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Did Not Finish Reviews

Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Reality Boy
by A.S. King

Genre: YA Contemporary  Hardback: 368 Pages
Publication: October 22, 2013 by Little Brown BFYR


Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth—which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school.

Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he’s tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone’s just waiting for him to snap…and he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.

Though I'm marking this as a dnf book, this is a book that I'd still recommend to people. Gerauld has a strong voice. It's witty and sympathizable. I hate what reality TV has done to him, and I want happiness for him. And I love A.S. King's writing. I love how she tackles touchy subjects and gives voice to characters who have been in crappy situations. The reason why I stopped reading this a quarter into the novel is because the story doesn't seem to follow a set path. It flows from scene to finish, between the present and the past when he was on reality TV as a young child. And even in the present, it doesn't seem to have any order to it. If I was in the right mood, I might've made it through the whole book. However, this isn't the type I'd read on a typical day.

A copy was provided by Hachette for review



Witchstruck
(The Tudor Witch Trilogy #1), by Victoria Lamb

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy   Paperback: 320 Pages
Publication: September 24, 2013 by Harlequin Teen


If she sink, she be no witch and shall be drowned.

If she float, she be a witch and must be hanged.

Meg Lytton has always known she is different—that she bears a dark and powerful gift. But in 1554 England, in service at Woodstock Palace to the banished Tudor princess Elizabeth, it has never been more dangerous to practise witchcraft. Meg knows she must guard her secret carefully from the many suspicious eyes watching over the princess and her companions. One wrong move could mean her life, and the life of Elizabeth, rightful heir to the English throne.

With witchfinder Marcus Dent determined to have Meg's hand in marriage, and Meg's own family conspiring against the English queen, there isn't a single person Meg can trust. Certainly not the enigmatic young Spanish priest Alejandro de Castillo, despite her undeniable feelings. But when all the world turns against her, Meg must open her heart to a dangerous choice.

The historical setting doesn't feel believable. It seems more like character play acting court life rather than characters actually living the time. The first couple chapters didn't do anything to set up the exposition, and I didn't really get a feel for the characters. More internal dialogue would have helped with getting to know Meg, but as it is she feels like a stranger. This feels more like the set up of a historical romance than what the synopsis suggests will be a dark and dangerous novel where the practice of witchcraft can lead to a death sentence.

A copy was provided by Harlequin Teen for review



Enamoured
by Shannon Curtis

Genre: NA Fantasy   Ebook: 113 Pages
Publication: May 1, 2013 by Harlequin Enterprises Australia


Once Upon a Crime…

Melanie wants to get incriminating information on her evil stepfather and she’ll get it —even if it means giving in to an odious toad’s demands. Cole is undercover, and when theopportunity arises for him to get closer to the criminal he’s investigating, using the man’s beautiful stepdaughter, he grabs it.

Esmerelda is a Fairy Godmother Enforcer charged with getting the Frog Prince fairytale back on track. But fate has saddled her with a partner, and Rumpelstiltskin — with his sexy badboy swagger — has a hidden agenda of his own.

In the Fairy Isle, nothing is as it seems…

The plot idea is fun. However, with so many perspectives and plot lines going on, it feels like the novella is moving too fast and trying to do too much in a limited amount of space. I would have appreciated more detailed descriptions and character development.

A copy was provided by Harlequin Enterprises Australia for review



Dancing with the Devil
(Nikki & Michael #1) by Keri Arthur

Genre: Urban Fantasy   Paperback: 368 Pages
Publication: July 30, 2013 by Dell


Private Investigator Nikki James grew up on the tough streets of Lyndhurst and believes there's nothing left to surprise her. All that changes the night she follows teenager Monica Trevgard into the shadows-and becomes a pawn caught in a war between two very different men. One fills her mind with his madness, the other pushes his way into her life-and her heart. Nikki knows how dangerous love can be, but if she wants to survive, she must place her trust in a man who could easily destroy her.

Michael Kelly has come to Lyndhurst determined to end the war between himself and another brother of the night. For 300 years he has existed in life's shadows, gradually learning to control the life from death cravings of a vampire. Nikki not only breaches his formidable barriers with her psychic abilities, but makes Michael believe he may finally have found a woman strong enough to walk by his side and ease the loneliness in his heart. But will his love be enough to protect her from a madman hell-bent on revenge? Or will it drive her into his enemy's deadly trap?

