Sunday, June 21, 2015

[Review] Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

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Daughter of Smoke& Bone
Laini Taylor
[Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1]
YA, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Published: September 2011 ( Little, Brown Books for Young Readers )
Format: digital
Pages: 418
Rating: 4 of 5
 
Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

The world building in this was fantastic! Like, I cannot stress enough how well done it was. There was lore shoved in there and things I didn't know I wanted, but I got them. The myths of how the angles and chimera came to be were interesting and I like how each race had their own view of it. The settings were a nice change from the typical American, as well.

The characters were fun to read. What's not to love about a girl with blue hair? Karou was interesting. Being her friend would be an adventure every single day. Her knowledge of languages and her drawing abilities is just the surface. She was always trying to protect, but her curiosity would often get the better of her. I love her relationship with her best friend, Zuzana. They had a nice thing going, which is another reason why what I'm going to mention later disappoints me.

Then there is Akiva, an angel that was compelled to follow the girl with the blue hair. Honestly, I hate using the word angel to describe his race of people. It is merely a placeholder of a word. It implies that he works for a god, but in reality the idea of "angels" as we know them are completely different in this book. It's really interesting and I prefer this to what my mind conjures up when thinking the word. His role was to seal off the doors to Brimstone's (Karou's mentor and friend) shop, which plays a very large bit in the ending of the book. Akiva was ridden with inner anguish that is explained and justified. I really liked this. In books that I've been reading lately, all the main male characters seem to want to be a hero. They always want what's best for the MC right away with no hesitation. But Akiva expresses doubts and reservations about telling Karou about things she should know to make it easier on himself.

The problem I had between this pairing is that it was instantaneous love. It really hampered me from fully enjoying the story because it felt like it was such a cheat. I understand the reasoning behind it, in the case of Karou and Akiva. (spoiler!!!) But in the past, the love between Akiva and Madrigal seemed to pop up out of nowhere and then they even had intimate relations. I understand infatuation, falling prey to it myself on the occasion, but I cannot excuse these spur of the moment love declarations. Getting over this, the relationship between them was alright. Very full of butterfly moments, which gets a bit tedious to read after a while.

The writing was lovely. The sentences were woven together in a way that most YA books don't bother to take a hand at. There were a lot (a lot is an exaggeration) of random words I didn't know, which would interrupt my reading pace a bit, but I suppose expanding my vocabulary is a good thing. I also really like the way this was written, with the flashbacks unfolding the story. I like when movies jump around like that and the same with books. It could be confusing to read if you put it down, though, so there's that.

The plot is hard for me to describe because at one point there is a certain point where the story is going, then it changes. At least that's how it seemed to me. I could be wrong.

I think I've mentioned everything without giving too much away. I would recommend this book if only because of the way Taylor writes. It is so nice to read. Seriously.

TL;DR

Good:
+ writing!!
+ interesting and quirky characters, including side characters
+ strong female relationship
+ lore and legends
+ world building

Bad:
- insta-love
- special snowflake syndrome

Final Rating:
4 of 5

Sunday, June 14, 2015

[Review] End of Days by Susan Ee

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End of Days
Susan Ee
[Penryn & the End of Days #3]
YA, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Published: May 2015 (Skyscape)
Format: digital
Pages: 344
Rating: 3.5 of 5
 
End of Days is the explosive conclusion to Susan Ee’s bestselling Penryn & the End of Days trilogy.

After a daring escape from the angels, Penryn and Raffe are on the run. They’re both desperate to find a doctor who can reverse the twisted changes inflicted by the angels on Raffe and Penryn’s sister. As they set off in search of answers, a startling revelation about Raffe’s past unleashes dark forces that threaten them all.

When the angels release an apocalyptic nightmare onto humans, both sides are set on a path toward war. As unlikely alliances form and strategies shift, who will emerge victorious? Forced to pick sides in the fight for control of the earthly realm, Raffe and Penryn must choose: Their own kind, or each other?

My nails to celebrate completing the trilogy!

On to the review!

Warning: spoilers to the max, baby

This book was sorta disappointing for me. There was all this great build up to an ending that didn't deliver.

