Genre: Young Adult

Review: The Dragon’s Price by Bethany Wiggins

Posted March 20, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review:  The Dragon’s Price by Bethany WigginsThe Dragon's Price by Bethany Wiggins
Series: Transference #1
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on February 21st 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2 Stars
Heat:one-flame

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Fans of Julie Kagawa’s Talon and Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn will devour this action-packed fantasy adventure about a girl who chooses to surrender herself to a deadly dragon rather than marry an enemy prince.
When two warring kingdoms unified against a deadly menace laying waste to both their lands, they had to make a choice: vow to marry their heirs to one another, or forfeit their lives to the dragon.
Centuries later, everyone expects the sheltered princess Sorrowlynn to choose the barbarian prince over the fire-breathing beast—everyone, that is, except Sorrow, who is determined to control her own destiny or die trying.
As she is lowered into the dragon’s chamber, she assumes her life is over until Golmarr, the young prince she just spurned, follows her with the hopes of being her hero and slaying the dragon. But the dragon has a different plan. . . .
If the dragon wins, it will be freed from the spell that has bound it to the cave for centuries. If Sorrow or Golmarr vanquish the dragon, the victor will gain its treasure and escape the cave beneath the mountain. But what exactly is the dragon hiding?
There are no safe havens for Sorrow or Golmarr—not even with each other—and the stakes couldn’t be higher as they risk everything to protect their kingdom.

I really don’t know where to start or how to feel about this book, so I am going to go ahead and break it down into parts and generalize I guess? I was on a fantasy kick and had got this one for review and despite it not rating high on goodreads, I was like, well it’s here, it’s about dragons? WHY NOT?

Hoo boy, this book and I were just off to a rocky start from the beginning

Lack of World building – Like this book just barely had any of it okay? It’s a fantasy book, set in a world and we don’t know much about it and it just felt like we were told this is how it is and we are supposed to accept it. There is a ton of other races mentioned in this book, but we don’t know much about them or why they are at war and the things we learn feel like bits and pieces of a bigger picture.

So we got these two kingdoms that are bound by a promise a vow to marry their heirs to one another, or forfeit their lives to the dragon. Apparently it’s because many years ago a war waged and a dragon was released and now to keep the dragon bound by magic, this needs to happen every time there is an heir. There is a clause apparently because the horse lord heir does not have to take one of the Faodaran, they can reject them, feed an animal in place as a sacrifice and move on with their life until the next heir comes along. Or, the princess can reject the proposed marriage – should it come – and be fed to the dragon.

So Sorrowlynn (named because she was predicted to die by her own hand) does not want to marry the savage/barbaric horse tanned skinned horse lord and chooses the dragon instead – because she did not get the memo that ANY of the heirs can propose marriage.

Two things wrong here

One, as you might have figured Sorrowlynn is a white proper princess and the horse lords are tan skinned and are called savage/barbaric people… – sigh- am I the only one who sees racism here? I’m starting to wonder if this is the reason this book got the reviews that it did. I wanted to give it a benefit of the doubt, but every time she spoke of the horse lords, Sorrowlynn had a racism pouring out of her. Barbaric and savage were words used one too many times. Also, I think the author is a fan of game of thrones because this sounds a lot like Daenerys inspired storyline here?

So apparently Sorrowlynn binds herself to being dragons yummy yummy food before the young horse lord Golmarr steps forward and proposes marriage. Oh but when she learns that he can do that – even thought he hinted it prior – she is like oh okay I can live with that? Too late, you are bound and dragon food. Maybe Golmarr shouldn’t have spoken in riddles, since intelligence is not her strongest asset. Oh, but you know what is? Her virginity. If she wasn’t a virgin no one would want her and the royal family would go to war over it…Okay? Even thought the king absolutely does not like her very much, for reasons. So she is lowered into the mountain and Golmarr decides to throw his life on the line and help save the princess who was nothing but vicious towards him.

After a lot of walking and a lot of thoughts of suddenly wanting to kiss Golmarr we get to the special part of the book

Sorrowlynn who has no experience what so ever with combat, get’s lucky and slays the dragon. Not only giving herself the special kind of snowflake status, but inadvertently stealing his thunder and destiny.. Like thanks, you know? I get it, girl power and all that, but it was still kind of blah.

I felt like Sorrowlynn had zero personality. The only thing she was good at for most of the book is looking down at people. This is why I did not understand half the time why people were so willing to sacrifice their lives for her.