Only together can they overcome the evil threatening to destroy them both. But the secrets they keep from each other might prove to be the greatest threat of all.

Nikki and Michael are wonderful characters that I could grow to love even more than I already do. Nikki is intelligent, brave, and pretty kickass. Michael is the mysterious man with a haunted past and fierce loyalty to those he cares about. Together, they make a good team. What made me end up quitting the book halfway through is how the plot just seemed to get bogged down. I wanted a greater sense of danger from Jasper. I wanted more tension and plot development. However, this felt like another urban fantasy where the kickass girl and her vulnerable side don't really match up, and the vulnerability seems to come out mostly to set up for moments of romance. While I love a good romance, I don't want it to overtake the plot or seem to be stuck in there for the sake of having it.

A copy was provided by Dell for review



Delia's Shadow
(Delia Martin #1) by Jaime Lee Moyer

Genre: Historical, Fantasy   Hardback: 336 Pages
Publication: September 17, 2013 by Dell


It is the dawn of a new century in San Francisco and Delia Martin is a wealthy young woman whose life appears ideal. But a dark secret colors her life, for Delia’s most loyal companions are ghosts, as she has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with an ability to peer across to the other side.

Since the great quake rocked her city in 1906, Delia has been haunted by an avalanche of the dead clamoring for her help. Delia flees to the other side of the continent, hoping to gain some peace. After several years in New York, Delia believes she is free…until one determined specter appears and she realizes that she must return to the City by the Bay in order to put this tortured soul to rest.

It will not be easy, as the ghost is only one of the many victims of a serial killer who was never caught. A killer who after thirty years is killing again.

And who is now aware of Delia’s existence.

The opening lines of Delia's Shadow are beautiful. I love the dark, haunting imagery. Delia and Gabe are likable characters, and the plot is interesting. The right perspectives were chosen to tell this story as a multiple-perspective one. Delia is haunted by the ghost of a woman killed by the serial killer that the police are trying to find, and Gabe is the officer heading the investigation of the murders. Still, the perspective changes so frequently that I don't feel like we really get time to get a feel for either of the narrators.

Moreover, it didn't really feel like the plot was moving forward. A quarter into the novel, where I stopped reading, we still don't know much about the ghost and what she wants, and the investigation is at a stand-still. I also still don't quite feel the danger Delia is potentially in from the haunting. There is an excess internal dialogue keeping us in the character's mind, and the subsequent lack of action makes the story feel bogged down in mundane details. I wanted to see the characters do something. They didn't necessarily have to do something to move the plot forward. What I wanted was to see them interact with the world. In addition, the perspective changes so frequently that I don't feel like we really get time to get a feel for either of the narrators.

A copy was provided by Orbit for review

Review: Charming by Elliott James

Monday, December 30, 2013


Charming

(Pax Arcana #1)
by Elliot James

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Paperback: 400 Pages
Publication: September 24, 2013 by Orbit




Synopsis

John Charming isn't your average Prince...

He comes from a line of Charmings — an illustrious family of dragon slayers, witch-finders and killers dating back to before the fall of Rome. Trained by a modern day version of the Knights Templar, monster hunters who have updated their methods from chainmail and crossbows to kevlar and shotguns, he was one of the best. That is — until he became the abomination the Knights were sworn to hunt.

That was a lifetime ago. Now, he tends bar under an assumed name in rural Virginia and leads a peaceful, quiet life. One that shouldn't change just because a vampire and a blonde walked into his bar... Right?


Review
◆ A copy was provided by Hachette for review ◆

John is the kind of hero I'd expect for a book that exposes the truth behind all the fairy tales we know and love. He's snarky and always ready to make another sarcastic comment even if it means he's in danger of pushing one too many buttons on an already riled person. He's also, gasp, an abomination to the rules that the knights, the world's protectors, seek to destroy, and of course he's not going to let them take him down easily. Supporting him is Sig, the kind of romantic interest I'd expect for this hero. She's kickass and stronger than he is, so she's in a position to talk right back at him and even save his butt on the battlefield. Still, she isn't like all kickass girls. She doesn't dump her overbearing, insecure boyfriend immediately; she wavers between loyalty and her realization that she has something with John. I like that about her. I only question how quickly they develop such strong feelings for each other. Given the timeline of the book, they haven't known each other all that long. While it's possible to develop a relationship quickly, it takes time to really get to know each other. Maybe it's because both of their supernatural abilities encourage them to trust their instincts?

