Monday, September 29, 2014

Half Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Summary (from Goodreads):
The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi pure bloods have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals--well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures. Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden. Unfortunately, she's crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn't her biggest problem--staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.
I had mixed feelings going into this one. So much of the beginning of the book was like Vampire Academy that to me it read a lot more like fan fiction than it did its own story/novel. There are just so many rules, world-building elements, characters, and plot devices that are directly the same. Just swap out vampires for Greek mythology.
However, despite some incredibly obvious similarities I never was able to put the book down. I love Armentrout’s characters. I love how sassy Alex is. I love the whole concept of the appolyon. I love the forbidden romance. And I was beyond terrified of the idea of the half-bloods being turned into mindless, submissive servants if they couldn’t work as protectors.
Also, as the book goes on, more and more differences from Vampire Academy happened. It did eventually become its own story. It will most likely though have a lot of the same world building facts the same through out the whole series. I also feel like I can easily predict where things are going (and where they would go by the end of this book) because of my knowledge of Vampire Academy.
Moving aside from this, there were a lot of fight scenes, training sessions, parties, political discussions, power struggles, violent attacks, and romance. And I guess, no matter the circumstances, these things are always fun to read about. I loved the Lux series and I feel like I have an understanding of how Armentrout’s storytelling goes, and I know I will absolutely have to continue with the series. I can’t wait for a certain 18th birthday to happen. And I also am dying to see where things go romantically for Alex.
The mixture of Greek mythology, magic, and almost dystopia-oriented physical combat training certainly made this book a quick read. There was a lot of action and a lot of plot. I read it remarkably fast. And I did have a lot of fun reading it. I give it a 7/10. And I look forward to starting book 2. Yay for reading books after the series is completed!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan

Summary (from Goodreads):
Kami has lost the boy she loves, is tied to a boy she does not, and faces an enemy more powerful than ever before. With Jared missing for months and presumed dead, Kami must rely on her new magical link with Ash for the strength to face the evil spreading through her town.

Rob Lynburn is now the master of Sorry-in-the-Vale, and he demands a death. Kami will use every tool at her disposal to stop him. Together with Rusty, Angela, and Holly, she uncovers a secret that might be the key to saving the town. But with knowledge comes responsibility—and a painful choice. A choice that will risk not only Kami’s life, but also the lives of those she loves most.

This final book in the Lynburn Legacy is a wild, entertaining ride from beginning to shocking end.
Ahhhhh. I don’t even know what to do now that this series is over. As I said on Goodreads, this book and this series is the kind you finish with a big exhale and sloppy smile. And then you feel the need to clutch the book itself to your chest in a weird, youthful book hug, not wanting to ever let it go.  
Unspoken was my favorite book of 2012. Untold was one of my favorites of 2013. And now Unmade is also up there on my list for 2014. Reading this book was just so refreshing. It was like having my first pumpkin spice latte of the fall. It was like a really great phone conversation with my mother. And it was like meeting up with old friends I haven’t seen for a while, but am always wanting to see.
Brennan has character development down. There are few YA writers out there who can write characters like she can. All of the side characters own a piece of my heart. And Kami like is my heart. Then of course is the problematic romance. I love that this defies the YA paranormal romance stereotypes. Nothing is easy for the ship of all ships. And I like that the couple has problems. Things go from one insanely sizzling, button popping scene to moments of pure heartache. And I feel like this is so quintessential teen. This is real. It’s not about finding your soul mate at 16 and never having any problems. It’s about not knowing what the person you’re in love with is thinking (usually). It’s about changing your mind and not always thinking with your mind.
This book definitely gave me a case of the feels. Not everyone survives by the end. It’s definitely a lot darker than it’s previous books. There’s kidnappings, torture, grave digging, public sacrifice rituals, death, and lot of power struggles. There’s also a lot more relationship drama. There’s more danger for Kami’s little siblings. There’s more family drama between Kami’s parents. Yet, through all the drama and all the darkness, the same wit and humor pulled through everything. In fact, I think this was the funniest and snarkiest book of the series.
I found myself laughing out loud one moment, gasping in shock in another moment, crying for a wonderful character at another moment, and just having the full gamut of emotions here. Brennan is the kind of writer who holds the puppet strings to your feelings, and she’s not afraid to pull the strings tight enough to induce pain.
As with the other books, I found the plot/action to be nowhere near as great as the character development, dialog, and drama. Sometimes, I just don’t care as much about the plot as I do about the people, and that’s okay. I definitely care more about the characters in this series than I do for most other fictional characters, and that in itself is saying something. I am so beyond attached to these guys.
I’m so sad the whole thing is over. I’ve actually already gone back and re-read my favorite moments (definitely including the button popping scene!). And now I’m contemplating re-reading some scenes for a third time. The book is sitting right next to me. I don’t really have to say goodbye quite yet. I give this book and this series a 10/10.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Summary (from Goodreads):
From two bestselling superstars, a dazzling and magical middle-grade collaboration centering on the students of the Magisterium, an academy for those with a propensity toward magic. In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will -- is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It's a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.
I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews for this one. So, I guess I went from being super excited about its release to then only being moderately excited. I put a request in to borrow it from the library and I was one of the first to get it. Now, I think I need to buy it.
I guess I’ve been craving a good middle grade fantasy. And I’ve definitely been craving a new series. There are so many series that have ended this year. Finally, it’s time for something new. There were so many great elements to this story: a magical world that’s hidden from most humans, underground magic school with mazes of creepy caves, fantastic friendships, magic, mysteries, a somewhat handicapped main character, also a main character who seems to normally be the kind of person to be a side character or evil foe, a crazy twist, and lot of adventure.
I love that not everything is explained right away. We have to learn why Callum’s father is the way he is over time. And then of course is the ultimate mystery of why so much was kept hidden or even exaggerated to Callum. I kept waiting for bad things to happen because that’s how Callum thought.
I like that there are different elements of magic and the one everyone is gaga about is chaos magic. I loved all the tidbits of historical information. I liked that the side character/best friend character was the typical hero character and the main character was a little more off-kilter.
The whole concept of where baby Callum was found as a baby was so compelling that I knew I would have trouble putting the book down. I read this book in a little more than a day. There were just so many questions I needed answered. I know a lot has been said about the similarities to Harry Potter; however, I didn’t find the similarities to be that strong. I’m a huge Potter fan. I’ve read the books a lot of times. I’ve been to Potter conventions and I even was the president of my college’s Harry Potter club. I honestly feel like this was a completely different story, with completely different elements to it.
The pacing of the book wasn’t as fast as I sometimes wanted it to be, but it does have that classic, book 1 introductory feel, which promises faster pacing, and higher levels of action as the overarcing storyline continues. I can’t wait to see where things go in the next one, especially after a certain decision was made toward the end.
Overall, this was a fun book! I loved the characters. I loved the magical world. I loved the twist that actually did surprise me (and I so thought I had it all figured out…). I give it a 9/10.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (110)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins (4/7/15):

