Friday, July 31, 2015

The Warrior Heir

I adore fantasy novels. If I were to give it some thought, I'd say fantasy, from high to low, from urban to funky, is the genre that most often populates my shelves. I don't know why particularly. It's not like I dislike contemporary or paranormal or sci-fi or dystopian. All have a pretty good presence on my shelves. Maybe I'm drawn to the concept of magic, or the amazing worlds, or the intrigue that often accompanies these stories. For whatever reason, At least 2/3rds of the books on my Summer Reading List this summer are fantasy, if I'm counting correctly.


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Jack Swift was never supposed to be a warrior. He was born a wizard, but without the stone behind his heart that gives him his powers. He was dying, until Jessamine Longbranch inserted a stone. But she wanted a warrior to play in the Game, so she made him one and then suppressed his powers so he wouldn't be detected until she was ready to play him. Jack grew up utterly normal  in Trinity, Ohio, until  one morning he missed his medicine. Now he's leaking magic everywhere and he doesn't know how to control it. Malevolent forces are closing in, prepared to steal him to play in the Game or eliminate him so the other side can't use him. He has to train, fast, or risk being killed.

Good writing, fast pace, and an interesting premise. Often, this is all I will require of a book. I don't expect every book to wow me like a Maggie Stiefvater or make my heart ache like a Sarah J. Maas. This was a quick, pleasant read, with a few flaws. One of which was that a character's actions that become really important later, is skimmed over in the rest of the book, so there is no chance for the reader to become suspicious or to connect the same dots as Jack. The character needed more actual screen time instead of a summary of time passing where they were lumped in. Additionally, the huge chunks of time passing bugged me a bit, because really important/interesting things were skimmed over. Like, there's this character Brooks. He becomes majorly important, but he gets maybe two pages of screen time. So, yeah, I'll read The Wizard Heir because I like pleasant, quick reads. But no one is dethroning Stiefvater and Maas from my Hall of Fame anytime soon.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Snow Like Ashes

A really good friend of mine gave me this book for Christmas. I started reading it, and honestly can't remember why I put it down. Not important though. I borrowed the audiobook from the library and listened to it over the last couple days as I cleaned and baked and relaxed after work. It's getting warm here in the Pacific Northwest again, and I'm back in my shorts and I've got a few more audiobooks burning a hole in my laptop, so I won't have to move much when the thermostat hits 90. But anyway, on with the review!


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The kingdom of Winter fell to Spring sixteen years ago, with all of its citizens either killed or imprisoned. Except for eight who remain free. Meira has only ever wanted to fit in with the other Winterians, to have Sir think of her as a daughter. But instead she's been forced to stay in camp while the others go on missions, trying to retrieve the lost pieces of the necklace that contained their former queen's magic. With the pieces united and given to the prince Mather, Winterians can rise from the ashes and reclaim their kingdom. All Meira wants to do is help.

First off: love the premise of this book. Kingdoms that are each a season? Very cool. And the idea of Spring being the vicious one? Love that too. Also, I liked how a lot of the travel between the kingdoms was skipped over. Honestly, some stories need that part and I really enjoy reading it, but this story didn't need it. I loved the dynamic between Meira and Sir. Instead of a standard love triangle we get an orphan girl craving the love of a father figure who doesn't see her as a daughter. Very sad, very interesting. Downsides: It never got my heart racing after the first hundred pages. And I saw the romance between her and Theron from a mile away, but they didn't get to know each other enough to warrant their feelings in my opinion. But overall, quite an enjoyable book and I look forward to reading the next one when it comes out.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Blue Fire

Okay, wow, this book took me a really long time to read. As usual, I have excuses. One, I read another book via audiobook in the middle of reading this one. Two, my SO came home after being gone for a month. So I've been kinda busy catching up. All this to say, day before yesterday I finished reading Blue Fire by Janice Hardy. Now, this is a sequel so beware of spoilers. Although if you frequent this blog you should know that already.


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Nya has rescued her sister from the clutches of the Governor-General and his evil Taker who was experimenting on others who could put pain into pynvium. But now there's a reward out for Nya and there are even more healers to rescue. After Nya is captured and taken to Baseeri where the Duke wants to use her peculiar shifting powers to his own ends, she must escape. Not only that, her sister was captured too, but Nya has no idea where she is. With her ragtag band of rebels, she'll try to take on the Duke, find her sister, and survive at least till next week.

