Book Review: Fire and Flood by Victoria Scott

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As many have pointed out, this book is awfully reminiscent of The Hunger Games. Pushing that thought aside, I didn’t think this book was that bad. It is okay at most. It isn’t terribly great or original and I definitely had a lot of issues with it, but it did keep me interested enough to turn the pages. For that, I give Fire and Flood 1.5 stars.

Plot: The plot, as I have mentioned before, is similar to that of The Hunger Games. It involves a game where there can only be one victor. In this case, it is Tella Holloway. Tella has a brother who is deathly ill, and upon receiving a chance to participate in a game that could possibly cure her brother, she decides to take a chance and go for it. Sound familiar? The similarities do not end there, however. Upon arriving on a train, she meets a colorful and fashionable woman who welcomes them into the race which is a form of revenge against the people.

This is the main reason why I chose to dock off so many stars from this book. It aims to be The Hunger Games, but it fails drastically at this. It felt wholly unoriginal and uninspired.

Main Character: I hate Tella. She is bratty, stupid, whiny, and superficial.

Just because I’m entering a race doesn’t mean I don’t want to look magically delicious.

Even living where no one could judge me besides my family, I prided myself on looking fabulous. And now I look like the bride of Frankenstein. Running my fingers through my hair, I think about how I should be racing towards Lincoln Station. But the compulsion to repair my face is too strong.

I pray that the orange pack I’m wearing holds Chanel makeup. And a brush.And a mirror.

What the hell? You’re doing this for your dying brother, you ungrateful brat. One might defend Tella in saying that this is her flaw and that no one is perfect, but she is constantly like this throughout the book. She does not grow given these dire circumstances. Why would you even care what you look like when your life is in danger? Why care about how you look to other competitors who simply want to beat you at this race? What’s the point? I don’t get it.

Because when it comes to doing something for my family, I’m not just his daughter. I am strong.

Ha. This makes me laugh. She considers herself strong but constantly needs her precious love interest to save her ass. So much for standing up for ourselves, girls! As long as we have some hot guy who can do just about anything, we’ll make it through life. Don’t believe me? Ask Tella. Oh and to add the cherry top, Tella also feels the need to belittle other females as well.

The last girl I see, I want to strangle. Like the woman, she has long hair. But instead of dark, it’s blond – no, honey gold – and shines like that of a Broadway starlet. I can’t see her eyes form here, but I’m sure they’re some stunning shade of blue… I hate her with everything I have as she laughs her perfect laugh and tosses her perfect hair and crosses her to-die-for legs. The girl seems to be about my age, or just a few years older. We could be friends, I realize, if I weren’t so overwhelmed with the urge to end her.

I glance at Harper, but she’s facing forward like a marine. I hate her so much right now, I could scream.

I don’t even know what to say other than fuck you Tella. You think you’re better than everyone else? Never mind that this girl she wants to strangle is arguably one of the better characters in the book. At least she fights for herself and doesn’t wait for some guy named Guy to save her. Let’s also forget the fact that this girl also lets you into her group and helps you a lot along the way. No, let’s just focus on the fact that this girl is prettier than you, so she must be awful. Fuck you, Tella.

Romance: I don’t get it. I don’t know why it happened, and I certainly don’t care for it. Guy, the love interest, helps Tella out at the start when he has the perfect opportunity to knock out one competitor out of the running. Instead, he helps her. Again.And again. Why? What is so special about Tella that warrants his help – that makes him conveniently forget that he also has someone important and dear to him to save? There’s no buildup in this relationship. It’s there from the get-go. They’re in a competition against one another, so I expected a lot of development before something happened, but it happens in the blink of an eye. There is also one terribly awkward scene where everyone is winding down. Tella and Guy ogle each other as they take off their clothes, and he then comes close to her and touches her face or something while everyone watches. I felt uncomfortable and awkward just reading it.

Setting: I have no idea where it is. So far, there’s been a jungle and a desert, so surely they are not in America. Did everyone get flown somewhere else while they were knocked out? Who knows? I couldn’t get into the world because it felt messy and all over the place. As they tried to find their way to basecamp I felt lost. To me, it just felt like they were fumbling in the dark and walking around pointlessly. It was awfully hard to visualize their surroundings throughout the book which is a terrible shame as it could have been epic. Very disappointing.