Overall, I felt like the writing was lacking a bit. It reads like a younger than Young Adult but there were a lot of subjects that read more adult. Lot’s of mentions of her special her virginity is and how Golmarr could not wait to marry her so he can take her to bed, ugh… Also, I found some inconsistency in the story but I cannot go into it without complete spoilers. Okay moving on.

The only reason I gave it two stars because the ending made me sort of happy, heh.

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Review: The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

Posted February 24, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review:  The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam RiveraThe Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera
Series: Standalone
Published by Simon & Schuster on February 21st 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx in this bold and romantic coming-of-age novel about dysfunctional families, good and bad choices, and finding the courage to question everything you ever thought you wanted—from debut author Lilliam Rivera.
THINGS/PEOPLE MARGOT HATES:
Mami, for destroying my social lifePapi, for allowing Junior to become a NeanderthalJunior, for becoming a NeanderthalThis supermarketEveryone else
After “borrowing” her father's credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot Sanchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts.
With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…
Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moises—the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood—keep her from her goal.

When I got a copy of The Education of Margot Sanchez, I was extremely excited. A diverse book that takes place in the Bronx, being from New York City myself, yes please?

I went in with high hopes, I walked away strongly disappointed.

Margot and I started off on the wrong foot of the bat. The character was superficial, selfish and walked around with rose colored glasses on. After “borrowing” (stealing) around $600 from her father’s credit card on new clothes – Margot a.k.a Princesa is forced to work at her father’s supermarket. It’s the last way she wants to spend her summer, as Margot would much rather spend her days on the beach in the Hamptons swooning over a boy named Nick. But, on her first day on the job she meets a Latino boy named Moises. Moises is an activist in the Bronx with a sketchy past who has managed to reform himself.

I wanted to love this I really did, but there were several problems I had with this book.

1. Junior – Junior is Margot big brother who basically got kicked out of college. Junior is an angry person who treats Margot like crap. Apparently that wasn’t always the case as Margot explains that Junior was once a sweet and caring brother and she doesn’t know what happened to him and thinks much of his anger is aimed at something she did. I thought that as well, as it felt hinted through the story – unfortunately the big reveal wasn’t surprising but why was never really explained. I wanted to know what drove Junior to take up with the people he did and why he got into so much trouble.

2. Margot – I did not like Margot from the beginning and that feeling never changed. She was suppose to grow as a character, but none of that happened till like 5% left over in the book. Even after everything she went through, she still ends up pulling this horrible stunt that sends a lot of things into motion. Margot disrespects her parents, ditches people who are her actual friends, obsessed over some boy, and is friends with two girls who are really bad influence. She can’t be real around them, so she pretends to be something she is not. She is completely thick when it comes to what is going on around him at home and at the story as well.

3. The dreaded love triangle – don’t hold your breath, the romance in this book was completely horrid. First, the two boys have no personalities, what so ever. We see them so little and get very little feel for them all together. I didn’t like the romance and I especially did not like the events at the beach in the Hampton’s between Nick and Margot. It was reckless, did not make complete sense and it was kind of left unresolved. I didn’t believe that it didn’t effect her in any way.

4. The parents – They kept claiming they raised Margot to be better than she is, they could have taken their own lesson from that. I didn’t like the parents in this story. Did it feel real? Maybe, but maybe there needed to be more background. We don’t know why Margot’s father did what he did, there wasn’t much explanation behind his actions and everything ends with an open ending…which brings me to point number 5.

5. Open ending – the ending just wrapped up kind of weird, kind of open. We don’t get to find out what happens between Margot and Moises. We don’t get to find out if she has ever dealt with what happened between her and Nick. Not with what happens between her parents and not even as how they were going to go and save the store. If there was some sort of a message the author was trying to send with this book, I felt like it completely missed the mark.

The writing was fast paced, so I kind of enjoyed it. Made it easier to get through the book. Overall, the authors writing is actually pretty good. It’s the execution of the plot, underdevelopment of characters that was it’s ultimate demise.

Rating Report
Plot
2 Stars
Characters
1.5 Stars
Writing
3.5 Stars
Pacing
3.5 Stars
Cover
3 Stars
Overall: 2.5 Stars

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Review: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Posted February 21, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 35 Comments

Review:  P.S. I Like You by Kasie WestP.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Series: Standalone
Published by Point on July 26th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 330
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 5 Stars

Signed, sealed, delivered…
While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!
Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

I really wanted another book that would engross me and force me to pull an all-nighter and I got just that with P.S. I Like You. West was a new to me author, but I have heard some really amazing things from blogger friends about her, so I wasn’t afraid to throw myself fully into the book from the start.

