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. 

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: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

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What have I just read? I was fooled once again. I was fooled by high ratings and a pretty cover. Shame on me. This book was so bland. It is yet another cheesy romance young adult novel hiding under the guise of “paranormal.” 

First of all, let me talk about the plot. This book has 452 pages. I wanted to give up by page 200. Things just kept dragging on and on, and the writing is so uninteresting that I was finding myself forcing myself to trudge on. The story starts out a mystery, then romance , and then bam! It’s paranormal. The reader is left saying “huh” with a question mark on their face. The only remotely interesting plot points are the at the start with the mystery and the end with the paranormal. The book would have been much better if they centered around those two genres more and offered up explanations along the way – not just come at you like a truck in the end. Everything else should have been cut out because it was so boring. The romance was just awful.

The characters were so typical. Although I didn’t find myself hating Mara, I didn’t find myself rooting for her either. I couldn’t care less what happened to her quite honestly. The love interest, Noah, is a pretentious douchebag who feels superior because he’s from Europe and is “more cultured.” And of course, like every other cliched young adult novel, the author uses a popular, slutty girl with apparently no morals or any good in her. This ploy to try and get us to sympathize with Mara was not effective, and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at how obvious and one-dimensional the characters were. There was no depth. It was just bland personalities and overused stereotypes.

The romance was terribly uninteresting. You’ve got mister Noah Shaw who is oh so gorgeous and has bedded pretty much every girl at school and Mara Dyer who is your plain Jane with little experience with guys. Of course, Mara is the first girl Noah ever cares about, and to prove it, he drives her to school! Shocking! I know. Oh and it’s terribly romantic how Christian Grey  Noah orders for Mara and beats other guys up for her. Why? Why are these assholes so popular? Noah wasn’t as bad as some other male protagonists, but he was still quite annoying – his character being utterly unoriginal. Been there, done that.

My final verdict? This is a skippable title. There’s nothing new to this story. We’ve all seen it before. It’s the same old young adult novel equation with new variables.

Book Review: The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist

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Today’s book review is going to be on The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist. I’ve been meaning to read this one for a while, and I finally got a chance to do so. With such a beautiful cover, I just had to have this on my bookshelf, and as for the book itself, it’s quite a nice read.

Synopsis. The book revolves around the lives of two girls, and each chapter switches from their points of views. It starts off with Elara’s story line where she is an orphaned girl living a Cinderella-like life with an abusive mistress. She knows nothing of her past, so when her teacher gives her a book from her mother, she knows she must follow this lead. It leads her to the royal capital where the Masked Princess is having a masquerade. The story line switches to that of the Masked Princess, otherwise known as Princess Wilha. Princess Wilha has been made to wear masks ever since she was a child, and she has no idea why. For this reason, rumors surrounding her have surfaced such as her having the power to either kill or heal people with her eyes. The girls meet face to face after an assassination attempt and so begins their journey of finding out the secrets that have been kept from them.

Plot. The plot of this book was nothing groundbreaking, but it was a nice, quick read. It was terribly predictable, but I still cared enough about the characters to continue on, and I don’t regret finishing the book. If you’re a fan of fairy tales and stories like the Princess and the Pauper, then this is a book you should definitely check out. I will say, however, that overall this book feels a bit incomplete and has a lot of loose ends. I know it’s the first book in the series but I expect it to have a level of coherence and completeness which I felt was a bit lacking in this story.

Characters. This is where the story shines for me. I love the two main characters, Elara and Wilha. They are so different, and the dynamic between them is absolutely brilliant. You feel the bitterness. You feel the sympathy. It’s great. The characters completely make up for the lack of depth in the story for me. They are just so believable and real. Their personalities completely match their backgrounds. Elara, being from an abusive family, is guarded and cunning while Wilha, having been sheltered within the castle walls, is obedient and naive. Another great aspect of this book were the relationships between the characters. They were not rushed and were allowed time to develop, and you find yourself rooting for the characters all the way.

Romance. This is a young adult novel, so the romance was definitely toned down. There were kisses and fluffy moments, but I like my books to be more intense with the chemistry and tension. However, it does fit in with the whole tone of the book and fairy tale aspect, so I can’t necessarily say that it’s a bad thing. For that reason and the fact that the writing style is very simple, I recommend it to younger readers. It is quite an innocent book for the exception of one lecherous character. Overall, the romance was nice and sweet. A little bit boring for me but to each his own.

Anyway, I would definitely recommend this book to lovers of fantasy and  romance. I had quite a fun night reading it because it’s a very cute story and it’s a very easy read. I’m glad to say that I shall be reading the next installment of the series when it comes out next year. What did you guys think of this book?