Friday, January 31, 2014

Book Review: These Broken Stars

TITLE: These Broken Stars
Starbound series Book 1
AUTHOR: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
PUBLISHED: December 2013
GENRE: Science Fiction, Romance
PREMISE: A debutante and a soldier get lost on a desolate planet when their spaceship crashes there....
MY REVIEW: Missing the Across the Universe series? Well, this series could be your replacement for the hole in your heart. It's got all the things Across the Universe had and it manages to be its own thing as well.
I will say some of the world building was confusing for me and I wish the authors had elaborated more on some stuff. But it's probably just as well that they didn't. I will warn, this book can be slow to start at first. It becomes more worth it when you get to about three forths in because there's a twist even I didn't see coming. I always like it when YA authors actually manage to surprise me.
So if you're looking for a romantic sci-fi series to get hooked on, this one definitely fits the bill. It's not ground breaking or anything, but it's a very solid start to an intriguing looking new series.
WHO SHOULD READ: Across the Universe fans, Sci-Fi fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five planets

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Book Review: The Bone Season

TITLE: The Bone Season
Book 1 in new series
AUTHOR: Samantha Shannon
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: A woman gets pulled into the criminal society when she gets accused of murder...
MY REVIEW: This book is yet another example of why I implore publishers, particularly ones with new authors, to STOP USING OVER HYPE. It does no one any favors, particularly new authors such as this one. Because had I not had all those glowing praises in my head while reading this, I probably would have been more lenient while reading it. However, I kept thinking about how everyone kept going on about how original it was, brilliantly done, yadda yadda and while reading I kept thinking "really? What did they see? Because I don't see it".
Sorry, but I don't. This is actually pretty typical YA trope stuff, just in the adult genre. While it certainly is's what I like to call the uncontrolled imaginative. As in, the author had so many ideas that she put them all in here and didn't think about the fact that all these ideas going on at once don't really make much sense. The result is a world that leaves me completely confused, despite info dump, after info dump. I also couldn't ignore all the flat characters. I literally can not tell you one thing about the main character. Oh, I can tell you her powers, who her love interest is, and that she has a father. But when pressed to describe what she's like personally....I would draw a big fat blank.
Honestly, this felt like a really big rough draft that should have been worked on more. It's entertaining enough to get the job done. But it wasn't nearly worth all that praise it got when it was released. Possibly I would have enjoyed it more if my expectations hadn't been so high. Which is why I repeat: please stop using over hype. You're basically kicking yourself in the nuts doing that.
WHO SHOULD READ: fantasy fans who don't mind sloppy world building and lots of tropes
MY RATING: Three out of Five this could have been better sighs

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book Review: Witch Finder

TITLE: Witch Finder
Book 1 in the Witch Finder series
AUTHOR: Ruth Warburton
PUBLISHED: January 2nd, 2014
GENRE: Historical Fantasy, Romance, Witches
PREMISE: A witch hunter goes on a mission to kill a witch in order to prove himself to his fellow hunters. Instead, he winds up falling in love with the witch in question.
MY REVIEW: This book was a first book so I'm going to be more lenient in ratings then I normally am. Whether or not you like this book will probably depend entirely on whether or not you like the historical romance genre. If you don't, then do yourself a favor and avoid the book. You probably won't like it.
But if you love the historical romance in all its glory then this is probably going to be at least a fun read for you. Because this was very much historical romance with witches. Sadly, I came for the promise of witches so I was a little let down because world building wise...this book isn't that great. But romance wise? You're golden. Granted, it does follow most of the historical romance cliches, so again it will probably depend on your tolerance for those.
This was a bit of a miss for me. But for historical romance readers who want to try out YA for the first time, I'd say it's a decent enough intro.
WHO SHOULD READ: Historical Romance genre fans, Harlequin Teen fans
MY RATING: Three out of Five shrugs

