Sunday, September 21, 2014

Firebug (review)

3.5/5 stars

Firebug (Gooreads | Amazon) is what I expect from Lish McBride. It's a fun paranormal with a snarky protagonist who feels like someone you could actually know. If you like Hold Me Closer, Necromancer this book is in the same vein, though I didn't like Ava nearly as much as I like Sam. (And I can stay that with certainty since I also just read Necromancing the Stone).

You may ask why I didn't like Ava as much?  Well it's small grating things that are probably authentically teenage type jokes that rub me the wrong way as an adult.  For example, when a male friend wants to talk about Ava's feelings she makes a joke about him having a uterus.  Gendered humor just tends to strike me the wrong way.  Ava can be annoying and rude, just like a real teenager.

Overall this story is good though.  It builds on itself, leaving little clues and important details along the way.  Things that at first bugged me later made complete sense.  I liked the creation of a paranormal world that runs alongside ours without being noticed, especially the building of a criminal underbelly.

This is a fun snarky read that has a surprising amount of heart.  I definitely recommend despite that little moments that grated on me.

I received an advanced reading e-book in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Salt and Sea (review)

3.5/5 stars

Overall I enjoyed The Witch of Salt and Storm (Goodreads | Amazon).  The atmospheric story takes place on Prince Island and you get a real sense of island life, the harbor full of boats and the scent of sale on the wind.

Avery Roe has always wanted to be the Prince Island witch.  She comes from a long line of Roe witches, starting generations ago, including her grandma the current witch and stopping with her mother who refuses to take the job.  Not only does she not want the job herself, but she takes Avery from her grandmother and refuses to let her train in the family craft.

Avery is at times frustrating character, only seeing what she wants to see.  In some ways that makes her very believable, a stubborn teenage girl who won't listen to anyone and is blinded by her own desires.  As the reader, you'll understand some things well before Avery does, but that's because an outside perspective is often clearer.

For me this story loses some ground with the love story.  The quickness the relationship develops just isn't quite believable for me.  However it's necessary to have the love story in there (a rarity) but it could be done a little better.  The love interest is too perfect, Avery is too grumpy at times and I have trouble believing in the depth of their feelings. But this is so common in YA books that it shouldn't bother most readers of the genres (unless you're curmudgeonly like me about these things).

Overall if you like stories of witchcraft, especially with interesting and meaningful settings like Prince Island, you'll enjoy this book.  The atmosphere and location are really what shines in this novel.  While the romance leaves a bit to be desired, the whaling world of Prince Island that the Roe Witches serve is a place I definitely want to visit, both in books and the real world.

I received an advanced reading e-book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Words and their Meanings (review)

4/5 stars

Initially I wasn't sure how I felt about Words and their Meanings (Goodreads | Amazon).  At first, I felt like the protagonist tried way too hard to be different. But as the book progressed things that seemed like flaws made sense as the story unveiled itself.

This story is a portrait of one girl's all consuming grief and guilt.  But more than that, it's little pictures of how those around her are dealing with the same grief.  It's different for everyone, no two grievers handle everything the same.

Still in the midst of her grief over the death of her young uncle, more of a brother, Anna discovers a secret note that makes her question who her uncle was.  The story really gets underway when Anna decides to investigate what the note means to find out the truth about her uncle.  It's easier to focus on that the the all-consuming grief.
"In the long run, you need to understand that people --even the best people people --are always more and less than we imagine."
The book is written very poetically, with a main character who's a gifted writer it needs to be.  Oddly enough I'm not sure how much the story actually matters, this is a book that's more driven by feelings and characters.  That's not a bad thing.  Sometimes that's how stories need to be told.  This is the story of pain, grief and hopefully understanding, not really the story of a mystery being solved. For this book, that's a good thing.

I received an advanced reading e-book in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Seriously Saturday Series Catch-up #4

So we've made some real progress this month!  I've read Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter, Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride, started Scarlet by Marissa Meyers, read Unwholly by Neal Shusterman and finished the Fallen Worlds trilogy by Megan Crewe.  I even read the 3rd of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series because I thought I'd included it in this challenge.  It seems that once I started making momentum on series it was hard to stop. Right now that leaves five books left in this challenge, two of which aren't even published yet.

So where are we looking at my original list?