What I got was an adorable, fluffy, heart fluttering, young adult novel about two very unlikely teens who become pen pals through shared interest and the boredom and chemistry class.

It was super sweet. Lily was so awkward and her humor amused me throughout the book. I found her to be someone I could relate to from my days in high school.(and not just with that fact that she has my name ya’ll) When Lily writes the lyrics of her favorite song, in pencil, on her chemistry desk she never expected for someone to reply to her. Nor did she expect to start exchanging letters with this anonymous teen. I enjoyed reading the exchange and how to letters started about music and eventually, with words, the two hit much more meaningful subjects that hit close to home and expose different layers of themselves. I loved that they could use words on paper to express a different part of each other, especially since Lily feels like she is more awkward in person.

I don’t think it was meant to be a secret as to who the boy that she was writing to be. Even though Lily isn’t aware of who her pen pal is for a while, the readers catch up on what is happening fairly quickly. What we do witness is how writing, interesting and music peals away layers and builds a strong relationship at a deeper level.

This entire book had such a positive vibe to it. I loved that even though Lily has a big family that drive her crazy at times, that they provide such a great support network. I adored that the parents were so awesome and not evil like some Young adult books paint them to be. There was no absent parent, no tantrum over not understanding, just positive, healthy relationship that tugged on my heart strings. Lily’s relationship with her friend was also a joy to read, because I loved how it prevailed in the end and how close to two girls really are.

The one thing I did not understand was the need for the mean girl stereotype. I get it, they do exist, but I felt like West could have gone away with maybe a little less of it. It bothered me that she kept getting away with it, meanwhile in one scene Lily get’s in trouble for the other girls actions

I loved this book and its characters so much I found myself saying aww a lot, it has been just so stinking cute, I never wanted it to end. I also really wished we got the other POV. I would have loved the boy’s side of the story as well. I felt like he revealed a lot of layers of himself to Lily and it kind of made me want to know more about him. I don’t feel like we got that from just witnessing Lily’s POV. The story would have been even more compelling.

Overall, this book totally rocked my world and I am glad I picked it up. It was exactly what I was looking for and the storyline was fun and excited. I adored the dialogue and the characters and thankful for the humor thrown in

 

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Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Posted February 15, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 18 Comments

Review:  Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise GornallUnder Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
Series: Standalone
Published by Clarion Books on January 3rd 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:half-flame

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

At seventeen, Norah has accepted that the four walls of her house delineate her life. She knows that fearing everything from inland tsunamis to odd numbers is irrational, but her mind insists the world outside is too big, too dangerous. So she stays safe inside, watching others’ lives through her windows and social media feed.
But when Luke arrives on her doorstep, he doesn’t see a girl defined by medical terms and mental health. Instead, he sees a girl who is funny, smart, and brave. And Norah likes what he sees.
Their friendship turns deeper, but Norah knows Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can walk beneath the open sky. One who is unafraid of kissing. One who isn’t so screwed up. Can she let him go for his own good—or can Norah learn to see herself through Luke’s eyes?

A story about a seventeen year old girl named Norah and her take on living with agoraphobia, OCD and anxiety.

This was interesting. As someone who hasn’t read a lot of books featuring mental health, I jumped into this unsure what to expect. What I didn’t expect was to read a book from Norah’s point of view. Under Rose-Tainted Skies takes us for quite a ride when we enter Norah’s head and get a taste of what it is to experience everything she is going through, and at times it wasn’t pretty.

Gornall’s debut novel was well written. It wasn’t suppose to be pretty, and we get to know Norah pretty personally.

She spends most of her days at home, afraid to leave her house. She builds stuff out of food and spit, watches junk TV, surfs the web and has to attend therapy at least once a week. Than her life takes a different turn when a boy named Luke moves in next door and he becomes instantly fascinated with her.

I found that I couldn’t put this book down and devoured it fairly quickly with a day with a lack of sleep. Gornall’s writing really pulled me in and immersed me in a story that was both fascinating and not always an easy read. But I love the way Norah prevails everyday despite what she finds herself going through. The snarky tone of the book does make this a lighter read. I adored Norah’s personality and her spunk.

