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review 2018-11-13 12:39
There Are Monsters... and There Are Monsters!
This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity) - Victoria Schwab

I am pretty much torn on this. There are things I like about This Savage Song, and there are some I don't. For instance, the world building isn't much impressive and although it has its own uniqueness, its not the kind that pulls the readers into the universe of Verity. There are other good points in this that I will point out.

 

Kate Harker is a Harker - a human living in a city filled with monsters. But a Harker is to be feared. A Harker controls one side of Verity with a shaky truce signed. August Flynn is a monster. He is the third Sunai of the Flynn that controls the other part of Verity. In the city of Verity, there are other monsters that lurks when the sun goes down. And the truce is about to be broken and war is imminent.

 

The beginning chapters feels like a Romeo and Juliet tale. A small introduction of Kate, why she is the way she is to prove herself to her father that she is a Harker and August, trying to fit in with the humans. When they meet, there is some thing exchange between them... until a Malchai attacks Kate that reveals some thing sinister is going on. The first act is slow and there are things I do not like how slow it can get. But after the third act itself, this is where it picks up well. It was towards the end that I thought this book ends as just one book but gave a reason why Our Dark Duet exist as the finale of the duology.

 

To me, this is probably the least like of the series. I actually didn't wanted to start reading Monsters of Verity for some months now but it did took me some time to finally pick this up and read... and took me one of the longest time to finish it. Its a different kind of approach from Victoria Schwab, one I felt she is trying some thing different. Although the creation of monsters is nothing unique, why I gave a four star rating is actually the second part of the book. It is how Victoria Schwab delivers the way she always does.

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review 2018-11-03 23:18
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake

After Cas's father died, killed by one of the ghosts he hunted, Cas inherited his athame and began following in his footsteps. Although his mother knows what he does and does her best to help him with any protective magic she has at her disposal, Cas has never told her his ultimate goal: he wants to become skilled enough to find and kill his father's murderer.

The ghost known as Anna Dressed in Blood will be his final one before confronting the ghost that killed his father. She's powerful - if Cas can beat her, he should be able to handle anything. But Anna isn't like other ghosts Cas has gone up against, and there are things going on in Cas's new city that he is unprepared for.

I was flying through this book when I suddenly hit a reading slump. Nothing except audiobooks could even vaguely hold my attention, and I went several weeks before diving back into this. It's a shame, because it badly interrupted the story's flow. It would have been best if I could have read this in a few big chunks over the course of a week.

Although the book is written in first-person present tense, which generally irks me, I barely noticed it here. It helped that I liked Cas's "voice." He reminded me a bit of the Winchester brothers in the show Supernatural, and the dry humor fit as well. If you're a fan of that show, I'd definitely recommend giving this book a shot.

Cas was a loner by choice who, upon moving to Anna's town, soon found himself reluctantly saddled with a couple people he eventually came to consider friends: a slightly telepathic witch named Thomas and Carmel, one of the popular girls. I liked that they both turned out to be useful in the big climactic battle, in ways that made sense. I'm hoping that Carmel gets more of a chance to shine in the next book. I liked that she didn't fit into the usual "popular girl = awful person" stereotype, although I disliked the potential romance between Thomas and Carmel.

Carmel was a little interested in Cas, but Cas only had eyes for Anna. Since he was out of the picture, Thomas, who had a huge crush on Carmel, seemed like a possibility, except she didn't show the slightest bit of interest in him. There was a line in the book that said something to the effect that Carmel could either end up with Thomas or be a shallow stereotypical popular girl and go back to dating jocks. It bugged me, because not wanting to date Thomas wouldn't be shallow of her - it'd just mean that she wasn't interested in him that way. It's possible to be both a decent person and not be interested in dating the main character's unpopular friend.

I liked Anna and the budding romance between her and Cas, although I dreaded the other characters' very valid reactions once Cas's feelings became more obvious. Even if she hadn't killed someone in front of them, romance between a ghost and a ghost hunter didn't seem like a good idea. But Anna was a pretty awesome ghost, and I liked that Cas admired her strength rather than felt intimidated by it. I did snort a bit at Anna's collection of YA stereotypes. Not only was she the most powerful and unusual ghost Cas had ever met, she also had violet eyes.