I like how the other supporting cast members don't let John and Sig's strong personalities overshadow them. They all bring their own unique, vibrant personalities to the story, even the less likable among them. I actually like how they aren't all likable. In real life, we don't always get to choose the people we work with; oftentimes, we have to team up with those with whom we share a mutual distate. The only problem I had with them was how John sometimes alternated between identifying a character by his last name and then his first name. It made it hard to keep track of who he was talking about. Also, I don't know anyone who calls someone alternately by first name and last name on a regular basis or right after the other, maybe just in specific situations.

Given the humor and snark that John brings to the book, I'm okay with some incredulity and clich├ęs. I'm also okay with him talking to the audience and giving us backstory in the middle of an important scene. It's still not my favorite way of having the context set, especially as it does get tedious and isn't always welcome at the time given the situation, but it works for this story. The most jarring aspect of the novel is that John's voice is the kind typically adopted by snarky female characters. Still, he doesn't cross the line into being entirely effeminate, and his voice certainly didn't hold back from my enjoyment of the novel. It's refreshing to see a hot guy who doesn't act moody and domineering all the time.

On the whole, this was a likable novel. John's light tone keeps the plot moving forward, giving essential information without getting bogged into too many details, excepting when he's making a snarky comment, and the characters all bring something to the story. I'd be willing to give the next book a try.


Series
  1. Charming
Similar Books
Content
  • Make out scenes
  • Violence

Imagine Weekly: Stacking the Shelves #67

Sunday, December 29, 2013
Imagine Weekly is a weekly feature where we share a summary of what has taken place on the blog the previous week and show off books that we got.


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Sleep No More by Aprilynne Pike (Goodreads | Amazon)
Don't You Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn (Goodreads | Amazon)
The Islands of Chalda by Diana Wynne Jones (Goodreads | Amazon)
The Taking by Kimberly Derting (Goodreads | Amazon)


Defy by Sara B. Larson (Goodreads | Amazon)
Act of Will by A.J. Hartley (Goodreads | Amazon)
Magic Academy by Jillian Keep (Goodreads | Amazon)


Enders by Lissa Price (Goodreads | Amazon)
The Kill Order by James Dashner (Goodreads | Amazon)
Flame by Amy Kathleen Ryan (Goodreads | Amazon)

Thanks to A.J. Hartley, Fido Publishing, Harper Collins, Macmillan, Random House, and Scholastic
* Check out more book hauls through Tynga's Stacking the Shelves *


Previous Week

Reviews



Upcoming Week
  • Reviews: Charming, Did Not Finish Reviews, The Living, The Kill Order, Spark, and Defy

What did you get this week? Leave a link in the comments section, and I'll check out your week's haul!

Kindle Deals

Saturday, December 28, 2013
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Review: Cold Spell by Jackson Pearce



Cold Spell

(Fairy Retellings #4)
by Jackson Pearce

Genre: YA Fantasy
Hardback: 323 Pages
Publication: November 5, 2013 by Little Brown BFYR




Synopsis

Kai and Ginny grew up together–best friends since they could toddle around their building’s rooftop rose garden. Now they’re seventeen, and their relationship has developed into something sweeter, complete with stolen kisses and plans to someday run away together.

But one night, Kai disappears with a mysterious stranger named Mora–a beautiful girl with a dark past and a heart of ice. Refusing to be cast aside, Ginny goes after them and is thrust into a world she never imagined, one filled with monsters and thieves and the idea that love is not enough.

If Ginny and Kai survive the journey, will she still be the girl he loved–and moreover, will she still be the girl who loved him?


Review
◆ A copy was provided by Little Brown for review ◆

I love how threads from the previous books in the series come together in Cold Spell. I'm just realizing that there may have been some in Fathomless; however, I hadn't realized it before because Fathomless was the first book I read in the series. This is really cool because not only are these pretty cool twists on popular fairy tales, they're also interconnected.