Many thanks to Hodder Children's Books for the Net Galley I received in exchange for a honest review.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Book Review: Battle Magic

TITLE: Battle Magic
Book 3 (or 1 if you're into timeline order) in Circle Reforged series
AUTHOR: Tamora Pierce
GENRE: Fantasy, Adventure
PREMISE: We learn what precisely happened to Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy before they came back home.
MY REVIEW: I have been a long time fan of Pierce so this review comes with a pro bias warning. Now, if any of you have been reading the Circle of Magic series you know that we've been teased in the last books. See, we kept hearing that something major happened between the last Briar book (where he met Evvy) and The Will of the Empress (the start of this most recent quartet) but the books never went into great detail.
Now, we finally get the whole story and man, it is rough you guys. Especially considering that Evvy is probably my favorite CoM character after Tris and stuff happens to her. As well as her cats. Poor kitties.
This book was pretty much a giant feels fest. It probably won't be as powerful if you haven't been a Circle of Magic fan for ages. If you're new to Tammy Pierce, I suggest reading either Alanna: The First Adventure (the start of the Tortall series) or Sandry's Book (the start of this series).
WHO SHOULD READ: Circle of Magic fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five really strong fangirl feels

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Stacking the Shelves: Jan. 26th

This is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga over at Tynga's Reviews

I haven't done one of these in awhile, have I? My bad. I've been working Sundays a lot and tend to forget to post on those days as a result. Going to try and be better about it from now on. Anyway, here's the haul:

From Net Galley:
Defy Book 1 by Sara Larson-Yes, I'm using Net Galley again. Lets see if I can stick with it this year. First up: New fantasy series that sounds a lot like Tortall. Will try to do the author a favor and not judge it by those standards because that would just be totally unfair to the author.

The V Trilogy Book 1: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe-Looks like a mystery boarding school thing. I adore those even if I'm sure this will be cheese.

From Barnes and Noble (aka I got a gift card for Christmas)
Earthsea Cycle series Book 1: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin-One of the series that was on my list of books to tackle this year was Earthsea. I know, I know, how can I call myself a fantasy fan and not have read this. Slipped my mind?

Library Haul:
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson-Anderson's newest. Can't wait to read.

The Naturals Book 1 by Jennifer Lynn Barnes-Teens helping the FBI solve cases using powers=me totally in. Plus, I tend to love Barnes' stuff anyway.

Magical Bakery Mystery series Book 1: Brownies and Broomsticks by Bailey Cates-Cozy mystery with witches. I have a weakness for these.

The True Adventures of Nicolo Zen by Nicholas Christopher-Historical Fantasyish debut that looked interesting.

Splintered Book 2: Unhinged by A. G. Howard-Managed to get this one on reserve literally just as they got it in. Sometimes it pays to stalk the library catalog.

Altered series Book 2: Erased by Jennifer Rush-See above.

Palace of Spies Book 1: Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel-I love Zettel's other series The American Fairy Trilogy (totally unappreciated series). I look forward to her tackling historical mystery.

Birthright Trilogy Book 3: In the Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin-Still not sure how on earth you can ban chocolate (and why on earth you would want too), but this series still makes for a good read.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Book Review: Suite Scarlett

TITLE: Suite Scarlett
Book 1 in Scarlett series
AUTHOR: Maureen Johnson
GENRE: Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: Scarlett helps her family run a hotel during the summer and gets put in charge of helping a eccentric guest...
MY REVIEW: I'm slowly but surely getting through all the Maureen Johnson books. What I do appreciate about this author is that you never know quite what you'll get with her. Sometimes she'll do contemporary romance like this one, then she'll switch it up with a urban fantasy thing like the Shades of London series. The only thing that's consistent is her charming characters and writing style.
Suite Scarlett is the contemporary side of Johnson. It's cute and quirky like most of Johnson's contemporary books. I honestly don't have much to say about it beyond that I liked it and it's an enjoyable read. If you're looking for something a little juicier though...I'd go elsewhere.
So not the hardest read around. But if you're in the mood for a light and fluffy book about a girl with a quirky life...this is for you.
WHO SHOULD READ: Maureen Johnson fans, Suite Life of Zack and Cody fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five hotels