The romance was an interesting twist, but I did find myself wondering how realistic was it really? Luke was a seventeen year old boy, and despite me absolutely adoring the relationship they form and how he sends her letters through the mail slot – I wasn’t completely sold on the romance.

I think my favorite part of the book is the relationship between Norah and her mother. The support she gets from her is moving and the closeness they share just squeezes my heart. It is so good, so refreshing to find wonderful, caring adults in Young Adult fiction and not painted into someone who doesn’t get it, and is downright evil. It was good, it was more of a realistic feel.

The only thing that bothered me about the relationship is when her mother goes away for a few days on a business trip. I didn’t know if it was also really realistic for a mother to leave Norah, given her situation, alone like that when she has so many things going on inside her head and can panic at any given moment. I felt that maybe she would have gotten her like a caregiver or a neighbor to check on her more often?

The ending was also a bit different. The wrench that the author threw into the mix did not make sense unless she intended it to be a way that Norah finally moves forward with her treatment. The ending was a bit open and basically left me wondering what was next. But, I really enjoyed the writing, it was really good. I enjoyed the humor. I was heartbroken by some of the more difficult moments and found myself really connecting and feeling for Norah.

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Review: Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor

Posted January 13, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  Into the Dim by Janet B. TaylorInto the Dim by Janet B. Taylor
Series: Into the Dim, #1
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on March 1st 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Time-Travel, Science Fiction
Pages: 428
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing. 

Phew, took me a lot longer than I thought to finish this book – almost a year. Into the Dim follows a girl named Hope who believes her mother to be dead, until her estranged aunt comes to find her and tells her otherwise. Now, Hope with a couple of friends, must travel back in time to her mothers last known location and rescue her.

I really wanted a good time traveling book, so I was really excited for this one, but it fell a bit flat for me. I loved the concept of the dim and how it worked in the way that you can only travel to a certain location only once to prevent yourself from running into yourself and causing some major disturbances. I thought that was kind of neat and different.

I had the hardest time connecting with Hope and all of the characters read and acted younger than they were suppose to be. Hope was homeschooled, she doesn’t know how to approach other people, boys are an alien to her, but she has a great photographic memory. Her actions at times were a bit annoying, especially when it came to the books two leading boys, Collum and Bran. Right away when you hear two leading boys, you go, uh oh right? Yup, there is a big potential for a love triangle on the horizon. Hope is desperately pinning over Bran and how handsome he is, and how a boy like him would never look at a girl like her – despite the fact that he was coming on to her clear as day. Bran and Hope are also connected in more way than one, but his biggest secret doesn’t seem to deter her from being all goo-goo eyed over the boy.

Collum was brave, kept to himself and his interaction with Hope leads me to believe he is developing feelings for the girl – even if she has wool over her eyes and can’t seem to get it through his actions because she is too focused on Bran.

Phoebe is Collum sister and honestly from her actions and her character, I thought she was like 8? But no, this girl is not only a teenager, she spends a lot of time clinging to her boyfriend before they are sent into the dim to help rescue Hope’s mother.

One of my main issues was the fact that somehow these adults in the book end up sending 3 teenagers into a very dangerous era, knowing well that there is a woman who is out to get them, purposely putting them in danger without the chaperone. Not only must they recover Hope’s mother, they must also seek out a stone that will allow them to travel wherever they choose to. So the result? These kids get almost killed, over and over again if it wasn’t for the Queen of the era they were traveling to overseeing their safety.

Also, the repetitiveness was strong in this one. I couldn’t begin to count the number of times I found myself frustrated. No matter where these kids went, or did, they always got caught over and over again and had to find a way to escape over and over again. Honestly, I wanted to scream for them to just give up trying, it was only going to end the same anyway.

In the end, I guess a part of me enjoyed it, because the concept was interesting and now that I know that there seem to be only two books – I might eventually read the second just to see how it ends.

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Review: Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

Posted January 12, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 9 Comments

Review:  Ever the Hunted by Erin SummerillEver the Hunted by Erin Summerill
Series: Clash of Kingdoms, #1
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on December 27th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 392
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.
However, it’s not so simple.
The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

When I first picked up Ever the Hunted, I was extra excited for the book. I was very much in the mood for a fantasy, and lately there have been some very interesting YA fantasy books that I thoroughly enjoyed. My expectations coming into this book were high, but not much of them have been met.

