Sunday, February 23, 2014

Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor Review

This book was given to me in a giveaway here on Goodreads.

Title: Maybe One Day
Author: Melissa Kantor
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A beautiful, gorgeous tale of friendship, loss, and first love, Maybe One Day squeezed my heart to pieces--in a good way! I really, really enjoyed it!

Zoe and Olivia have been best friends for pretty much their whole lives. Now sixteen, they are looking forward to being together for the rest of their lives--until a routine doctor's visit for Livvie reveals a terrifying truth: She has leukemia. The two of them reeling, Zoe struggles to be there for her best friend--despite falling for Olivia's crush, despite constant frustration and anger--and she discovers the meaning of loss.

What I enjoyed:
-I loved the prose that the novel was built upon--Zoe's voice was poignant, sad, lovely and sweet
-Zoe herself, trying to be there for Olivia and dealing with what is her first true encounter with illness
-Olivia, and her love for Zoe, struggling to remain normal in the face of her illness
-The problems that the two went through were totally relatable--at times it really felt like I was sixteen again
-Calvin, and his chemistry with Zoe
-The ending--it was so beautiful and sad and perfect
-The way dance was incorporated throughout the novel

What could've been better:
-I felt like the Greco family, save Jake and Olivia, were not really that ell fleshed out
-I wish I learned more about Zoe's family and their dynamic
-Zoe at times could be harsh and snarky, which kind of interrupted the pacing of the novel

Thanks, Goodreads--this was a really good book! Recommended to those who love John Green. Next on deck: Shadowflesh by Shawn Martin!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira Review

Title: I Always Loved You
Author: Robin Oliveira
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A beautiful, poignant love letter to the golden era of Belle Epoque, I loved I Always Loved You--I loved the intimate peek into an artist's life--and even better, a fictionalized account of Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt!

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I Always Loved You chronicles the life of Mary Cassatt, the prominent female artist of the Belle Epoque era, and her relationship with other male artists of that time--in particular, Edgar Degas. The novel offers a fictionalized, but intimate view into the life of a female artist--and just how far she went for the love of her craft.

What I enjoyed:
-I loved the beautiful, flowing prose of this novel--it sucked me in right away
-I liked the pacing, too, smooth and almost gentle as the author spanned throughout the characters
-Mary, and her fierce desire to stay true to herself and her art, while at the same time yearning for passion and love
-Edgar, at times hilarious, at others insufferable, but undeniably human
-Each character was beautifully rendered by the author, unmistakably human and flawed--it really made me wonder what each was like in real life
-I especially loved the tempestuous, mercurial relationship between Cassatt and Degas, the way it wavered from friendship into something less easily defined--and you never really find out in the novel definitively
-I especially liked the way the author portrayed the setting--it really felt like I was back in Paris with the greats
-I enjoyed the ending--I think it fit perfectly with the mood of the novel

What could've been better:
-At times it was hard to follow the narrative, jumping from each artist with wild abandon

I really enjoyed I Always Loved You--anyone looking for a good piece of art fiction, or historical fiction, should pick it up! Next on deck: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Fire and Flood by Victoria Scott Review

Title: Fire and Flood
Author: Victoria Scott
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Action/Adventure
Series: Fire and Flood, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: Though at times Fire and Flood reminded me of The Hunger Games series, I enjoyed it--a heart-pounding adventure that had me absolutely riveted. Wonderful!

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

When Tella's older brother gets sick, and her family relocates, she is lost and feeling helpless. Feeling furious she cannot help her brother, she and her family are in despair. When a mysterious earpiece finds its way into her bedroom, she sets off to compete in the Brimstone Bleed--a race throughout jungle and rain--with the prize being the Cure for her brother. But she soon finds that she may not be cut out for this.. And that this race is far bigger than she could've ever dreamed..

