Tag Archives: book review

Review: Angelfall

angelfall

Author: Susan Ee | Pages: 283 | Series: Penryn & the End of Days, #1 | Rating: 4.5 stars

“Sometimes, as we’re stumbling along in the dark, we hit something good.”

Synopsis:

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister, Penryn, will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where Penryn will risk everything to rescue her sister, and Raffe will put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

Review:

I went into this book simultaneously excited and cautious. Countless people have urged me to start this series, and practically everyone I know who has read this book has raved about it. To make the daunting pressure even higher, I rarely like YA angel books. It isn’t for lack of interest – I love the concept, I just find that the majority of them are… lacking.

But this post isn’t about them; it’s about Angelfall. And I adored it.

There were so many things about this book that I loved. First of all, the characters. Not only is there a small collection of mental and physical challenges that I rarely find in YA (Penryn’s sister is in a wheelchair and her mother is a paranoid schizophrenic), they all felt real. It takes a special author to make their characters all feel as if they have a life, motivations, likes, and dislikes outside of the main story and/or conflict, but Ms. Ee pulls it off. And I really appreciated Penryn as a protagonist: she was kickass, yes, and more than capable of defending herself, but in the end she was still a seventeen-year-old girl, moreover one whose world had recently come crashing down around her, and who was just trying to keep it together for her family. I appreciated that.

Another thing I liked was the fact that the romance, while it existed, wasn’t insta-lovey and wasn’t the main focus for either Raffe or Penryn. They barely tolerated each other at first, but came together through shared experiences. Both of them had their own motivations, their own goals, and weren’t about to let the other distract them from that.

One thing I was also pleasantly surprised by was the atmosphere in Angelfall: It was dark and creepy and fast-paced and captivating. I liked the return to the more biblical angelic figures, the “harbingers of doom”, but some with very human desires and motivations, making for a somewhat chilling combination.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book and will be picking up the sequel, World After. I did dock a half star because there were a few little things here and there that bothered me a bit, but for the most part I’m hoping they’ll get explained in future books, so it’s nothing major. I would still highly recommend them, and I suppose I’m now in with the ravers.

Four_and_half

What about you? Have you read Angelfall and if you have, what were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

Initial Thoughts: In the Afterlight

intheafterlight

Author: Alexandra Bracken | Pages: 535 | Series: Darkest Minds Trilogy, #3 | Rating: 5 stars

So with this being the last book in a series I don’t want to give a synopsis around this little bit here to risk spoiling anyone who hasn’t read the rest of the series yet, so I decided to try something different this time and just give you my notes I wrote when I finished In the Afterlight,rather than give a full review. I tend to type up or write a little after I’m finished with each book in order to give me something to look back on when I write up the review, so I thought I’d let you take a look at one just to give you an idea of how my mind works when I’m haven’t had time to compile my thoughts. Or compose them, even. Everything below the cut is literally copy-and-pasted from my notes. I figure this could be fun, or it could be a complete disaster. We’ll see!

Oh, and if you couldn’t already tell, there will be A LOT OF SPOILERS UNDER THE CUT. Please don’t read any further if you haven’t read the last book and/or don’t want to be spoiled on some of the events in the Darkest Minds series. Also, there will be a small bit of language so if you don’t like cursing, you might also not want to read it.

Okay, moving on!

EDIT: THIS IS THE CUT, BECAUSE THE READ-MORE TAG ISN’T WORKING RIGHT NOW, at least not on my screen. So, if you don’t want spoilers, please don’t read past here.

Continue reading Initial Thoughts: In the Afterlight

Review: Dorothy Must Die

dorothymustdie

Author: Danielle Paige | Pages: 452 | Series: Dorothy Must Die, #1 | Rating: 3.5 stars

I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.

But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado – taking you with it – you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still a yellow brick road – but even that’s crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm – and I’m the other girl from Kansas.

I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.

I’ve been trained to fight.

And I have a mission.

I actually thought this book started off really nicely. It had an almost contemporary feel to the first couple of chapters, and I must say, if Danielle Paige ever decides to write a contemporary, I want to read it.

And, for the most part, I still enjoyed the rest of the book. The plot moved along nicely, the story kept me engaged, and I liked the characters okay. For a little bit I thought she might try to throw in an unnecessary love triangle and while that isn’t technically out of the question, it was made less likely by one of the reveals at the end of the book (but oh, would I have fun if Amy did choose the gardener at the end of the series… :))

Still, it felt like something was missing I guess. More than once I wondered why exactly Danielle Paige was introducing us to a character, because within a couple of pages or a couple of chapters, they’d disappear. Occasionally it felt as if she’d kill off characters just to say she had. And although I liked most of the characters, I didn’t really connect to or love any of them.

But overall it was an entertaining read, and a fun time.

