Tag: YA

Guest Review: Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder

Posted March 29, 2016 by TG in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Shadow Study by Maria V. SnyderReviewer: TG
Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder
Series: Study Series #4, Soulfinders #1
Also in this series: Night Study
Publisher: MIRA
Publication Date: February 24th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy
Pages: 416
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four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Maria V. Snyder wowed readers with Poison Study, the unforgettable story of poison taster Yelena. Now she's back with a new tale of intrigue.

Once, only her own life hung in the balance...

Oddly enough, when Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. But she'd survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia. Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands--and protect her relationship with Valek.

Suddenly, though, they are beset on all sides by those vying for power through politics and intrigue. Valek's job and his life are in danger. As Yelena tries to uncover the scope of these plots, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked. She must keep that a secret--or her enemies will discover just how vulnerable she really is--while searching for who or what is responsible for neutralizing her powers.

Yes, the days of tasting poisons were much simpler. And certainly not as dangerous...

Okay so I want to start this off by saying that Poison Study is my favorite book of pretty much all time. So I was nervous going into Shadow Study. What if it ruins the first books for me? What if the characters suck?

They didn’t. This book didn’t do anything but make me love Poison Study even more. Now then, on to the review.

My main impression of this book was that it was setting up for the next one. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I almost felt like there was no true climax. But the conflicts in this story are definitely fresh and new, and the character development is worth the “to be continued….” Feeling.

Also Valek’s backstory. That’s all I have to say.

I’d give this a solid 4/5 for character development and writing, with points taken for the somewhat anticlimactic ending.

four-stars


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Review: Night Study by Maria V. Snyder

Posted March 22, 2016 by TG in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Night Study by Maria V. SnyderReviewer: TG
Night Study by Maria V. Snyder
Series: Study Series #5, Soulfinders #2
Also in this series: Shadow Study
Publisher: MIRA
Publication Date: February 1st 2016
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy
Pages: 400
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four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Maria V. Snyder transports readers back to the realms of Sitia and Ixia in an exciting new Study novel full of magic, danger and intrigue. 
Ever since being kidnapped from the Illiais Jungle as a child, Yelena Zaltana's life has been fraught with peril. But the recent loss of her Soulfinding abilities has endangered her more than ever before. As she desperately searches for a way to reclaim her magic, her enemies are closing in, and neither Ixia nor Sitia is safe for her anymore. Especially since the growing discord between the two countries and the possibility of a war threatens everything Yelena holds dear.  
Valek is determined to protect Yelena, but he's quickly running out of options. The Commander suspects that his loyalties are divided, and he's been keeping secrets from Valek…secrets that put him, Yelena and all their friends in terrible danger. As they uncover the various layers of the Commander's mysterious plans, they realize it's far more sinister than they could have ever imagined.

So, I want to start off once again by saying that the first 3 books of the study series are my absolute favorite books. I talk about them all the time, and I could probably quote Poison Study line for line. When I heard new books were coming out, I had some mixed emotions. That constant fear that the sequel will ruin the prequel is very relevant, but once again the book held true to the tone of the first trilogy.

That isn’t to say however, that I was 100% satisfied with this book. The first 30 pages were hell, because I was convinced that this was where the sequels quit being cool. Thankfully Snyder knows what she’s doing (I hope lol) and redeemed the first chapters with the rest of the book. Even a true skeptic like myself could understand why the things that happened were necessary (and in character!)

Overall the developments with Valek and Yelena’s relationship soothed my shipper heart, and the new characters kept things good and spicy.

So I’d give this book an 4/5 for spice and intrigue, taking points off for the first 30 pages of hell.

four-stars


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Guest Review: Riders by Veronica Rossi

Posted January 18, 2016 by Whitley B in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Riders by Veronica RossiReviewer: Whitley
Riders by Veronica Rossi
Series: Riders #1
Publisher: Macmillan
Publication Date: February 16th 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 384
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Riders. A new fantasy adventure from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Veronica Rossi.
For eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake, nothing but death can keep him from achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does.
Recovering from the accident that most definitely killed him, Gideon finds himself with strange new powers and a bizarre cuff he can't remove. His death has brought to life his real destiny. He has become War, one of the legendary four horsemen of the apocalypse.
Over the coming weeks, he and the other horsemen--Conquest, Famine, and Death--are brought together by a beautiful but frustratingly secretive girl to help save humanity from an ancient evil on the emergence.
They fail.
Now--bound, bloodied, and drugged--Gideon is interrogated by the authorities about his role in a battle that has become an international incident. If he stands any chance of saving his friends and the girl he's fallen for--not to mention all of humankind--he needs to convince the skeptical government officials the world is in imminent danger.
But will anyone believe him?