Ginny and Kai are wonderful characters. While it is kind of (maybe more than a litle) disturbing that they've known they love each other since they were seven, which is also basically around the time they first met, and they were planning their wedding at the age of eleven, their romance is sweet and touching. It's the love of friends that have always viewed each other as family and never expected to be apart, and from the way they talk to each other it's apparent that they deeply care for each other. It's not the passionate burning that's been swarming the YA lit market. Still, it was frustrating at the beginning how Ginny is so willing to give up her own future to be with Kai, believing her future to be with him. That's why it's a blessing that Kai gets taken by Mora - because Ginny needs this time apart from Kai, this time chasing him down, to learn that she can live without him and that she has talents of her own. I only wish that she didn't find it so easy to get away with running away from home. I don't think it's a great message to send out.

Mora is also a compelling character. Though she's the "villain" in this story, she's also a victim of circumstance. I would have liked to learn more of her story, especially how she's connected to the ocean girls of Fathomless. There are so many unanswered questions about how the world and the various books are interconnected. I also love the wonderful comrades that Ginny finds over the course of her journey and how they don't just fade away once they've served their initial purpose. No, they stick around to the end with their awesome personalities. I especially love Lucas and Ella. They're the kinds of people I'd love for friends. They're so nice and welcoming, and they don't hesitate to expend their resources or even put themselves in immediate danger to help a friend.

On the whole, this was a solid story filled with dynamic characters. I especially enjoyed watching as Ginny finally takes charge of her own life, maturing into an independent young woman at the end of the novel. The epilogue was a nice touch to show us where the characters are a year later, and the ending was really sweet and brought a smile to my face.


Series
  1. Sisters Red
  2. Sweetly
  3. Fathomless
  4. Cold Spell
Similar Books

Content
  • Kissing
  • Violence (minor)

Review: Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

Friday, December 27, 2013


Across a Star-Swept Sea

(For Darkness Shows the Stars #2)
by Diana Peterfreund

Genre: YA post-apocalyptic, sci-fi fantasy
Hardback: 464 Pages
Publication: October 15, 2013 by Balzer & Bray




Synopsis

Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.

On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.

Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.


Review
◆ A copy was provided by Harper Collins for review ◆

In Across a Star-Swept Sea, Diana Peterfreund introduces a land just as broken and in need of healing as the one in For Darkness Shows the Stars.

Persis is a much bolder noble-born girl than Elliot. Though both have a strong sense of duty, Persis takes a flashier approach to her definition of duty by dropping out of school and taking on two personas: (1) the superficial socialiate that gets on her own nerves and (2) the Wild Poppy, super spy and savior of the Galatean political prisoners. Though I'm not typically fond of the rebellious teenager, Persis is easily relatable. Sure, she doesn't always listen to reason, but it's clear that her heart is in the right place and she actually has a brain, which isn't always apparent in the rebellious teenager of YA lit. I can't say as much for Justen, who falls closer to the genius scientist stereotype; he's research crazy and feels like he has to solve the world's problems on his own. Still, he's a likable enough character, if a bit flat.

I do wish that there was more character development. This is what's preventing me from giving that 5-star rating I'd love to give. Other than Persis, most of the other characters seem flat, which is further driven by their lack of page time. And as much as I love Persis and Justen, I just don't feel the connection between them. It doesn't help that  Persis and Justen don't have anything between them other than what they can allow themselves to show each other. Because of this, they don't really know each other, and this is what makes the romance hard to believe. Justen only sees the supercial socialite Persis "Flake" (as she calls that persona), whom he doesn't view as being intelligent enough to consider a serious relationship, though he's attracted to her kindness and beauty. Persis admires Justen's intelligence and his heritage; however, she has trouble trusting him because of his connection to the revolution in Galatea. I would have liked to see more of their developing romance spread throughout the novel and definitely more interaction between the two. Then it wouldn't feel so much like insta-love at the end. The same goes for Princess Isla and her surprising love interest. In fact, I would have also liked to see more of the other characters, who are sadly missing for much of the story. Lacan especially was an interesting character that we don't see much of.

