Saturday, February 15, 2014

Scintillate: YA Fantasy Romance

Scintillate (The Light Key Trilogy, #1)Scintillate by Tracy Clark
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Meh...Okay, so I get why some people would love this. Instant love connection, boy that's bad on the outside, good on the inside, almost-love triangle, "unique" and "gifted" main character, and lots of mysteries. And the writing itself was fairly good at drawing me in, enough that I had no problem finishing this book.

But..I was a little bothered by it too. The metaphors felt forced, as if someone told the author you couldn't write a proper novel without metaphors, so she sat there and came up with a bunch to stick in her novel. The Finn's dialogue was overly flowery. I could bypass it in a book, most of the time, but I seriously hope I never have to hear it spoken aloud. I would die laughing.

Essentially, Cora suddenly starts seeing auras after a major illness, and around that time an Irish guy visiting her school starts noticing her too. Her aura is different than everyone else's, which she's been warned is a bad thing, plus some creepy man keeps trying to suck her soul out of her. So she has to balance lots of questions, confusion, and fear, plus figure out what's going on with the attraction between her and Mr. Irish guy.

I don't know, it was decent, but I think the sequel might influence how I view this book. I can think of two directions it might go, and I'm hoping the storyline takes the less expected one (and I will give Scintillate some credit--I was surprised by a few plot turns near the end, though I saw most of them coming). For now, I'll stick to the middle ground with this book--3 stars.

This digital copy of Scintillate was given to me by NetGalley & Entangled Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Becoming Alpha. You guessed it, a werewolf book

Becoming Alpha (Alpha Girl, #1)Becoming Alpha by Aileen Erin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm one of those people who's very skeptical about werewolf books. I almost never pick them up, and lately I've been avoiding supernatural books in general, feeling sort of tired of the genre. But...something about this book made me want to pick it up. And even though the story might've been a little cliche in some aspects, I'm glad I did--because I really enjoyed it. It was almost a guilty pleasure-type book. I knew it wasn't the most amazingly written story ever, but I couldn't wait to get back to it to finish it.

Tessa's family moves her to a new town, essentially to give her a fresh start. She has visions when she touches things, and it's a rather pesky ability. You'd think her had wouldn't want to move her somewhere he know more supernatural stuff is going on, but oh well, guess he had more faith in her ability to stay away from a school of hot, well-built guys than I would of any teenage girl.

And yep, guess what that school is for? Werewolves. And of course, Tessa is super attracted to Dastien, one of the werewolf guys. Partly because she's seen him before, in one of her scrying visions.

So we have powered, newly-werewolf girl dealing with werewolf guy, plus some vampires and witches thrown into the mix...it's a pretty fun combo. And I must admit, I look forward to reading the next one.

This digital copy of Becoming Alpha was given to me by NetGalley & INscribe Digital in exchange for an honest review.


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Defy: maybe for a younger, less-picky audience

Defy (Defy, #1)Defy by Sara B. Larson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Defy has a few main plot points that could sum it up for anyone debating about reading this book: Medieval-type sword fighting/conquering kingdom, girl-hiding-as-boy, outlawed magic, love triangle, and villains who aren't villains, oh, and a few over-the-top scenes done for the sake of ringing the angst out of us.

I gave it three stars because the writing style was fairly good, and the plot intriguing enough for me to stay interested all the way through. In fact, the story was decent as long as you didn't analyze it too closely.

Once you do, however, you come up with some issues. First, why are these people wearing medieval armor in a jungle kingdom? It's not practical, and makes it seem like they're not really from their own kingdom. Second, why isn't the issue at the beginning already about overthrowing their king? The king is over-the-top evil, and a recent conqueror...you'd think most of the country would want to get rid of him already. And what happened to the previous royal family?? We also have breeding houses for building up an army, but that must mean this king is planning a 100 year war or something for him to think that was practical.

The book also had some odd moments that felt very contrived, and not practical. Like Alexa's two love triangle guys conveniently knowing all along that she was a girl, and then this random jungle trek where Alexa gets to spend every night with both those guys because she's required too, and then oh, she's suddenly the only person who has this special fighting magic, even though outside her kingdom there's a whole lot more people with magic.

