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Dark Star by Bethany Frenette {3 Stars}

Dark Star by Bethany Frenette is somewhere between a superhero and a demon-hunter book with a teenage protagonist whose mom is the one with the superpowers. For some reason I thought Dark Star was going to have aliens, I don’t know why, maybe the star part? Anyway, more demons than aliens, though it’s debatable. While I did read Dark Star in one day, I found myself pretty meh about it the whole time. Also that cover angers me.

Note: I borrowed Dark Star from my library of awesomeness.

Dark Star by Bethany Frenette {3 Stars}

Dark Star by Bethany Frenette (Dark Star #1)
Published by Disney Hyperion on Oct. 23rd, 2012
Genres: Urban Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 368 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
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Audrey Whitticomb has nothing to fear. Her mother is the superhero Morning Star, the most deadly crime-fighter in the Twin Cities, so it's hard for Audrey not to feel safe. That is, until she's lured into the sweet night air by something human and not human--something with talons and teeth, and a wide, scarlet smile.

Now Audrey knows the truth: her mom doesn't fight crime at night. She fights Harrowers--livid, merciless beings who were trapped Beneath eons ago. Yet some have managed to escape. And they want Audrey dead, just because of who she is: one of the Kin.

To survive, Audrey will need to sharpen the powers she has always had. When she gets close to someone, dark corners of the person's memories become her own, and she sometimes even glimpses the future. If Audrey could only get close to Patrick Tigue, a powerful Harrower masquerading as human, she could use her Knowing to discover the Harrowers' next move. But Leon, her mother's bossy, infuriatingly attractive sidekick, has other ideas. Lately, he won't let Audrey out of his sight.

When an unthinkable betrayal puts Minneapolis in terrible danger, Audrey discovers a wild, untamed power within herself. It may be the key to saving her herself, her family, and her city. Or it may be the force that destroys everything--and everyone--she loves.

3 Stars

Strengths:
[Read more…]

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan eARC {3 Stars}

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan has a premise that reminded me a lot of Minority Report, but for YA, and in some ways it does deliver on that. Uninvited is set in a future where a gene has been identified that is associated with murderous tendencies and all people in the US are gradually being forced to be tested for that gene. I really wanted Uninvited to have some interesting insight into nature versus nurture, and while it did make me think about that dichotomy somewhat, it didn’t quite go as far as I wanted regarding how reliable a killer gene might be as a predictor of a person’s life.

Note: I received an eARC of Uninvited through Edelweiss for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan eARC {3 Stars}

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan (Uninvited #1)
Published by HarperTeen on Jan. 28th, 2014
Genres: Dystopia, Sci-fi, YA
Page Length: 384 pages
How I got my copy: Edelweiss
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When Davy Hamilton's tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn't feel any different, but genes don't lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he's not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

3 Stars

Strengths:

  • Davy is the main character of Uninvited and she goes through some interesting character development. I thought it was quite realistic that just because she is diagnosed with having the killer gene, doesn’t mean she instantly becomes a kick-butt heroine. She remains a fairly innocent teenage girl for much of Uninvited, until circumstances push her to extremes.
  • I love sci-fi premises that ask interesting questions, and Uninvited asks a fascinating question about human nature. We’re all still trying to figure out how much of a person comes from their genes and how much comes from the environment they are in. I hope that the future doesn’t come to rely on genetics as much as Uninvited’s world does, but it’s a good warning to keep in mind.
  • There is a bad boy romance angle, but I actually liked it for once! In Uninvited, the bad boy is another person with the killer gene, so he is considered dangerous from the start, but Davy gets the chance to find out the truth about him throughout Uninvited.
  • Uninvited is quite fast-paced. I was reading it while traveling for the holidays and it was a great book to keep me entertained through those long car rides ;-).