I would have also liked to see more world building. While there is backstory woven into the book, much of the focus is on Persis's ventures as the Wild Poppy, and we don't get to see much of the world outside of this. I would have liked to learn more about the politics of the New Pacifica countries and their relationship and how it has changed since the revolution. I would also have liked to see more of the happenings in Albion, especially as one of Persis's reasons for taking on the persona of the Wild Poppy was to protect her friend Princess Isla, who (being female) holds little power as the regent for her baby brother Albie.

Nevertheless, the writing is just as beautiful as I remember from For Darkness Shows the Stars, and the story was easy to follow. I also love how this book connects with For Darkness Shows the Stars and wish that more of this angle was explored. We can only hope that there's a third companion novel :)


Series
  1. For Darkness Shows the Stars
  2. Across a Star-Swept Sea
Similar Books
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel
Content
  • Kissing

Review: Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Taste of Darkness

(Healer #3)
by Maria V. Snyder

Genre: Fantasy
Hardback: 464 Pages
Publication: December 31, 2013 by Harlequin MIRA




Synopsis

She's fought death and won. But how can she fight her fears?

Avry knows hardship and trouble. She fought the plague and survived. She took on King Tohon and defeated him. But now her heart-mate, Kerrick, is missing, and Avry fears he's gone forever.

But there's a more immediate threat. The Skeleton King plots to claim the Fifteen Realms for his own. With armies in disarray and the dead not staying down, Avry's healing powers are needed now more than ever. Torn between love and loyalty, Avry must choose her path carefully. For the future of her world depends on her decision.


Review
◆ A copy was provided by Harlequin for review ◆

I've liked Avry across the series, but it's hard to like her in Taste of Darkness. She's always been independent and willful. However, her obstinacy in this book puts those she cares about in dangerous situations like the time she refuses to believe that Kerrick is dead and continues the search though Ryne calls it off. They only get out through convenient happenings that help them to get out. She tends to put certain individuals before the greater good, jeopardizing the mission to stop Tohon. Over the course of the trilogy, Kerrick has grown more like Avry. Though he knows that Ryne needs him to scout accurate enemy numbers, he puts his emotions first, making him a less capable leader than he was at the start of the series. In fact, their whole group is fiercely loyal to each other. As much as I love them and their closeness, these people who risked their lives to save Ryne so that he can save the Fiften Realms now go against him even though he's doing precisely what they wanted. On the whole, the characters were rather flat in this book.

It would have been nice to have the Skeleton King be a more present force throughout the series. Kerrick's group admits that they ran into him while trying to find a healer, but other than that there wasn't much set up for his grand arrival. So much of the focus has been on Tohon that it's disorienting to have another force suddenly delve in. He also doesn't feel very scary, though I KNOW that they face difficulties with his arrival. Maybe it's because Avry and Kerrick, our two perspectives, don't see much of the main action. Nevertheless, it would have been good to see a build up of tension so that we can get a feel for the gravity of what's happening.

Some things happen that aren't fully explained. For example, what happens to Papa Bear when he disappears in Scent of Magic? And what happens in Alga for a certain event to take place in Taste of Darkness? There's a chance for information to be given to us, but it's never explained. On the whole, it feels as though too much is trying to be covered in Taste of Darkness. Many events are skimmed over or quickly summarized, and there are several arcs in the story. It would have been better had these been split over at least two books instead of one. It would have allowed for more intricate development of plot and characters. There was a lot of potential for this series, but it came apart in this book.

Those who having been cheering on Kerrick and Avry will be happy with their ending. I know that I was. Still, I am disappointed by how conveniently things turned out for them. As they're in the midst of an epic war to bring peace to the world, I wanted things to be more difficult for them. I wanted to feel danger and celebrate them coming out of it. Instead, it feels like they continuously rely on magic and the Peace Lilies to save their friends instead of using their own wiles to keep out of trouble in the first place. In Taste of Darkness, the series becomes more of a romantic fantasy than the epic fantasy with romantic elements that I had come to love.


Series
  1. Touch of Power
  2. Scent of Magic
  3. Taste of Darkness
Similar Books
Content
  • Make out scenes
  • Sex (not explicit)
  • Torture
  • Violence