What I enjoyed:
-The pacing of the novel--with its short, sweet chapters and breakneck pacing, I couldn't put it down!
-Tella, and her determination to save her brother from his illness, risking her own life for her flesh and blood
-I liked the premise of this novel--a race across unfamiliar landscapes, with people competing
-I especially liked the idea of the Pandoras
-Guy, and the rest of the characters that Tella meets throughout the novel, especially Titus and Harper
-The ending--I never saw it coming and I can't wait for the next installment!

What could've been better:
-At times throughout the novel, it really felt like a knock-off of The Hunger Games
-Tella's language really annoyed me at times (especially the constant 'Whatevers')

I really, really enjoyed Fire and Flood--it was a good book! Definitely recommended for adventure readers. Next on deck: I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Death Sworn by Leah Cypess Review

Title: Death Sworn
Author: Leah Cypess
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A fantasy adventure that is fit for anyone looking for a book loaded with everything, I loved, loved, loved Death Sworn and couldn't put it down!

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Ileni has left her tribe, the Renegai, hiding a dark secret: She has lost the magic she thought she would have forever, losing her home, her lover, and her place in life. Sent to the assassin's caves to tutor brutal killers in the way of her tribe's magic, she discovers a cult of people all under the leadership of the mysterious Master, and in trying to solve her predecessor's murder, she might just risk her own life..

What I enjoyed:
-Ileni, the protagonist--she was inherently relatable as the girl who lost her place and was struggling to find a new one, and I love the way Cypess didn't hide her darker, less feminine impulses
-The pacing of the novel was breakneck--there was one thrill after another throughout the novel and the action never stopped
-The way the book genre-jumped so well--there really is something in this book for everyone: a romance, a murder mystery, magic, high fantasy, political intrigue
-Sorin, the boy that Ileni ultimately finds friendship with, enigmatic and strong and full of contradictory convictions--he was a great character as well
-The twists and turns that I never saw coming throughout the novel
-The ending--that was one of my favorite parts of the whole novel--I loved the way that it ended and it really did justice to the entire book

What I didn't enjoy:
-There was nothing I didn't love about this book--it was amazing!

Death Sworn was awesome--definitely a favorite of 2014! Wonderful! Next on deck: Fire and Flood by Victoria Scott!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

After The End by Amy Plum Review

Title: After The End
Author: Amy Plum
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Dystopian Fiction
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: My first novel by Amy Plum, I loved it--a new voice in dystopian fiction--I want more!

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review/

Juneau doesn't have a bad life: She's a hunter, gatherer, and soon to the the leader--the Sage--of her small, secluded clan. But when she returns from hunting to find her clan gone, she finds her entire life is a lie: There was no World War Three, no radiation and disease that ravaged the human race. Struggling to make sense of this deception, as well as finding her family, she meets Miles, a normal kid, spoiled, rich, and selfish. The two enter into a reluctant pact and soon they find themselves on a dangerous path..

What I enjoyed:
-The pacing of this novel was great--it flowed very smoothly--I couldn't put it down!
-The narratives of both Juneau and Miles, two people from equally different worlds, and it added depth and richness to the story
-Juneau herself, the strong, stubborn girl who loves her family more than anything but is struggling to find answers in a world too big for her
-Juneau's clan, especially Whit
-Miles, the spoiled, rich, sarcastic kid that provided a lot of comic relief throughout the story, and he provided a great counterbalance to serious, grave Juneau
-The character development was good for both characters--Juneau finding out the truth and Miles becoming her friend
-I loved the premise of this novel, refreshing in the face of dime-a-dozen dystopian fiction
-The tense action--especially the chases
-The ending

What I didn't enjoy:
-At times Miles's whining got on my nerves
-Blackwell seemed almost stereotypical in his villainy

I really, really enjoyed After The End! Wonderful, a definite favorite! Next on deck: Death Sworn by Leah Cypess!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Backward Glass by David Lomax Review

Title: Backward Glass
Author: David Lomax
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A good thriller, I liked Backward Glass, even though there were some flaws in explaining the plot.