Weaknesses:

  •  I was really concerned with how the ending would be wrapped up and it is literally wrapped up in about 10 pages. It was waaaay too convenient and didn’t really demand any initiative on Davy’s part.
  • As a biologist, I have a hard time buying the premise of Uninvited. We know today already that genes heavily interact with a person’s environment and we haven’t been able to find any specific genes for personality traits. I really hope that if we ever did find a gene associated with violent tendencies, we’d keep in mind all the people with that gene that made it through life without criminal charges and all the criminal without the gene.
  • The plot of Uninvited felt pretty disjointed and undirected. Davy was basically just reacting to all the consequences of having this killer gene and never really had a goal of any kind. Additionally, Uninvited is separated into two parts, which are very different in tone and didn’t really seem to fit together into one book.
  • The interesting question regarding human nature that Uninvited poses is never really answered. Davy is put through these horrible situations and starts believing that she is a killer, but really anyone in that situation would start to break in my opinion. I wanted Davy to realize that how she was being treated probably had a lot more to do with her reactions than any gene. Human behavior experiments have shown that if you treat people like criminals, they are much more likely to become criminals.
  • There are some weird pop culture references in Uninvited that just make no sense from a chronological perspective. If I recall correctly, Davy doesn’t know who Brad Pitt is, but watches reruns of Glee. In a couple of generations, I really doubt we’ll still be watching reruns of any shows currently playing.

Summary:

Uninvited has a lot of potential, but I just didn’t feel that it delivered on that potential. It was fun to read due to the fast-pacing and relate-ability of Davy as a character, but it didn’t take the sci-fi to the next level to move beyond a fun YA read. If the premise sounds intriguing and you aren’t worried about the sci-fi aspect, definitely give Uninvited a read. However, don’t go in expecting Uninvited to deliver on a strong sci-fi element.

3 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

– Anya

 

 Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi ARC {3 Stars}

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi is the thrilling conclusion to the Under the Never Sky trilogy. I have to admit that I had very high expectations, and Into the Still Blue didn’t quite meet them, but I still enjoyed this ending. Through the Ever Night (the second book) was by far my favorite of the trilogy, which is kind of an amusing opposite of second book syndrome. In any case, Into the Still Blue tells the story that you can expect: Aria and Perry need to get everyone to the Still Blue, and that’s what they set out to do. In part, the predictability is what disappointed me, though I’m not sure what else I expected given the title >.>

Note: I received Into the Still Blue from the publisher through Edelweiss. Some things may be different in the final version.

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi ARC {3 Stars}

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi (Under the Never Sky #3)
Published by HarperCollins on January 28th, 2014
Genres: Post Apocalyptic, Sci-fi, YA
Page Length: 400 pages
How I got my copy: Edelweiss
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Their love and their leadership have been tested. Now it's time for Perry and Aria to unite the Dwellers and the Outsiders in one last desperate attempt to bring balance to their world.

The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe-haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do-and they are just as determined to stay together.

Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. And when Roar returns to camp, he is so furious with Perry that he won't even look at him, and Perry begins to feel like they have already lost.

Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble a team to mount an impossible rescue mission-because Cinder isn't just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival, he's also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.

3 Stars

Strengths:

  • Perry and Aria, how I love you! How I love the complete lack of a love triangle, the proof that boys and girls can be friends without falling in love (<3 Roar!), just so much love :D (but no triangles ;-)). Perry and Aria were definitely my favorite part of Into the Still Blue, and their love pulled a couple of tears from these eyes :).
  • There’s a pretty nifty new character that I can’t tell you anything about! But I like that added touch, it rounded out our knowledge pretty well.
  • I enjoyed that Into the Still Blue let us spend more time with old secondary characters that were always just on the periphery before. We finally get to know some of the Dwellers better, and some of the Tides too!

Weaknesses:

  •  Into the Still Blue was painfully predictable for me. I love plot twists, can’t get enough of them, and I want to be wondering what will happen otherwise I just don’t care. I had a hard time getting hooked with Into the Still Blue because it was pretty obvious how things would turn out in every situation.
  • Along those lines, I really don’t feel like Into the Still Blue got started until 2/3 through. Up until that point, Aria and Perry were trying, sure, but they didn’t really manage to do much.
  • There are still questions, one major question, that remain and I am so unsatisfied D:
  • The ending of Into the Still Blue left me wanting for more in a very frustrating way since it seems unlikely there will be more. There was so much left to do and figure out, why can’t that happen???

