell us that the society detects HTS by DNA testing. After that, nada. She didn’t even offer an elaborate explanation as to what is in the genetic makeup of the HTS carrier that makes him/her a killer. It’s different with the MacDonald Triad because instead of genetics, it explained the possible causes of sociopathy in terms of three behaviours: firesetting, animal cruelty and enuresis. But with Uninvited, the author just expects us to take anything at face value. >,<
I must admit, however, that even if my reading experience was ruined by the ambiguity of the sci-fi aspect of Uninvited, I was still entertained. The story moved in a regular pace accounting Davy’s day-to-day struggle as a branded killer. It was fascinating to follow her misery…of how quickly she became one of the most unwanted girl in their town when previously, she was everyone’s beloved musical princess. And most importantly, it was terrifying and enthralling at the same time to see the world in chaos because of HTS…families being torn apart, friends becoming enemies, and rational humans behaving like animals by treating those HTS carriers as though the latter are savages instead of individuals that needed compassion and serious treatment.
The romance was also done well and remained as a side story. Though the plot was admittedly simplistic, it did make for a good read especially with some disturbing and gory scenes thrown in the way.
And should I mention that both parents of the MC are alive and kicking? Following the development of their relationship as a family was really an awkward experience for me because Davy had been the favourite child but everything got complicated when she turned positive for HTS.
In terms of characterization, Uninvited did fairly well. Except for the MC, I have no problem connecting with the characters. IMO, Davy is a character that is hard to like. She’s full of hypocrisy and judgment against her fellow carriers. And then she would pretend like she’s some kick ass heroine and only end up getting saved by Sean. As. In. Always. I am really hoping that she’ll change for the better in book 2. Speaking of her love interest, Sean, that’s another story. I like the guy even if there are still a lot of things that I don’t know about him. He’s mysterious, confident, a true gentleman (despite the bad boy façade) and an aegis. And he’s one of the reasons why I will be reading the sequel. I am interested to know what his real story is.
Uninvited’s world building also needs some improvement. For the most part of the story, I always thought that the events are happening on the present when it’s clearly set some time in the future based on the HTS news snippets. No wonderful or CGI-ish imagery here, guys.
All in all, Uninvited—with its numerous flaws—is easily deserving of a negative rating if one lets her/his calculator side of personality win. As for me, I really enjoyed this one and thus, the 3 star rating. I would recommend Uninvited to all those who are willing to overlook the various flaws I’ve mentioned or to those who are looking for something unique. And together, let’s pray that Sophie Jordan will do a better job with book 2.
What do you think?
***An ARC of this book was provided freely by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, HarperTeen and Harper Collins!***
I really don’t know what to expect in a book that is recommended to the fans of Joss Whedon’s cult hit show Firefly. Yes, I know Joss Whedon’s the celebrated director of the box office hit The Avengers but Firefly? Nope. Nonetheless, I picked this up because it’s sci-fi and the premise is appealing.
I must admit, however, that when I went into Avalon, I had some doubts that it might not live up to its stellar GR rating or to its interesting synopsis. Let’s face it, sci-fi is an overdone genre and almost everything about it has already been explored by a lot of authors. But pals, Avalon turned out to be everything that I want in a sci-fi book. It’s stimulating, mysterious and full of adrenaline.
The first book in a series, Avalon is a story of teenage mercenaries who are tasked to pull off a heist on one of the forbidden planets in the intergalactic system, the Belgrave (it’s the outer space version of the Bermuda Triangle). While the mission is clearly doomed from the start, Jeth Seagrave and his crew still pursued it in the hopes of finally getting their freedom and Avalon (the spaceship previously owned by Jeth’s parents) from their master, Hammer.
Avalon’s beginning immediately drew me in. It was strong and immediately showed us how Jeth and his crew worked as a group of teenage thieves outwitting planetary officials. Factor in that the story was told from Jeth’s (a male MC) POV—a bit rare in YA books these days—I found it hard to put the book down. Jeth and his thieving crew were a bunch of adorable characters and there was never a moment that I got confused about who’s who.
I must warn you though that Jeth is not someone who could easily be loved by everyone. On one hand, he’s a very family oriented person who is always looking after the welfare of his sister and crew members. Not to mention that he’s defiant and very loyal to those he loves. On the other one, him being a leader of a big time heist group didn’t sit right with me. In the book, he was described as Hammer’s new Golden Boy which, I would assume, means that he’s extraordinarily cunning, wise and able to achieve feats of mindblowing thievery that would put Ocean’s Eleven or Lupin’s gang to shame. Or I could be ambitious here and compare him to Artemis Fowl. Instead, I saw an incompetent leader who has the habit of making unwise decisions. All throughout the story, he always got out of tight situations because of Sierra or his crew’s talents. And if you ask me, Jeth is more of a liability than an important role player to the group. Why would I say that? Every time he made a decision, just expect that on the next day, some psycho is chasing them around space because he failed to use his brain.
Anyway, enough of Jeth and let’s move on to the villains. While Mindee failed to create a totally lovable MC, she, however, succeeded in creating 3D antagonists in the persons of Hammer and Renford. Guys, they’re psychos who wouldn’t hesitate to spill the first blood.
The world created by Arnett in Avalon was also beautiful albeit the lacklustre description of the space vessels. Well, if you consider “old floor…rusty pipes… messy rooms… old furniture” a fitting way to describe spaceships then Arnett must have done her job well. Kidding aside, this can be easily overlooked since the other technological advances and the new planetary system were interesting enough to take my mind off the spaceships.
The plot was definitely engaging and in my opinion, is the greatest asset of Avalon. It’s a mixture of politics, mindblowing twists and a planet-worth of mystery that would leave you panting until the very end. The action scenes were well done and would leave no room for you to breathe. The sci-fi element was thoroughly explained without resorting to dreaded info dumps or hard to understand explanations.
Avalon, however, is not without its faults. For one, it didn’t offer any back story as to what happened to the First Earth. Or what drove people to explore and live in new planets. But I guess I can ignore that since we still have books 2 and 3 to explore the said insufficiency. And lastly, Avalon’s romance, if not crap, is not something to be emulated by other books. It was instalovey and was haphazardly inserted into the story. It was dismal and awkward. While it didn’t become the focus of the book, I can’t deny that it was frustrating and easily forgettable. In fact, Arnett could have done a far better job if she just opted to exclude it from the story. Don’t get me wrong though, I am all for romance… I live for it as long as it’s done well…as long as it isn’t destructive. But if an author would just make a lousy job out of it, then nope.
All in all, Avalon has made it to my to-follow series list. Yes, there were snags along the way but the whole journey was all worth it. If you’re a sci-fi junkie who is need of a good fix, then don’t hesitate to rush to your local bookstores and get Avalon.
***An ARC for this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley through Edelweiss. Thank you Balzer and Bray and Harper Collins!***