Finishing Thoughts: Overall, this book is okay. I am very disappointed at the lack of originality. However, as I said before it was interesting enough to keep me going and I did love the little critter companions they had in the book, so I can see myself picking up the next book.

I would recommend it only if you have not read The Hunger Games. However, if you have read it and are looking for something similar and just as good to sink your teeth into, I would recommend you to look elsewhere. This book feels messy and rushed with little world building that hardly makes sense and a main character that is very annoying.

These quotes were taken from an uncorrected galley and are subject to change in the final edition of the book. 

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Book Review: Dangerous by Shannon Hale

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He’s dangerous, I reminded myself.

I was very excited to read this book because way back when, I had read Hale’s The Princess Academy, which I thoroughly liked. I wanted to see how she would handle a futuristic science fiction novel. Unfortunately, I can’t say I like this book anywhere near as much as her other works. My overall opinion of the book is that it’s an okay read. It is pretty much a romance in the guise of a science-fiction.

Plot: Dangerous is about a disabled one-armed girl named Maisie Danger Brown (yes, her middle name is literally Danger) who dreams of being an astronaut. She gets her chance when she wins a sweepstake and is allowed to go to space boot camp. In a turn of events, she comes into contact with alien technology, and everyone seems to be in danger from an unknown force.

One of the main problems I had with this book is the plot. It is very much filled with holes that left me questioning the author’s research because some parts are pretty detailed and scientific, so I’m confused as why there are so many holes in the story. For one thing, a bunch of eleven to eighteen year olds are sent into space on what seems to be a mere whim. There is no clearance needed – no signatures from parents for these minors.

“The container held several items of different shape but similar substances,” said Howell. “They are the first proof of alien life ever discovered. And you are about to become five of only about thirty human beings to see them and touch them.

On top of sending them to space, they let these minors touch alien technology. What the hell? Why? How did this happen?

Maisie: I’m pretty disappointed with how the book treated Maisie’s disability. Aside from comments and insults from the people around her, you wouldn’t know she is disabled. It’s a shame because you don’t get to read many books with a disabled main character, so I was really looking forward to seeing her overcome her challenges. The problem? Before you know it, Maisie gets a brilliantly functioning arm that looks real, so the disability now becomes an advantage. I wish that the book explored Maisie’s difficulties with her disability. Ultimately, it just felt like an add-on.

Also, becoming an astronaut is Maisie’s dream. This boot camp is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Instead of focusing on the prize, Maisie’s attention is occupied by a boy she meets on the first day. Screw using this opportunity to the fullest. Let’s just think about how handsome Wilder is and how his kisses feel.

So I laughed again. “I’m pretty sure there are rules against this sort of thing at astronaut boot camp.”

“I sure hope so,” said Wilder, “or it wouldn’t be nearly as fun.”

So being kicked out of this amazing astronaut boot camp is worth some fling that you’re pretty sure is not going to last? Come on, Maisie. You’re supposed to be smart.

My heart revved like a lawn mower. It was supposed to be a joke. But speaking those words made me feel them, believe them. I missed him, as if he were Luther or my family, someone I cared for who was far away.

This is about 7% into the story. Apparently, Wilder is as important as her family now.

I glanced up to see if he was bored. Instead I felt his hand on my cheek and his lips on mine. Just a touch, a softness, a greeting. One kiss that lasted seven rapid heartbeats.

We’re barely into the book, and they’re already making out.

However, I must say that I do like that Maisie grows as a person throughout the book, and I’m really glad she was able to see that her feelings were not as strong as she had thought it to be. It showed a lot of growth and maturity on her part. I also like the fact that she’s a geek. I’m a geek. I relate.