It was decent, just...don't pick it apart/think too much if you want to enjoy it.

This digital copy of Defy was given to me by NetGalley & Scholastic in exchange for an honest review.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Souls of the Stones, a review for each book in the trilogy

Cornerstone (Souls of the Stones, #1)Cornerstone by Kelly Walker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book took me a little while to get into, but once I did, I got caught up in the storyline, cheesy romance lines and all.

Yes, some of the dialogue might be awkward if read out loud in real life, but luckily, no one's reading this book aloud or making it into a movie. The point is, the world is interesting ( it took a bit to figure out exactly how it worked, but part of this can be blamed on the main character's ignorance), the plot intriguing, and enough kept happening to keep me interested. I liked the romances in this book...I have a bone to pick with the later books on that score, but that's another review.

Generally a good, easy, read. A few typos/grammar errors, but enjoyable, with the emphasis on fantasy and romantic elements.

This digital copy of Cornerstone was given to me by NetGalley & All Night Reads in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews Second Stone (Souls of the Stones #2)Second Stone by Kelly Walker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Second Stone had me up and down, loving characters one moment, hating them the next. Emariya and Torian's relationship seemed to become more real, perhaps because they actually had the chance to get to know each other. And I loved how they tested the waters, wanting to fall in love outside of the pull of the stones. But Reeve...ugh, even the mention of his name makes my blood boil. I hate his choices in this book, and I hate the consequences of his choices, and I hate his relationships. That's all I can really say without giving too much away. But it does make you really feel for Emariya, because it's hard enough as a reader to see Reeve turn out the way it does.

Also, I feel like the writing is stronger in this book--perhaps the author is more comfortable in the world of Three Corners? Whatever it is, it was well done.

This digital copy of Second Stone was given to me by NetGalley & All Night Reads in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews Broken Stone (Souls of the Stones, #3)Broken Stone by Kelly Walker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With Broken Stone, a good portion of this book is each character getting to know themselves, both their best pats and their darkest parts. Each character's loyalties and commitments are tested, and it's interesting to see how it all falls out. There were definitely a few surprises in here for me as well, which was great. Also a lot of exploration of their various powers, which I always enjoy when I'm reading fantasy.

A good ending to a good series; pretty much all questions were answered, though like any smart author, Walker left some open questions that could result in further books--which I hope it does! In fact, I've already searched out some more stories in this world to read.

This digital copy of Broken Stone was given to me by NetGalley & All Night Reads in exchange for an honest review.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Aberrant, the first in a YA trilogy

Aberrant (Aberrant, #1)Aberrant by Ruth Silver
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was torn between giving this one two or three stars, so the rating is probably closer to a 2.5. And there were times when I was reading it where I really liked it, and then other times when I got frustrated with it. Aberrant felt like it was full of great ideas, but its strength was its downfall as well--it just had too many ideas going on in it. We see plenty of devices used in other Dystopians: A day of choosing/selection/assignment (Divergent, The Giver), a society with set matched partners (Matched), worldwide fertility problems, with only select people being chosen to have children, a "testing"/trial type situation (Hunger Games), and mental powers/abilities on top of all that. All in one book! I felt like I was hopping from dystopian to dystopian, with very rough transitions. And Olivia was so good at this hopping, that it was almost annoying. It seemed like every time she was going to have to get through a serious situation, or deal with some intense drama, she would manage to escape it in the nick of time. She hardly ever saw action, because she was always running from it.

I was interested in the individual places she went to, but I felt like she just didn't deal with them. When imprisoned at home, she's quickly rescued (though in a strangely inefficient method, considering their technology). At her next places, she was just given some news she strongly disliked when an attacked forced her and her love interest to flee (a car was conveniently empty and waiting for them to take). Their third destination she finally has to deal with some hardship, but it's abbreviated hardship. I just wanted more all over--I felt like this book in itself could have been expanded into three books.

