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Did Not Finish Reviews

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
The Witch Hunter #1, by Michelle Krys

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy   Hardback: 384 Pages
Publication: June 10, 2014 by Delacorte Press

If high school is all about social status, Indigo Blackwood has it made. Sure, her quirky mom owns an occult shop, and a nerd just won’t stop trying to be her friend, but Indie is a popular cheerleader with a football-star boyfriend and a social circle powerful enough to ruin everyone at school. Who wouldn’t want to be her?

Then a guy dies right before her eyes. And the dusty old family Bible her mom is freakishly possessive of is stolen. But it’s when a frustratingly sexy stranger named Bishop enters Indie’s world that she learns her destiny involves a lot more than pom-poms and parties. If she doesn’t get the Bible back, every witch on the planet will die. And that’s seriously bad news for Indie, because according to Bishop, she’s a witch too.

Suddenly forced into a centuries-old war between witches and sorcerers, Indie’s about to uncover the many dark truths about her life—and a future unlike any she ever imagined on top of the cheer pyramid.

There was a lot of potential for this book. However, there were just too many problems with it for me to continue reading.

The characters are poorly developed and stereotypical. Indie is a cheerleader, albeit a seemingly reluctant one, and dates the star quarterback of the football team, who doesn't seem to have much of a brain in his head. Her "best friend" Bianca is the slavedriver cheer captain who doesn't hesitate to make fun of Indie to suit her purposes. Indie is attuned to the social hierarchy of the school and tries hard to avoid misfits and fit in. This means laughing when Bianca makes fun of her "crazy" mother in public and avoiding her nerdy, neighbor Paige. Then there is the "bad boy" Bishop who falls into her life with his long-ish black hair, tattoos, and black leather jacket.

Indie seems like she could be a cool girl. However, she's so set in her ways that she doesn't bother to keep an open mind. She only gives people a chance when she needs their help. For example, when she finally decides to risk being seen with someone who's not on the social totem pole, she calls on Paige with the belief that she's "throwing her a bone" and that Paige has nothing better to do on a Friday night considering what a social outcast she is. She also makes potentially horrible judgment calls, such as trusting some guy who seems to be stalking to her instead of talking with her mom. This seems like another YA book where family will be excluded from important developments.

I can see why some people would like this book. If you look past Indie's poor attitude, the language could be seen as humorous, and the stereotypes could be seen as a way of satirizing the popular teenage scene. Unfortunately, this didn't end up being the book for me.

DNF 33% into the novel

Content: drinking, partying, makeout, sex

A copy was provided by Random House for review

Stolen Songbird
The Malediction Trilogy #1, by Danielle L. Jenson

Genre: YA Fantasy   Paperback: 469 Pages
Publication: April 1, 2014 by Strange Chemistry

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

Stolen Songbird reminded me of Claire B. Dunkle's The Hollow Kingdom. Both protagonists are kidnapped by a magical species for marriage and eventually grow to find love in their consorts. Between the two, however, I much preferred The Hollow Kingdom.

Stolen Songbird has poor world building, plot development, and character development. This comes down to an execution of details. Many important pieces of information are either omitted or introduced late. As a result, it takes time to the pieces together into a cohesive story. Furthermore, the story dives into the action close to the beginning without taking the time to set up the world or the main characters, so it takes a while before adequate information is introduced for us to understand what is going on. The characters are also poorly developed. I never really felt like I got to know any of the characters, much less Cécile and Tristan even though they take turns narrating the story. It didn't help that there didn't seem to be a pattern to the narration switches; many scenes seem to be a poor attempt to develop suspense but weren't fleshed out enough to contribute much to plot development.

Overall, Stolen Songbird fell flat for me. If you're looking for a cross-species romance, I would recommend The Hollow Kingdom, which also happens to be a trilogy (with each book focusing on a different character and further exploring the world).

DNF 41% into the novel - slow pacing, still didn't feel like anything was happening.

Content: Minor violence

A copy was provided by Strange Chemistry for review

House of Ivy & Sorrow
by Natalie Whipple

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy   Paperback: 352 Pages
Publication: April 15, 2014 by Harper Teen

Josephine Hemlock has spent the last 10 years hiding from the Curse that killed her mother. But when a mysterious man arrives at her ivy-covered, magic-fortified home, it’s clear her mother’s killer has finally come to destroy the rest of the Hemlock bloodline. Before Jo can even think about fighting back, she must figure out who she’s fighting in the first place. The more truth Jo uncovers, the deeper she falls into witchcraft darker than she ever imagined. Trapped and running out of time, she begins to wonder if the very Curse that killed her mother is the only way to save everyone she loves.