Romance:The romance is incredibly cheesy and the least interesting part of this book. There’s a love triangle and instalove. The love triangle is predictable: the best friend or a new, smooth (sometimes jerky) guy. The best friend love interest is barely even in the book, and once again, it felt like an add-on. The book could have done without it, so I don’t see the point. In addition, Maisie and Wilder’s relationship goes way too fast for it to be believable, and there are a lot of cheesy lines. Here are some examples:

“A homeschooled, black-eyed Latina.” He whistled. “You are turning into a very ripe fruit for the plucking.”

“You be Europa, and I’ll be your Jupiter.”

“You’d better not talk about microscopes anymore,” he whispered, “or I don’t know if I can control myself.”

Finishing Thoughts: Overall, this book is okay. I’m not too happy with the plot, but it does get better toward the end. There are a lot of missed opportunities in this book which is very disappointing. If you liked Hale’s earlier works, I’m not quite sure you would like this one. I wish that it focused more on the plot rather than the romance which ended up being a very weak aspect for me. This book held a lot of promise, but ultimately, it fell short.

Book Review: The Troop by Nick Cutter

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This book is okay. As most people have mentioned, this book is very reminiscent of Stephen King’s style. Although it is not badly written, I found the story itself lacking. I should probably mention that I am an avid horror fan, so my standards for gore are pretty high. This is probably why I was not pulled in by this book. I expected it to scare me, but this book failed to deliver on that. However, I will say that the premise is interesting, and I did feel grossed out at certain points of the story. It just isn’t the kind of grossed out that lingers for days.

Story: As I said, The Troop is quite predictable. I also would have liked for it to have paid more attention to the survival aspect of the story. This is a book about a group of boy scouts being stuck on an island with a deadly parasite, so I expected a lot more survival struggles. At times this book felt drawn out, and it was one of those books where I felt as if I’d been reading so much only to find out I’ve barely made a dent in the book. It just didn’t captivate me.

Characters: The characters felt very clichéd. The dialogue felt juvenile and too boyish for me. I suppose it just wasn’t my cup of tea, but I’m sure it would appeal more to a younger and male audience. I did like the relationships between the boys though. I found myself rooting for them wholeheartedly.

The Gore: The gore was okay. I’ve seen worse. It certainly didn’t make me want to throw up my lunch. However, I’d attribute that to the fact that I rarely am ever affected by gore to the point where it would make my stomach churn. That’s just me though, but I’m sure a lot of other people would find this book terrifying, so I would definitely recommend this to horror and gore fans. I do have to warn readers that there is a substantial amount of animal abuse in this story, so if you are offended by that sort of thing, I would avoid this book. That was probably the most terrifying aspect of this book for me. In fact, I skipped those parts.

The Writing: The writing is not bad. I thought quite a few of the descriptions were very well done. It made me feel icky, so kudos to the writer for that. As I said before, I had a problem with the dialogue as it felt too juvenile and boyish for me, but that’s just a matter of personal preference.

Overall: This book is a good debut, and I’d be happy to read more from the author. There’s a lot of room for improvement, but it’s a good start. I would definitely recommend this to a younger, male audience as well as horror and gore fans.

Book Review: Horroscape by Nenia Campbell

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As with Fearscape, I could not bring myself to put this book down. There is so much suspense, and the readers are on their toes the entire time. Horroscape is much darker than Fearscape, and I loved it. I t made sense. These aren’t kids anymore, and the development of the characters from the first book is very well done.

Plot: It’s been three years since Val’s encounter with her stalker, Gavin. She’s damaged but trying to move on with her life. All is well until her friends get invited to a party. This party is not like any other. Their host plays games with them, and they are dangerous. The stakes are high and their time limited. The key to the game is to survive.

“The game you have elected to play is a very dangerous one… There is no time limit – except for the one on your lives.”

I love the whole concept of this book. I love the games and the dark tension underneath it all. There are a lot of twists and turns that had me wanting more and kept me turning the pages. I will say that I would have liked for it have been more of a psychological thriller. I wanted the characters to doubt themselves, and I wanted them to be conflicted inside during the game – make them rethink their values. This was very well done with Valerian throughout the book, so I would have liked the other characters to go through something similar. Overall though, the plot is fantastic.