Cas had a few moments of stupidity - proving the existence of ghosts and his ghost-hunting prowess by taking untrained newbies on a hunt for a ghost he hadn't even researched, for example - but for the most part he was an enjoyable character. I look forward to eventually reading Girl of Nightmares.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-10-29 06:33
Daughter of the Burning City (audiobook) by Amanda Foody, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller
Daughter of the Burning City - Amanda Foody

Sorina has spent most of her life working in the Gomorrah Festival, a city-sized traveling carnival, as the adopted daughter of the Festival's proprietor, Villiam. Although Sorina is the first known illusion-worker born in a hundred years and will eventually become the Festival's next proprietor, she doesn't feel particularly special. The blank areas of skin where her eyes should be mark her as a freak, even within Gomorrah. And although Villiam is kind and always finds time to talk to her, he doesn't seem to be putting serious effort into training her to be his successor. There is much Sorina still doesn't know about how Gomorrah works.

In addition to Villiam, her adopted father, and Kahina, Sorina's mother figure, Sorina has her other family members, her various illusions. Over the years, she has created several illusions so complex that they appear to almost be real people. Each of them was specifically designed to fulfill a role - Sorina's uncle, bossy older sister, annoying younger siblings, etc. - but each of them also acquired traits that Sorina didn't plan, special "freakish" abilities. They all add a bit of stability to Sorina's life, until one day she discovers something she hadn't thought possible: one of her illusions has been murdered.

Who would have killed an illusion? How did they manage it? Sorina doesn't know who to turn to. Should she trust Villiam, who believes that the killer is an outsider trying to harm him, the proprietor, through her? Or handsome Luca, who believes the killer is someone within the Gomorrah Festival?

I'll start off by saying that the only reason I listened to this was because I needed something I could use for my "Creepy Carnivals" square in Booklikes Halloween Bingo. Even just in the description, there were aspects of this book that didn't appeal to me. The entire setup sounded a bit ridiculous, for one thing, and Sorina's "family" reminded me too much of James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge's The Dangerous Days of Daniel X, a truly terribly YA book. I also rolled my eyes at the whole "first illusion-worker born in a hundred years" thing.

Daughter of the Burning City turned out to be both tedious and gross. I mean, I didn't like the whole "Sorina created nearly all of her friends and family members" aspect, but I didn't expect it to be quite as awful as it was. And the murder "investigation" was just a joke.

I was halfway through the book before anything resembling an on-page investigation started. Villiam swore he was doing a "full investigation," but I couldn't see how that could possibly be true considering that the victims were cleaned up and buried soon after their deaths. Sorina's investigation with Luca wasn't much better. Honestly, it seemed like they were randomly questioning people. I vaguely remember Luca saying something about Gomorrah residents with particularly special abilities (or more than one ability?) being more likely murderer candidates for some reason, but in practice it really just seemed like they were talking to people to fill the time and make Sorina feel like they were doing something useful.

I'll admit that I never figured out the killer's motive on my own, but the killer's identity was such a cliche that I managed to guess it about 15% in, and the oddities in their behavior just kept stacking up. I wasn't impressed at all with the murder mystery storyline.

The romance didn't start off well, but it gradually improved...until it suddenly became one of the top grossest YA romances I've read in a while.

When Sorina and Luca first met, there was some stereotypical "he's so good-looking, but he can't possibly be interested in a freak like me" stuff. Then Sorina learned that Luca was *gasp* not interested in sex. The character who initially told Sorina this said it like it was the most freakish thing she'd ever heard of, and Sorina herself seemed to have trouble wrapping her brain around the idea. After hearing this info about Luca from at least two separate people, Sorina had a conversation with Luca in which she declared the two of them friends, received a lukewarm response, and then decided to kiss him out of the blue. When he didn't respond favorably, she assumed it was at least partly due to her own freakish lack of eyes rather than the fact that she'd forced a kiss on him without his consent and with the knowledge that it might make him uncomfortable.

In a much shorter amount of time than I would have expected, Luca decided that he was okay with kissing Sorina. He explained that he needed to get to know a person before he could feel interested in them (demiromantic?). Considering that he'd also said that he'd never been put in this sort of position before and had never really thought about it, I wondered how he knew the exact words to describe all of this - his panicked confusion felt more real than his later explanation and his sudden willingness to passionately kiss Sorina.