I feel like I bought the Shifter off a recommendation from another blog. And I remember enjoying the simple book, though at points the pace lagged and I felt things got confusing. It was much the same with this book. The beginning was slow, which is why it took me so long to finish the book, and there are a lot of secondary characters I'd forgotten from the first book, and a lot of new characters introduced that I couldn't keep straight. The last 80 pages were very fast-paced, which was nice, and a badass female character who was in the shadows most of the time showed how ruthless she was. That was cool. On the downside, I'm still a little unclear on how shifting works versus taking and healing. I think there was quite a lot of time between my reading The Shifter and reading Blue Fire, which might account for that. It was a fine book. Not my favorite, and I didn't dislike it. It was a pleasant, short read.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Die for Me

Actually this review is a few days late. I had a stomach bug earlier in the week and it laid me low for a couple days so I mostly just stayed on my couch and read for my internship, holding my stomach, and occasionally listening to an audiobook. Back when I was a kid there were two things I enjoyed when I was sick: being able to watch cartoons, and reading as much as I wanted. So finishing off the audiobook was not much of a surprise.


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When Kate's parents died, she and her older sister went to live with their grandparents in Paris. Normally living in the City of Light would be a dream come true, but Kate can't enjoy it. That is until she meets a mysterious boy who flits in and out of her life. As she gets to know him better, she discovers there's a whole other world she never new about: he's a revenant, an immortal human whose age resets to the age when he first died whenever he dies again. Luckily, he's one of the good ones. Not so luckily, not all revenants are good.

One thing I've learned in recent months as I've listened to many audiobooks, is that the narrator can make or break them. I greatly disliked the narrator for John in The Rise of Nine and The Fall of Five. I loved the narrators for White Cat and the Luxe. This is a case where I think the voice of the narrator improved my opinion of the book. Because there are a lot of things about this book that make it really basic. There's instalove and an easily fixed misunderstanding, and some not very deep characters. But the narrator was sassy, and I liked that this book was set in Paris so I could learn how to say arrondissement. Paris is one of my favorite cities, so it was fun hearing about the places I've been to. And the idea of the revenants was nice and different! The instalove sort of sucked, but you know, it was a light, airy read that cheered me up when I felt sick. So I'm going to give this book a pass and give it three stars.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: Blue Fire by Janice Hardy

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Fall of Five

Yeah, I know, I was talking last time about how my eyes were tired from reading too much in a short period of time. But I swear I listened to this one on audiobook. I'm still tired, but that's mostly because work is busy and I had a couple glasses of wine. And it's hot outside. Okay, enough with the excuses. I bought the Rise of Nine and the Fall of Five a while back when they were on sale. But I've never been crazy about this series. So if you don't want to hear a kind of negative review, don't read on. This is also the fourth book in the series, so spoiler warning.


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All of the Garde are reunited. But that doesn't mean everything's paradise. Five is unlike the rest of them, and some are trying harder than others to get to know him. Everyone also has different ideas for what to do next. As they train and plan, their differences are illuminated, yet the looming threat of the Mogadorians doesn't seem so bad when they're all together.

Talk about a book where nothing happened. Here's what happened: They want to find Five. Sam shows up. They find Five. People don't get along with Five. They train as if it's a huge action scene. Insert obvious twist. Curtain. I don't know why this series bothers me so much. I don't know why I keep reading it even though it bothers me so much. Maybe it's because I don't know why I don't love it. Maybe it has something to do with how predictable it is. I can tell a mile away when a chapter is going to have a cliffhanger so the next time the author returns to that POV it'll be an action scene. There's also the fact that 3 out of 4 books in this series have ended with the adult figure dying. Five's betrayal was also blatantly obvious, and the title of this book didn't help. I just...this book is written fine. It was nice to see Sam again, and the book does acknowledge its flaws in the dialogue. But...everyone has too many powers, and everyone is so one note. Six is fierce, Four is the leader, Ella is young, Sarah is the supportive girlfriend, Marina is the shy one, Eight is the joker, Nine is brash, etc. I just...I feel like I'm reading the script for an action movie. I don't know if I'll read the next one. Maybe if it goes on sale.

Goodreads Rating: 2 Stars
Up Next: Blue Fire by Janice Hardy

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Rise of Nine

So I did a stupid thing. I basically read two books in two days. You'd think I'd know better considering it's only recently I've been able to stop wearing glasses. Well, it is what it is. Today I got home from work, made some raspberry cookies, and settled in with The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore (AKA James Frey and Jobie Hughes), the third installment in the Lorien Legacies.


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John and Nine are trying to find Sam and Sarah and meet up with the other Garde. Six, Ten, and Marina are trying to find Eight in India. The Mogadorians seem to be working with the US government. There're new powers and magic objects and stuff. They all end up heading toward New Mexico.