Characters: As with the first book, I love Val. From the start, I can see that she is not the same person that she was back then. She is no longer as naïve and innocent and trusting as she was back then. It completely makes sense considering the circumstances, but what made this book great is the fact that Val is still recognizable. There is still that light inside her – that innate goodness that I loved from the first book.

But he did. And you liked it, you know you did. Because deep down, you’re fucked-up.

And she shook her head, recalling even as she did so how right it felt to have him on top of her, walking a thin line between dangerous and deadly. How he could do things with this mouth she only thought possible in books, and how she had never imagined that pain could exist apart from agony, and oh, if he could do those things with his mouth, what could he do with the rest of his body?

The best part of this book is Val’s emotions. They feel so utterly real. I understand her feelings. I understand why Val is conflicted, and I can feel it in myself.  She is attracted to this man, but it’s overridden by her fear and rightfully so. She is so very well-done, and I absolutely adore her character.

The villains were always ugly in books and movies. Necessarily so, it seemed. Because if they were attractive – if their looks matched their charm and their cunning – they wouldn’t only be dangerous. They would be irresistible.

“You needn’t look at me like that. I’m not going to attack you.” Val went rigid and the smile became a sultry grin. “I might bite you a little, though.”

She had seen it once before – a cold, determined look incapable of mercy.

Gavin is such a great antagonist and character. You fear him, but there is a luring quality about that fear. However, I love the fact that Campbell has not romanticized him. He is primal, and the readers’ ultimate reaction to him is fear. Underneath that is appeal, yes, but that is quickly buried with the fear for this emotionless and cruel man. Gavin is charming and alluring, but he is also cold and psychotic. This is not about love for him. It’s about control and submission.

I also love that this book doesn’t simply have characters thrown uselessly in the background. It feels as if they are a vital part of the story. They are not one-dimensional. They are brought to life. They have backgrounds and emotions, and I really enjoyed seeing things from their points of view. It made the book complete and more real. It’s not all about Val and Gavin. There are other people that have been thrown into this unfair and dangerous situation, and I love that we get to see that.

The Writing: Fantastic as always. There is so much tension and danger throughout the book. You can’t let your guard down. The writing is dark and so very well done. It’s perfect for this book, and I loved it. Campbell really knows how to get into the minds of her characters and make the reader a part of the story. She allows us to connect with these characters, and we root for them.

Overall: This is a great read. As I said, I would have liked to see more struggles from the characters and see exactly how the game was affecting their psyche, but there are so many great aspects of this book for this to overshadow them. I would recommend this book in an instant. It is riveting, intriguing, and brilliant. I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of the next book in the series.

Book Review: Fearscape by Nenia Campbell

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

You can’t escape from me Valerian. I want you – and very soon I intend to catch you. To cage you. To make you mine. Forever.

It’s official. I’ve lost my mind. I loved this book. It’s filled with page-turning suspense that makes the readers unable to put it down while bringing the creepy/stalker/obsessive love interest trope to a whole new level. It is fantastic and had me throwing out everything I know out the window, rendering me completely mesmerized, frightened, and intrigued by the enigma that is Gavin.

‘Imprison me?’ ‘Never be free?’ ‘Ravish?’ These words and phrases evoked violent images that made her shudder. And part of her couldn’t help but suspect that this was the intended effect.

Plot: This book is about innocent fourteen-year-old Valerian (Val) who has an obsessive, creepy stalker leaving her terrifying messages. She meets Gavin who is the school loner, and he terrifies her to no end, but she is drawn to him. As much as she fears his primal self, she finds herself unable to resist the attraction and intrigue. As things progress, her life becomes threatened, and Gavin increasingly shows similarities to her deranged stalker.

I like this book a lot. The plot is suspenseful, dark, and intriguing, leaving me unable to put it down. From the first pages of this book, you can feel Val’s fear of what lies in the shadows. It is a bit predictable at times, but the writing more than makes up for it. The reason I refrain from giving this book five stars is because sometimes the events in the book seems unrealistic. For example, I think there was a fair amount of evidence to put the stalker behind bars. I get that it goes along with the story, but it felt a bit rushed and unrealistic to me.

Characters: I loved Val. She’s innocent, naïve, and very well-written.