We meet Britta, a girl whose father has died and now she is in mourning. She is forced by the rules? Religion? Of the land to be secluded only in her house until an appropriate amount of time has passed. Well, apparently during the mourning period, Britta ran out of food and was forced to hunt for it. Hunting is also illegal on kings land and Britta is found and thrown in jail where she must await her sentence. I was a little confused why hunting is illegal and punishable by death if caught, which is what happens. I did not feel like this was ever explained. But very little was explained about the world, and world building in general is very limited in this book. Given that this is a fantasy novel, world building is especially important.

Britta is then given a choice, be executed or help them track the man who killed her father – which happens to be the boy she has been fawning over for what feels like most of her life. Britta has this ability, she can tell when people are lying – so she believes what the man is telling her is the truth because apparently he believes it as well. Shocked, she takes the bargain and decided she will risk Cohen (the boy killer) life over herself and track him down for the king’s man. She is sent on this journey with three very questionable guardsmen who make her life hell on the road. If she is someone who they must protect, they did sort of a poor job of it and their treatment of her was unsettling at times especially with Tomas.

The entire book had my head spinning. Britta was suppose to be this awesome tracker, but she either missed some clues or had stuff fall onto her lap. For someone that is suppose to be able to tell when people are lying, she is also a bit thick, whiny, and overall a useless character. I wanted to like her, I wanted Britta to be strong, independent, and maybe not dense? I didn’t get that out of her. She relied on other people to do the job for her, and she had a horrible time of following simple rules that kept putting her and Cohen in danger. Like don’t touch the fire cause it burns, okay Britta?

She also has magic – which she apparently did not realize even thought her mother is a Channeller and people hate her, and she can tell who is lying or not? And she also is pretty special and defies all the rules of magic because she is just so damn special – cue eye roll here – Like the moment I found out she has magic I had a moment of oh no, here we go again here!

The biggest problem I had, despite the weak and dense female lead was the world building. I didn’t understand what was going on and it felt like it was important? There are two kingdoms, and they are at war with each other. One kingdom has these women who are Channeller’s and the other doesn’t. Somewhere along the way they decided that all of these people are evil because they have magic, but the bases on WHY they think these people are evil is vague and not well explained. So the king decides he is going to go to war with this kingdom. Right… Got it.

Also, because of Britta’s looks and where her mother was from everyone automatically hated her except her best friend Cohan who is from the same time and everything.

I did like Cohen, despite him being painted the way he was.

I also had a problem with some of the gruesome violence in this. I felt like it was a bit off in a YA fantasy, or maybe I just didn’t care for it, but there has been a scene or two a bit too detailed and cringe worthy for my taste. I wasn’t actually expecting it, nor did I really have a care for such detail. It probably could have gone away with it, as much as other details in this book that didn’t exist.

The ending was too predictable and left potential for a very cringe worthy trope in the next book.

Can I just say that all the lies that were in place by her father for her ‘safety’ where just downright cruel? I mean…. if you read the book, the thing with Britta’s mother? Like, why would you do that to a kid? You know? I can’t talk much about it because of spoilers, but I knew something was wrong and when the truth was revealed I was a bit angry on that part.

Also, at the end there? If Britta was able to tell the truth, how the hell did the one major lie get by her? Readers of this book, you know what I mean? Especially if he didn’t know that she has this ability to begin with.

I actually did not come on here to write almost a fully negative review. I felt like the world had a lot of potential here, but it lacked in building. The romance was sub-par as best, but I liked Cohan anyway. I wanted Britta to grow as the story went on, but I didn’t feel there was any progression there. But seriously, can we tone down the level of special here? and maybe avoid the ugly love triangle?

 

 

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Review: Fate of Flames (Effigies #1) by Sarah Raughley

Posted December 4, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 23 Comments

Review:  Fate of Flames (Effigies #1) by Sarah RaughleyFate of Flames by Sarah Raughley
Series: Effigies, #1
Published by Simon Pulse on November 22nd 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Years ago, everything changed. Phantoms, massive beasts of nightmare, began terrorizing the world. At the same time four girls, the Effigies, appeared, each with the unique power to control a classical element. Since then, they have protected the world from the Phantoms. At the death of one Effigy, another is chosen, pulled from her normal life into the never-ending battle.
When Maia unexpectedly becomes the next Fire Effigy, she resists her new calling. A quiet girl with few friends and almost no family, she was much happier to admire the Effigies from afar. Never did she imagine having to master her ability to control fire, to protect innocent citizens from the Phantoms, or to try bringing together the other three Effigies.
But with the arrival of the mysterious Saul—a man who seems to be able to control the Phantoms using the same cosmic power previously only granted to four girls at a time—Maia and the other Effigies must learn to work together in a world where their celebrity is more important than their heroism.
But the secrets Saul has, and the power he possesses, might be more than even they can handle…

In a world where Phantom’s terrorize the people, Effigies are meant to protect it. Four girls appeared at the same time these nightmarish creatures came to light. Each girl is able to control their own classical element, but only one type of elemental Effigy can exist at the same time.