Summary:

From looking at the strengths of Into the Still Blue, it basically all comes down to the characters. The characters, primary and secondary, are awesome and I love them dearly. However, the rest of Into the Still Blue just left me wanting more, which doesn’t work for a final book. I know a lot of other people have enjoyed Into the Still Blue more than me, so keep that in mind ;-). I’m just weird sometimes, haha.

3 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

– Anya

 

 Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

Phoenix Island by John Dixon eARC {3 Stars}

Phoenix Island by John Dixon tells the story of a mysterious island with a military-style bootcamp that has much darker purposes than the story’s protagonist, Carl, first assumes. I had been hoping that there would be a bit of a sci-fi element to it, but Phoenix Island barely strayed into the realm of near sci-fi and didn’t pursue the interesting paranormal directions that it could of. Instead, Phoenix Island has an emphasis on violence for violence’s sake, lunatics that want to take over the world, and a very Lord of the Flies feel to it.

Note: I received an advance copy of Phoenix Island through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Phoenix Island by John Dixon eARC {3 Stars}

Phoenix Island by John Dixon
Published by Gallery Books on Jan 7th, 2014
Genres: Thriller, YA
Page Length: 320 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
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Phoenix Island was supposed to be a boot camp for troubled children. But as one boy learns, the secrets of this jungle are as vast as they are deadly.

When sixteen-year-old boxing champ Carl Freeman jumps in to defend a helpless stranger, he winds up in real trouble - a two-year sentence at an isolated boot camp for orphans. Carl is determined to tough it out, earn a clean record, and get on with his life. Then kids start to die.

Realizing Phoenix Island is actually a Spartan-style mercenary organization turning "throwaway kids" into super-soldier killers, Carl risks everything to save his friends and stop a madman bent on global destruction.

3 Stars

Strengths:

  • Phoenix Island’s MC, Carl, really hates bullies and has the strength and fighting skill to stand up to them. I really identified with his deeply-rooted need to protect those who can’t protect themselves, especially when I found out how he came to possess that instinct. Carl does what I wish I could do when I hear of the really extreme bullies: demonstrate to them that they can’t treat people that way and get away with it.
  • The action never stops in Phoenix Island. It seemed like there was always some sneaking or fighting or equally suspenseful scene playing out. I can see why the manuscript inspired a television show since it is definitely made for keeping people hooked.
  • The premise of Phoenix Island is a little crazy, but as things developed, they seemed actually possible. There is some light sci-fi in that some of the technology used isn’t actually viable in today’s world, however it could be in another couple of decades.
  • The ending of Phoenix Island leaves a lot of room for a sequel that I think I would quite enjoy. The mysteries that remain and the things that need to be done have a lot of promise!
  • There is a crazy amount of violence and evil in Phoenix Island, but that grittiness served to make the suspense real. Phoenix Island demonstrates pretty quick that side characters and even fairly central characters will not be spared from injury and even death.

Weaknesses:

  •  The violence in Phoenix Island went way too far for me, however, to the point that I simply stopped caring. I became desensitized to the horrible things happening to the characters because I knew that worse things would keep happening. It was weird when the suspense is lost because I KNEW that the bad thing would actually happen and I just cringed and tried to get it over with.
  • Half of the island is inhabited by the bootcamp and the other half is separated by a big fence and is so scary even the big, bad drill sergeants are afraid of it. You can’t just throw in a mysterious half of an island and not go explore it! The whole book I was waiting for the kids to escape over the fence and find out what is really out there, but no.
  • Don’t read the blurb if you want to be surprised by anything. It pretty much summarizes Phoenix Island and I freaking hate when they do that!
  • There are lots of weird little things that are included by never explained, and one of them is that the romantic interest has a white patch in her otherwise dark hair. Sure, there are lots of medical reasons why she could have discoloration (it’s not dyed, they shave their heads), but it is never addressed. I really want to know! All she’d have to say is, “Oh yeah, I have this discoloration condition” but no, Anya has to be left in the dark again. I know it sounds small, but it’s a non-spoilerly example of the many strange things that are never explained.

