Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

From Goodreads: It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on. His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live - not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with. Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong ... these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears. Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Basically, if Kendare Blake's Girl of Nightmares had featured more of Cas hunting ghosts and less of him obsessing over Anna, I'd have given it a higher rating. While a still a solid sequel though, it just lacked the creepiness of Anna Dressed in Blood.

Since I wasn’t keen on the romance between Cas and Anna to begin with, Cas’ constant moping about Anna made me annoyed with him, especially because it affected his ability to kill ghosts. Thank goodness for Thomas’ optimism and Carmel’s levelheadedness! In fact, I really liked Carmel’s characterization in Girl of Nightmares because she wasn’t afraid to take a step back and stop hanging out with Cas and Thomas when she found the situation becoming a bit too much for her to handle. Unlike Cas and Thomas, who are used to not living a normal life, I thought it was a really smart decision on Carmel’s part to try and figure out what she actually wanted.

I also liked the expansion of the world from Anna Dressed in Blood as Girl of Nightmares explores Cas’ father’s past as a ghost hunter and the athame’s connection to The Order of Biodag Dubh, which eventually leads Cas and his friends to visiting London and Scotland. Besides the awesome and scary scene in the Suicide Forest, I enjoyed meeting Jestine, who almost seemed like a female Cas to me. 

Girl of Nightmares was released by Tor Teen in August 2012. 

Comments About the Cover: I love the colours used, that you can see the dead faintly, and how Anna looks like she’s beckoning you to come join her. It’s brilliant!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review: Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne

From Goodreads: Growing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs. But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he’s persistent - and darkly attractive - and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull. Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease. When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival - and vengeance - might be to join forces. And as their loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra’s past that threatens to reshape both their lives. 

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: With its promise of thieves and assassins and the author mentioning on Goodreads that one of her inspirations is Tamora Pierce’s The Song of the Lioness quartet, Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne was a novel that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on. Sadly, the writing was simplistic and the characters left little impression.

To me, it felt like there was a lot of telling rather than showing going on in Midnight Thief. As well, more description would definitely have helped to make the setting and characters more vivid. That being said, Midnight Thief was a breezy read, and I can easily see it appeal to older MG readers.

Like the setting, the characters were also pretty flat. The story is narrated through both Kyra and Tristam’s points of view, but I never found the switches in narration to be seamless. In fact, Tristam’s narration was very unexpected and abrupt at the beginning because for the first five chapters, everything was told from Kyra’s perspective. However, I liked Tristam better than Kyra, who joins the Assassins Guild yet objects to killing (uh, so why join the Assassins Guild at all?!), but only by a slight margin because both characters were similar in that they didn’t think too much about the possible consequences of their actions. Since I couldn’t have cared less about the fate of the characters, I also ended up not caring if they would get together or not.

Midnight Thief will be released on July 8, 2014 by Disney-Hyperion. 

Comments About the Cover: I love it! The cat looks fierce, and is just daring you to find out what it’s hiding! 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Disney Book Group) for free via NetGalley.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Review: Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch

From Goodreads: As soon as the government passed legislation allowing humans to be genetically engineered and sold as pets, the rich and powerful rushed to own beautiful girls like Ella. Trained from birth to be graceful, demure, and above all, perfect, these “family companions” enter their masters’ homes prepared to live a life of idle luxury. Ella is happy with her new role as playmate for a congressman’s bubbly young daughter, but she doesn’t expect Penn, the congressman’s handsome and rebellious son. He’s the only person who sees beyond the perfect exterior to the girl within. Falling for him goes against every rule she knows ... and the freedom she finds with him is intoxicating. But when Ella is kidnapped and thrust into the dark underworld lurking beneath her pampered life, she’s faced with an unthinkable choice. Because the only thing more dangerous than staying with Penn’s family is leaving ... and if she’s unsuccessful, she’ll face a fate far worse than death. 

My Rating: 2 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch was a book that ended up on my radar because of its interesting premise. Unfortunately, the execution was lacking, and more depth was needed from both the characters and the plot. 

It was really hard for me to care about what happened to the characters because they had such little personality. Ella, for example, doesn’t even think about how limiting her life is until she’s told so by an activist ... and then continues to make no attempt to change her way of living. Only when her romance is threatened does Ella decide that she wants out. 