I eventually adjusted to their romance, even though I wasn't a fan of the way it started. However, a revelation late in the book made it all skin-crawlingly gross. This is where I get into major spoiler territory.

At one point, Sorina learns that Luca is actually one of her illusions. Various machinations caused her to forget about his existence, and, if things had gone as planned, Sorina would never have met him again and they'd have lived entirely separate lives. But of course that didn't happen.

What I could not get past was that Sorina had created Luca. Foody tried to smooth this over via Luca telling Sorina that her more person-like illusions always had aspects of themselves she didn't expect. She'd never planned any of their "freakish" abilities, and many of them had private lives she was unaware of. Luca claimed that their romance was perfectly fine because he'd chosen to be with her. What Foody never addressed, however, was the fact that all of Sorina's illusions perfectly aligned with whatever role she'd assigned them to fulfill. Venera was her best friend, because that's what Sorina created her to be. Nicoleta seemed fine with being Sorina's "bossy older sister." And Luca, meanwhile, was created to be Sorina's lover. No, he didn't turn out quite as planned, but in the end he slid right into his assigned role just like all the others.

(spoiler show)

Was consent really possible in a situation like this?

Emily Woo Zeller's narration didn't improve my opinion of this book. She tended to sound overwrought, which I suppose fit Sorina well, but all this did was make Sorina grate on my nerves more. Her voices for the various male characters often sounded cartoonish, and I disliked Nicoleta in large part due to the waspish tone she used for her.

This wasn't a good book in the slightest, but at least it netted me the bingo square I needed, so that's something.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-06-13 20:35
Monday Mini – Brink of Dawn by Jeff Altabef & Erynn Altabef @jeffaltabef
Chosen: Brink of Dawn (Young Adult Fantasy Thriller) - Jeff Altabef,Erynn Altabef,Lane Diamond,Whitney Smyth

I picked up the first book, Wind Catcher on an Amazon free day, so I was very excited when I won a signed paperback of Brink of Dawn, Book II by Jeff & Erynn altabef.

Wind Catcher has won several awards and I am curious to see about this one.

 

There are two covers. Look below, after reading my review, and tell us which you like best.

 

Brink of Dawn (Chosen #2)

Amazon  /  Goodreads

 

MY REVIEW

 

I was excited to have won a paperback copy of Brink of Dawn by Jeff Altabef, after reading the first book in the Chosen series, Wind Catcher. The series is a fantastic teen and young adult fantasy and science fiction read. Brink of Dawn picks up where Wind Catcher left off, but it can stand alone.

 

Juliet Wildfire Stone lives up to her name. She has powers:  hears peoples thoughts and reads their emotions, possess animals, super strength and speed, telekinesis, heals instantly…a regular superhero. She has a destiny and knows there are others out there, like her. There is more than Earth at stake and I am so happy that she has her BFF Tony at her side.

 

This series turned out to be a surprise. It is more than what I was expecting. A group of youngsters out to save th world. Action, danger. They are the chosen and then there’s Troy.They will fight as a team and only death will stop them. The characters grow, develop, and become a family as they fight the good fight .

 

Surprise and thrills and all the young adult goodness makes this a series that kept me reading and entertained and I do want more…there is a Book III, Scorched Souls.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos  4 Stars

 

GOODREADS BLURB

 

Follow-up to the multiple award-winning Wind Catcher

 

They walk among us as if they are gods.
Only the Chosen know what they are.
Only the Chosen know to fear them.
And only the Chosen can defeat them.

 

Evolved Publishing presents the second book in the multiple award-winning Chosen series of young adult mystery thrillers, which feature an American Indian fantasy and supernatural theme, from the same author who brought you the award-winning thriller Shatter Point, and his daughter.

 

Juliet Wildfire Stone and her best friend, Troy Buckhorn, barely escaped their sleepy Arizona town alive. Now they’re speeding to New York City to find the three other Chosen. The Chosen must band together to face an ancient foe that threatens all humanity.

 

Yet Juliet doesn’t know whom to trust, and strange things are happening in the City.

The Chosen will be tested, their resolve questioned, and their flaws exposed. Each must decide whether he or she will fulfill their destiny—or run. To defeat the enemy, they must stop battling among themselves and overcome their own struggles.

Only one can lead them. Will Juliet embrace her powers in time?