This reads like an MG book but with content more appropriate for a YA audience. The writing is sound and reminiscent of fairy tales and MG fantasy writers like Diana Wynne Jones. However, House of Ivy & Sorrow lacked sufficient depth and complexity to maintain my interest. While the premise is interesting. I like how witches are portrayed in this book; it has a magical, whimsical feel. However, it didn't feel like there was much substance to the book or anything really holding it together. I felt creeped out by the dark magic of the enemies, but I didn't feel terrified for Josephine's life. Events transpire too conveniently for her. Furthermore, the characters fell flat. While Josephine's friends and family are present (and I like how she talks to them and relies on them), I didn't feel like I really got to know any of them. Joephine especially is a rather naive character and tends to jump to conclusions instead of taking the time to explore all the possibilities, which was forgivable the first couple of times but got annoying over time.

If you're looking for a magical book with witches, I recommend Howl's Moving Castle and The Islands of Chaldea (read my review of the latter here).

DNF 72% into the novel - the tediouness of reading the book finally won over curiosity of what will happen

Content: Language, Making out, Sex, Violence

A copy was provided by Harper Collins for review

Sea of Shadows
Age of Legends #1, by Kelly Armstrong

Genre: YA Fantasy   Hardback: 416 Pages
Publication: April 8, 2014 by Harper Teen

In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

The premise is not new or unique, but it had the potential to be a captivating read. Unfortunately, the story fell flat for me. Though there is not much character growth and development in the first third of the novel, Moria and Ashyn were likable characters. What ruined the story for me was the lack of sufficient world building in the beginning to establish normalcy before introducing the anomalies at this year's Seeking. As it is, a lot of strange things were happening, and I knew they shouldn't be happening—but I didn't know what I was supposed to expect either. Furthermore, there is dissonance in Moria and Ashyn's narrations, which further confused me. The inconsistent laspes in time make it difficult to pinpoint what happens when until the POV changes again and I can compare narrations.

DNF 32% into the novel - poor world building and plot development

Content: Kissing, Death, Violence

A copy was provided by Harper Collins for review

DNF 25% into the novel - story fell flat overall

Content: drinking

A copy was provided by Mictlan Press for review

Searching for Sky
by Jillian Cantor

Genre: YA Contemporary   Hardback: 288 Pages
Publication: May 13, 2014 by Bloomsbury USA Children's

Sky and River have always lived on Island, the only world they’ve ever known. Until the day River spots a boat. Across Ocean, in a place called California, Sky is separated from River and forced to live with a grandmother she’s just met. Here the rules for survival are different. People rely on strange things like cars and cell phones. They keep secrets from one another. And without River, nothing makes sense. Sky yearns for her old life where she was strong and capable, not lost and confused. She must find River so they can return to Island, but the truth behind how they ended up there in the first place will come as the biggest shock of all.

Searching for Sky never hooked me from the beginning. I couldn't connect with any of the characters and felt no desire to see what happened to them. Sky's voice is youthful and naive, and the inner dialogue isn't done well. Though some of her thoughts are given to us, they're more statements of fact and are sometimes given belatedly after other things happen. This is especially problematic as much of the story takes place internally thought Sky's thoughts and memories. There is little action and description taking place.

DNF 9% into the novel - no interest in reading further

Content: nudity (not overtly described)

A copy was provided by Bloomsbury for review

10 comments on "Did Not Finish Reviews"
  1. I really enjoyed HEXED, but I can see why it didn't work for you, too. I'm hoping that in future installments, the excess is whittled down and the story becomes a real powerhouse. Fingers crossed. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on all of these, Kris!

    1. That'd be nice, yeah! I'll keep a lookout for reviews of the second book to see if the series is worth reading! Thanks for stopping by, Melissa :)

  2. I've been putting off Hexed almost since I got it on NetGalley. It was one of those impulse requests that I almost instantly regretted, but too late. I dnf-ed Stolen Songbird too. I've also read The Hollow Kingdom, and couldn't help but compare the two, and Stolen Songbird fell completely flat for me. House of Ivy & Sorrow and Sea of Shadows I decided not to read based on the multitude of bad reviews (like this one), and I've not heard much about Searching the Sky, but I'll be avoiding it too. Sorry for the run of stinkers . . .

    Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    1. Same here with Hexed. The concept sounded interesting, but it quickly turned out to be more on the light side than I'd been hoping.

  3. Yikes! Oddly enough, four of these were ones I was on the fence about reading. Searching for Sky has me a little worried, particularly since you dropped it so early on. While I have no interest in reading it, I do have an adult novel she's written and was looking forward to it. Fingers crossed that it's better than this one!

    1. Lol. I hope my reviews are helpful. I've seen positive reviews for them, so they might be worth a try if you're interested enough. I hope you enjoy Cantor's adult novel! Let me know if it's worth a try! :)

  4. It's terrible you didn't like these books!! Lots of people liked them, but I totally get your reasoning in terms of pacing.

    1. Yeah, I can see where these would appeal to different audiences, and I've seen great reviews for some of them :)

  5. Great reviews. I really want to read Sea of Shadows. <3

    1. It has an interesting premise. Hope you enjoy it better than I did!


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