When the last Effigy, Natalya, who controls fire dies, Maia becomes her successor and inherits Natalya’s powers and memories.

Maia is scared and does not want to admit that she is the fire Effigy even thought she doesn’t have much time before the organization known as the Sect – who train the Effigy’s comes for her. Maia has a hard history, her mother, father and twin sister perished in a fire. Even thought Maia idolized the Effigy’s, the last thing she expected was to become one.

Now something is going wrong, by random each big city in the world is having a problem with the device that keeps Phantom’s out from entering the cities and hurting people. The devices are failing, cities are getting attacked, people are getting hurt and they don’t know what is causing it.

A mysterious stranger named Saul wants something from Maia, and he just might be the link to all of these attacks.

It was in interesting read. Overall, I felt like this series has a lot of potential, if the kinks could be sorted.

I really liked the plot, to me it felt original and refreshing. I liked that there are four girls who control four different elements of fire, ice, earth and wind. It reminds me a little bit of Captain Planet growing up. The story-line thought engrossing had a lot of holes, and I think that is where it faltered most.

First, I did not understand the need to glamorize the Effigies. They are these normal girls who end up being chosen at random? And they fight the Phantoms until their last breath, protecting the people from harm. They turn into these celebrities with photo shoots, and it was just weird to me.

Second, all their personalities were such a big cliche. Like, you could just feel it coming from each girl, what they are going to act like, and it really had me rolling my eyes.

Third, Maia is obviously special, but why? Why is she the special one, especially since the Effigy before she is supposed to be a sort of legend. Maia is thrown into this fight with NO training, and despite obviously being a huge burden on the girls who suddenly have to protect her, she ends up doing things she shouldn’t really be able to do. She can wield her powers in such way that it takes a lot of work to be able to use, that she is suddenly good at. I felt like it was unrealistic and frustrating.

There were a lot of holes in the plot and most of it was left that way. I wanted to know more about the origins of the Phantoms. Where did they come from? Are they aliens? Are they an experiment gone wrong?

Why is Saul special? The whole mystery surrounding him kind of had me shrugging my shoulders. He told Maia that she wouldn’t like what she discovered and I didn’t see that reaction at all.

There is obvious some internal dirty stuff going on within the Sect itself.

There is a hint of romance… I guess.. It’s a little dry and Rhys, the Sect agent and the romantic interest is hiding a lot of secrets. One of which I think Maia is totally blind to, but is easy to figure out. He is also Geeky Chic… There is a lot of use of the word Chic to describe people in the book.

Overall, it was interesting no doubt it has a lot of potential and I will be reading the next book to find out where it goes. Despite all those things that might have aggravated, it was a great book to pick up when I wanted to get lost in something outside of the real world. I really wish it didn’t leave us with more questions then answers, but I am looking forward to seeing where the author goes with this next.

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Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Posted November 27, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 19 Comments

Review:  Scythe by Neal ShustermanScythe by Neal Shusterman
Series: Arc of a Scythe, #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 22nd 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia
Pages: 448
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3.5 Stars

In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed (“gleaned”) by professional reapers (“scythes”). Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythe’s apprentices, and—despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation—they must learn the art of killing and come to understand the necessity of what they do.
Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe’s apprentice. And when it becomes clear that the winning apprentice’s first task will be to glean the loser, Citra and Rowan are pitted against one another in a fight for their lives.

I didn’t know how to start or write this review, I didn’t think it was easy to put my thoughts together for this book, as you see, it was a bit complicated.

The book is about a Dystopian world set in the Age of Immortality and what happens when the mankind has achieved about literally everything, including immortality.

There is a group or an organization of people called the Scythes, who are professional reapers that glean people by random and they are the only ones that can cause permanent death.