Friday, January 17, 2014

Book Review: Altered

TITLE: Altered
Book 2 in the Crewel World series
AUTHOR: Gennifer Albin
PUBLISHED: October 2013
GENRE: Fantasy, Science Fiction
PREMISE: Adelice has escaped her prison to the planet Earth but finds leaving her past behind is not as easy as she hoped...
MY REVIEW: I had enjoyed Crewel a lot more then I thought I would last year. Other then a few bothersome things (like the ever present forced love triangle) it was a pretty strong debut. So I was looking forward to the sequel quite a bit.
That said...this wasn't as strong as I thought it was going to be. Doesn't mean I think it's bad. It just suffered a lot from second book syndrome. As well as again: forced love triangle stuff. Seriously YA authors, you do not have to have a love triangle to keep me reading your series. If your plot is strong enough, I will keep reading. This plot was good, why on earth was a love triangle even necessary? Especially as it made characters way more irritating then they usually are. Because when romantic shenanigans weren't happening, I liked Adelice quite a lot.'s not as great as the first book was, I'm sorry to say. But it doesn't make the series worse or anything. I'll still be reading the next one for sure. I just hope the next one has a bit more focus because this one was a bit all over the place plot wise.
WHO SHOULD READ: Crewel fans, Sci-fi/Fantasy fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five weavers

Book Review: Resist

TITLE: Resist
Book 2 in the Breathe Duet series
AUTHOR: Sarah Crossan
PUBLISHED: October 2013
GENRE: Dystopian
PREMISE: Bea, Alina, and Quinn continue their journey, only now they're outlaws...
MY REVIEW: Breathe was one of those blink and you'll miss it dystopians from 2012. There were a lot of those, because frankly, there was an overload of dystopians in 2012. Personally, I blame the Hunger Games movie for that.
There wasn't anything really wrong with Breathe. It just came out at a time when the genre it was in was in over-drive and it didn't really stand out among the crowd of new dystopians trying to take Hunger Games place. That continues with Resist. There's nothing really wrong with just doesn't really stick with you. Also, the author has way too many point of views going on. Seriously, there are FOUR here. That's...a little excessive.
If you liked Breathe though, this one should please you (unless like me you were a fan of a certain character...). So for fans of the first, this will be a nice finish to a book they enjoyed. For everyone else, it's just another dystopian series book.
WHO SHOULD READ: Dystopian fans not tired of the genre, fans of Breathe
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five domes

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Book Review: Tandem

TITLE: Tandem
Book 1 in the Many Worlds Trilogy
AUTHOR: Anna Jarzab
PUBLISHED: October 2013
GENRE: Science Fiction/Parallel Worlds
PREMISE: There is a universe parallel to our own. There are people with our faces but with different lives. Sasha discovers in the other world, she is a princess in a war-torn world...
MY REVIEW: This one was a interesting one. There seem to be more sci-fi books coming out lately and I frankly have zero problem with that. YA could use some more sci-fi. This one did have the usual first book in a trilogy problems such as having to set up world/characters so it's a bit slow in places. But for the most part, this was a solid start to a interesting looking trilogy.
The idea is the most fun part of it. The author takes time telling us about this world and does it by SHOWING US instead of giving info dump after info dump. Bless. I thought we had forgotten to do that or something. So you're pushed right in and the ride is great. For awhile. Like I said, it is guilty of dragging in the middle.
But for the most part this was a entertaining, kind of refreshing, start to a trilogy. Could have done without the forced love triangle (aka the dragging part), but it's YA, what can you do? At least the author tried to have it be part of the plot instead of have it be the entire point of the book. I can deal with love triangles as long as they don't become the entire point of the book (unless of course that book is a romance, in which case, it's supposed to be the point). All in all, this was a fun one. I look forward to the rest.
WHO SHOULD READ: Fringe fans, science fiction fans (who don't mind dodgy science)
MY RATING: Four out of Five parallel universes

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Debuts I'm Excited For

This is a weekly meme hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and Bookish.