Val was delicate. Smart and sweet and beautiful, but delicate as a hothouse flower.

Her dialogues with the people around her sound like the conversations I had with my friends when I was younger. I sympathized with this girl because I felt the lure of Gavin myself. I could see myself in her place, feeling everything she is feeling. All in all, Val is a great character, and I can’t wait to see the development after the time-skip in the second installment of the series.

Gavin sat up. “Beauty. Innocence.” He drew her closer. “Submissiveness.”

“I sometimes think I’m more beast than man.”

“If you run from me, I will pursue.”

And then there’s Gavin. Gavin makes me want to throw all my common sense out the window. He is so intriguing and sexy, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I’m completely surprised and awed at Campbell’s ability to make me forget my hate for the obsessive love interest trope. I wanted so badly to root for him, and I found myself wanting to deny the facts in front of me like Val. There is a depth to him that makes me want to know more. Gavin is wonderfully written and is a character I will not be forgetting any time soon.

On the other hand, a character I had a problem with and what kept me from giving this book five stars is the mother. Val’s mother finds out about her daughter’s stalker and doesn’t call the police. I feel as if this is just careless. This guy could be dangerous, and she doesn’t alert the authorities. I can clearly see that she loves her daughter, so I thought it was a bit unrealistic that she wouldn’t get the police involved with the matter. Also, Gavin is eighteen while Val is fourteen. I find it unrealistic that she would not take this news more seriously.

Romance: This is a very dark love story gone horribly wrong. I’m sure you can guess that from the summary, but it is so intriguing at the same time. I wanted to see more of it. There is so much tension here. It’s creepy, and it brought a chill up my spine. The sexual tension is beautifully written and feels very much real.

Every time she closed her eyes, she felt his breath on her neck, that firm, insistent pressure on her lips – and that vague impression that he was hunting her, like a deer in the woods. A dark huntsman.

The Writing:It is dark and everything I would expect from a book of this nature, and it is very enjoyable. Campbell has a fantastic and beautiful way of writing that flows nicely and reads easily. I absolutely love the way she draws parallels to Val’s situation with the game of chess and primal animalistic behavior. It’s chilling and very well done.

Overall: This is a fantastic read. Some parts are a bit unrealistic, but regardless, I really love this book. I usually peg the creeper love interest as a negative thing, but Nenia Campbell has proven to me that it can be done right. She does not romanticize it. She makes it feel real in a terrifying way. I’m very much looking forward to reading the next book.

 

Book Review: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe

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Actual Rating: 1.5

Overall: For about 90% of this novel, I fully intended to give this book a one star. However, I must admit that it did pique my interest somewhat towards the end of the book. Hence, I raised the rating to 1.5 instead. That being said, I still would not recommend this book because a book shouldn’t become interesting only at the end and the amount of slut shaming in this book is completely unnecessary and offensive.

Plot:This book is about a girl named Anne Merchant who transfers to a super duper exclusive rich school, but this school is not like others. For starters, everyone is competing ruthlessly for the Big V (no, this does not mean what you think it means). The Big V is a race to become Valedictorian, but good grades alone can’t get you the title. Each person gets a guardian who looks into their soul. Apparently, Anne Merchant has a seductive soul. I’m serious. So, you have to decide on how you’re going to live for the next two years – this is called someone’s PT. So if you have a PT of being selfish. This means you steal from people, you stomp on as many people you can to get what you want, etc. You pretty much live like an asshole. And this asshole can become Valedictorian.

The plot is the best part of this book, and that’s not saying much as I didn’t like it very much. I only say this because it simply is the most tolerable part of the book and the reason I read on. I just wanted to find out what the heck was up with this weird-ass school.

Character:Anne is one of the worst main characters I’ve read in a while. She is stupid, judgemental, and just all around annoying. She literally needs everything spelled out for her and takes offense in everything said to her. This is from someone who has a PT of looking closer. She’s supposedly super smart and at the top of her class. Riiiight. And I’m a sparkling rainbow fairy.

“I think half the guys in here were pitching tents watching you.”