Okay, I'm sorry, that description sucked. But I'm really tired and honestly the plot of this book is really simple. There aren't any twists to keep you guessing. For a book that had three POVs, all the voices sounded very similar. It honestly felt like a book that wanted to be turned into a movie. There were a lot of action sequences where you know no one is going to die because there are still 4 books to go. After a while I started skimming to see if anything important happened. There was a lot of dialogue that felt...I dunno...movie-esque. Maybe I'm cynical because of what I know about James Frey. And if you don't know the story, you should look him up. So basically this book was a really quick, easy read that had lots of "dude" and "used my telekenesis" (seriously, there must be 50 instances of that one term at least) and a hastily put together love interest that appeared and then disappeared after a chapter. Honestly, this series leaves me bored, but I already own The Fall of Five so I think I'll keep reading. It wasn't all bad. Bernie Kosar is awesome. And when Sam is on the page he's pretty fun too (missing from this book). Bed now.

Goodreads Rating: 2 Stars
Up Next: Blue Fire by Janice Hardy

Monday, July 6, 2015

Deception

A lot of the books I'm reading this summer are ones I've had for a while, either because every time I picked them up, a great new shiny book came out that I just had to read, or because this last year has been so busy that my reading has fallen by the wayside. Well, Deception was a book I got for Christmas, the sequel to Defiance by C.J. Redwine. Tonight I had to call the IRS (surprisingly painless!) so while I was on hold I dug deeper into this book, and after my call, finished it. I apologize if this review is shorter than normal--my home has because its usual afternoon sauna and it's making me sleepy even though I'm sitting in front of a fan with an ice pack on the back of my neck.


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Baalboden is in ruins. What remains of its citizens have chosen Logan to lead them, and his first priority is to get them to safety. With the Commander coming for their stolen tech, the Cursed One lurking below their feet, and malcontents among the citizens, danger closes in from all sides. Rachel is fiercely loyal to Logan, but the deaths of so many people she cares about has taken its toll. She's becoming reckless with her life, and its not escaping Logan's notice. As the remnants of Baalboden's people travel through the Wasteland in search of safe haven, the danger presses closer and threatens to wipe out was is left of the once proud city-state.

I don't remember what I rated Defiance when I read it. I do remember liking it more than I expected, because of Rachel's raw emotions. Well those remain a reason I like this book. I also like the interplay of Logan trying to get his people on his side, as some of them still view the Commander as their true leader, others don't like that there are Tree People with them, and others don't trust Logan's judgment. This is all nice. The book moves at a quick clip with very little down time. But there were things that bothered me. The world still doesn't make sense to me. I don't understand where the Cursed One came from, and why if this is post apocalyptic humans have reverted to swords. Where did gun technology go? Honestly, this book would have been really cool written as a steampunk or something because then I wouldn't have had to think about what leftovers from the modern world could reasonably still be around. Also, I saw the twist coming long before it happened, and I judged Logan, who's supposed to be really smart, for not seeing it. I honestly have no idea where the final installment is headed, so that's kind of cool! Anyways, I think I'll go take a nap.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: Blue Fire by Janice Hardy

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Rose Under Fire

So it's been a while since I got this book. It was raining, so it feels like at least 6 months. We are having a nearly unbearable heat wave here in the PNW. The weather is going to be in the low 90s for the next week which is just nuts. Thank god my office building has air conditioning. Unfortunately, home does not. I've taken to laying on my bed with an ice pack on my back so I can cool off enough to fall asleep. Well, anyways, I finally finished off Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein, the companion novel to Code Name Verity.


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Rose is an American pilot who ferries planes around England during WWII. It's post D-Day and the allies are pushing the Germans back. And they're finding some people in camps, and the word on the news is that unspeakable things have been done to them. Rose isn't sure she believes it. But then she's captured by Germans while flying in France and put in Ravensbruck, a concentration camp for women. There she experiences many atrocities, and develops friendships forged in starvation, beatings, corpse-filled buildings, and the occasional camp song.

Okay, just going to put it out there: I liked Code Name Verity better. That book hit me in the heart and it had a cool twist, and I liked the journaling style because you got glimpses of how the main characters were doing as they were writing. This book has a really cool premise, and showcases the strength of friendship once again, which I loved. But...there was no twist, and I wish there had been more about Rose as she had written her experiences down. I liked the Maddie cameo, but I knew going into it that Rose was going to live. Of course, there would have been no way for her to write down her experience in the camp, but it definitely took away some suspense. The things that she does see are horrific, and I shouldn't have read this book before bed because it was in my head as I tried to sleep. I skipped the poetry bits. I'm just not a poetry person. There's a sonnet I love, and a poem by Frost, but other than that I know nothing about poetry. Overall, a good read. I'll definitely read Black Dove White Raven when it comes out in paperback.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: Deception by C.J. Redwine