Summary:

Phoenix Island is mostly a thriller about a mercenary bootcamp full of psychos, but it had just enough strange and mysterious elements that I kept hoping it would turn into a sci-fi. The numerous mysteries that remained at the end and seem unlikely to be explained in a sequel drove me nuts and the excessive violence forced me to just stop caring about these characters. If you like boxing, you might like Phoenix Island since Carl was a boxer and there is a lot of fighting where he relies on that skill. Phoenix Island just doesn’t seem to be a good book, even a good thriller, for speculative fiction fans because we expect mysteries to be solved and strangeness to be investigated. I did give it a half-star back, though, since I know I’m not quite the intended audience for Phoenix Island, no worries ;-).

3 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

– Anya

 

 Phoenix Island by John Dixon

Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder {3 Stars}

Scent of Magic is the second book in the Healer series by Maria V. Snyder. It is full of epic fantasy world-building, magic and scheming in addition to our favorite love birds ;-). This time around we get a POV from Avry and Kerrick since they spend most of the book off doing separate things. While I really enjoyed finding out more about all the magic powers, the world, and who doesn’t love a good fantasy war, I found that Scent of Magic felt like too much in one book and only hit the surface of a lot of the events I was supposed to care about.

Note: I purchased Scent of Magic and all opinions are my own.

Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder {3 Stars}

Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder (Healer #2)
Published by Harlequin MIRA on Dec. 18th, 2012
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 414 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
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Hunted, Killed—Survived?

As the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry of Kazan is in a unique position: in the minds of her friends and foes alike, she no longer exists. Despite her need to prevent the megalomanical King Tohon from winning control of the Realms, Avry is also determined to find her sister and repair their estrangement. And she must do it alone, as Kerrick, her partner and sole confident, returns to Alga to summon his country into battle.

Though she should be in hiding, Avry will do whatever she can to support Tohon’s opponents. Including infiltrating a holy army, evading magic sniffers, teaching forest skills to soldiers and figuring out how to stop Tohon’s most horrible creations yet; an army of the walking dead—human and animal alike and nearly impossible to defeat.

War is coming and Avry is alone. Unless she figures out how to do the impossible ... again.

3 Stars

Strengths:

  • We get so much world-building and magic in Scent of Magic (appropriate title I guess then!) and I loved it. We find out and VISIT the northern tribes (very unexpected) and see the developing continent-wide war first hand. Scent of Magic did a wonderful job making me really believe in these different countries and factions in the war to come.
  • I love it when fantasy stories set up stereotypes about the “barbarian tribes” and then tear those stereotypes down. It was so refreshing that Scent of Magic showed us that all the stories about the tribes aren’t necessarily true and that *gasp* cultures change and develop over time!
  • There are several big plot twists in Scent of Magic and while I wasn’t really surprised by them (mostly because I hadn’t been motivated to think much about them), I did enjoy the reveals. They made sense and clicked aspects into place, which is always good for a storyline ;-).
  • Normally I don’t enjoy when a series switches to a dual POV, but it helped the plot develop much more smoothly. While some suspense was lost (we know Kerrick isn’t dead since we know what’s going on with him), I really enjoyed the adventure that Kerrick went on on his own.
  • Scent of Magic is really about the friendships and alliances that Avry forms. Kerrick isn’t around much, so there is minimal romance, and it turns out Avry is a fully capable human being without the boy around, woot!

Weaknesses:

  •  Scent of Magic had the odd habit of describing dialogue that was taking place without the actual dialogue happening. So instead of Avry said “Hi!”, it was Avry greeted everyone and then they discussed some stuff. It made me feel very separated from the characters since I was being told after the fact a summary of what happened instead of watching it happen myself, ya know?
  • While there is little romance, there is a lot of pining. Avry and Kerrick are separated and so must declare how much they miss each other every chapter; it’s a requirement ya know.
  • Scent of Magic really feels like it should have been two books. It’s pretty long for YA as it is and there was just such a rushed and summarizing feel in order to get through all the events. I just didn’t feel connected to anything happening because I was reading a report on what happened instead of being drawn in.

Summary:

Scent of Magic does a wonderful job of developing this awesome world and magic system that we were introduced to in Touch of Power. However, it tries to fit so much in that it ended up feeling a bit rushed and cursory fairly often. I enjoyed aspects such as Avry’s friendships and Kerrick’s exploration a lot, but I just wish that I could have been shown what was happening instead of told.

