[Review] The Little Android

Fry's Reviews, Reviews 0 Comments 26th February, 2014

[Review] The Little AndroidThe Little Android by Marissa Meyer
Series: Lunar Chronicles #2.5
on January 27th, 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Short Story, Young Adult
Pages: 18
The Little Android is a retelling of The Little Mermaid, set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles by New York Times-bestselling author Marissa Meyer.

When android Mech6.0, saves the life of a handsome hardware engineer, her body is destroyed and her mechanics discover a glitch in her programing. Androids aren’t not meant to develop unpractical reasoning or near-emotional responses…let alone fall in love.

I’m both overjoyed at getting another glimpse into Marissa Meyer’s world, and full of regrets. It’s not like I didn’t know that the next characters and adaptations into her interesting science fiction world would be Rapunzel and Snow White, but it’s still disappointing that we won’t get a full functional character to go with The Little Mermaid.

Still, the story is sound and it’s a good appetizer for the main course of Cress. Our main character, Star, is an android who, with a malfunctioning personality chip, falls in love with an engineer she’s required to work with. She ends up rescuing him, and in the process destroys her body. Instead of allowing herself to be scrapped and thrown away for having feelings, she leaves (no one cares that an android just up and rolled it’s way out of where it should be?) and attempts to find herself a new body before her old one shuts down completely.

Here’s where Cinder comes in, placing this story before the events of the actual novels. Cinder plays the wicked witch role, despite being neither wicked nor a witch, and offers the desperate android an escort bot body. Yes, the body is also malfunctioning, offering Star only pain when she moves, staying on par with the story version.

Since Cinder is obviously not the one trying to steal Star’s love, there is another love interest to cause Star grief. Eventually, Star, in a bittersweet act of love, helps her engineer and the object of his affection get together. Could you expect anything less from a Little Mermaid adaptation? It was pretty much perfect.

[ARC Review] Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

Amy's Reviews, ARC Reviews, Reviews 0 Comments 23rd February, 2014

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

[ARC Review] Fire & Flood by Victoria ScottFire and Flood by Victoria Scott (Young adult author)
Series: Fire and Flood #1
Published by Scholastic Press on February 25, 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley
Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can't determine what's wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She's lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she's helpless to change anything.

Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It's an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother's illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there's no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.

The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can't trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?

For me, Fire & Flood is actually 3.5 stars and I rounded it up to 4 stars. I liked Fire & Flood, but I am not in love with this book. I don’t want to shout from the rooftops or start buying copies for all my friends yet. I think the book has potential. The best way I can describe how I feel about Fire & Flood is for me it was like a bland date with a guy you thought would knock your socks off. In the end, you like the guy, might even go on another date, but a part of you was just slightly disappointed there was not enough of that spark.

I really liked Victoria Scott’s The Collector, and I love her writing style. She definitely has a way of writing with self deprecating main leads the also seem shallow but have lots of heart. That is why I liked Tella. In the beginning she comes off as a girl more obsessed with designer jeans then changing the world, but by the time the book ends she is ready to take on an evil pharmaceutical company.

Fire & Flood is like the Amazing Race meets Hunger Games. Tella’s brother is dying and one day she gets an invitation to race in a game that spans across the world and puts her in several different ecosystems. Why does she compete? The prize is a drug that will save her brother’s life. Not knowing anything more than that she takes off to compete in this underground race.

I liked the book itself, it was full of action. I love the show The Amazing Race so the plot really intrigued me. I thought the scenes in the race were done really well. I really felt like I was in a rain forest or out on the desert. Like I said, I like the change Tella goes through and that by the end she was able to take down the bad guy without the help of the big tough hero.

The things I didn’t like about Fire & Flood that kept it from knocking my socks off was the same complaints I know I had seen other people have. While I thought the world building in the race was good, the world outside of the race is confusing. The book never explains if the events take place in the modern world, an alternate world, or sometime in the future. I didn’t think Tella started asking enough questions until the end of the book. Everything was like: go do this, grab this, latch on to this guy for support. Tella would do all of it, follow the rules unquestioningly if it meant winning the race. I don’t know, I guess that is partly believable in the aspect of how far would you go to save someone you love. It is also kind of unbelievable too. I know I would need more answers. It is not until the very end when Tella starts getting those answers. That is where I think this book has potential because I am very curious to find out what happens next. While Fire & Flood was good in some aspects and had problems in others, the story itself is really decent and I look forward to the next book in the series.