When she arrives at the school, she magically grows boobs. I am not kidding. She friggin grows boobs, and suddenly everyone wants her. This particular dialogue happens right after the infamous Dance Battle of this book. There’s a freakin’ dance off in the book. I wish I was kidding.

“You ready to take this on?” she asks. Not asks. Demands.

“Take what on?”

“This!” She runs her hands up and down her body. “Right here. Right now.”

“Wait. Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”

She wants to battle. She wants a dance-off.

Dun dun dun. Oooooh it’s soooo on right now.

Laughing, I pull out my California street-dancing swagger, which is insanely tough in this dress and heels, but I can’t help myself. This song is begging for some boom-pop, and I am all over that.

Please no, Anne. Nobody wants to see this, Anne.

The worst aspect of this book is, hands down, the slut shaming. God, there was so many. It’s a pathetic attempt to make Anne look righteous and good because obviously, everyone else is a skank but Anne. This is coming from a supposed outcast herself – the creepy mortician’s daughter. Bitch.

Their bodies, hair, makeup – even the way they rock their uniforms – are undeniable signs of their power on campus and their expectations of a perfectly charmed life, which their daddies will guarantee them. Like four slightly oversexed dolls, they stand at arm’s length from me, thrusting out their cleavage, tossing their straightened silky hair over their shoulders and pursing their pouty, glossy lips.

This of course is before she even talks to these girls. And more slut shaming.

She’s over-the-top sleazy.

“ultra-hooker shoes they have”

There are tons more where that came from, but I won’t torture you guys. Way to be tolerant, Anne. Way to look closer.

Romance: So boring. So so boring. The love interest, Ben, is the most boring character ever. I can’t even make a paragraph about him because he’s so boring. Oh, but he does think Anne is speshul.

“Because you’re different from the rest of us.”

God knows why he’s interested in Anne. He says she‘s smart. Cue laughter from me. Oh Ben. Silly Ben.  Poor misguided Ben.

Finishing Thoughts: I don’t recommend this. It’s boring and quite honestly, aggravating with all the slut shaming and stupidity of Anne Merchant who by the way apparently has a blonde afro. Look at the cover and tell me what you see. I don’t think so, Anne.

So this was a complete dud. Thank you, Anne, for wasting my time. Thank you for reminding how to hate a main character. Most importantly, thank you for being a complete and utter bitch.

 

 

Book Review: Above by Isla Morley

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This book is okay. The main problem I had with this book is that it feels like it’s two books crammed into one. The first half deals with the kidnapping and the captivity of Blythe while the other half deals with the aftermath of the escape. The biggest issue I had with this is that the tone of the book changed instantly. I would have much preferred it to be a gradual change because it made the book feel inconsistent.

Plot: I definitely preferred the first half of this book. It seemed less rushed. It certainly made me gasp and feel horrified. It’s about a girl named Blythe who is kidnapped by the school librarian and paranoid prepper, Dobbs. The first half of the book tells the story of her years in captivity. I thought this was quite well done for the most part. The next half of the book is about what happens after the escape. I won’t give away anything, but it seems as if there is something to what Dobbs was saying after all.

I like that this book makes you think. It deals with captivity, hatred, finding hope, forgiveness, and belonging. However, the writing is a quite messy sometimes and jumps around a lot which was quite distracting. I found myself having to reread things which definitely took away from the story. And overall, I wanted to feel hope. In captivity stories, hope should be one of the main aspects of the story, but I didn’t feel that here. For the most part, all I felt was horror and fear which I was not fond of.

Characters: I had a big problem with Blythe. Her emotions and reactions didn’t feel quite real, and I couldn’t connect with her, and in a book about captivity, this connection is essential. For quite a while I thought this was set a long time ago because Blythe is very old-fashioned, but it turns out that’s not the case.

I also had a problem with her son, Adam. I understand that Adam has never seen the world above the silo, so he is very innocent and naïve, but it was just too much. Adam makes a lot of stupid mistakes like calling attention to them when they’re trying to escape. He is too childlike. For example, there is a scene where they must keep walking and avoid being followed and pursued, and Adam sees a dog. No matter how much his mother tells him no and that it would only hinder their progress, Adam is stubborn and wants the dog. Adam is hardheaded and naïve to the point of being irritating.