3 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

– Anya

 

 Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder

Avalon by Mindee Arnett eARC {3 Stars}

Avalon by Mindee Arnett is a sci-fi YA billed as a great story for Firefly fans, with spaceships and thievery but with teenagers! I started out intrigued by the creepiness of a Bermuda Triangle in space and delighted by the teenage crew of space thieves (with justification to why a teenage crew was better than an adult crew!). However, we find out what is going on with the creepy questions by about halfway through and then everything just lagged. I kept hoping that the ending would pick up, but I just didn’t care when that final page went by (except perhaps relief that I was done…).

Note: I received Avalon through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Avalon by Mindee Arnett eARC {3 Stars}

Avalon by Mindee Arnett (Avalon #1)
Published by Balzer & Bray on Jan. 21st, 2014
Genres: Sci-fi, YA
Page Length: 432 pages
How I got my copy: Edelweiss
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
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Of the various star systems that make up the Confederation, most lie thousands of light-years from First Earth-and out here, no one is free. The agencies that govern the Confederation are as corrupt as the crime bosses who patrol it, and power is held by anyone with enough greed and ruthlessness to claim it. That power is derived from one thing: metatech, the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light.

Jeth Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries have survived in this world by stealing unsecured metatech, and they're damn good at it. Jeth doesn't care about the politics or the law; all he cares about is earning enough money to buy back his parents' ship, Avalon, from his crime-boss employer and getting himself and his sister, Lizzie, the heck out of Dodge. But when Jeth finds himself in possession of information that both the crime bosses and the government are willing to kill for, he is going to have to ask himself how far he'll go to get the freedom he's wanted for so long.

3 Stars

Strengths:

  • The beginning of Avalon is filled with spooky mysteries that got me so intrigued. There was just enough gross stuff to have me cringing and wondering what could possibly have caused the damage the team encounters. It reminded me very much of the mysteries in These Broken Stars, so I had high hopes!
  • The Firefly comparison is quite accurate. Avalon had basically teenage versions of most of the Firefly characters and the initial heist was just something that my favorite space cowboys would pull.
  • I have been asking for more space and classic spaceship heavy YA sci-fi, so I’m glad that those elements are finally starting to become more prevalent in YA. Avalon is a great example, so if you like the classic sci-fi space stories, Avalon delivers.

Weaknesses:

  • The middle and end of Avalon are sooooooo freaking slow. Even when action was happening, it just didn’t pull me in.
  • The characters are completely static. There really wasn’t any development at all and so I just didn’t care what happened to them. There was a bit of a romance, but Jeth (the MC) didn’t really convey emotion beyond “Oo pretty girl is pretty and makes me feel funny.”
  • The “twists” were predictable and delivered in a rather dull fashion. You know me and twists after all, so this was quite disappointing.
  • I actually fell asleep around 90%, my eyes were so heavy from boredom :(.

Summary:

Avalon started out with a bang and I was so hopeful that I had hit another gem of a sci-fi. However, it just didn’t deliver past the initial draw. We quickly switch from interesting mystery to typical wheelings and dealings that I just didn’t care about. The plot twists could have been so interesting, but since I couldn’t care about the characters, the twists just didn’t spark my interest. I really wish that Avalon had been told in alternating POV, since I think certain other characters could have told a much more interesting story than Jeth.

3 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

– Anya

 

 Avalon by Mindee Arnett

The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa {3 Stars}

The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa is the fifth book in the Iron Fey series, though it’s also the start of the spinoff Call of the Forgotten series. Harlequin claimed on NetGalley that I could start with this book, so I decided to give it a try and test the theory ;-). While I didn’t end up loving The Lost Prince, I did enjoy the concepts and definitely think you can start with The Lost Prince and still enjoy Call of the Forgotten. I’m actually kind of glad I started here, since I don’t think I would have loved the romance in the first four Iron Fey books.

The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa {3 Stars}

The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa (Call of the Forgotten #1)
Published by Harlequin Teen on Oct. 23rd, 2012
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 377 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
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Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.