This week: 2014 Debuts I'm Excited For

1) Defy Book 1: Defy by Sara B. Larson-Fantasy, with girl disguising herself as a guard? Sign me up. It's an old trope, for sure, but it's a trope that I like. Just got the galley at Net Galley so expect a review soon.

2) Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge-Released Jan. 28th-Fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast? Sign me up. Of course none will probably ever come close to my beloved Beauty by Robin McKinley, but should be interesting anyway.

3) Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule-Released March 11th-Looks like a boarding school fantasy type book but with music. I can get behind that.

4) Dorothy Must Die Book 1 by Danielle Paige-Released April 1rst-Interesting looking new series about a girl who must travel to Oz to take down Dorothy who has let power go to her head. Sounds rather awesome.

5) Prisoner of Night and Fog Book 1 by Anne  Blankman-Released April 22nd-Historical Fiction new series about a girl who is the niece of Adolf Hitler and struggles with the revelations of what he does. Sounds like it could be really good. Plus, pretty cover.

6) The Falconer Book 1 by Elizabeth May-Released May 6th-New Steampunk series that sounds made of total win. But then, I'm a sucker for steampunk so that assessment should be taken with a grain of salt.

7) Witch Hunter series Book 1: Hexed by Michelle Krys-Released June 10th-UF witch series. This series had me at witches. I will read anything with witches.

8) Midnight Thief Book 1 by Livia Blackburne-Released July 8th-Fantasy with knights teaming up with girl thief to take down people. I'm in. Plus I've had really good luck with Disney Hyperion books (they do Ally Carters books as well as Hex Hall).

9) The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe-Released Jan. 14th-Creepy school with mysteries. You know I'm there.

10) The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco-Released August 1rst-About a ghost who goes after child killers. I'm in.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Book Review: Red

AUTHOR: Alison Cherry
PUBLISHED: October 2013
GENRE: Realistic Fiction...sort of, Parody (was supposed to be anyway)
PREMISE: In a town where redheads are revered, Felicity has a dark secret: she's not a redhead. But if anyone finds out, her popularity is in severe jeopardy.
MY REVIEW: It pains me to say this, but this one was sadly, kind of a mess. I say sadly, because this could have been great. Subversive, at the very least. Unfortunately, it fell entirely flat and that was mostly due to its set up.
I admit, I was wary of this one mostly because the scenario of people discriminating against you for not having red hair (which by the way, is a pretty rare natural hair color) seemed ridiculous. But I gave it a chance because sometimes ridiculous premises can work out well (look at Hunger Games). Unfortunately, this was very much a case of not thought through. Apparently, the redhead thing only happens in this particular town. Apparently, no one in the town thinks it's bizarre when the rest of the world doesn't treat non red heads like dirt. No reason is actually given for why red heads are even considered special! They just are in this place for some reason. Not helping matters, is the main character, who isn't that likable, uses the system to her advantage, and mostly fights just to keep her popularity. Not at all against a system that is wrong. Oh, and the kicker? The blackmailer who is fighting against the system is treated like the horrible one. Oh, the character does go through SOME sort of revelation at the end. But she seriously never out right admits that the blackmailer has a very good point. She's just miffed that she got dragged into all of this.
The biggest surprise for me though, came when I went to do background info on this book. Turns out, this was supposed to be a parody. A parody of what, I don't really know. But apparently it was. The thing about parodies though, particularly written ones, is that I'm supposed to know as I'm reading it that it is a parody. If I don't think it is at all while reading and wind up surprised to learn that it was...that kind of implies that this is not a good parody. This read like a regular book. Not like a parody at all.
So...this was a disappointment all around for me. Cherry's actual writing is okay (has good grammar, dialogue, etc.) and it was a interesting idea...the execution of the story just fell entirely flat.
WHO SHOULD READ: Um...honestly, I have no clue who to rec this too, sorry.
MY RATING: Two and a half out of Five dyed hair jobs