Overall, I thought this book was okay. I’m not a big fan of the writing because I feel it’s a bit jumpy and messy, but I did like reading about the silo years. It made me feel fear, hope, hatred, and love. I definitely would have liked more consistency from this book and more realistic characters. This book says that it is a cross between Room and Lovely Bones, but I feel as if it is more like Room, so I would recommend this to people who liked Room. I can see the appeal, but it just wasn’t for me.

Book Review: Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

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This book was an absolute pleasure to read. It was magical. It was charming. It was exciting. It was just absolutely fantastic. I highly recommend this book for its wonderful storytelling and unique storyline and characters.

Plot: The book is about a talented singer named Cecile, who is kidnapped and taken to an underground city of trolls called Trollum. Here, she is forced to marry the prince of trolls, Tristan, because they believe she is the girl destined to free them from the curse that has kept them from going out in the sun all these centuries. Lo and behold, not everything is what it seems. There are hidden agendas, conspiracies, betrayals, and deceptions.

The plot is amazing. I didn’t know how much I could love a book centered on trolls, but now I know the answer. A lot. The world is fantastic, but there is a darkness to it. Beneath the magic to Trollum lie a lot of issues. There is prejudice, slavery, and a lot of hatred and bitterness. There are layers to the story that makes the readers unable to put the book down.

Characters: The characters are fantastic and very well developed. I have high standards for young adult heroines, and Cecile did not disappoint. Yes, she is scared and dejected at first, but who wouldn’t be? Despite every obstacle in her way though, hope glimmered inside her, and I found myself really loving her character. I sympathized with her. She is an innocent girl who got caught up in something much bigger than herself. She is bold, stubborn, selfless, and compassionate. She refuses to sit around and be idle when there is so much secrecy going around, and it makes the readers root for her.

The leading man is just as brilliant. Tristan comes off as cold and snarky at first, but it ends up making sense. He is witty and clever, and this, paired with Cecile’s own boldness and cleverness, makes for some pretty awesome dialogue throughout the story. Tristan is loyal to his subjects. He is kind and would do anything for the people he loves. This is what a main love interest should be like. Tristan is sarcastic and confident, but it doesn’t translate into being a jackass. I loved him as a character, and together, they made for a great couple.

Romance: I am not a fan of romance. I have said this many times, but this is the kind of book that makes me want to read about love and whatnot. The romance between Cecile and Tristan feels real. It snuck up on me. There is no instalove thank goodness. And no love triangles! Hallelujah! There is, however, chemistry there and tension that makes the romance so worthwhile. And even though romance is a big aspect of this novel, it didn’t overshadow the wonderful plot and world the author has painted for us, which is a great achievement.

World-Building: The world is absolutely fantastic and mesmerizing. I could feel the magic, and I felt as if I was truly there. Trollum is dark and dim, but it is overflowing with magnificent magic. It is an otherworldly place that I couldn’t get enough off. The hierarchy with the trolls, half-bloods, and humans is well developed and a nice addition to the plot. It is unfair, and it feels real. It’s a parallel to the real world we live in, so it makes us connect with these characters. It makes this wholly magical place feel real. We want to root for these people – see good triumph evil.

Overall, I would recommend this book in a heartbeat. It’s a wonderful fantasy book filled with tons of magic that will leave you wanting more. I am very much looking forward to the next installment.

Book Review: Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker

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I wanted to like this book. I really did. It deals with a  lot of very deep issues that play a huge role in modern society: PTSD, depression, anxiety, etc. The main problem with this book is that it feels as if it’s using these issues simply to make readers feel bad. It’s as if integrating these issues in a book will excuse any bad behavior on the characters’ parts. No. Just no.

Kacey is so unlikeable. I feel bad for her, yes, but the author gives me absolutely no reason to like her. She is judgemental and hypocritical. Other people are bad for being strippers and sluts, yet she can have intimate encounters without the same stigma. Why? What makes her so special? Anyone who makes a move on Trent is a slut, and she constantly envisions hurting these people. She is broken, but the message I got from this book is that a woman needs a man to heal. What happened to being independent? How can you heal when you need someone to make you happy? I don’t want to think that a woman’s happiness depends solely on a man and that girls need guys to fix their problems for them, but that’s what I got from Kacey.