Book releases February 25, 2014.

[Review] Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Fry's Reviews, Reviews 2 Comments 20th February, 2014

[Review] Daughter of Smoke & BoneDaughter of Smoke & Bone Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on June 5th, 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 418
Source: Purchase
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 grown 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 one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored 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?

I know, I know, I’m just jumping on this bandwagon now. But, believe me, I was judging the books by their covers. Don’t tell me the covers aren’t lame. Closeups of girls faces with overambitious stage makeup or masquerade masks? Why? There was only one masquerade scene in the whole book. Why is that the subject for the cover? Alas, I will never understand publisher’s and the way they promote thing.

The second thing that kept me away from the series was the insufferable usage of the ‘blank & blank’ seen in most book titles these days. I know it’s suppose to be deep, finding buzz words to paint a picture of the fantastical landscape. But seriously, it’s gotten old. When the fantasy landscape is riddled with them, how do you know which is which?

The third thing that kept me away, I heard there was something of an intense romance that was either complete perfection or utterly horrible depending on the person reading the book. I hate a lot of romantic tropes, but I put up with them if the story is good enough. So, when confronted with those skeptical reviews, I stayed away.

Granted, these are all shallow reasons for staying away from this book. I decided to jump in on a whim, to see what all the fuss was about. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to read. Sure, I cringed a bit when I found out there was a fight between what amounted to, in this world, as Angels and Demons. But, really, all the cliches are so well done that after a certain point, it didn’t matter anymore.

Our main character, Karou lives dual lives. On one hand she’s an art student in Prague. On the other, she knows about magical doors all over the world that all lead to the same room. A room filled with chimera, with monsters. That room holds her foster family, whom raised her from birth.

The hows and the whys are a mystery. The one in charge, Brimstone, keeps plenty of secrets from Karou. He buys teeth with wishes and sometimes Karou helps procure the teeth, from poachers and auctions and everyday folk. Upon one of her errands, Karou sees a black hand print burned into the wood of the portal door. Soon, the black hand prints appear on every door across the world. With this advent, the books soon take a turn.

Kauro meets an angel named Akiva, who at once tries to kill her. She escapes, barely, and finds refuge in Brimstone’s shop. Curiosity get’s the better of her, and she wanders to a forbidden section, only to be thrown out. In the morning, she finds that all the portals are smoldering ruins. There is no way back to Brimstone’s shop or to her family.

From there, the book starts with the general quest to get to the other side of the portal, but then diverts into the romance that everyone totes as hit or miss. It’s an intense one, spanning multiple lives and all involving Akiva. His memories mixed with Madrigal’s and Kauro’s paint a picture that is both hopeful, elated and sorrowful.

Everything is so well done. The writing style is poetic, the characters are diverse and interesting, and the world building takes things that have been done before and paints them into a beautiful tapestry.

I will be continuing this series immediately (which I will promptly regret, as the last book is not out).

[ARC Review] Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt

Amy's Reviews, ARC Reviews, Reviews 0 Comments 19th February, 2014

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

[ARC Review] Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany SchmidtBright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on 2014-02-18
Genres: Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Source: Netgalley
Jonah and Brighton are about to have the most awkwardly awful night of their lives. For Jonah, every aspect of his new life reminds him of what he has had to give up. All he wants is to be left alone. Brighton is popular, pretty, and always there to help anyone . . . but has no idea of what she wants for herself. Her seemingly perfect life is marred only by Jonah, the one person who won't give her the time of day, but also makes her feel, well, something. So when they are repeatedly thrown together over the course of one night, anything can—and does—happen. Told in alternating chapters, this poignant, beautiful novel's energy and tension, amidst the humor and romance, builds to a new beginning of self-acceptance and hope.

I am starting to think that 2014 is going to be year of contemporary romance for me.  I seem to be gravitating to the aspect that they feel so real.  It is easy to escape into the lives of people who feel like they could be your friends or neighbors and think that “yeah I’ve been there too.”  When I saw the premise for the latest YA contemporary I read, I was hooked.  Bright Before Sunrise is about a popular rich girl and the new boy in school that moved from the poor side of town.  This book is also about the events that span just the 24 hour period that bring them together for more than just a friendship.  This book is about hope, romance, and healing.