This book had a great tone, lots of action, and a really creative set up. And, of course, I was tickled pink by the military main character, but I could be a little biased on that part. But I did have a few problems with some of the characters.

The book was told through a framing device: Gideon is recounting the story to an interrogator after he’s been captured. There are short chapters scattered throughout where we come back to the ‘present’ and to Gideon and his predicament. Normally I don’t like framing devices that try and pass the whole book off as someone actually telling it (books are haaaard, ain’t no one going to be that eloquent off the cuff!), but in this case it was easy enough to ignore, and I did like the interjection chapters.

The bulk of the plot is pretty straight-forward. Four boys find out they have super powers (ish) because they are the four horsemen of the apocalypse (ish) and they all need to find each other and protect some sacred item from the demons who want to use it to nefarious ends. Cool, I’m on board, lots of room in that basic set up for rollickin good times. And we got some very nice action and logistics and running around. There was a good pace in this, a sense of tension and anticipation that kept me reading, so much so that it was halfway through the book before I realized…a good quarter of everything going on is just Daryn not telling people anything? It got more prominent in the latter part of the book, which was very annoying. I dislike plots that rely on “I can’t tell you because reasons” to draw things out. I feel like it was unnecessary, too; there was plenty of stuff going on to carry a novel without constantly saying “I’ll tell you a few chapters from now. …because reasons.”

I loved Gideon, especially his anger management issues and the really poignant way the book handled the death of his father. I also very much enjoyed the way the horseman powers were handled, and especially the creative interpretation of Famine. (Actually, Sebastian in general, I loved him.)

I take exception to a couple things, though. First, all the horsemen are…well, men. Now, on the face of it, I don’t mind dudely ensemble stories. Really. I like dude groups, it’s cool. But when you’ve got all your main characters as dudes, you need to fill out the rest of the cast with some strong ladies. In Riders we get…Daryn. Daryn’s contribution to the plot could be replaced with a broken cell phone. Her role is to relay information from the Powers That Be…and that’s it. She’s a passive receiver who does nothing else. She just shows up, says “you’re a horseman, I’m not going to tell you what that means because your brain would explode or something, let’s go get the next guy now,” and that’s the end of her involvement in the book’s central plot. Our only other female characters are an interrogator who is little more than a sounding board, a mother and a sister who are gone after the first few chapters, and two female demons who never get speaking lines. The plot-moving roles in this book are full of sausage.

Second, Marcus. He’s the only POC character in the book, and he’s reduced to a surly figure with very few speaking lines and little development beyond “Gideon hates him.” Those two get in fistfights constantly for no discernible reason, which is fine, boys are stupid and Gideon has War-super-powers that screw things up. But that’s it. That’s all of Marcus’s character. We learn nothing else about him. He’s a violent black man with a violent past who doesn’t talk and gets called a psychopath on more than one occasion. Playing true to some really uncomfortable stereotypes, there, book.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Beastly by Alex Flinn

Posted May 6, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Beastly by Alex FlinnReviewer: Holly
Beastly by Alex Flinn
Series: Kendra Chronicles #1
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: December 29th 2009
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 336
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two-stars
Series Rating: two-stars

A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.
You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's no deformity, no disease. And I'll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.
Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

I love fairytales in general and Beauty and the Beast in particular, but I was hesitant to read this. I’m not a big fan of YA, and I wasn’t sure how a modern retelling of a fairytale would work. I ended up enjoying the story, though I had to set aside a large chunk of disbelief to make it work.