The characters grew a nice amount and the banter was as good as always. Raffe was more present and that's a plus. Penryn accepted her place in helping the humans that survived the beginning of the end and everything up to that point. I like that, even in the end, she wasn't trying to be a hero. She was still having reservations about saving everyone, but knew it was for the best. (Just a side note: Obi was my favorite and it's a shame he had to die for Penryn to reach her full potential.)

There were parts I didn't like, but the main one that stands out is when they went to the Pit. Like, time travel? How confusing and why does that work? The descriptions of the Pit weren't the best and I couldn't imagine it at all. There was just a lot of plot convenience going on and I can't say I appreciate that.

Also, the ending. I don't agree with most of what happened. The locusts attacked before the angels because?? And then when Raffe calls the Pit lord. I understand that his sacrifice of his wings is supposed to show how much Penryn means to him, but it seemed so out of character. He worked so hard to get them back and nothing stopped him, not even his feelings for Penryn. So why now? And his Watchers seemed so casual about having been in the Pit. They joke around like it didn't cause them any harm. Also, there were a lot of them introduced at once and I couldn't keep track.

I believe I am done with my raving. I just can't agree with the way this book was handled. It felt like two books packed into one and I believe that if two books were written instead of just the one, everything would have been handled better. I am not placing the blame on the author for I think she would have been more than capable to deliver.

There were things I did like. The chemistry between Raffe and Penryn near the beginning of the book was more well done than the stuff packed into the end and I wish it had been conveyed during the rest of the book. I appreciate what was there, though. I like them together, they really compliment each other.

TL;DR

Good:
+ Penryn and Raffe go well together
+ character development
+ unique resolution

Bad:
- weak descriptions
- ending was rushed
- out of character moments

Final Rating: 3.5 of 5

Friday, June 5, 2015

[Review] World After by Susan Ee

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World After
Susan Ee
[Penryn & the End of Days #2]
YA, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Published: November 2013 (Skyscape)
Format: digital
Pages: 314
Rating: 3.5 of 5
 
In this sequel to the bestselling fantasy thriller, Angelfall, the survivors of the angel apocalypse begin to scrape back together what's left of the modern world.

When a group of people capture Penryn's sister, Paige, thinking she's a monster, the situation ends in a massacre. Paige disappears. Humans are terrified. Mom is heartbroken.

Penryn drives through the streets of San Francisco looking for Paige. Why are the streets so empty? Where is everybody? Her search leads her into the heart of the angels' secret plans where she catches a glimpse of their motivations, and learns the horrifying extent to which the angels are willing to go.

Meanwhile, Raffe hunts for his wings. Without them, he can't rejoin the angels, can't take his rightful place as one of their leaders. When faced with recapturing his wings or helping Penryn survive, which will he choose?

Warning: Spoilers ahead! Advert eyes!

So, after blazing through Angelfall I picked up World After. To me, this book falls into the category that a lot of second books in trilogies do. It is used as filler, with bits happening up until the end result that will eventually lead into the third book. And I get it. I don't seem to mind so much as other people do when a book is used to set up the next one. This results in the plot being slower than the previous book. The action packed parts are around the end of the book, well past the 50% mark. I am all for a slow build up, so this is not considered a weakness for me.

The suspense of Raffe not being around was also killing me.

Penryn had plenty of time in this book to find herself and learn some new things about the Raffe's sword. There were a few cop out parts, such as dream training but it gets by since the sword has a conscious and abilities without Penryn having to do anything. Otherwise, Penryn herself doesn't change all that much. She has a few moments of "maybe I should save humanity and not just my family" but it's not long before she's back to saving her family foremost. Once he reappears, Raffe is the same stubborn and selfish guy he was before. His standoffish attitude is fun to read. I almost wish that the love that is inevitably going to take a hold of him wasn't around. It seems so off for the character the author is trying to go for. Especially after a millennium of telling himself to never fall for one. It was basically, "give him a few days with a human, he'll break," and I find this unrealistic.

The thing I didn't like about World End is that the basic building blocks of the book are structured the same as the previous book. A lot of parallels happen. Even with this, though, the book still makes for a good read with enough differences that it's not that big of a deal.