Like I said, I was hooked when saw the plot for this book.  I have always loved and been fascinated by movies that span a short period of time or a full day.  Movies like: The Breakfast Club, Empire Records, and Fun Size.  From these movies and books I have learned that a lot can happen in just one day.  In one day: lives can change, stunning revelations are made, and one can even fall in love.  That is what I liked about Bright Before Sunrise is the hope and possibility of it all.  I liked how in just 24 hours Jonah discovers that Brighton is more than just a rich popular girl.  She is a girl full of grief and tragedy and is ready to heal.  Brighton discovers that Jonah is more than a sullen loner from the wrong side of town.  He is actually just hurt over the events his life has taken, but he too is ready to heal.  I liked that both characters are just normal teenagers trying to deal with their neuroses the best they know how.  I think my favorite part is when Brighton is analyzing herself in the car about why she acts the way she does and Jonah tells her to lay off because they are not going to solve all their issues in just one night.

The thing that I really like about Bright Before Sunrise is that Jonah and Brighton come together for just one night: find out they have more in common than they thought, challenge each other, and fall in love for the night.  Who knows if they will work out but I like the sense that they will.  Just like at the end of The Breakfast Club, who knows if the jock, the basket case and the nerd will ever speak to each other out in the halls, but I like to think that they will all look out for one another after that day.  If you are like me and you are like books that are sweet, romantic, and quick to read; then pick up Bright Before Sunrise because this book really did leave me on nice cloud of happy.

[Review+Giveaway] Cress by Marissa Meyer

Amy's Reviews, Giveaways, Reviews 19 Comments 18th February, 2014

[Review+Giveaway] Cress by Marissa MeyerCress by Marissa Meyer
Series: Lunar Chronicles #3
Published by Macmillan on 2014-02-04
Genres: Fairy Tales & Folklore, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 560
Source: Purchase
In this third book in Marissa Meyer's bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and prevent her army from invading Earth.Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl trapped on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s being forced to work for Queen Levana, and she’s just received orders to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is splintered. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price than she’d ever expected. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai, especially the cyborg mechanic. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

I really, really like The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.  It combines two of my favorite things which are fairy tale re-tellings and sci-fi action adventure.  The best way I can describe these books is that they are like Brothers Grimm meets Stars Wars.  With that being said, the latest installment in the series, the third book, is Cress which was just as good as the other two books in the series.  This review will be short and sweet because I don’t want to give any spoilers and I know everybody wants to the fun part: the giveaway.

Cress picks up right up where Scarlet left off and the action just keeps on coming.  Cress of course features Cress, who was introduced in earlier books, and this book is a retelling of Rapunzel.  I liked that Cress is locked away in a Satellite and is not allowed any sharp objects for fear she might hurt herself.  Of course, her hair grows long and thick. Cress gets lonely and her only solace is in the earthen video feeds she watches.  She is also a romantic damsel in distress and dreams of a romantic love and the handsome debonair man that will come and save her.  Enter Captain Thorne, first introduced in Scarlet, he can’t resist a damsel in distress.

I liked Cress a lot.  The one thing that I really like about these books is how that when a new fairy tale is introduced in each book the story does not stop for the past characters they are all just integrated into the story.  It is why the books seem to get thicker and thicker.  I liked the shocking revelations that are revealed in Cress, some sad, some funny, and some that made me want to stand up and cheer.  I like how Cress grows up in this book.  She starts off a scared socially awkward girl, but by the end of book she is able to hold her own against Earthen and Lunar soldiers.  The thing I liked the most is that even though she may get smarter about love, she is still a romantic at heart.  I liked that the gang all comes together for one wild adventure that is going to spark something even greater.

In the end I really liked Cress, it was one roller-coaster of a book.  Filled with swashbuckling heroes, damsels in distress, heroic cyborgs, and of course a cheeky android.  I highly recommend Cress.  It most definitely left me on a nice cloud of happy.  Go read these books because they are just good.