Three_and_half

Review: Written in Red and Murder of Crows

writteninred murderofcrows
Author:
Anne Bishop | Pages: 433 & 354 | Series: The Others, #1 & #2 | Rating: 5 stars

As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

I originally started the first book in this series, Written in Red, for the 2015 Reading Challenge as ‘A book with a color in the title.’ Beyond the synopsis on the back, I really had no idea what the book was about going into it and as such, I really had no idea what to expect. It had been on my TBR for a while but it was kind of at the bottom of the list. But as I discovered when I drew that specific challenge, I apparently have few books with a color in the title, and even fewer that wouldn’t require me to read an entire series to get to it. So, I started in on Anne Bishop’s novel.

As it stands, I’m very glad I did. Written in Red exceeded my admittedly few expectations by a tenfold. This series reads much more as an urban fantasy than I was expecting originally, and it worked out very well in the world Bishop crafted. Although nothing much in the plot really shocked me, it kept me hooked and I really enjoyed learning about the characters and their backstories. And oh, the characters were great. I loved all of them, from Simon to Jenni to Meg.

In the first story especially, the characters were what really made the book. Meg is definitely not your typical heroine; having been kept in isolation (this isn’t a spoiler, it gets mentioned in the first chapter or so) for her entire life, she doesn’t know much of the outside world. She isn’t physically strong, and few would consider her dangerous. But she’s brave (if not against mice) and intelligent, and watching her learn and grow and find herself as well as her place among the Others was a lot of fun.

And then there were the Others, who were all lovable in their own unique ways. The Others are shapeshifters, and I greatly enjoyed Ms. Bishop’s take on a seemingly common thing. They are almost all predators, more animalistic creatures who can take on human forms than actual humans that turn into animals, and it shows in their manners and ways of thinking. Watching Meg slowly engrave herself into their society was great, especially with Simon. The poor gruff Wolf just couldn’t understand why she smelled like Not Prey, or why he cared.

“’It was easier when all we wanted to do was eat them and take their stuff,’ he grumbled. And it had been easier when he hadn’t cared if he made any of them cry.”

From Jester the Coyote to Jenni Crowgard, all of the characters felt real and fleshed-out. I especially loved Sam, Simon’s nephew.

Murder of Crows was just as good, if not a different pace. Where the first book was a bit more character-centric with action thrown in, the second book fleshed out some of the story lines that Written in Red had just sort of hinted at.

All in all, I really loved the first two books and am excited to see where the next book takes us when it comes out in March.

Five

Review: The Eternal Ones

teo

Author: Kirsten Miller | Pages: 411 | Series: Eternal Ones Duology, #1 | Rating: 2 stars

Haven Moore can’t control her visions of a past with a boy called Ethan, and a life in New York that ended in fiery tragedy. In our present, she designs beautiful dresses for her classmates with her best friend Beau. Dressmaking keeps her sane, since she lives with her widowed and heartbroken mother in her tyrannical grandmother’s house in Snope City, a tiny town in Tennessee. Then, an impossible group of coincidences conspire to force her to flee to New York, to discover who she is and who she was. In New York, Haven meets Iain Morrow and is swept into an epic love affair that feels both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Iain is suspected of murdering a rock star and Haven wonders, could he have murdered her in a past life? She visits the Ouroboros Society and discovers a murky world of reincarnation that stretches across millennia. Haven must discover the secrets hidden in her past lives, and loves¸ before all is lost and the cycle begins again.

I really, really wanted to like this book. The idea of reincarnation is one that intrigues me, and despite the mixed reviews it’s gotten I decided to give it a try. Form my own opinions.

I would like to take this time to state that I do believe this is a book that certain people might enjoy, depending on their tastes. Unfortunately, there were just too many things that bothered me personally to make it a book for me.

Mild spoilers ahead, but nothing that will give away anything important.

The Romance: I’m pretty sure that Miller wrote this under the impression that Iain Morrow was some spectacularly romantic love interest, but the romance fell very flat for me. Despite the fact that the reincarnation factor meant that it wasn’t technically insta-love, it felt very much like it. These two had supposedly been finding each other over and over again in different lifetimes, but we never got any indication of why they kept falling in love. We really didn’t get to know Iain at all.

The Characters: This is where I really had the most of my issues with this book. I found it incredibly hard to connect to either of the main characters, and the majority of the book I either wanted to strangle them or punch them in the face. Haven I found to be a weak-willed heroine who changed her mind every time she spoke to someone else, and never really seemed to form any opinions of her own. One minute she was convinced Iain was a horrible murderer, and the next she was all apologetic and believed he truly loved her and was innocent. Make up your mind, girl!

And then there was Iain himself. He was the very stereotypical tall, dark, and handsome boy who was super rich and had secrets the heroine couldn’t know about in order to protect her. I really just wanted to punch him in the face for most of the book. What I believe the reader was supposed to find romantic, I found controlling. And despite the fact that Haven would occasionally pretend like she wasn’t going to put up with it, she always went along with him in the end.

Another thing that really bothered me is that it felt as if the author believed that the girl should give in to sex because the boy can’t wait. While Iain technically stopped when asked, it still felt like there was some pressure there. Haven actually mentioned once that “She could tell from the way Iain stared at her that he wasn’t going to wait much longer.” Excuse me? What exactly is he going to do about it? If he forces you into it, it’s rape, and you send his ass to jail. If he leaves and or pouts about it, he’s not worth sticking with in the first place. If he is not saying no, he doesn’t get a say in when it happens. The boy is not going to die if he doesn’t get sex, no matter what he says. It’s not your responsibility to have sex if you’re not comfortable with it just to satisfy him.

The Plot: The plot I found to be the book’s strongest point. While there were still a number of plot points that I guessed chapters before the characters, there was enough mystery and intrigue to keep me reading, mostly interested, and wondering what would happen next. As I mentioned before, the idea of reincarnation is one that I find interesting and for the most part I enjoyed the roles it played in the story.

Overall Impression: I found this book interesting enough for the plot and a few other minor elements, but as I am very much a character-driven reader the story itself just didn’t really come together for me.

Two

Review: 172 Hours on the Moon

172H

Author: Johan Harstad | Pages: 355 | Series: Standalone/NA | Rating: 3 – 4 stars

Synopsis: It’s been decades since anyone set foot on the moon. Now three ordinary teenagers, the winners of NASA’s unprecedented, worldwide lottery, are about to become the first young people in space–and change their lives forever. Mia, from Norway, hopes this will be her punk band’s ticket to fame and fortune. Midori believes it’s her way out of her restrained life in Japan. Antoine, from France, just wants to get as far away from his ex-girlfriend as possible.
It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, but little do the teenagers know that something sinister is waiting for them on the desolate surface of the moon. And in the black vacuum of space… no one is coming to save them.
In this chilling adventure set in the most brutal landscape known to man, highly acclaimed Norwegian novelist Johan Harstad creates a vivid and frightening world of possibilities we can only hope never come true.

This book threw me for a loop, and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it. For the first two-thirds or so, this was a 3-star read for me, sometimes even 2.5. A good bit of the book was spent getting to know the characters, which I guess I can understand, but the flip side was that in the first half of the book or so nothing much happened. I had a hard time connecting to the characters, as well, which made it difficult to want to continue. I did appreciate the cultural diversity in his three teenage characters, though.

Things got a little better once they finally got to the moon. The plot picked up a little, and things actually started to happen. And boy, once things started happening, they never stopped. I was still a little frustrated, though, because it felt like Harstad just kept throwing mentions of crazy things happening without ever actually giving any answers.

It was the ending that made me so conflicted about the rating I wanted to give this book. I really don’t know how much I can say without giving anything away, but I was somehow both expecting it and totally not expecting it.

My main problem after the ending is that it really just added onto my already long list of unanswered questions, some of which can be found below under ‘SPOILERS’.

All in all, I’d give this book somewhere around 3.5 stars. Parts were “HOLY CRAP, did that just happen?” and parts were just “Bleh”.

Three_and_half

SPOILERS BENEATH THE CUT

Continue reading Review: 172 Hours on the Moon

Review: This Is What Happy Looks Like

tiwhll

Author: Jennifer E. Smith | Pages: 404 | Series: Standalone/NA | Rating: 3.5 stars

I have an interesting relationship with contemporary books – I usually enjoy them, but rarely love In other words, I like to read contemporary but don’t read a lot of them, and there aren’t many of them on my favorite’s shelf.

This is another one of those books. And while it won’t ever sit on my favorite’s list, it was still worth the read.

This Is What Happy Looks Like follows Graham and Ellie, who meet online when Graham accidentally sends Ellie an email about Wilbur (who is his terrific, radiant, humble pet pig). Despite not knowing the other’s name and living on opposite sides of the country, they begin to keep in touch through a series of emails.

But both of them have secrets: Ellie’s father is unexpectedly important, and Graham lives a life in the spotlight.

Eventually Graham’s job lands him in Ellie’s small hometown of Henley, Maine and naturally, complicated things ensue.

This is my first Jennifer E. Smith book, so when I went into the story, it was without any previous expectations beyond the fact that I know a lot of people have really enjoyed both This Is What Happy Looks Like and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. Overall, I can’t say I was disappointed. I enjoyed Smith’s writing style, and felt it fit this sort of story well. Graham and Ellie were both cute, enjoyable characters.

There were two main things that bothered me about this book: the romance and the ending.

The Romance: Even though it wasn’t technically insta-love (the two had been keeping in touch via email for a few months before they met), it still felt like it. Considering they didn’t talk for roughly three weeks of the four that Graham was in Henley, I guess I just didn’t understand how they felt it was that strong of a relationship.

The Ending: Big potential plot point, implied throughout the entire book to be a huge, life-ruining deal… brushed away by “oh, they don’t actually care about your father, just that you’re Graham’s girlfriend.” Wait, what? We never did actually get to meet Wilbur, either, which was strangely disappointing.

Other than that, it was an enjoyable enough read, but forgettable overall.