Friday, January 10, 2014

Book Review: Desert Tales

TITLE: Desert Tales
Companion Book to the Wicked Lovely series
AUTHOR: Melissa Marr
PUBLISHED: October 2013
GENRE: Faeries, Urban Fantasy
PREMISE: Set in the world of Wicked Lovely, a fae falls in love with a human and must protect him as her life becomes entwined with the new Summer King...
MY REVIEW: I love it when authors explore different parts of their universe and Desert Tales does exactly that.
This one doesn't directly deal with the main characters in Wicked Lovely. Instead, it revolves around Rika, one of the girls who tried to become Keenan's queen but failed the test. For those familiar with the style of Wicked Lovely, it's not a typical happily ever after sort of book. But it is a interesting journey to see. My only main beef is that at less then two hundred and fifty pages, we didn't spend nearly as much time with this story as I would have liked. So it did feel a little more rushed then the previous Wicked Lovely books.
But it was nice to come back to this universe if only for a little while. I'd rec this one mostly for the hardcore Wicked Lovely fans. For those who haven't given this series a shot yet, I'd go with the first book instead.
WHO SHOULD READ: Wicked Lovely fans, Faerie fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five fae being devious

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Book Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

TITLE: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
AUTHOR: Holly Black
PUBLISHED: September 2013
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Vampires
PREMISE: In a world where vampires are very much a reality, Tana wakes up and realizes she's been bitten. She goes to a coldtown in the hopes of finding a cure.
MY REVIEW: I'll be the first to admit it: there are certain authors out there whose books I will always buy no matter what because it's always pretty much a given that I'll enjoy said book. Black is one such author, so be warned: this review has positive bias.
Honestly though, I probably would have love this no matter who wrote it. It has a well developed world. It has interesting characters. It has vampires who are actually dark and not your friend/would-be-lover. It's also wonderfully written. Also: vampire meta. You all know how much I love my meta books.
Yes, this was a bit slow, here and there. But overall, I loved this book to pieces. Black has said she's probably not going to do a sequel and I'm honestly okay with that. But if she does do one in the future, I'll be first in line to buy.
WHO SHOULD READ: Holly Black fans, Vampire fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five fangs

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Book Review: Demonosity

TITLE: Demonosity
AUTHOR: Amanda Ashby
PUBLISHED: August 2013
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Demons
PREMISE: A girl finds herself battling demons (literally) when an ancient evil takes over the body of one of the popular girls at her school.
MY REVIEW: Looking for quirky fun urban fantasy? Ashby is the author to go too. She writes clever but not trying too hard urban fantasy books that are good for kicks.
This one is no different. It takes the demon thing that has become popular in YA and puts a new spin on it. There are very familiar tropes in here and the ending is a bit ho hum. But the humor, interesting idea, and quick pace make this a very decent library read. I also would like to note the actual inclusion of an asexual character. This is only the second time in all the books I've read in my life where I've seen a fictional asexual character actually present in the plot. Oh, and interesting tidbit: both of those books were YA. I can't think of one adult book that has even mentioned asexuality as a possibility for a character (if any of you know of one, please let me know, I'd be curious to read it).
So yes, this is a wee bit trope heavy but it's a fun trope heavy. I always say if you're going to do tropes, do them in a fun way.
WHO SHOULD READ: Amanda Ashby fans, UF fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five hot demons