After both Citra and Rowan run into Scythe Faraday during his gleanings and he sees something in them that would make both a great apprentice. It’s unusual for a Scythe to take on more than one apprentice, but Faraday takes a risk anyway. Unfortunately, only one of the two can become a real Scythe and earn the ring – so both Rowan and Citra have to pass three tests before being granted the ring.

When a Scythe at the annual Scythe enclave points out that it’s unheard of, Citra and Rowan now face an even greater risk of one of the winners being forced to glean the loser and puts a lot of things at stake.

I thought the concept was interesting. I liked the world that the author had created and I kind of wanted to know more about it. It felt just a tad bit confusing at times. I did not understand how revivals in the world worked. I get that people could not die, but some of the deaths seemed really unrealistic for people to come back from no matter how you swing it.

The pace of the book itself was a bit slow and well over 400 pages, at times I found myself completely dozing. Most of this  book is about Citra’s and Rowan’s apprenticeship and it moves at a snail pace.

Half the time you are just waiting for something, anything to happen.

The romance was awkward and felt forced. There was no need for it. There is no build up. So if you are a lover of romance, I wouldn’t recommend this book based on that. It plays a really minor part of the whole picture.  I felt like the author threw it in as an afterthought because he believed that somehow it’s a must to have romance in books – it isn’t and it could have done without it. Really, I would have been okay with just friendship in this.

The format and the writing of the book is well put together. The character development was really well done as well. Both Citra and Rowan end up being shaped by their experiences and their training and both in the end come out completely different people with a different kind of purpose.

There is a conflict going on between the Scythes with those who believe in a different kind of gleaning and their ‘leader’ was a monster. I think that is where the book got a little weird for me. I understood the purpose of showing those kind of monsters and what happens when you get the power to kill people, but it was still hard. That being said, yes, there was lot’s of killings in this book and the author tried to paint a picture of what happens what you get the power to kill people. The mass murdering was just absolutely hard to read.

Overall, it was interesting and a decent start. Hopefully I will get to pick up book 2, and hopefully it will move at a quicker pace.

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Review: This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

Posted November 11, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 19 Comments

Review:  This Adventure Ends by Emma MillsThis Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
Series: Stand-alone
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on October 4th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:half-flame

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sloane isn't expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that's exactly what happens.
Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.
Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.

I picked this one up on the whim because a few of the book reviewers that I trust really enjoyed it, and I don’t regret it. What a pallet cleanser!
The story is actually pretty simple. It’s about a girl in high school named Sloane, who is newer to the area and doesn’t really have many friends and

She meets Vera and Gabe after stepping up and giving a guy at a party a tongue thrashing and the two twins immediately adopt Sloane into their friendship fold.

The friendship ends up meaning so much to Sloane, that when a painting that Gabe meant to save from his late mother ends up being sold, Sloane goes out of her way to try and get it back.

It was a cute story. I thought the writing was great and I absolutely loved the quick and witty dialogue. I think the interaction between the character was my favorite part of the book. The friendship between Sloane, Gabe and Vera was kind of heart warming. So was the fact that Sloane would have done anything for them in order to show the twins how much she loved them and what their friendship meant to them.

This Adventure Ends is not just filled with positive friendships in high school, but also positive parenting and interaction. The relationship between Sloane and her father touched my heart. It is always so nice when there is closeness and understanding in young adult books between the parent and the child because I am so tired with the bad parent trope that seems to be floating around young adult books lately.

In all honesty it was a quick light read. There wasn’t much heart ache in the book and the author handled what little that might have happened very well.

There was a bit of romance, but it’s a sub plot and doesn’t play a huge part in the book. But when it does happen, it’s pretty sweet and I adored it.

I also loved the fact that the author branched out with a mixed bag of characters both in race and sexuality. Also, Sloane’s father is a romance writer who is struggling with writing after a bad review, which I found interesting.

That being said, there is a bit of cursing in this book so be aware. It didn’t bother me, but some people might be taken back by that language in young adult. To me? It sounds pretty realistic.

Overall, a wonderful light read, with witty and quirky dialogue that sticks with you long after it’s over. If you are looking for something light hearted with positive young adult relationships with both friends and family – you need to give this book a shot.

Memorable Quotes

-“I didn’t need anyone’s help. Everything was under control.”
“So the part where he plied your face like Play-Doh was a critical step in your plan?”
The girl snorts, and Gabe shots her a glare.