 

Brink of Dawn picks up where the multiple-award-winning first book in the Chosen series, Wind Catcher, left off, but it can also be read as a stand-alone novel. Continue the adventure! And be sure to watch for the third and final installment in this exciting series, Scorched Souls, to launch in late 2016.

 

Stalk Jeff:  Website

 

MY JEFF ALTABEF REVIEWS

 

Alternate Cover – Which do you like best?

 

Brink of Dawn (Chosen #2)

 

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Source: www.fundinmental.com/monday-mini-brink-of-dawn-by-jeff-altabef-erynn-altabef-jeffaltabef
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-04-14 22:46
Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder (2016 Review)
Storm Glass - Maria V. Snyder

Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Four years attending the Magician's Keep, and Opal believes she's nothing but a disaster and a disappointment. Instead of being able to learn and practice new powers like other students, her one and only ability is placing a thread of magic within the glass figures she creates, which can then be used as a means for cross-country communication. Definitely not combat related, thus she is shocked to learn the Master Magicians have an assignment for her.

(WARNING: This reviews contains MAJOR spoilers.)

I quickly fell in love with the world of the much conflicted Ixia and Sitia all the way back in Poison Study. Not only was the book a perfect reminder of why I love immersing myself in works of fiction, but it created pleasant excitement for the future instalments penned by Snyder. It was then unfortunate that the following segments of the series only declined, leaving me disappointed and pessimistic. What my gripe essentially stemmed from was the character development of Yelena, and how she evolved drastically into a famous, almighty Soulfinder than could accomplish everything and anything. But whilst Yelena's magic varied to the extreme, Opal's was very limited... At first. It offered zero offensive and defensive capabilities, but it was extremely useful and beneficial to the Sitian council and magicians as a whole. This, after the sheer extent of Yelena's power growth, was refreshing and I welcomed the unique simplicity. Imagine my irritation that as the book progressed, new magical discoveries were made, each more powerful than the last. It's an easy assumption to make that history will repeat itself.

Opal suffered through quite a lot in her ventures, and made more one than one mistake along the way. Her insecurities could've been endearing, but I felt they became a little too much when she continuously refused to accept praise or compliments of any kind. She also displayed a hunger for power, which in itself was slightly off-putting, though to be fair, if I were considered a "one-trick wonder", I'd probably feel sour about it as well. Despite these faults, which definitely threatened her likeability, I thought she was an average protagonist with the potential for improvement. Perhaps if she was given room to breathe and grow into her own person, and not overshadowed by Yelena, which of whom played a part in this book and was mentioned regularly.

Of course the love triangle ticked me off, as they usually do. I just don't understand how they can appeal to anyone. It seemed, at least to me, that Opal settled with Ulrick because Kade didn't reciprocate her interest - it's ALWAYS selfish, in one way or another. It doesn't matter which one I favoured (Kade though), it just becomes unbelievably tedious.

However in regards to the other characters, I believed there to be a satisfactory variety. I actually became a little fond of Leif, whereupon I initially hated his immaturity. Zitora I liked, Pazia was a tad annoying, as was Ulrick. Kade was a delight, and I immediately wished him the love interest. The plot itself was eventful, yet at times confusing as it veered off into different directions. I don't think it needed to be as complicated; sometimes a straightforward story does the job just as well. I very much liked the in-depth look at the Stormdancers in particular, and I would've loved if they were focused on a little longer. Hopefully they make appearances in the next two books of the Glass trilogy.

Speaking of glass, I enjoyed the detailed scenes of craftsmanship found throughout the pages. I never thought I'd find an interest in such a thing, but the writing was very well done and inspired me to perform some additional research. I do appreciate when an author can ignite enthusiasm on a certain subject otherwise ignored.

In conclusion: Looking forward to delving into more Chronicles of Ixia, but let's hope they rise to the standard of the very first. It just strikes me as the protagonists get overly powerful, which takes all the fun out of them struggling for their survival.

Notable Scene:

The roar of the wind and sea ceased the moment the monster wave engulfed me. For one heartbeat, my world filled with gurgling sounds and foamy green light. Then the force of the crashing water slammed me into an unyielding object. The sea grabbed my limp body and tossed it about. Confusion dulled the pain until my forehead smacked into a jagged rock.

© Red Lace 2016

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/04/14/storm-glass-by-maria-v-snyder-2016-review
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