  1. Heist Society by Ally Carter (books 2 & 3) - Finished book 2 & 3
  2. Necromancer series by Lish McBride (book 2) - Finished book 2
  3. Cinder by Marissa Meyers (books 2 & 3) - Currently listening to Scarlet in my car
  4. Unwind by Neal Shusterman (books 2 & 3) - Finished book 2 & 3! I didn't realize there was a book 4
  5. Abhorsen series by Garth Nix (book 4 will be published in 2014)
  6. The Agency by Y.S. Lee (book 4 will be published in 2014) 
  7. Fallen World series by Megan Crewe (books 2 & 3) - Finished book 2 & 3
  8. Iron Druid by Kevin Hearne (read at least 1 book in)
  9. Bloody Jack by LA Meyer (book 11)
  10. His Fair Assassin by Robin LaFevers (In the name of honesty, I'll admit I've already read the second book in 2014 but I want to count it. Book 3 will be published in 2014)
Note: I know it's Sunday and not Saturday.  But one day late isn't bad!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Bone Season (review)

3.5/5 stars

I know The Bone Seasons (Goodreads | Amazon) is supposed to be the next big thing book-wise.  Set in 2059, when an organization named Scion is ruling most of the major cities in the world, The Bone Season is part-fantasy part-dystopian. Paige Mahoney is a criminal just for existing in a world where any sort of magic is illegal, Paige, a dreamwalker, works for the magical mob in London.  That is until she's caught, arrested and taken to a clairvoyant prison where she learns that world as they know it is a lie.

The world building in this book is detailed and interesting.  I appreciate the hierarchy  of different clairvoyants it established, how some are more valuable and some practically worthless.  The idea of outlawing magic and thus giving the criminals power is intriguing, it makes this book feel like a quasi-prohibition-era mob movie.  Sometimes the world building is actually too detailed and it slows down the story considerably, to the point where you can skim passages of explanation without missing much plot-wise.

So for me where does this book seemingly fail? I never felt connected to the characters.  They felt like cardboard cutouts that I was supposed to care about but really couldn't.  There's a couple of points where someone hurts a character that Paige has just recently befriended and it's suppose to be this major impacting moment in the novel, only I didn't feel much of anything because these side characters felt underdeveloped and more like accessories to Paige's story than people in themselves.

So the question, I suppose, is "Will I read the next one?"  Probably if the reviews are good.  Maybe now that the over-explaining is done we'll get some honest-to-goodness plot movement and some fleshed out characters.  It's an interesting enough world, with the criminal underbelly and outlawing of magic, to explore again.

I received a paperback copy of this book from the publisher.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Mary: The Summoning

4/5 stars

It felt odd to be reading Mary: The Summoning (Goodreads Amazon) during the summer.  This book is creepy YA horror novel, the type of book that should be read on a crisp October day, as the sun sinks below the horizon, not on a hot day in the middle of July.

This book has just the right amount of suspense and quite a few surprises along the way.  Almost every young girl has tried to summon Bloody Mary at some point in her life (why did that seem like such a good idea?), so it's hard not be drawn into the creepy ghost story since it feels like it could've easily happened to you. The descriptions of Mary were appropriately creepy and the book gave her a backstory that every young girl wondered about.  It doesn't just summon Bloody Mary, but attempts to answer "Who is Bloody Mary?"  This is probably the strength of the novel, it doesn't just create a monster but creates a character who becomes a monster with a backstory and motivation.

I was surprised by how much I liked this book.  Even though the characters weren't completely fleshed out, they didn't fall into the popular-girl stereotype I expected and for the most part didn't fall into the trap of girl-against-girl hatred you often see.  Instead, as stupid as their choices may have been, this group of four friends attempted to watch out for each other and all their in-fighting was understandable.

If you're looking for a Halloween read (you should be!) then this book will fit your needs perfectly.  Mary: The Summoning is YA horror, a difficult genre to master, done really well.

I received an advanced reading e-book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Can't Look Away (review)

4/5 stars

Can't Look Away (Goodreads | Amazon) is a unique picture of grief, the story of a well-known beauty vlogger whose sister is killed by a drunk driver and how she deals with her family, the trolls and her loss. Maybe what I like most about this book is that Torrey Grey is such an imperfect character.  She's shallow, concerned with looks, re-gaining her popularity in a new town, clothes and what everyone thinks about her.  For much of this book Torrey is fake to almost everyone around her.

To me, that feels real.  Torrey is trying to be something she's not anymore, to keep up appearances and to control the aspects of her life she knows how.  It's easier to deal with climbing the social ladder than face her sister's death and her guilt over the circumstances surrounding it. And Torrey is riddled with guilt, even if she hides it from the world, because she had dragged her sister to the mall that day and they had been arguing when the drunk driver came down the street.

The grief in this book feels real.  It's not textbook and pretty, but a whole family of people facing it in different ways and royally screwing up at every turn because grieving is really hard.  Dealing with grief, loss and guilt brings out both the worst and best in people.

Another thing this book does well is capture the YouTube audience.  I once dabbled in vlogging and have quite a few trolls of my own.  The reactions of the trolls and Torrey both seem completely realistic based on my experience with the internet.

This book does a lot of things right, deals with grief authentically, creatures a popularity-obsessed teenager (rather than the "different" trope that's common) who is developed and complex and even managed to have quite a few funny and cute moments to keep the book from feeling too heavy.  For a book about grief in the age of the internet, the tone was perfect and the book well-worth reading.

I received an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.