“Where were you?” he asks when I come in.
“Hanging out.”
“Ooh, with who?”
“Some local youth.”
“You sound eighty.”
“And you look like a maniac. what are you doing?”
“I’m relaxing.” He rubs the towel. “Terry cloth is good for the brain. I read an article on it.”

“Hot Pockets- what were you really doing there?”
I turn to Gabe, that orange shirt glowing in the setting sun. “sorry?”
“Hot Pockets,” he says.
“cinnamon Toast Crunch,” I reply.
“Are we saying this we like?”
“It’s a thing,” he says. “You have to tell the truth. It trumps penguin party.”
“Nothing trumps penguin party.”
“Hot Pockets does.”

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Review: The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

Posted November 9, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 23 Comments

Review: The Diabolic by S.J. KincaidThe Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid
Series: Stand-alone
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 1st 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Pages: 416
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars
Heat:half-flame

A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for.
Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.
When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything.
As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.

A science fiction, standalone novel that uses politics and religion to build a unique, brutal world, but ultimately falls short.

Nemesis is a diabolic, a genetically engineered humanoid that is built with one purpose in mind and that is to protect the person they are bonded to until their very last breath.

When Sidonia, a senator’s daughter is called to court as a hostage – because of her father’s meddling in trying to bring back the study of science – Nemesis finds herself impersonating the one person she would give her life to make sure she is safe. Nemesis thinks she is heading to court to her death, but ends up finding an entirely different, vicious reason for why she was called to court along with the other heir’s of the ruling families.

It’s been a while since I read a science fiction novel, let alone a young adult science fiction novel, so when I saw The Diabolic, I knew I had to read it right away. Unfortunately the book started off on a rocky ground for me and continued to crumble along. It did not help that it sounds like it is in fact a standalone and has left me with more questions than answers.

I didn’t really know how to rate this book, and I didn’t really know how to review it. Even as I sit here and write it now, it has taken me a few days to chew over my thoughts and try to put them out there as a written word.

I liked the fact that the setting of the book took place in outer space, but where the setting could have really shined – it barely played a big part of the book. The story is that the emperor has suppressed the education of sciences, so the current technology used by the people is so old they don’t even know how to fix it. All these ships that carry people through space break down and cause a rip in the space itself – they call it malignant space that closely resembles a black hole and people are scared that as it expands it will eat up their existence.

But this is just a background story that sets the brutal mood of the book. Most of the story takes place on Chrysanthemum, which is where the Emperor lives and I believe it’s a ship? I found that a little unclear.

I felt like the author was trying to make some sort of political and religious statement here as both play a large part and NOT in a good way. The people are very religious and devout and the political control these people with an iron fist to the point where the emperor and his followers have no qualms when it comes to killing a lot of innocent people. There is a statement that the author makes that the moment people expand their knowledge and discover their capability there is a political revolution and they try to overthrow the current government and that is something the emperor is so afraid of that he even killed his own family members to get to where he is today.

There was a lot of killing, brutal killing and a lot of innocent people and animals alike die in the hands of more powerful. I don’t know why I didn’t like this, it didn’t settle well in my stomach and maybe it’s because it hit too close to some kind of a twisted reality that we are trying not to acknowledge, and I hope that is not the case, but that turned me off from the story.

I didn’t understand Nemesis character. Was she a machine or a human? She has no tear ducks, but many times it mentions that her eyes blurb when she doesn’t blink. She is suppose to have one mission in life and that is to be a cold heartless killer in order to protect the one person she is bonded to. Okay, but as the story goes on, Nemesis has a conscious and she can think, act, and even feel as we grow to find out. This baffles me a little, as the other Diabolics in this book don’t seem to exhibit similar traits. What made her so different?

I was also a bit confused about the issues in this book. It mentions people now knowing even how to fix the current technology, but how did they survive this long on such old ships? Things break down, period, even the ships they live on should be able to break down and they should be able to fix them – so this idiot didn’t make sense to me. If they didn’t have the basic of knowledge on how to fix their ships, then they couldn’t have survived as long as they did – even the ships they live on would have broken down. Even general maintenance need some sort of knowledge.

I felt there were a lot of holes. The romance was meh to me at best. I felt when it finally happened, it was a bit quick, but I guess these two deserved each other.

Overall, I was hoping to be more impressed and I wasn’t. The writing was good, but the pacing faltered at times. I spent have the time wondering if it was over yet or when it will be over. I felt there was a lot of holes left in the story and the ending happened kind of quickly, things just fell together for the characters a little too well.

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