So, good in one sense--I was interested enough that I wanted to read more. But bad in another sense--I kept being frustrated with where the writing was taking me. Oh well, like I said, I'm still interested enough to read the next books. I just hope the next ones take us back to some of the first locations so she has to deal with some of the problems she left behind.

This digital copy of Aberrant was given to me by NetGalley & Patchwork Press in exchange for an honest review.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Allegiant, the final book in the Divergent Trilogy

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)Allegiant by Veronica Roth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As I write this review, I’m still in shock. Not because Allegiant was horrible, but quite the opposite—it was good, it was realistic, it was unexpected, and oh my goodness, it was emotional. I’m still reeling from the ending. Just my saying that might have some of you guessing at what the ending could be, but you’ll probably still be surprised (well, unless you already read a spoiler somewhere, of course). I was entirely shocked—I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered a YA novel that ended quite like Allegiant did. Does it sound arrogant to say I’m proud of Veronica Roth for writing it the way she did? I hope not, because I truly mean it as a compliment. So many authors either avoid reality or plunge too far into it, turning it so tasteless that it’s like trying to swallow bitter ash. But Allegiant walks a fine line of bringing those moments that make us giddy and happy, and then reminding us of the seriousness of being a real person in real life.

Dang, I loved this book.

I wasn’t sure at first. Insurgent was good, but not as amazing as Divergent, and of course Allegiant started off in yet another different way, so I had no idea how it would go. Whereas Divergent was almost insta-love, Allegiant was more like falling in love with a best friend who just sort of crept up on you…unexpectedly in some ways, but yet, not so unexpected.

I suppose I should actually mention the plot, beyond all these vague hints. I don’t want to give too much away, and I think the summary covers the plot just fine, so what I’ll do is I’ll talk about the questions that are addressed in this book. If you want to know absolutely nothing about the plot and what is answered, stop reading here!

So…for the rest of you. Yes, Tris and Tobias finally learn what’s outside of their city. They learn where they are, what’s been going on in the outside world, and how their faction system originally got set up. We also see what happens to the city they’re from, so it’s not like the city’s totally been left behind. Tris and Tobias have to again make decisions about their values and morals, and they are wonderfully true to character. And I don’t mean they keep making the same decisions no matter what, I mean that they change, grow, and make decisions based on both old values and new realizations. Just like any person does. We also get a little bit of an epilogue, which is nice. I’m glad the book didn’t just end—I hate when stories do that.

If someone’s looking for critiques, the best I can give you is that Tobias has changed from who he was in Divergent, and some fans may not like that, who knows. Also, some of the science/ scientific ideals seem a little unbelievable to me, but I suppose you have to sort of take that in stride when you’re reading a dystopian.

But all that aside, it was the writing style, message, and characters that mattered more to me, and I loved all those. So a definite five stars for Allegiant, and I can’t wait to see what Veronica Roth comes up with next!


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Monday, October 14, 2013

Closed Hearts, Mindjack Trilogy

Closed Hearts (Mindjack Trilogy, #2)Closed Hearts by Susan Kaye Quinn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Closed Hearts was a good follow-up to the first, but it some ways it was sort of frustrating, because it felt like it used a lot of the same plot devices. She again feels like she can't love Raf--this time to protect him, but of course, she does it anyways. Again, she doesn't want to be involved in world-changing events, but she gets dragged into them (I suppose at least he stays true to character?). She gets lugged off to another secret government facility and AGAIN is shocked by the scope of it. Except this time, she gives in more easily to what happens to her. Maybe because she expects it at this point? I'm not entirely sure, but it's sort of frustrating. It made me want to shake her!

Essentially, I sort of wish that Kira would take less time to make the decisions we all know she eventually has to make. She seems to be in a state of denial, masquerading as a normal mindreader, pretending her family isn't in danger, and fooling herself into thinking she can take a job as a mindguard without practicing mindguarding/jacking (oh, and her employer is some kind of benevolent, protective grandfather type?).

It was decently action-packed, added to the world-building, and kept me entertained though, so three stars!

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