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Book Review: Spookygirl

TITLE: Spookygirl: Paranormal Investigator
AUTHOR: Jill Baguchinsky
GENRE: Paranormal
PREMISE: Violet sees ghosts. Normally this wouldn't be a problem if it weren't for evil presence she keeps feeling in the girl's locker room.
MY REVIEW: I have a lot of mixed feelings about the first book I finished for this year. On one hand, I liked the sense of humor in it. There was an ease about it. It wasn't trying too hard to make me like or hate anyone. The story moved along quickly. It was overall a mostly fun read.
It's just...I've read this idea before like a million times and those that I've read, were much better. This one reminded me heavily of The Mediator series by Meg Cabot and when compared to that...well it fell short (FYI, the Mediator series is awesome, go read it now). Then I took a good look at it and realized it stereotyped quite a bit and the ending was...a little too neat. Like everything wrapped in a bow sort of neat. Which isn't bad per's just not very satisfying.
So...this was cute but I've read better, I'm sorry to say. But from what I understand, this was submitted to the Amazon writing contest and was the winner. I can certainly see why. Contests like that are meant to find promising talent and I can see this author becoming a YA favorite. I just hope she polishes her next book a bit more because this one was a bit rough around the edges.
WHO SHOULD READ: Paranormal fans, Mediator series fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five angry ghosts

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Book Review: Across a Star-Swept Sea

TITLE: Across a Star-Swept Sea
Book 2 in the For Darkness Shows the Stars series
AUTHOR: Diana Peterfreund
PUBLISHED: October 2013
GENRE: Science Fiction, Retelling
PREMISE: In this sci-fi retelling of the Scarlet Pimpernel, a girl uses her charm to spy for her queen.
MY REVIEW: Unlike with For Darkness Shows the Stars, which was based on Persuasion, I have not read the original book this one was based on. No reason, I just never had any interest in it, so it never became a priority classic for me to read. After reading this though, I have added it to the list of classics to try this year, which I think is a compliment to this book because as I've said: before this I had zero interest in reading it.
This is more of a companion of sorts to For Darkness Shows the Stars. It takes place in the same universe, but involves a different place and different characters. I actually am going to be honest here: I actually liked this one even more then the first one (and I enjoyed that one quite a bit). Not that this surprises me. Peterfreund is one of those unsung YA authors who deserve way more recognition then she gets. Her writing is always wonderful, she always has well developed worlds, great characters, and manages to have interesting things to discuss in her books without hitting you over the head with the message. She does this while keeping it entertaining as well. This is not an easy feat.
I really enjoyed this one. But as mentioned before, I'm an ashamed Peterfreund fangirl. So don't take my word for it. Check out her books for yourself. I would start with either For Darkness Shows the Stars or Rampant.
WHO SHOULD READ: Diana Peterfreund fans, science fiction fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five spy girls

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Book Review: The Chaos of Stars

TITLE: The Chaos of Stars
AUTHOR: Kiersten White
PUBLISHED: September 2013
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
PREMISE: Isadora's life is complicated thanks to the fact that she's the human child of Egyptian Gods.
MY REVIEW: So first review of the year! This one is a little book by Kiersten White, one of my favorite underrated YA authors. As always with White, the idea is interesting. One of the things I love about this author is that she takes some familiar YA tropes and puts her own spin on them.
Judging from the reviews on Goodreads (however funky they may be), I'm one of the few who actually enjoyed this one. True, I wish somethings had been a little more fleshed out. But I have the feeling this was never meant to be a best seller. Sometimes, authors just need to get stories out there so they can move on to the next project. I have a feeling this was one of those. I also notice that like Mind Games, this one played around with story-telling/writing style. So this was probably a bit of an experimental book, which I have no problem with. I love it when authors don't stick to one thing and try new ideas.
I would read this only if you're a die-hard White fan. If you're a newcomer to White, I would try Paranormalcy first. But if you're a White fan, who doesn't mind that this isn't typical of her stuff, it makes for a decent library read.
WHO SHOULD READ: Kiersten White fans, Kane Chronicles fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five gods being sassy