The problem is this is written as a contemporary novel with the witch’s curse as the only fantastical element. That made the Beast’s imprisonment of Beauty harder to take, since, in the modern-day world, a young girl being forced to live in a house alone with a monster would be hard to hide. Especially since she was a high school student who attended a very posh private school on scholarship. I had a hard time believing no one noticed she was missing or went looking for her.

I wasn’t really sold on the romance. In part, I think, because this is told in first person from Kyle/Aiden/Beast’s point of view.  Lindy was essentially kidnapped and forced to spend time with him, so, while I felt a friendship form between them, I didn’t really buy into the everlasting love they supposedly felt.

Still, the journey of self-discovery the Beast took was interesting and made for a good read. His selfish, awful actions in the beginning were well written, which made his eventual transformation from evil boy to gentle beast believable and wonderful.

I did like the story enough that I may search out the movie. My daughter watched it when it was first released and really enjoyed it. I will say she really enjoyed the book when it was first released, so it may be a case of me being a bit too old for this.

One thing I’d like to note is how terrible the editing in my copy was. I downloaded this for my Nook when it was a temporarily free read, and the number of typos and misspellings was ridiculous. I’m surprised a bestseller that was optioned for film wasn’t cleaned up better.

2.75 out of 5

two-stars


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Guest Review: Waiting for April by Jaime Loren

Posted February 10, 2015 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Waiting for April by Jaime LorenWaiting for April by Jaime Loren
Publisher: Momentum Books
Publication Date: February 12th 2015
Format: eARC
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Time Travel
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four-half-stars

April Fletcher has died nineteen times... but she doesn't know it.As far as April is concerned, she's just a normal seventeen-year-old, looking forward to spending spring break with her friends and going to college in the fall. April doesn't know she has never lived past her eighteenth birthday, nor does she realize that Scott Parker, her best friend, is actually her childhood sweetheart and fiancé from her very first life.For nineteen-year-old Scott Parker, spending quality time with his soul mate has proved difficult ever since her tragic death in 1729. Since then he has lost her an additional eighteen times—each of her deaths more devastating than the last, and each of her births wiping the slate of her memory clean. Unable to save her but unwilling to give up, Scott has to hide the fact he's immortal—and will be until April confesses her love again.But this time, things have changed. April has denied her feelings for him, is dating someone else, and with her eighteenth birthday fast approaching, their friendship is falling to pieces. Fearing their souls are irrevocably drifting apart, Scott must race against the clock to win her heart and save her life.Or risk losing her forever.

Tracy’s review of Waiting for April by Jaime Loren

(Love, love, love this cover.  So simple, yet beautiful.)

Do you ever read a blurb for a book and you’re just SO intrigued by it you can’t get it out of your head? This is what happened to me with Waiting for April. I like paranormal books but this one sounded very different and I wanted to know what the heck was going on with Scott and April.

Well, it appears that Scott and April fell in love but then she died before her 18th birthday. Scott was grieving but then realized that he became invulnerable. Weird, to say the least. Scott was then pulled to different places at different times when April was reincarnated – as herself. She would have same shape and birthmarks as well as the same length of hair and to top it all off, she’d have the exact same name. Every time she came back Scott tried to save her from dying but it never happened.

This time is different though. Many different events occur and much information is passed along and Scott just knows in his heart that this time he’ll save April’s life. He just doesn’t have a clue how he’ll make that happen.

I really can’t tell you all that much about the story without giving a truckload of info away and that’s part of the books intensity. I really loved the writing in this story as it kept me turning page after page to get more info on Scott and April. I adored the way that Scott loved his girl. Some might have said that it bordered on obsession after all those year (yes, he’d been alive for 300 years) but he was alive for her so how could he not be there for her and love her to the depth of his soul?

The story had many twists and turns and I have to say that in the last 3 or so chapters it went from “a strange set of events” to a whole new level of fantastical. The fact that so many things were brought to light yet not fully explained by the last page of the book, however, left me with a huge feeling of frustration and I hate feeling like that! (Who doesn’t, right?) Anyway, I’m hoping that the sequel doesn’t take forever to release as I really want to know what happens with not only Scott and April but a whole lot of other secondary characters as well.

If you like a bit of the bizarre paranormal but a well written book then this one is definitely one you won’t want to miss.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

This title is available from Momentum Books. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

four-half-stars


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