Description on Goodreads:
Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and best friend Bee has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can return her focus to the important things in life: school, canoodling with David, her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie, and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant.

Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him. The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her . . . or connect her to David for life.
Why I’m Waiting:
I love this author. Really, I do. I love the mix of girly-ness, supernatural, sarcasm, and romance. I didn’t like the first book of this series as much as I liked her other series; however, I did have a lot of fun reading it. I know what to expect from this author, and I can’t wait for more.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Summary (from Goodreads):
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 blue birds. 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 the yellow brick road, though—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 bought this book a while back, on my NYC BEA trip. The children’s bookstore my friend and I located had signed copies. I love the Wizard of Oz (I’ve seen the movie a million times). I love Wicked (I’ve seen it twice). I read the books when I was a kid. I even did a report on the books for an assignment in Library school. And I like to think of my love for this story as rather open-minded (aka: please do more modern interpretations and musicals and anything else).
The premise of this one was so good that I didn’t even read any reviews. I just bought it. It wasn’t as good as I was hoping it would be. I did get completely sucked into the world, the setting, and the darkness that is this book though. And I loved how Paige could take such a classic, happy place and turn it completely upside down with PermaSmiles (permanent smiles that are applied like makeup), flying monkey torture experiments, forced labor munchkins, evil tin soldiers, and so much pain. Seriously, the scope of the darkness to the Oz Paige writes about is beyond awesome. It’s kind of what kept me reading.
I was not the biggest fan of the characters. Amy had a little too much self-hate. And I get that she did not have an easy life in Kansas with an addict mom, an absent father, and trailer home that prevented people from wanting to befriend her. However, I found it hard to be empathetic toward her. She never really stood up for herself. She kind of let people push her around. And whenever she complained about things it kind of seemed like borderline whining to me. I wanted her to be a little tougher, angrier, and stronger than she was.
She becomes stronger as she trains in magic and fighting skills, but even then she never quite toughens up enough for me. I do like that she thinks things through. She considers all sides of the Good vs Wicked war. She cares about minor characters that her “friends” tell her not to care about. But other than her rather big heart and tactical logic, she didn’t have much going for her. I wanted to like her more. She had no passions or hobbies in Kansas. She didn’t ever really seem to care about anything. And I just couldn’t relate to that all.
I also never really got to know the side characters well enough. The idea of them is awesome. I just never really felt like I knew them, so when one of them dies, I was more like, “Which one was that one?” then sad.
I did love the mystery. I still need to know so many things. Why did things get so bad? What is with the ruby shoes? How involved is the wizard? Will the monkeys work with the Order? Etc. And I feel like I will most definitely continue to read the series as it comes out because of these things I need to know. And I can’t wait to see more of this creepy version of Oz. The book had awesome world-building. I just wish there was better character development, and that I liked the main character a little bit more. I give it a 7/10.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Good Week in Books (86)

I had a nice, little book week. I received 3 new titles for review. Thank you, Macmillan! I’m also biting my nails in anticipation for a pre-order I have coming this Tuesday…And I’m in the middle of a fun book I had to pry myself away from.
Any way, here are the lovely books:

When the Sea is Rising Red
by Cat Hellisen
Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton
Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane
How was your week in books?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (109)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on The Ruby Circle by Richelle Meade (2/10/15):

Description on Goodreads:
The epic conclusion to Richelle Mead's New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series is finally here...

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

After their secret romance is exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series. When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis. Meanwhile, Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world.
Why I’m Waiting:
Um…why wouldn’t I be waiting? The only sad thing is this will be the last one! I can’t imagine this universe coming to a close. Tell me, she’s writing another side series! Any way, I the last book of course ended with a cliffhanger. I’m so excited to see how things work for Sydney and Adrian. And I’m beyond ready to see the Alchemists gets what’s coming to them. Please let this happen. Again, the cover is kind of terrible, but at least the covers are all consistently terrible. And there could be no cover for these books that would make not want to read them (and that is saying something coming from me).
What are you waiting on this week?