That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’d dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

3 Stars

Strengths:

  • I haven’t read that many books about fairies, but enough that I was quite excited to see a new premise in The Lost Prince involving creepy ghost fey. Taking the fluffy idea of fairies in modern day and turning them into sharp and dark things is so much fun :D.
  • I’m such a sucky for adorable sidekick characters and there is a gremlin named Razor that stole my heart! He’s kind of like an intelligent dog in that he is very eager to please and not quite human level intelligence, but he can talk (he reminded me of Doug >.>) and it’s so cute! Plus he’s a gremlin and so he gets all static-y when he’s excited haha.
  • As I said above, I think starting with The Lost Prince and only reading Call of the Forgotten would work fine. There is plenty of filling in the important parts of the previous series and I didn’t feel lost at all :).
  • Ethan, the MC, has the Sight and can see the fair folk. I thought that this element was handled quite well in that it had strengths and weaknesses and was always there (like a normal sense), not only when it was convenient for the plot.
  • Ethan practices Kali, which is apparently a Filipino martial arts (though I can’t find anything on the Internet about it besides this Kalis blade), and it was fun seeing that hobby utilized through out the plot. A character who has trained for years in order to defend himself instead of just having magic abilities :D.

Weaknesses:

  •  The romantic dialogue in The Lost Prince was a bit painfully cheesy at times. There might have been some eye-rolling >.>.
  • Ethan has some pretty angsty, annoying and sexist internal thoughts and I just wanted to smack him upside the head at various points.
  • The Lost Prince has a fair amount of repetitive phrasing, in that I felt like I was reading the same sentence again that I read one page ago. This feeling was because I basically was….
  • The only people who didn’t see that plot twist coming were the characters….

Summary:

The Lost Prince has an interesting premise and was perfectly fine to read as a fluffier book. If you don’t mind some cheese with your romance, you will probably quite enjoy it :). I’m looking forward to reading the second book (Iron Traitor) mostly because I’m hoping that there is betrayal >.> I think there are good odds given that title!

3 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

– Anya

 

 The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch eARC {3 Stars}

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch is the third book in the Gentleman Bastards series. There are definitely major spoilers for the first and second book, so I recommend checking out those reviews instead ;-). So up until this point I was actually listening to this series on audio and I have to highly recommend the audiobooks because Michael Page is an amazing narrator. Since I got The Republic of Thieves through NetGalley to review, I didn’t get to listen, and I’m suspicious that might have made some difference in my feelings about this one. The Republic of Thieves just didn’t enchant me the way Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies did. Lynch has done a marvelous job making each of the three books unique with a fresh setting and plot. However the plot and new characters just didn’t draw me in in The Republic of Thieves.

Note: I received The Republic of Thieves through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch eARC {3 Stars}

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch (Gentleman Bastards #3)
Published by Spectra on Oct. 8th, 2013
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Page Length: 650 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
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Having pulled off the greatest heist of their career, Locke and his trusted partner in thievery, Jean, have escaped with a tidy fortune. But Locke's body is paying the price. Poisoned by an enemy from his past, he is slowly dying. And no physiker or alchemist can help him. Yet just as the end is near, a mysterious Bondsmagi offers Locke an opportunity that will either save him - or finish him off once and for all.

Magi political elections are imminent, and the factions are in need of a pawn. If Locke agrees to play the role, sorcery will be used to purge the venom from his body - though the process will be so excruciating he may well wish for death. Locke is opposed, but two factors cause his will to crumble: Jean's imploring - and the Bondsmagi's mention of a woman from Locke's past . . . Sabetha. The love of his life. His equal in skill and wit. And now his greatest rival.

Locke was smitten with Sabetha from his first glimpse of her as a young fellow-orphan and thief-in-training. But after a tumultuous courtship, Sabetha broke away. Now they will reunite in yet another clash of wills. For faced with his one and only match in both love and trickery, Locke must choose whether to fight Sabetha - or to woo her. It is a decision on which both their lives may depend.

3 Stars

Strengths:

  • I love how much of the world we have gotten to see and continue to explore in The Republic of Thieves. Locke and Jean have a tendency of needing to leave one city quickly so we’ve gotten a new city in every book! In The Republic of Thieves, we get to explore two new cities through the two intermingled plot lines, one of which is Karthain, the city of bondsmagi!
  • There were some loose ends at the end of Lies of Locke Lamora that didn’t get addressed much in Red Seas Under Red Skies, but they become quite important in The Republic of Thieves. I love it when details of previous books set up subsequent books, so clever!
  • I freaking love the Eldren and the picture that we are slowly getting of them. There are some VERY interesting hints that are dropped in The Republic of Thieves that I’m sooooo excited to see come to fruition :D.
  • The ending and epilogue surprised me by suddenly opening some interesting doors that I thought were closed. I’m excited to discuss that ending with you all when you’ve reached it and you will know why!

Weaknesses:

  •  I was so excited for Sabetha to show up and awesome things to happen, but I was just not interested in the romance that is the central focus of The Republic of Thieves. I just felt no spark. It seemed like I was being told that these two were in love and all awesome, but I was not actually swoony at all.
  • My favorite thing about Lies of Locke Lamora was the awesome scheming that occurred. There is basically no cool scheme in The Republic of Thieves. Both of the plot lines involve small schemes, but there just wasn’t an awe-inspiringly complex ultimate scheme.
  • I’m bored of my world’s politics and I don’t really care about a fantasy world’s elections. Seriously, the main plot is about campaigning for an election! *yawn*
  • Sabetha really didn’t seem like a well-developed character to me. She was supposed to be all mysterious and we got occasional peeks into some of her deeper motivations, but she pulls off the mysterious and tough girl act way too well, to the point that that seems to be all she is.
  • My other favorite thing about this series was that in a fantasy world, our characters were very smart, but rather ordinary thieves. They didn’t have the most powerful magic skillz to save the world like all main characters seem to have. The Republic of Thieves smashes this and I won’t tell you how, but it was too much to hope that there wouldn’t be a hero complex in this series apparently.

Summary:

The Republic of Thieves ended up feeling very “meh” for me. The things I loved about the first book disappeared and were replaced with plot lines and characters that I really wasn’t interested in. It feels very much like a set-up book. I was getting worried about whether I would continue the series until the end, and now I’m quite sure that I will continue the series, but that’s all that Republic of Thieves did for me. I also missed the humor that seems required for the Gentleman Bastards series. I had no moments of actual laughter like previous books elicited. In the end, I think some people will very much like The Republic of Thieves if they’re more interested in the plot lines used, but it is definitely a different type of book than the previous ones. I’m hoping that the series recovers some of its humor and scheming in The Thorn of Emberlain!

3 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

– Anya

 

 The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

3 Stars: Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston ARC

Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston had such an interesting premise that I couldn’t wait to read it. A frozen planet is a type of disaster I hadn’t read about before; throw in the possibility of dragons showing up and I’m totally there. Unfortunately there was a bit of smashing of fantasy and dystopia instead of elegant interweaving in my opinion. I’m still excited about the next in the Heart of Dread series, since it seems to promise a much more integrated fantasy element, mwahahaha.

Note: I received an ARC of Frozen from my friend. There might be some changes in the final version.

3 Stars: Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston ARC

Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz, Michael Johnston (Heart of Dread #1)
Published by Putnam Juvenille on September 17th, 2013
Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 336 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
Amazon - Book Depository - Goodreads
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Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature—freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.

At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she's heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.

But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson to take her there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies?

3 Stars

Strengths:

  • The earth has gone back to a snowball, plus the beginning of the book starts in a basically lawless New Vegas, so cool (pun totally intended, hehe). These were both pretty awesome ideas to explore.
  • Very soon into Frozen, Natasha’s voice in her head start speaking and hinting at the interesting things to come. I was quite a fan of this mysteriously deep voice that seems to be able to affect the world around Natasha as well as freak her out, haha.
  • The romantic tension between Natasha and Wes was funny to read about, but there were a couple of romances among the secondary characters that were even cuter. There is even a homosexual couple, gasp!