And the relationship with Trent is just wrong. No. Please just no. It is one of the most dysfunctional and messed up couple that I have ever had the displeasure of reading. Trent falls instantly in love with Kacey, and he constantly uses sexual blackmail to get her to open up. No. How is this romantic? A person must be willing to heal and get help. You can’t just make someone go to therapy on the grounds that you won’t sleep with them.

The writing itself is not bad, but there was just so many problems I had with the book overall. There is a lot of slutshaming. A person’s appearance doesn’t define who they are. It’s sad that I have to say that – that it’s not common sense by now. We are constantly reminded of people’s appearances in the novel. Kacey is hot. Livie is hot. Storm is hot. Trent is hot. Everyone’s hot. Geez.

The ending is so unrealistic. How can a book that promised a realistic premise with all of its issues end with such a clean ending? Everything is fixed. Everything is all good. They just work themselves out. What could have been a redeeming aspect for this novel is treated with such little care. We could have seen Kacey grow. We could have seen her heal without the help of Trent, but alas, we do not get this.

Overall, I really wanted to like this book, but I couldn’t. Everything just felt so melodramatic and unrealistic. I have had little interest in reading New Adult books, and this book has just made me even more wary of the genre.

Oh and one more thing. Stalking is in no way hot or sweet or charming. It just isn’t.

Book Review: ARV-3 by Cameo Renae

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It seems as if those infected with the ARV-3 serum survived the apocalypse, but there were major side effects. There was something in the serum which caused them to mutate. They have become violent cannibals.

The creature was completely hairless, and its skin creased with countless wrinkles, appearing scabrous and leathery. It was horribly pale. Purplish blue veins protruded and snaked all over its body.

You can probably tell that this is a book about an apocalyptic world where a virus has spread. A serum that was supposed to save the people that were not fortunate enough to get to a hive underground turned them into cannibalistic monsters instead. Think The Walking Dead but with faster zombies/mutants.

Overall, I thought this book was okay, but damn did I love the scenes with the mutants, called Arvies. I love the action, the chase, and the feeling of being trapped. This book got me in the mood to read other zombie books because it keeps you on your toes. You never know when an Arvy is going to pop out of nowhere, and eerily enough they’re not brainless. They communicate. That was, hands down, the best part of this book. There were guns. There were swords. There were bombs. In other words, I love the action.

For this reason, it is a shame that the second half of this book took such a drastic turn. It went from being a kickass survival story into an average teen drama.  Action was still there at times, but I wasn’t kept in suspense. I wasn’t itching to read what was next because it didn’t have the same feel or atmosphere at all. I would have easily given this book a three or four stars, but because of how average I thought the latter part of the book was, I cannot bring myself to do so.

Just as I had it focused in my sites, its milky white eyes snapped up to me. What the –? It took me off guard, and was freaking me out, because its eyes never left me. It suddenly bared its teeth, and then… It held up its decrepit fingers, like a gun, and pretended to shoot me!

This is the kind of stuff you find in the first half of the book.

“OMG! Are they hot?” She whispered giddily, taking hold of my shoulders.

I hesitated. OMG. Was she serious?

OMG! Was he freaking serious.

This is the kind of stuff you find in the second half of the book. Abi, the main character, and her friend Tina are constantly snickering and giggling, and it just takes away from the whole feel of the book. OMG yeah.

The romance in this book wasn’t very interesting. I just never had a chance to see them as being romantically involved before the main character spelled it out for the reader. What happened to subtlety? I do, however, love the tight-knit group. Even though they’re not all blood related, they act as a family, protecting one another no matter what, and it’s very touching. I love the family dynamic going on here, and it’s one of the best parts of this book.  Plus, Abi is pretty kickass.

Overall, I am interested in seeing how this plays out, but at the same time, it’s not on my top priority. In the next installment, more action and Arvies would be great.

A tear trailed down my face as we stepped further and further away from our past and headed north toward our future.