On that note, we are giving away the first three books in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress all signed by Marissa Meyer.  Good Luck and Enjoy!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

[Review] Inferno by Dan Brown

Bry's Reviews, Reviews 0 Comments 15th February, 2014

[Review] Inferno by Dan BrownInferno by Dan Brown
Series: Robert Langdon #4
Published by Doubleday on May 14th, 2013
Genres: Historical Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 462
Source: Purchase
In his international blockbusters The Da Vinci Code,Angels & Demons, and The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown masterfully fused history, art, codes, and symbols. In this riveting new thriller, Brown returns to his element and has crafted his highest-stakes novel to date.

In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.

Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust . . . before the world is irrevocably altered.

Books like Inferno are my ultimate guilty pleasures — some people read trashy romance novels or watch reality TV, but I geek out HARD to the ‘historical detective: clue solving, traversing Europe using the knowledge of the historian to uncover wondrous things or save the world’, type genre. Throw in my favourite buzzwords – Medici, Florence, Italian Renaissance, Dante – and I am one sold fan-girling historian.

In the latest installment of the adventures of symbologist Robert Langdon, we are transported to Florence, Italy – though even Robert does not know why, or how he has arrived. Soon, Robert is deeply enmeshed in a race against the clock to stop a potentially catastrophic worldwide massacre, by uncovering and navigating the clues laid out by a madman obsessed with Dante Aligheri’s Inferno.

So yes, while Dan Brown is a very formulaic writer, and Robert Langdon is perhaps the man that Brown always wished that he was, but this did not at all take away from my reading pleasure. But have you noticed how everyone seems to uncannily observe how handsome Robert is? Amusing.

Perhaps it is because of my intense passion for the subject matter of Medicean Florence and the legacy of the Renaissance that the characters were simply the purveyors of the more exciting historical notes of the story, but they were likable (and unlikeable) enough that I found little fault with their construction for that eventuality.

Brown’s writing style allows for a fast-paced, constantly moving plot that never has time to lag or dip off, to the point where I finished the entire book within a day due to my hesitance to put it down. It was not a cumbersome or tiresome read, and likely will be one I return to several times, just to indulge that guilty but thoroughly enjoyed pleasure.

[Manga Mondays]InuYasha

Carol's Reviews, Reviews 0 Comments 10th February, 2014

Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Manga, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Kagome Higurashi was just an ordinary high-school girl. Then, one day she falls down the Bone Eater's Well, and is transported back in time! There she discovers she's the reincarnation of a priestess, and the protector of the Sacred Jewel of Four Souls. When the jewel is shattered, she must recover the pieces, with help from a half-demon boy named InuYasha.

Title: InuYasha

Author: Rumiko Takahashi

Publisher: Viz Media

Genre: Graphic Novel

Subgenre: Action/Adventure

Welcome to another Manga Monday! This week I’m reviewing InuYasha, by Rumiko Takahashi. First, let’s have a look at the cover. We see the manga-typical Japanese 1-1School girl, wearing a green and white uniform, freefloating near the bust of an apparently ‘cat-eared’ teenaged boy with golden eyes, while an insect-like body fills the void space behind them. The colors are from the old manga-standard Copic markers and ink pens, with graphics added of course by the publishers.

This story is MASSIVE. It ran in the Shounen Sunday magazine from November 13, 1996, to June 18, 2008, and exists in 56 volumes, with over 500 chapters. It is by far one of Takahashi’s most well-known and largest mangas to date, and it has a following that is as large as its many chapters.

And now the story: It begins long ago, during the medieval ages of Japan. The boy from the cover, InuYasha, is a half-dog-demon who wishes to become a full-fledged demon. To do that, he must get the powerful and sacred Jewel of Four Souls (aka, Shikon Jewel, Shi-kon no Tama, the Sacred Jewel). He attacks the village and shrine that houses the jewel but is thwarted by the temple’s priestess, Kikyou. As she dies from terrible wounds, Kikyou asks that the jewel be burned with her body, to keep demons and other corrupt souls from abusing it. Fastfoward to the 1990’s, and we meet our main protagonist, Kagome Higurashi. Living with her mother, brother, and grandfather in the shrine in the modern-day, Kagome’s just wanting to pass her exams, attract a cute, nice guy, and just be an ordinary girl. One day, while helping her brother find their cat, she is suddenly grabbed by a centipede monster that was hiding inside of the old, dry well on their property. Kagome is then pulled in to the well, which transports her back in time to feudal times. Once there, she not only comes upon the sleeping InuYasha (pinned to a tree and still as young as ever), but when the villagers come, they note that Kagome bears an eerie resemblance to Kikyou.

Turns out it’s 50 years since Kikyou’s death, and Kagome is her re-incarnation, and the Sacred Jewel was hiding inside of Kagome’s body. After a massive adventure that throws the unlikely duo together, and rips the Sacred Jewel out of her side, Kagome accidentally shatters the jewel, causing it to fragment in to many pieces. With no other way of getting the jewel, Kagome and InuYasha team up to find the pieces and reform the jewel. Along the way, they become allies with Shippo, a small, orphaned fox-demon child, the perverted Priest, Miroku, and the daughter of demon hunters, Sango (with her cat-demon pet, Kirara). They also make many enemies, among them being the wolf-demon Kouga, and InuYasha’s own brother, Sesshoumaru. But none are as terrible as the series antagonist, Naraku, who also desires the jewel, and will stop at nothing to gain it and its power.

This story is really, at it’s heart, a classic ‘hero’s tale’, with both InuYasha and Kagome taking the mantle of the hero. If you don’t know what the hero’s tale is, it is the essential archetype of all fables, and has a sequence of events that all such stories must take. There is first, of course, the call to adventure, and the rejection of the call, with them both. InuYasha’s comes years before when he seeks out the Jewel to be able to make himself a full-fledged demon (only to fall in love with Kikyou and reconsider), and again when he is revived later (he wants the jewel. Done and done); Kagome’s comes after she figures out how to go back and forth through time via the magic well. She returns home, intent on staying there. However, afterward is the moment that forces both in to going on the journey. For InuYasha, it is when he realizes that he cannot fight the demons that find shards alone, and for Kagome, it is when she realizes that she is still drawn toward the past. When both are unable to fight the call, the move onward. They each receive magical boons- InuYasha’s is his father’s sword, and Kagome’s is her ability to sense the Jewel- and meet allies. Miroku fills the role of ‘lovable rogue’, and Sango the ‘stoic warrior’, while Shippo is the youthful helper. Together they form a band and go through battle, the valley of death (Literally! Twice!) and they face the great evil (many, many, many times). They even have temptations that come their way. For Kagome it is in the form of opportunities to go home and stay home. For InuYasha, it comes in the form of former lover, turned bitter enemy, Kikyou, when she is revived in a clay body made from sorcery.

What makes this comic such a pull for girls (though it is initially a ‘shounen’ comic- geared towards boys with action, danger, and plenty of partial female nudity) is the love-story that develops. Yes, there’s a love story here. Very much pulling upon Beauty and The Beast, it entails Kagome’s growing friendship and reliance on InuYasha, as well as his own acceptance of her by his side. Eventually, they come to love each other, though Kagome is more obvious in her feelings. What stands in their way, of course, is Kikyou. Not only does InuYasha see her often in Kagome’s face and her own growing spiritual powers, but when Kikyou is actually revived, he is torn between the girl who has become a friend and a fighting partner (and partner whom he fights with), and the woman he first came to love.

My personal favorite aspect is that here there are other stories. We do follow the main narrative, but we also follow the antagonist, Naraku’s story, as well as InuYasha’s brother’s story (which makes him less of a villain and more sympathetic as time goes on), and my absolute favorite story, the tragedy of the Priestess Kikyou.

Kikyou is my FAVORITE character in the whole series. She’s young, and beautiful, and raised from childhood to be a priestess. To be pure in mind and body, to go with her kind and pure heart, so that she can protect the village from demonic forces. When she is asked to guard the Sacred Jewel, she devotes her whole life to it, only to have mercy on a dog-demon half-breed who comes along one day. She sees in InuYasha some good, and it makes her unable to hurt him. When she and InuYasha fight side-by-side during a very grueling battle, they grew in to close friends, and then finally lovers. Her kindness and pure heart makes him decide, for a time, to use the Jewel to become human, so he can be with Kikyou, and she decides to give up being a priestess to be his bride. Their happiness is shattered, however. An injured bandit, nursed by Kikyou and grown lustful for her, trades his soul for a demon’s body and become the demon, Naraku, then he ensures that Kikyou and InuYasha hate one another, and (seemingly) forever tear them apart. What’s more, Kikyou can’t have peace in death, and has her bones stolen, her body remade from clay, and has to feed on the sad and unhappy souls of the dead in order to stay ‘alive’, all so she can have revenge against the demon that destroyed her future. She becomes corrupt, and a shadow of the pure woman she once had been.

This manga gets 5 stars from me. I know, 56 volumes and such a huge story-line is a bit daunting, but given that the points I’ve hit just BARELY scratch the surface of the manga’s full plotlines (just about EVERYONE has a tragic story and tale, including the Jewel’s creation), and that the artwork (again, all hand-drawn) is just magnificent in detail and design, you’ll easily find the time invested worth it. And trust me, it’s far easier to read through 56 issues than watching 167 episodes of the FIRST anime series, also called ‘InuYasha’, and the 28-episode second series, ‘InuYasha: The Final Act’ (the first series only covered 36 issues of the manga- OI!). Besides, I fangirl HARD on this series, and it is still a dream of mine to save money and purchase the wig and costume needed to cosplay as Kikyou. Someday… Someday v.v

Definitely invest some time and pick up this series today!

[ARC Review] Must Love Dukes by Elizabeth Michaels

Amy's Reviews, ARC Reviews, Reviews 1 Comment 6th February, 2014

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

[ARC Review] Must Love Dukes by Elizabeth MichaelsMust Love Dukes by Elizabeth Michaels
Series: Tricks of the Ton #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on February 4, 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
Pages: 352
Source: Netgalley
Lillian Phillips could not imagine how her quiet, simple life had come to this. Blackmailed by the Mad Duke of Thornwood into accepting one wild dare after another...all because of a pocket watch. Desperate to recover her beloved father's pawned timepiece, Lily did something reckless and dangerous and delicious—something that led to a night she'd never forget.

He has a Reputation for Scandal

When Devon Grey, Duke of Thornwood, runs into a mesmerizing, intoxicating, thieving woman who literally stole from his bedchamber—with his new pocket watch—Devon plots his revenge. If the daring wench likes to play games, he's happy to oblige. After all, what's the use of being the Mad Duke if you can't have some fun? But the last laugh might just be on him...

This book was short and sweet, therefore my review will also be short. Must Love Dukes had everything I look for in good historical romance, or just in romance period. It had a steamy love affair, witty banter, and above all else, it had a very romantic and happy ending.

I don’t read historical romance novels for historical accuracy. I read them, like so many of the other books I read, to escape. In Must Love Dukes, Lily follows a strange man into a tavern, gets drunk with him, and follows him home to his bed. In the morning she steals his pocket watch, which was sold out from under her, and flees out into the wee hours of a London morning. A year later, after miraculously and luckily not getting pregnant, her brothers have decided to take her to London to get a husband. Of course being female she has no choice in the matter. Whom should she meet in a ballroom but the Mad Duke she had a passionate night with so long ago. The shenanigans begin then and there.

I really really liked this book. It was oh so sweet, oh so silly, and oh so romantic. I loved the antics the duke goes through to save his Lily from loveless marriages. The prospects were hilarious. The scene in the horse barn when one of the would be suitors compares Lily’s hips to a horse and comments on her breeding skills like she is livestock had me in stitches. Must Love Dukes is predictable, but it is a nice escape from reality. This book in the end left me floating on a nice cloud of happy. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. To find out how the duke’s friend will win his lady love.

[Arc Review] Death Sworn

ARC Reviews, Fry's Reviews, Reviews 0 Comments 5th February, 2014

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.
[Arc Review] Death SwornDeath Sworn by Leah Cypress
Series: Death Sworn #1
Published by Greenwillow on March 4th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Source: Edelweiss
When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.

Finishing this book didn’t give me any elation. Though the first chapter was gripping and interesting, the book continued in the same vein of discovery and banter almost the entire way through. I kept giving it one more chapter to see if it impressed me, and though it picked up around chapter sixteen, it didn’t ever reach a point where I connected with the characters or their plight.

For a book that is the first in a series, this is a problem. Sure, Ileni was a strong heroine with a no nonsense attitude, and in the beginning, she cares little for her assignment or even her well being. Eventually she relents and decides that she does care a little bit. Not an awful lot, mind you, just a little.

Ileni was a powerful, well versed sorceress before her powers abruptly dwindled. Despite the finite nature of her magic, she’s still able to mutter enough spells to stop herself from dying at the drop of a hat. At one point, she healed her own sliced throat. How one does this when her magic is directed by words and all her airflow is seeping through her neck wound, I couldn’t tell you!

She is sent to a cave system full of assassins to teach those with skill magic that they could harness on their missions. It is part of a truce between her peace loving mage settlement and the assassins, and Ileni is the third mage sent within half a year. Someone is killing her fellow mages, and she must find out who and why. She is issued a protector, Sorin, who believes in his purpose in the larger scheme of things, and keeps his word to see to her safety.

Despite spending pages upon pages discussing, learning, fighting and otherwise interacting, the romance still abruptly sparks between Ileni and Sorin. By the time it does, it matters not in the least. It is just one more jumbled plot thread required to run its course.

Since this is the first in a series, nothing is actually resolved (except for the murders, but those just expand out into something else) but nothing is left in a cliffhanger either. I felt no more unfulfilled by the ending than I had throughout the entire novel. Doubtless, it was a lackluster start and I doubt I’ll be continuing the series unless the plot develops drastically.

[Arc Review] Panic by Lauren Oliver

ARC Reviews, Fry's Reviews, Reviews 0 Comments 4th February, 2014

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

[Arc Review] Panic by Lauren OliverPanic by Lauren Oliver
Published by HarperCollins on March 4th, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Source: Edelweiss
Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

I want to like Lauren Oliver’s books, I honestly do. They all have really interesting premises and colorful characters. Yet, somewhere between point a and point b, the ball gets dropped and I never end up enjoying the books as much as the summary would make me believe.

Panic is no different. Though I wasn’t as disappointed with this one as I was with Delirium. Where Delirium was romance driven, this book mainly focuses on Heather and her attempt to carve out a place for herself in the universe. Even the chapters with Dodge –  while a nice break from Heather’s point of view – mainly held action and mystique instead of his own unique plot arc. He’s out for revenge, sure, but that seems to be all he’s got. Once that is gone, he deflates like a balloon.

Why the cover of the book is some girl standing there with windswept hair on a black background, I’ll never know. The premise offers so much more than the cover ever will. In a somewhat small town, the graduating seniors play a game of high stakes Fear Factor. It’s played over the whole summer and the winner takes home a hefty amount of money. The people running Panic are always anonymous, chosen the year before by the previous management. It has an air of mystery about it, as one never knows when the next challenge will be announced, or what it will be. Even the solo challenges are a mystery. Eventually, the challengers are whittled down through these tasks, via fear or injury and the last one standing takes the pot.

Heather decides to compete in the challenges, an impulse decision that diverts her summer’s course. She wants to prove her worth and her mettle. Even though she competes, the entire book is Heather trying to accomplish both those things. She lives in a trailer with her dead-beat mom and her younger sister, Lilly, whom she provides motherly support to. When Heather loses her job, a stroke of luck has her in the right place at the right time to meet Anne, a widower with a ton of land and animals who could use a farmhand.

Anne owns two tigers, who obviously come into play at the climax, culminating in trust issues for everyone involved. Even Heather’s best man friend (she’s got another friend named Nat, but Nat was annoying and inconsequential), Bishop, who is a terrible cliché and disappointment on most levels, takes this point to expound upon all the obvious things we’ve figured out about him. And while that’s supposed to be the romance mentioned in the summary, I was surprised and disappointed to find that it wasn’t between Heather and Dodge. I mean, that’s how dual narrators work, right?

All through this Dodge is having feels about the game and his sister’s demise in it several years earlier. He is battling his conscience and his thirst for revenge throughout the whole book, though he mostly sets up the action and acts as the hero for Heather’s idiotic strategies.

I could digress for hours on this book, but why bother? It wasn’t that bad of a premise and could have delivered far more intense action. Sadly, it flounders around for footing that it never really grasps. If you’re into a book that delivers obvious plot developments that you can see forming halfway through the book, this one’s for you.