I found the romance to be cheesy and totally insta-love. Spoiler alert: What seventeen-year-old would give up family, money, and security to be with someone who’s illiterate and knows nothing about the real world?! It also needed more clarity because it just seemed that out of nowhere, Penn went from not being able to stand Ella to being in love with her.

The worldbuilding could have been expanded upon as well because there was no context for how and why the United States would pass laws allowing people to own genetically engineered humans as pets. Nor did I think it was a very realistic idea because why would anybody spend so much money to take care of someone who contributes nothing to society! 

A story that ultimately fell short of my expectations, Perfected will be released by Entangled Teen on July 1, 2014. 

Comments About the Cover: I would prefer to have a girl inside the gilded cage instead of just a dress. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Entangled Publishing) for free via NetGalley.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Review: Free to Fall by Lauren Miller

From Goodreads: Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision making for the best personal results. Just like everyone else, sixteen-year-old Rory Vaughn knows the key to a happy, healthy life is following what Lux recommends. When she’s accepted to the elite boarding school Theden Academy, her future happiness seems all the more assured. But once on campus, something feels wrong beneath the polished surface of her prestigious dream school. Then she meets North, a handsome townie who doesn’t use Lux, and begins to fall for him and his outsider way of life. Soon, Rory is going against Lux’s recommendations, listening instead to the inner voice that everyone has been taught to ignore - a choice that leads her to uncover a truth neither she nor the world ever saw coming. 

My Rating: 4 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Although it took a bit of time for me to get into Lauren Miller’s Free to Fall, I eventually ended up sucked into the book because of all the twists that it kept delivering. Initially a story about a girl attempting to discover more about her mother, the plot becomes so much grander and ends up filled with secrets, lies, and conspiracies!

Learning more about her mother really causes Rory grows throughout the novel. At the beginning of Free to Fall, she’s very much dependent on Lux for decision making; but as she learns more about the app, she starts to rely on her own inner voice. (I would have preferred the Doubt to have been more like an intuition rather than an auditory hallucination though.)

I also liked the romance, which I thought was paced nicely. I did think, however, that the misunderstanding between North – who I found very cute – and Rory before they got together wasn’t really necessary. But, the two were rock-solid once they did become a couple.

Finally, I enjoyed the message Miller attempted to convey. Using Milton’s Paradise Lost as inspiration along with a strong dose of neuroscience and psychology, Free to Fall demonstrates the importance of choice and examines how people’s dependence on technology can lead to corporations manipulating their consumers.

A fantastic sci-fi novel, Free to Fall was released by HarperTeen in May 2014. 

Comments About the Cover: It kind of reminds me of Parallel’s cover, even though both of Miller's novels are standalones.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Dark Metropolis Giveaway

Cabaret meets Cassandra Clare-a haunting magical thriller set in a riveting 1930s-esque world.

Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder's mother is cursed with a spell that's driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. With no one else to contribute, Thea must make a living for both of them in a sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules. Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron at the club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city's secrets-even while he hides secrets of his own.

Together, they find a whole new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. And if they're not careful, the heartless masterminds behind the growing disappearances will be after them, too.

Perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, this is a chilling thriller with a touch of magic where the dead don't always seem to stay that way.

As part of the blog tour for Dark Metropolis, I have a giveaway of the book for US residents:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Review: The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

From Goodreads: Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey - ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her. Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart. 

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Back when I reviewed Julie Kagawa’s The Iron King, I was told by a number of people that I should continue on with the series because it gets better. Perhaps the later books do, but that was not my experience with the sequel, The Iron Daughter. 

I can’t quite remember if I found Meghan annoying in The Iron King, but I really wanted to punch her after reading The Iron Daughter. It just felt like she was either sobbing or obsessing about Ash throughout the entire book. 

I’m still puzzled as to why people have fussed so much over the romance, which continues to feel very forced to me. It’s pretty clear that Ash isn’t over Ariella, but if Meghan’s fine with that, well, there’s another reason that I find her pathetic.

Seriously, if it wasn’t for Puck, Grimalkin (who always seems to conveniently appear to bail Meghan and her friends out of trouble), and Ironhorse, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to finish The Iron Daughter. The question now remains: To read The Iron Queen or not? 

The Iron Daughter was released in August 2010 by Harlequin Teen. 

Comments About the Cover: It's not amazing or anything, but I like it better than The Iron King's.