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Kenneth Maxwell finds a note in his new house--with his name on it, from a mysterious source. Soon he finds other kids like himself, able to fall into mirrors up and down time. But this amazing new power has serious strings attached, and with the threat of brutal Prince Harming looming, a monster straight out of legend, he must find a way to control time, even if it kills him..

What I enjoyed:
-The pacing of the novel--it was smooth and action-packed--I couldn't put it down!
-Kenny, the hilarious, normal kid drawn into a web of power and darkness--he was amazing
-The other kids that Kenny encounters in his adventures, especially Luka
-The idea of the novel was fun--time-travel through mirrors!
-The ending, how everything tied together so neatly

What could've been better:
-The time-travel rules were clear, but the actual execution was hard to follow--at times I had to go back and reread because it was confusing
-I kind of expected Prince Harming to be more scary, and in a supernatural way
-It seemed like it took a long time for things to really get rolling

I enjoyed Backward Glass-it wasn't bad. Next on deck: After the End by Amy Plum!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly Creight Review

Title: Reconstructing Amelia
Author: Kimberly Creight
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Thriller/Mystery
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A fast-paced, creepy, angst-ridden thriller, I loved Reconstructing Amelia--one of the best mystery novels of the year!

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Kate Baron is a lawyer, and the mother of fifteen-year old Amelia--the light of her life. When Kate gets a call from Amelia's school, her world is shattered: her daughter has committed suicide, jumping from the roof to her death. But then Kate gets a mysterious text: Amelia didn't jump. Kate finds herself tangled in a web of lies, dark secrets, and high school politics as she races to find out what truly happened to her daughter..

What I enjoyed:
-I really enjoyed the writing style in the novel, and the narratives that ranged from Kate, Amelia, and various social networks
-The pacing of the novel--it was breakneck and yet still smooth
-I was on the edge of my seat the entire time throughout the novel--I was frantically flipping pages to see how it would end
-The frightening, too-big world that teenage girls live in nowadays, so keenly observed by Creight
-Kate, and her fierce love for her daughter, and her obsession to find out why her daughter died
-Amelia, the sweet character the novel revolves around, wanting so much to be her own person and yet still desperate to fit in--she was the character I sympathized with the most
-The twists and turns of the novel--an amazing nail-biter of a mystery--I never saw anything coming!
-The ending

What could've been better:
-There was nothing I didn't love about this amazing thriller! It's one of my favorite books of the year!

I loved, loved Reconstructing Amelia--anyone looking for something to read after Gone Girl should snatch this one up! Next on deck: Backward Glass by David Lomax!

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal Review

Title: The Kingdom of Little Wounds
Author: Susann Cokal
Genre: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A huge, historical, richly layered epic, The Kingdom of Little Wounds was quite the journey for me, to say the least!

This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Ava Bingen, a young seamstress, finds her life irrevocably intertwined with that of mute, dark Midi Sorte, in the royal court of Skyggehavn, and the two girls, each with separate lives and desires, find themselves locked in a power struggle that spans time, and class--a power struggle they might not be able to escape alive..

What I enjoyed:
-The writing style was truly beautiful--I really felt as though I was reading a fairy tale
-The pacing never faltered--it was absolutely breakneck
-Ava, a young woman who dreams of so much more than what the court can give her, and watching her grow strong throughout the novel was a real treat
-Midi, the sharp-tongued, dark-humored mute that becomes a reluctant friend to Ava, who is brutally strong and courageous
-The huge cast of characters, but it wasn't hard to follow at all

-The rich setting of medieval Scandinavia 

What could've been better:
-Though this novel was marketed to young adults, I really feel that a lot of the situations--especially the sexual situations--were adult, and this novel should've been marketed to the adult set
-During the first half of the novel, it really felt like there were sexual interludes every few chapters or so, and a lot of it was rather brutal--perhaps I'm too squeamish, but that's what I thought
-I really didn't like the character of Count Nicholas

I really enjoyed The Kingdom of Little Wounds--a weird, huge novel that swept me away! Next on deck: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly Creight!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sworn To Raise by Terah Edun Review

Title: Sworn to Raise
Author: Terah Edun
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Series: Courtlight, book one
Star Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: Despite some flaws--editing errors and slightly off the mark worldbuilding--I enjoyed Sworn to Raise--it wasn't a bad story!

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Ciardis is an orphan girl, trying to make ends meet in her village. When she discovers her lover has been unfaithful, she is soon approached by a companion--and she finds herself thrust into the complex world of politics, training for her craft, and magic. When she meets a young, headstrong price, Ciardis realizes that her country might be at stake if she doesn't move quickly enough..

What I enjoyed:
-The narrative was well-paced
-Ciardis, the stubborn young woman who wants nothing more than a better life and finds herself in quite the sticky situation
-Sebastian--he was a key point for me, and he provided a lot of comic relief when the novel got heavy
-The way the novel flowed well, and I couldn't put it down
-The ending
-Many of the characters at the Guild, especially Lady Sarah and Lady Serena
-The constant political and romantic tension throughout the novel, at times mixing together

What could've been better:
-There were quite a few editing errors--at one point a paragraph was completely cut off
-The world-building was slightly off--at times it didn't make sense for me, especially when it came to explanations of magic, but it was only slight
-I wish there had been more explanation on Ciardis's family

I enjoyed Sworn to Raise--it wasn't bad! Next on deck: The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Poison Dance by Livia Blackburne Review

Title: Poison Dance
Author: Livia Blackburne
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A novella set in a dark, dangerous world, I really enjoyed Poison Dance--I'm looking forward to the young adult novel taking place in the same world.

This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

James is an assassin, a reluctant killer. Thalia is a dancer out for revenge. Reluctantly allying--Kyra for vengeance, James for the gold--a delicate partnership forms, and in it, the two learn a great deal about one another. But death may await them when they least expect it..

What I enjoyed:
-The world Blackburne creates is rich and atmospheric--I really enjoyed it, full of danger and political intrigue
-James, the assassin who cares so much more about his friends and Kyra than he ever vocalizes
-Thalia, strong-willed, beautiful, and hollowed by the pain of her past--I really felt for her in particular
-Rand and Bacchaus
-Gerred--he made a good villain!

What I didn't enjoy:
-I just wish I had The Midnight Thief now!

I really liked this novella--I just wish there had been more of it! Next on deck: Sworn to Raise by Terah Edun!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge Review

Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A deep, thoughtful, beautiful retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is simply a triumph--an amazing story that I will treasure forever!

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Nyx was raised for one purpose: to destroy The Gentle Lord, the evil ruler of her world. Angry, hateful, and out for revenge, she arrives in The Gentle Lord's house guns blazing. But as time goes on, she gets to know him, and they fall in love, and Nyx realizes she must choose what is more important: revenge, or her own happiness..

What I enjoyed:
-The worldbuilding--it was flawless, and the setting Hodge creates is rich and unforgettable
-Nyx, the complex, multi-faceted main character--I loved the way Hodge created her--she was so human, and her character development was a treat to read
-Ignifex, The Gentle Lord, a sympathetic, hilarious villain
-The tension between Ignifex and Nyx throughout the novel, finally coming into romance
-Astraia, Nyx's sister, just as complex as the main character and I was rooting for her, too!
-The way Hodge so creatively retold a timeless, classic story, but in her own unique way
-The ending--it was perfect, though at first it worried me a little bit
-The way Hodge seamlessly blended Greek mythology into her narrative and worldbuilding

What I hated:
-Nyx's father and aunt

I loved, loved, loved, loved Cruel Beauty--it was a complete gem and I am so happy to have read it! Next on deck: Poison Dance by Livia Blackburne!