The world building wasn't as high end as it could have been, but at some point I believe I can imagine it quite clearly, if only for the reason that the destruction is laid out well and I have previous knowledge of what California looks like. Still, it is better than in Angelfall, so I count it as a bonus.

And once again, I still feel that the writing is drab. I will reiterate myself and say that is my personal choice and not the author's fault.

Overall, I enjoyed everything this book was dishing out. The characters are still fabulous and the plot itself is interesting. The side dish of love is happening and...well, it's happening, whether I like it or not. When I think about it without thinking about it (whatever that means), I like it and that's enough for me.

TL;DR

Good:
+ Build up and suspense
+ Good setup for last book
+ Characters are still great!
+ Love is not main focus
+ World building

Bad:
- Love is sorta unrealistic
- Writing is ehh

Final Rating: 3.5 of 5

Thursday, June 4, 2015

[Cover Reveal + Giveaway] Of Fire and Ice




Today Amber Argyle and Rockstar Book Tours are revealing the cover for OF ICE AND SNOW, a novella in the Faerie Queens series in August, 2015! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to win an e-bundle of Amber’s Witch Song Books!


On to the reveal! 




Title: OF ICE AND SNOW
Author: Amber Argyle
Pub. Date: August, 2015
Find it: Goodreads

Otec thought destiny forgot him…
The middle child of the clanchief, Otec is the overlooked son in an overflowing house. He dreams of escape and adventure, so when a mysterious stranger offers both, he doesn’t need persuading. But when his faraway village comes under attack, Otec will do anything to save the people he loves. Cut off from his nation, he must trust a foreign woman with a dubious past as they race to save his clan. But nothing is what it seems, and Otec may have to trust his enemy if he is to become the leader he was never meant to be.
Destiny is not always kind.


Of Ice and Snow is being exclusively released in the Daring Hearts box set and the whole bundle is only 99 cents for 8 books! What an awesome deal!

Daring Hearts synopsis:

Eight All New CLEAN Novels by Eight Bestselling Authors 


ONLY $0.99 CENTS FOR A LIMITED TIME!


From gorgeous heroes that make us swoon to the super sleuths and feisty heroines that make us cheer, this exclusive collection has something for everyone. Eight clean, sassy and BRAND NEW novels--a delicious mixture of fun, addictively romantic, action-adventure stories -- each handpicked by an award-winning gathering of some of today's most popular YA/NA authors. 

Eight Bestselling Authors 

Eight never-before-released novels spanning 1600+ pages 
Over 98% off retail for the individual books sold separately (a thirty dollar savings!) 
Only available until September (so get your copy today). 



THIS BOXED SET INCLUDES: 


REBECCA ETHINGTON ~ Monsters are real... Through Glass 

RASHELLE WORKMAN ~ Alice is a Dark Moth trainee in Wonderland, Arizona where the days are hot and the guys are hotter. The Dark Moth Society 
CINDY M. HOGAN ~ Some secrets are better left dead and buried. Kate Unmasked 
ELLE STRAUSS ~ Time traveling is wonky enough... and this time it's worse than ever. Counter Clockwise 
CHRISTINE KERSEY ~ College is murder... Witness 
JULI ALEXANDER ~ Solving mysteries is in her blood, but it might just get her killed. Paxton Private Investigations 
LILA FELIX ~ Fasta is an artist, not by choice, but by force. Sketchy Love 
AMBER ARGYLE ~ A storm is raging and not everyone will survive. Of Ice And Snow


About Amber:

Amber Argyle is the number-one bestselling author of the Witch Song Series and the Fairy Queen Series. Her books have been nominated for and won awards in addition to being translated into French and Indonesian.

Amber graduated cum laude from Utah State University with a degree in English and physical education, a husband, and a two-year old. Since then, she and her husband have added two more children, which they are actively trying to transform from crazy small people into less crazy larger people.

To learn more about Amber, visit her blog at amberargyle.blogspot.com

You can find Amber on TwitterFacebookGoodreads, and Pinterest.




Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive the eBook bundle of The Witch Song Series. International


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

[Review] A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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A Court of Thorns and Roses
Sarah J. Maas
[A Court of Thorns and Roses#1]
YA Fantasy Romance
Published: May 2015 (Bloomsury Children's)
Format: digital
Pages: 416
Rating: 5 of 5
 
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Warning: Spoilers!!

With all the hype surrounding A Court of Thorns and Roses, I was sure deep in my bones that I was going to dislike it. If you know me, you know I hate unwarranted hype. How wrong I was. Although, due to this unsettling I had, it allowed me to go into this with low expectations. I was prepared for a typical fairytale retelling. Nothing all that special.

And yet, here I sit, my love for this book off the charts.

Also, a secret: I love fae books. I don't have many in my arsenal, but I soak them in when I read them.

The writing of this book is so beautiful. I wish I could do it justice by talking about it, but alas my words are nothing to amount to the great detail that went into every shining sentence that fills the pages of aCoTaR. I have a thing for flowery writing, but don't let me scare you. There is a perfect balance. It's never too much and never too little. Sarah J. Maas found the thin line between "please give me more" and overboard. The fact that this is a retelling hardly seems to matter. The parallels between the original Beauty and the Beast and this are vastly different from each other. I find more similarities with East of the Sun, West of the Moon, in all the best ways possible!

The characters within A Court of Thorns and Roses are all very diverse from each other. Fayre is strong willed and stubborn and a leading heroine that I began to really like. There were moments that had me shaking my head at her actions and her stupidity. She didn't seem to regard other people's advice when it would best benefit her, but she dealt with the consequences. Overall, though, she struck me as someone that thought about others before herself. She was selfless and tried her best to do the right thing and this is something I always appreciate in a main character. As for Tamlin, he embodied the idea of a warrior turned noble. His anger was quick to rise, but under it all, his intentions were pure. He was complex in nature. Any mysteriousness that he had, I don't blame on him. He wasn't allowed to talk about his curse, so it stopped him from saying a lot of things. The other characters were all their own sort. Everyone had their own reasons and motives to drive them. Nobody felt flat.

The love between Fayre and Tamlin was intense, like a blazing fire that was slow to burn. The gradual increase up to their love was fun to read and the way they would slowly reveal to each other parts of themselves was endearing. Through it all, it was obvious that Tamlin wanted what was best for Fayre and did all he could to make her happy and comfortable. I have myself worried that Rhysand was going to be a love interest. I am not going to be happy at that point, if it happens. It will make the love between Tamlin and Fayre seem shallow and the sacrifice that she made all be for nothing.

I honestly appreciated that the "real" plot didn't get speed until about half way through the book. It was supposed to be hidden from Fayre and it wasn't her world to think about. Her resolve to help Tamlin was one of the only reasons she was involved at all. I have to say that I liked the world building as well. There wasn't an information dump thrown at you, for the most part. There were two parts that had my head reeling from everything I was reading, but after reading through it again, I found I comprehended it fairly well. The variety in fae creatures was interesting. Some creatures I recognized from other things I have read or games I have played, which makes me wonder where everyone is getting this information on magical creatures. I want in. (Not that I've looked very hard)

Overall, I would highly recommend this book. Like, you should be reading it right now. I want to reread it already. (sidenote: I painted my nails red in honor of the cover)

TL;DR

Good:
+ Characters!! Very diverse and unique from each other
+ Fairytale retelling w/o falling into the same storyline
+ Beautiful writing
+ Believable love progression
+ Pacing of plot

Bad:
- future book scares me

Final Rating: 5 of 5!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

[Review] Angelfall by Susan Ee

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Angelfall
Susan Ee
[Penryn & the End of Days #1]
YA Paranormal Urban Fantasy
Published: August 2012 (Skyscape)
Source: Recieved from publisher
Format: paperback
Pages: 284
Rating: 4 of 5
 
It's been six weeks since the angels of the apocalypse destroyed the world as we know it. Only pockets of humanity remain.

Savage street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night.

When angels fly away with a helpless girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back...

Warning: Spoilers

Disclaimer: I recieved this book from the publisher for review, but this in no way affects my thoughts and opinions.