Weaknesses:

  •  The biggest problem I had with Frozen was the fantasy element. There is a really cool dystopian plot with the frozen Earth and struggling government, but then all of a sudden zombies, dragons, elves, dwarves and who knows what else get thrown in. It seemed forced and unexplained. I’m hoping this gets fixed in the next book.
  • Sadly, very little time is spent actually in Vegas and so we don’t get more than a peek at the dystopian government and how humans are struggling to live in this new world. Again, there is lots of room to fix this in the rest of the series, keep your fingers crossed!
  • Does anyone actually become instantly attracted to a person and then fall in love? Sure perhaps my interest was peaked when I first met my to-be boyfriend, but it’s annoying when the future romance is so obvious, even if it isn’t quite insta-love….

Summary:

While Frozen by Cruz and Johnston had a lot of potential, it didn’t quite live up to it for me. I enjoyed Frozen, and will be watching for the next in Heart of Dread (gotta figure out where that series title comes from!), but I wasn’t as happy reading it as I had hoped. If disparate fantasy and dystopian elements are okay with you, then certainly check out Frozen, but prepared to be a bit discombobulated at times ;-).

3 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings – Anya

 

 Frozen by Melissa de la Crus and Michael Johnston

3 Stars: Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton ARC

Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton has an exceedingly intriguing premise and so I had to request it after seeing one review. That cover is also gorgeous, so that didn’t hurt ;-). However, I ended up being a bit whiplashed by the scene changes and it took some time for me to get into the plot. I did end up enjoying Some Quiet Place, but I’m hoping there is some smoothing in the final copy that I didn’t get to read.

Note: I received Some Quiet Place through Netgalley for an honest review.

3 Stars: Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton ARC

Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton
Published by Flux on July 8th, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 350 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
Amazon - Book Depository - Goodreads
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I can’t weep. I can’t fear. I’ve grown talented at pretending.

Elizabeth Caldwell doesn’t feel emotions . . . she sees them. Longing, Shame, and Courage materialize around her classmates. Fury and Resentment appear in her dysfunctional home. They’ve all given up on Elizabeth because she doesn’t succumb to their touch. All, that is, save one—Fear. He’s intrigued by her, as desperate to understand the accident that changed Elizabeth’s life as she is herself.

Elizabeth and Fear both sense that the key to her past is hidden in the dream paintings she hides in the family barn. But a shadowy menace has begun to stalk her, and try as she might, Elizabeth can barely avoid the brutality of her life long enough to uncover the truth about herself. When it matters most, will she be able to rely on Fear to save her?

3 Stars

Strengths:

  • The premise in Some Quiet Place of a girl who can’t feel emotions and Emotions/Elements represented by humanoids that only she can see is just crazy awesome. I haven’t read anything like it and I was pumped to find out more.
  • There was a surprising amount of character development for the secondary characters in Some Quiet Place. At first everyone seems very stereotypical for the difficult situation that Elizabeth is in at home, however a lot of things change as the story unfolds and I ended up being very proud of many of the characters.
  • Despite being told from the perspective of a girl who can’t feel emotions, the plot of Some Quiet Place is moving and the revelations are heart-wrenching. I can’t really call them plot twists, since there was so much lead up that I was quite sure what was coming, but when things start getting revealed, it’s pretty awesome.

Weaknesses:

  •  Especially in the beginning of Some Quiet Place, the scenes were so short and jumping location so frequently that I felt like I was watching a preview instead of the full-length film. It makes it difficult to get invested into a story if you aren’t able to get into a scene because none of them are long enough. This did get better farther on, so if you can stick it out, you’ll hopefully be pleased.
  • There is a lot of trigger material here. Be warned that Some Quiet Place has domestic abuse that is very detailed and Elizabeth goes through a lot before the end.
  • I still have a lot of questions about how the Emotions/Elements work. We find out some things, but I’m still left wondering about some fairly critical aspects of the system. It doesn’t look like there is going to be a second book either which is disappointing with loose threads.

Summary:

Some Quiet Place is a mix of odd, painful, and awesome. I was hoping for more awesome and less odd, but you can’t always get what you want ;-). If the premise sounds interesting, you might try it out, but I wouldn’t invest money unless you are really sure you won’t be annoyed by what I was annoyed by. The cover of Some Quiet Place is probably a very good representation of what you are going to get, with it’s artistic beauty that doesn’t quite make sense. That being said, I love that cover more than I loved the story, so who knows!

3 Stars

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings – Anya

 

 Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton