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review 2018-09-27 02:31
Inception: Like It Says, Just a Beginning
Inception - Bianca Scardoni Inception - Bianca Scardoni
I know I'm supposed to be a little more forgiving of YA vampire novels than ones aimed at an adult audience, but Inception makes that job harder than usual. The first page starts it off pretty well, promising an intriguing story of how everybody lied to the protagonist and now she has to deal with it. And over the course of the novel this turns out to be true. So on paper, that level of plotting isn't the easiest thing in the world and nets some admiration from me… but I can't shake the feeling that I've read this book before.

Let's see if I can hit all the clichés without spoiling too much of the plot. I think the moment it started for me was when Jemma, the new-girl-at-the-high-school protagonist, dropped her books and the dreamy love interest picked them up for her. It continued through the bad boy one immediately pegs as a vampire turns out to be, yep, a vampire. But that one's a little forgivable because this is YA (younger readers may not have read as many vamp books as adults) and there's a spell on the protagonist that prevents her from cluing in to vampiric presences. The moment where it stopped being fun for me was when the protagonist turned out to be a vampire Slayer… yes, of all the terms in the world, that's the one the author chose.

There's a world-building info dump about Nephilim and supernatural bloodlines, which might have scored some points if it weren't followed by a barrage of labels like Shifters and Keepers and Casters, all coming at me until I totally did not care. Almost every named character in the elite high school is a supernatural woogums of some sort or another, and somehow they can keep their mouths shut about it unlike every high school student I've ever met.

This is too bad, because the characters have some decent interplay amongst the stereotypes; rather than just being standard shallow teens, they're motivated as often as not by convincing reasons like "If I don't lie about this important thing, it may lead to my death or hers." This lends the story a little weight and some nice characterization. There's also some genuine angst as Jemma's backstory gets explored through magical means. 

But that doesn't matter as much as you might think, because like so many urban fantasy series these days, Inception is just the first volume and doesn't have a proper ending or climax. It's a cliffhanger, and so can't be judged on the merits of its incomplete story. Plot threads that might have come together to give the protagonist more trouble (like the jealous mean girl who exemplifies the non-supernatural life Jemma can't get together) just kind of fizzle with a promise that the next book will answer all my questions. I remain unconvinced. I'm rating this 2.5 out of 5, with the 0.5 extra for the layered characterization. I'd be on the fence about recommending it to a YA audience. I liked it better than Twilight but considerably less than strong YA bestsellers like Hunger Games or HP. It did manage to soak up a lot of time on my flight to Beijing, though, so at least it's got that going for it.

 

Source: www.amazon.com/Inception-Dark-Paranormal-Romance-Marked-ebook/dp/B015KOI7F0/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1538013322&sr=8-5&keywords=bianca+scardoni
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review 2016-02-26 15:44
ARC Review – The Covenant, by M LeAnne Phoenix
The Covenant (The Covenant Series Book 1) - M. LeAnne Phoenix

The story runs, skips, and ducks, and my heart is in my throat most of the time, never thinking the boys will make it out in one piece. But they duck like pros, so there is HEA at the end. **phew**

 

I have no idea what the author wants to do with these boys going forwards, as this is book 1 in a series. There is, however, a good feeling of completion at the end, so it is certainly a stand-alone book.

 

All the biblical stuff just swooshed past me, as I am not much of a christian at all, but it was a fun backdrop to the telling of this specific covenant between a David and a Jonathan. It is set in Texas in the early 90s, and that can’t have been an easy time and place in which to be gay. When we get angry about things today, it does us good to look back, just a few years, and see how far we have come, after all.

 

There were a lot of teenage sexy times in this book. I never really understood how old the boys were, but I surmise underage, even if not by much, which might rub some people the wrong way. It was never explicit, nor exploitative, but quite insistent. Mostly, it was teenage hormones boiling in their blood. That’s good, if you like that kind of thing. For me personally, it got to be a tad too much, but then again, I’m currently off the sexy.

 

There were a lot of people in the story, and among the very memorable secondary characters, I loved the little boys best—Elijah and Cody were hilarious. They waltzed straight into my heart.

 

All in all, this is a really cute book, with a good story that made me happy.

 

***

 

I was given a review copy of this book from the publisher, Cool Dudes Publishing. A positive review wasn’t promised in return.

Source: annalund2011.booklikes.com/post/1349607/arc-review-the-covenant-by-m-leanne-phoenix
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review 2015-12-29 17:48
Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard

The premise of Red Queen definitely held my interest - a young girl is trapped in a society ruled by "Silvers" who possess god-like abilities and can master the elements.  Mare Barrow is a "Red," an individual enslaved by the Silvers living among people with no magical abilities. Mare is viewed as a disappointment to her family as she possesses few skills other than a talent for thievery, and her outlook in life is bleak.  She is expected to join the army, but a chance encounter with a stranger leads her to be employed as a servant of the King and the discovery of an ability she had no idea she possessed.  Mare masquerades as a Silver as she learns to control her new-found ability and develops a plan to help the Reds in their cause to gain equality and freedom.

 

I enjoyed reading this story immensely in spite of some major problems that exist with the plot. I love a book that has high political stakes intertwined with conflicting family allegiances, and in many ways this book definitely delivers a satisfying and adventurous tale.

 

I was engrossed in the world Aveyard created....but I honestly wanted a bit more world-building than what we were given.  If you're going to a write fantasy novel, you must go ALL IN and create an epic conflict that will captivate your audience. The war described in the book is far too vague and is reminiscent of so many other conflicts that plague YA fantasy novels.  Every territory in this world has a political structure in which there is a Silver monarchy and an enslaved Red population.  If the primary conflict is a power struggle among Silver nobility within these regions and the Silvers possess unthinkable abilities, including mind control, then why would powerless Red soldiers need to be conscripted into the King's army to fight its battles?  This would be comparable to a muggle army joining death eaters under the command of Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter books to fight in a war against other wizards......which would make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

 

There's also the issue of Mare's new-found ability. It takes an extraordinary suspension of belief to accept that Mare's power remained dormant throughout her childhood. Given the degree of oppression and violence experienced by the Reds, it is difficult to believe that she has never been exposed to a stressful event that would trigger her ability and make it apparent to others, especially her family, that she is different.

 

Although there are some glaring issues with the plot, I am hopeful that some of these kinks will be worked out in the next book of the series and excited to see how the characters will work together to survive given the numerous lies and betrayals that take place at the conclusion of this story. 

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review 2015-02-23 23:08
The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger
The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend - Kody Keplinger

I've heard mixed reviews about this book, but I decided to finally read it.  Honestly, I wasn't very impressed.  The plot consists of the main character Bianca (aka The Duff) hooking up with her high school's most notorious playboy Wesley even though she laments over and over again how much she "hates" him.  There's a lot of angst and every chapter is filled with either Bianca hooking up with Wesley or thinking about their next rendezvous (or chastising herself for wanting to be with him all the time).  It wasn't horrible to read but this type of story has been told many times and has been executed a lot better by other authors.

 

 

 

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review 2015-01-13 22:53
Cassette from my Ex: Stories and Soundtracks of Lost Loves
Cassette From My Ex: Stories and Soundtracks of Lost Loves -

I found a receipt inside my copy from Borders dated 3/24/10 which shows that A. M. Mullen bought this book in Peoria IL (they had the full name listed which I find pretty invasive for a receipt but what the heck do I know)

Sadly--this little tidbit was about as interesting as the book.

I loved making mix-tapes, having a bunch of favorite songs on one tape--the ones you listened to when your day needed a pick-up, the ones you made to take to work or for the bus ride to help psych yourself up for the day ahead. I loved the few mix-tapes I received, mostly from co-workers. Some of my favorite music came from being introduced to things via mix-tape (Thank you Justin Lacher!!)

1 star for the idea, 1 star for the section by Rick Moody & Stacey Richter and 1 star for making me look up this song (the only song I was tempted to look up which is very sad for a book about music!) which Julie Shapiro claims is ..."one of the most romantic songs ever written."


Crimpshrines--Pretty Mess

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