Going into this, I wasn't sure what to expect. I have never read an angel book before and, to make matters worse, paranormal books aren't exactly my forte. Although, I have to imagine that the image that the word "angel" brings up isn't exactly what happens to be in Angelfall.

The character of Penryn (whose name I love, btw) is a sharp and snarky girl whose sole thought is the survival of herself and her family, which consists of her crazy mother and her disabled sister, Paige. The fact that her sister is in a worse off state, since she can't walk, weighs heavily on Penryn's mind. She constantly thinks of her sister and what is best for her. When her sister is stolen away by an angel, she vows she will do anything to get her back. This is where Raffe is entered into the mess. A fallen angel whose wings were ripped straight off his back, he has bigger things to worry about than this human girl pestering him about a sister that's probably dead. This noncommittal behavior from Raffe makes it interesting to read. It seems he could leave at any moment. Also, the banter between Penryn and Raffe was fun to read. The love spark between them doesn't happen until pretty late in the book, but I personally could have went without it. It was light, but unnecessary. I am sorry, but I am biased. Some people will love it, but I am not one of those people.

As for Paige, she had a kind of innocent thing going on with her. She didn't have very long to fit in the character building, although I have to say that she survived the angel's experiments at all shows she is much stronger than Penryn seems to give her credit for.

One thing I really liked about this world was that it seemed very open world, I suppose. If you have ever played Fallout: New Vegas, this is what I mean. The going ons of characters are not directly related to what Penryn is doing. She isn't a part of the resistance that wants to save the world, all she wants is her family. The actions of the other characters do not stop simply because the main character isn't around. The world building was well enough. I felt it was a supple amount and that it can be filled in more in the other books. The plot is quick paced and survival is always a key feature at the back of Penryn's mind. I appreciated this consistence.

The writing is where I have to say the book was lacking for me. It was easy to read, but there was nothing that stood out to be as amazing and unique. I am very picky about that sort of thing, so it's not really the author's fault that I do not like her personal style. Also, there were some moments that had me rolling my eyes. Like,when they go to the angel party and Raffe calls Penryn beautiful. I did enjoy the moments of suspense, though. The emotions of the characters are conveyed very clearly (or not so clearly, if you know what I mean) and they are fluid with the personalities they have.

TL;DR

Good:

+ Characters are great, with awesome side characters
+ Interesting and unique take on angels
+ Very mood heavy
+ Open world
+ Light on the love

Bad:
- Writing is lacking
- Some moments are silly to read

Final Rating: 4 of 5

Thursday, May 21, 2015

[Cover Reveal] Tarnished by Kate Jarvik Birch

Tarnished (Perfected #2)
Release Date: 2015
Entangled Teen


Freedom comes at a cost...

Ella was genetically engineered to be the perfect pet—graceful, demure...and kept. In a daring move, she escaped her captivity and took refuge in Canada. But while she can think and act as she pleases, the life of a liberated pet is just as confining as the Congressman’s gilded cage. Her escape started a revolution, but she’s trapped, unable to get back to Penn—the boy she loves—or help the girls who need her.

Back in the United States, pets are turning up dead. With help from a very unexpected source, Ella slips deep into the dangerous black market, posing as a tarnished pet available to buy or sell. If she's lucky, she'll be able to rescue Penn and expose the truth about the breeding program. If she fails, Ella will pay not only with her life, but the lives of everyone she's tried to save...





Book One:
(cover linked to Goodreads)
Praise for Perfected:
“Compelling, imaginative, and unique. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough!”
— Mary Lindsey, author of Shattered Souls

Buy Links:
Amazon * Barnes & Noble

About the Author:
Kate Jarvik Birch is a visual artist, author, playwright, daydreamer, and professional procrastinator. As a child, she wanted to grow up to be either a unicorn or mermaid. Luckily, being a writer turned out to be just as magical. Her essays and short stories have been published in literary journals including Indiana Review and Saint Ann’s Review. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband and three kids. To learn more visit www.katejarvikbirch.com

Author Links:
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Cover Reveal Organized by: