Review: The Book of Peril

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Release Date: July 3rd, 2018

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review:

“If I knew what evil lurked in the hearts of man, I’d have a better-paying job than this one.”

I was excited when I got approved to read the next book in The Last Oracle series because I enjoyed the first one considerably. It’s funny, I like to go back and read my previous reviews of a series before writing a review of a next book, and in doing that for this series I found that it kept that uniqueness of the series as a whole and really delivered on a lot of the things I was hoping for.

One of the things this book delivered on was the development of the characters, by the end of this book I was wholly invested in each of them and am enjoying their journeys together. Malcolm especially has developed as a favorite for me, his modern day chivalry and the cool, confidence he has every time he’s on the page is just amazingly charming. I would love for a short novella about his backstory, or something from his POV, that would be amazing! Helena really shone in this book to, becoming more protective and confident as a custodian. I like that as a heroine she’s not perfect and while she has her own strengths she can still be vulnerable and rely on others.

Plus, the friendships are such a cute and sweet part of this book. It was nice to get a glimpse at the other relationships people in this world have, plus the new ones that have started within the story. Like I enjoyed getting to see and know more about the friendship between Viv and Helena since they’re mostly opposites and their moments were some of the funnier and lighter ones in the book. Seeing Helena and Judy bond together was a great addition that I hadn’t really considered after the last book but liked a lot, her character was surprisingly enjoyable all around and I’m hoping to see more of her in the next book.

As far as romance goes I was overly thrilled with the direction this book went in. It was still such a mature and slow burn for the two of them, yet so cute at the same time. I think that the best part of the romance between Malcolm and Helena is that he respects her and knows she can stand on her own but at the same time still comes to her defense and protects her when needed while she lets down her guard and trusts him completely with the things that matter most to her. I’m so excited to see where they’re headed in the next book because their last moments together were just so emotional.

It was nice too that this book gave a lot more information on the custodians and Neutralities, with everything happening at Abernathy’s it was nice to see Helena be so attached to it and how she went about trying to discover what was wrong. Getting a bigger glimpse at all the fantastical elements that make up this series was great and I hope there’s going to be more included in the next one because it’s in the descriptions of the magical elements that McShane seems to really shine. I’ll admit to having a hard time putting down these books, the pacing is excellent with just enough action in-between the day-to-day things to keep the story moving.

I only had a couple gripes with this book. I did think the whole problem surrounding Chet needed to resolve differently, it kind of made Malcolm look bad in the end and I’m afraid that’s going to come back and bite the characters in the next book. The other was that I felt the overall conflict with Abernathy’s was built up so well but then ended so abruptly. I was excited to see some sort of confrontation or battle but the ending just sort of fizzled out. Plus I could’ve done without that very last part with Helena and Viv, I felt like that was out of character for Helena to do. Even feeling the way she did, that just didn’t seem right. Hopefully it’ll all work out for the better though.

Overall this book was a marvelous follow-up to the first book. The writing really just pulls you in until you feel like you’re experiencing the journey right alongside the characters. There’s still so many things I want to know, about the characters, the fantasy elements, everything! I’m looking forward to the next book, here’s to hoping it comes soon.

– I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book I received through NetGalley from Curiosity Quills Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own. –

Reviews of The Last Oracle series

#1 – The Book of Secrets

Genre: New Adult, Fantasy

Links: Goodreads / Amazon (will be updated when released)

Author: Melissa McShane

Synopsis:

As the custodian of the oracular bookstore Abernathy’s, Helena has faced any number of challenges in learning her new role. But when the store begins giving out false prophecies, Helena comes up against her greatest challenge yet: how can she fix Abernathy’s when she doesn’t truly know how it works?

Armed only with a few special talents and her desire to protect her magical charge, and with the assistance of her best friend Viv, her reluctant assistant Judy, and the enigmatic and handsome Malcolm Campbell, Helena must navigate the treacherous depths of the magical world, where secret enemies lurk behind illusions capable of fooling even the most powerful of magical entities. Helena is the only one who can see past those illusions, but will her abilities prove strong enough to save the oracle?

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Review: A Torch Against the Night

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Rating: ★★★★★

Review:

“Don’t you see? So long as you fight the darkness, you stand in the light.”

ELIAS VETURIUS!!!!! I’m sorry, but nothing else in this book was as good and amazing as Elias. All I want is for him to end up happy, okay? Okay? And yet somehow I have the most horrible feeling that these books are going to rip my heart out piece by piece and enjoy doing it. You know what I mean?

All the characters were amazing this book (well except Keenan but I’ll get to that in a second). The depth and development they all went through was so phenomenal, I was just so happy to read a book that actually progressed it’s characters beyond their starting points and really made them grow from who they originally were. Laia, for example, I already loved her in the first book but now she’s even stronger after realizing her own potential and not second-guessing herself, but at the same time she never lost the kind and caring parts of her that made her so wonderful in the first book. I’m still a little on the fence about Helene, I don’t know why I just can’t seem to like her character that much. Even having her own POV I was still waiting for her chapters to finish so there could be more of Laia and Elias. Speaking of, Elias…I mean…that poor little soul. Wow if I thought the first book was tough on him man was I wrong. This book was brutal but in the best way, the journey Elias goes through is so great because we get to know so much more about the person he really is and honestly there isn’t one thing I don’t like about his character.

It was great to get to know some of the side characters too, like Afya, her brother Gibran and I was excited to see Izzi again, she’s just the sweetest character in the whole book. Even the villains get development, like Marcus and his slow unravelling after what happened with his brother. I still think he’s horrible but something about his character is fascinating. The Commandant annoys me like crazy but I’m super interested to see what happens to her in the end.

I was sad that the romance between Laia and Elias became more of a back burner focus in this book, but honestly in the end it really paid off. Although I am wondering how everything will work out in the next book I’m still hopeful that these two will be together because this book only solidified how amazing they are as a twosome. That twist with Keenan was so beyond awesome, I didn’t like him in the first book and so as Laia and his relationship developed in this one I was like NOOOOO, but it all worked out in a somewhat tragic but interestingly complex and captivating way. The same can be said for what may be going on with Helene and Harper. While I’m not Helene’s biggest fan and I didn’t like Harper right away, he grew on me over the book and I’m sensing there may be a spark there, especially after the reveal at the end, which would make things so complicated but I’m curious to see how it all works out.

It’s amazing how this whole book revolved around Darin, just like the first and yet there was so much more to it than just him. It was definitely more about the journey than the destination, as Darin is more of a concept to be grasped than an actuality until the last portion of the book. But it’s the hope and purpose that finding and saving him gives each person that really drives the story forward. He’s the reason for the mission, but not the focus and I think that’s the brilliance of the story.

The world building was excellent again as well, even though there isn’t a huge amount of explaining about the dynamics of the world, it isn’t needed, the characters stories and the general atmosphere set up everything that’s needed for imagining this place that’s truly terrifying and mystifying all at once. It’s always great to read a book where you feel like your standing alongside the characters amidst the action, but still enjoying the story of it all and Tahir has really managed to capture that with these books. I’m so looking forward to the next one! It took me longer than I would’ve liked to get to reading this one *sigh* but I’m hopeful the next installment in this series will continue to be great and I’m excited to join Elias, Laia and Helene on more of their journey.

Reviews of the Ember Quartet

#1 – An Ember in the Ashes

Series: Ember Quartet #2

Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Synopsis:

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

 

Review: For This He Came

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Rating: ★★★★★

Review:

“They said they would believe if He came down, but it is precisely because He did not come down that we do believe.”

I have a great appreciation for this book. I requested it for free through Our Daily Bread and wow, I honestly feel that this book is truly priceless. I’ll admit that Christ’s willing sacrifice upon the cross is hard to understand, and in many ways it will always be somewhat of a Divine mystery but Crowder is astounding in the ways he unpacks and lovingly details the path from the Upper room to the Cross and then ends at the Ascension. I was actually in tears at many places during this book, even having heard similar descriptions before, this author had a way of revealing the heart of Christ to me in a way I hadn’t known Him before, and for that I am grateful.

There was so much depth to this book and I was able to gain new insight into things that hadn’t even occurred to me before the author pointed them out, his attention to historical context and scriptural accuracy were so important and only added to the profound teaching of the book. I recommend this for new believers, seasoned Christians and anyone who doesn’t know Christ but wants to, trust me, you’ll find Him in this book. It was clear that Crowder has a heart bent towards the Lord, and I thank him for writing this marvelous work and sharing it with the world.

Genre: Christian, Theology

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Discovery House

Author: Bill Crowder

Synopsis:

Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the grave are the cornerstone of our Christian faith. But it’s important to remember the events leading up to that time—the ones in which Christ taught His disciples important lessons that should still be imprinted on our hearts today. Bill Crowder walks you through those key moments of the Last Supper, the garden of Gethsemane, and the trial before Pilate, as well as Christ’s death and resurrection, to give you a complete picture of the Savior.

Review: In His Image

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Release Date: May 31st, 2018

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Review:

“God’s truth is communal, given not merely so that the individual can live in right relationship to God, but so that the individual can live in right relationship with others.”

I had never heard of or read anything from Jen Wilkin before I decided to request this book, but I’m glad I went ahead with it as this has been an interesting read.

This book was surprisingly short. I managed to blaze through it in half a day and I don’t even scan read. Honestly I think my mind is still trying to catch up with everything that Wilkin has packed in. This book contains many bites of scriptural knowledge that can easily grow into a solid foundation of biblical understanding.

The pace of this book is fast, broken down into 10 easy sections, all on the different attributes of God and how we as His image bearers should be more concerned with “Who should I be?”, than “What should I do?” There’s also sections at the end of each chapter to answer questions and individual prayer prompts. I can admit that I often don’t use these, or I might if I purchase the book but when I’m reading in advance I don’t slow down enough to do devotional-type material, but from reading the questions and prompts I can see this being a useful tool for individual or group study.

I will say that I did disagree with some of her points, hence the three star instead of 4 or 5. This is mostly a case of perspective I think. Sometimes Wilkin presents things as very cut and dry, almost in a “why aren’t you doing it like this” sort of way. But we all know life is not like that, not even life lived through Christ. Sometimes decisions just aren’t a simple matter, despite obedient faithfulness. So while I do believe there are some important biblical truths folded in the pages of this book, I would caution anyone who reads it to remember that God deals with us all individually and relationally.

Overall I did enjoy this book. The style was engaging, the teaching relevant and filled with scriptural insight that will help many learn what it really means to bear the image of their Creator.

– I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book I received through NetGalley from Crossway. All thoughts and opinions are my own. –

Genre: Christian, Christian Living

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Crossway

Author: Jen Wilkin

Synopsis:

Sometimes we ask What is God’s will for my life? when we should really be asking Who should I be? The Bible has an answer: Be like the very image of God.

By exploring ten characteristics of who God is—holy, loving, just, good, merciful, gracious, faithful, patient, truthful, and wise—this book helps us understand who God intends for us to be. Through Christ, the perfect reflection of the image of God, we will discover how God’s own attributes impact how we live, leading to freedom and purpose as we follow his will and are conformed to his image.

Review: Ignite the Stars

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Release Date: September 4th, 2018

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Review:

“Without the struggle, you could not rise.”

Sigh. This book…my feelings are still sort of mixed on it. I think the reason for that is the whole time I was reading it felt more like I was reading a middle novel, not a starter book. So I wanted to know and love these characters and this world but I kept getting the sense like I was already supposed to know them, as if I was missing something. This book had so much potential, I just feel it didn’t quite live up to it.

The world the author was trying to create is an intriguing one, and I wish that I would’ve been able to imagine it, but honestly the descriptions were sorely lacking. I felt lost a lot of the time, trying to grasp a hold of time, place and setting not really getting where or what all was going on. Again, I think it’s because the whole book read like a middle piece and not like a beginning. There was no exposition. No setting up of the initial story or how this world came to be. You get the impression this is a future version of our current world but no real idea of how it got that way, how the new politics work, the new culture, the language idioms. Things are mixed together in a way that just don’t quite fit. I did enjoy the futuristic space/greco-roman vibe everything had going, but would’ve loved more depth to it all so I could understand it.

The characters had the same problem, not enough depth. There were glimpses but not enough exploration. No true delving into backstories at all. Again, it seemed like you were already supposed to know them from the get-go. And I can officially say that Ia is the first heroine I’ve read who I’ve hated and rooted for at the same time. While I wanted her to succeed at certain points because I admired her tenacity and unwilingness to give up, I also disliked her mean-sprited, self-absorbed personality that near the end was bordering on psychotic with her willingness to harm others. Plus, the idea that as 17-year-old girl she could battle and kill so many people almost singlehandedly seemed beyond even fantastical stretching. She is not an easy to like heroine to say the least. Honestly I would call Brinn more of the heroine for this book than Ia. She had more of a transformation and growth process, along with a defined personality change that was meaningful. And her romantic plot-line was very sweet and understated.

The romance in this book isn’t the main focus, but I liked it that way. This book seemed to focus more on the bonds of genuine relationship and trust, which Ia had never experienced and so her relationship with Brinn as a friend took more focus than her romantic relationship. But the chemistry between Ia and Knives develops slowly in the moments they do share together, leading to a romance that could be a really good one if it gets even more development. Knives (despite his unfortunate name) was a good character on his own, although sometimes the way he talked about his sister made me cringe a little. If there’s one character I would’ve liked to have seen more of, it’s him. His and Ia’s interactions were usually funny and interesting and were the only times when most of the interesting or meaningful things would happen out so I really did enjoy those moments in the book.

I was surprised that this book also contained a fair bit of unnecessary cursing. Of course it was “veiled” using the books different language so the word “mif” comes up a lot. Which is just a blanket for multiple versions of our cuss words. To be honest I just don’t think that cursing adds a lot, or anything, to the text. There are so many ways for characters to express frustration, disappointment, surprise, anger, so it doesn’t need to be used.

Overall I still think this book has a lot of potential and I’m hoping that maybe the next book in the series will improve upon this first one. With some extra character development and greater world building I could really see this being a great series. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book I received through NetGalley from Albert Whitman & Company. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

Author: Maura Milan

Synopsis:

Everyone in the universe knows his name. Everyone in the universe fears him. But no one realizes that notorious outlaw Ia Cocha is a seventeen-year-old girl.

A criminal mastermind and unrivaled pilot, Ia has spent her life terrorizing the Olympus Commonwealth, the imperialist nation that destroyed her home. When the Commonwealth captures her and her true identity is exposed, they see Ia’s age and talent as an opportunity: by forcing her to serve them, they will prove that no one is beyond their control.

Soon, Ia is trapped at the Commonwealth’s military academy, desperately plotting her escape. But new acquaintances—including Brinn, a seemingly average student with a closely-held secret, and their charming Flight Master, Knives—cause Ia to question her own alliances. Can she find a way to escape the Commonwealth’s clutches before these bonds deepen?

 

Review: True Storm

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Release Date: May 1st, 2018

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Review:

“And if there is one thought I take with me through the shadows into the light, it’s this: I want to survive.”

We’ve reached the end of the True Born Trilogy and I’m a little surprised at how I’m feeling about this final book. Honestly, it didn’t come across as an ending to me. More like another chapter with much left to be reconciled. My emotions are so divided on whether I liked how everything ended or whether I didn’t. Squarely in the three star middle is exactly where I’m at right now.

There’s still so much about this world and it’s dynamics that I don’t fully understand but wish I did. Even with the author trying to have the characters explain things I often felt lost, rereading and trying to gain better comprehension but failing to. The mythology behind the True Borns still alludes me, and even with Alastair and the revelations he brought I’m still utterly confused. Everything revealed regarding Margot and Lucy didn’t seem to come together in the end either, and the resolution regarding the Plague seemed rushed at the end.

As for Lucy and Jared, I wasn’t much of a fan of their romance and this final book didn’t convince me to change my mind. Jared comes across more as possessive than as someone who truly loves and wants to protect Lucy and Lucy plays the same hot and cold game she continually accuses Jared of. This final book doesn’t add much emotional depth to their dynamic, instead it only furthers the idea that their bond is mostly through sexual chemistry. It’s an immature relationship and the way it resolves in the end seemed out of tune with the way their relationship had been carried out through the three books. Individually Lucy herself really didn’t grow much either, still having others fight her battles and sliding more towards not knowing who she is without Margot, which honestly is sad because she had seemed to grow more into her own person in the last book.

As far as side characters go, I was saddened I didn’t get to know much more about any of the other True Borns at all. I’m still left scratching my head, wondering what Storm’s endgame really was and who he really was. But my biggest sadness has to do with Alastair and Margot. Alastair became a favorite of mine in the last book and I was really looking forward to getting to know more about him in this book. Unfortunately his character gets mostly tarnished in this book and then discarded, which is a real shame. The potential for romance was realized with Lucy, but not at all in the way I had hoped. And Margot just became a shell of a character instead of the fully realized person I was expecting. There was all this talk of her having secrets but the reveal with Resnikov was shocking at best, inappropriate at worst. After what he did to her in the last book I would never consider that love and wish none of their dynamic had been included in this book.

The author does have great writing skills, and the way she writes made me want to keep reading even when I got annoyed with the characters, which is saying something. I was always impressed with the way scenes and atmosphere were detailed and those moments were some of the best parts of the book and would draw me in better than anything else. It’s mostly for that I kept the three star rating. Because even though the ending felt rushed, and the characters never developed like I had hoped, the writing still pulled me in, I kept reading and it was an adventure.

Overall I did enjoy this series, but now that the final book is done it’s leaving the impression of being unfinished. I think there were so many great ideas that never got fully fleshed out, or characters that weren’t wholly realized but I’m glad I read through the entirety of it. Getting to the end of a series is satisfying, even if it’s not how I imagined it would turn out. The True Born Trilogy was a unique concept and I’m left wishing there was just one more book, if only to alleviate that tension of questions left unanswered.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book I received through NetGalley from Entangled Publishing, LLC. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Reviews of the True Born Trilogy:

#1True Born

#2True North

Series: True Born Trilogy #3

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

Author: L. E. Sterling

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Lucy’s twin sister, Margot, may be safely back with her—but all is not well in Plague-ravaged Dominion City. The Watchers have come out of hiding, spreading chaos and death throughout the city, and suddenly Lucy finds herself under pressure to choose her future: does it lie with her handsome new friend, Alastair; her guardian, the enigmatic True Born leader Nolan Storm; or the man who makes her heart trip, her savage True Born bodyguard Jared Price?

But while Lucy ponders her path, fate has other plans. Betrayal is a cruel lesson, and the Fox sisters can hardly believe who is behind the plot against them. To survive this deadly game of politics, Lucy is forced to agree to a marriage of convenience. But is the DNA of her will stronger than the forces opposing her? Can she turn the tide against the oncoming storm??

Review: Restore Me

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Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Review:

Complete honesty here. I almost DNFd this halfway through. So sad considering my absolute love for the original trilogy. I still can’t believe how much I really don’t like this book. One star is a rarity for me and it breaks my heart to use it. The title of this book was such “click bait” as someone I was talking to called it. This book did nothing to “restore” any of the characters, the story or my love of this series. In fact, I’m 99% sure it has almost completely destroyed it. Honestly the only thing I can think right now is, what happened!?

This book just felt like a giant ode to political correctness. Characters personalties and mannerisms were changed, whole characters were added for no apparent reason and served no real function and real depth was destroyed all in favor of not being perceived as insensitive or offensive. I’m tired of authors changing a series that was already wonderful to fit the standards of culture. This series was beloved as it was, people wanted to read the new book because they wanted a continuation of the narrative that already existed. And if Mafi wanted to add characters / change narratives, at least make them matter more than just being throw away appeasement filler.

The characters I loved from the original trilogy were barely recognizable to me. The strong, confident Juliette who had learned to stand up for herself and was no longer hiding so much in her own mind is gone here. She comes across as almost near madness at times, completely defeated and a doubter. It’s like she reverted back to Juliette at the asylum but instead of still remaining kind, compassionate and considerate of others like she had before in the face of torture, hatred and struggles, she’s become harsh and unfeeling. The moment with her hair wasn’t what I think Mafi wanted it to be. It wasn’t this big, tough moment where the girl breaks free from her past. No, it was stupid, impulsive and honestly came across as an immature Juliette we left behind several books ago.

I feel most sad for the complete ruin of Warner. His character was always the interesting one. The one we knew hardly anything about, which made him mysterious. But what we did know, we loved. We wanted more because under his shell was a broken boy we all loved and yet still admired for his quiet compassion and resilience in the face of it all. His unaffectedness about how the world viewed him, his utter love and belief in Juliette, his untiring strength. All of these gone with this book. He’s become an anxiety ridden, depressed, clingy person who came across as pathetic and pitiable. Things the Warner from the previous books would’ve hated to be seen as. And after three books of building him up as an unlikely hero, of shifting perspectives and seeing how he was truly a man of unexpected kindness and not heartless cruelty, he’s somehow again been made into an unsuspecting villain, by Juliette of all people. To derail the great growth of Warner’s character and the way that we as readers have come to see him, was such a shame.

And their relationship together. Just wrecked. They’re only really together when they’re having sex and that just comes across as fan service, not as being written to serve any plot purpose. They don’t talk, they don’t communicate and eventually this leads to Juliette thinking he’s a massive liar and him thinking he’s lost her forever. After they’ve been together for 18 days or so. How did their relationship go from “I love you as you are” to Juliette doubting his every move? How did it go from Warner opening up about his mother’s ring and the scars on his back to him shutting her out in such a short time. That’s the unrealistic part. Wanting to create relationship drama to prolong the series isn’t something I agree with, couples can be happy and together and a series can be good. And there can be relationship struggles without a break up. And the whole “Hey”, “Hi” thing just drove me nuts. They always spoke to each other clearly before, why now can they only say two words it seems and then it’s just to jump each others bones? Where’s the mutual understanding they had developed where they knew each other in a way no else did!? Their relationship was so different from what had been established and built through the last books that I was appalled I was supposed to believe these were the same two people.

As for the core Omega Point group. That whole thing was a joke. More unnecessary character deaths from another author. No expansion on Adam and Alia, which I was looking forward to. No one else gets a backstory except Kenji and his felt like a throwaway. His character just came across as “insert Kenji to lighten mood” and to be a relationship counselor for Juliette and Warner. Before he had been such a strong presence for Juliette and I adored their friendship. Now he just seems like the third wheel who no one knows what to do with. Just so much wrong. So much.

The tone of this book was just depressing and dark. And no the other books weren’t light, but their darkness had a purpose. In the end, even though the characters had struggles or they faced obstacles it was all about overcoming. In this book it was nothing but defeat upon defeat upon defeat. Mental, physical, everything was defeating. It made the book a slog to get through. I realize that what some of what I loved about the original trilogy was the mystery surrounding the world and the backstories of the characters. Not everything was fully fleshed out, only little tidbits were given and I feel that is what gave the series it’s likability. You didn’t know everything. When things were revealed in the past books, it was a slow revelation to add depth to the characters or paint a better picture of the world, not a wallop across the head for shock value. The whole revelation with Juliette felt like a cheap trick and a boring one at that. I would’ve much rather had the core characters just be involved in an overall war than add even more characters, muddy the plot even further and spin off into a side dilemma that was just there for a baited cliffhanger. The original trilogy didn’t have a lot of action going on per-se, but even the small stuff then had weight to it. Even the little interactions mattered. But now it seems that things were just written to move the plot along or add unnecessary drama, not to help the narrative.

Overall it felt like reading Shatter Me all over again, with the characters back at the start, having had no growth, no perspective and going a totally different path, being written by a completely inexperienced author. Nothing felt woven together, the characters weren’t the ones I’d come to love or would even want to know more about, and the world was lackluster. It read as juvenile. And none of the original trilogy read that way. I missed the beautiful poetic writing and being in Juliette’s headspace and even in Warner’s from reading Destroy Me. But here it was lifeless. Some lines had punch but again it just felt tossed in for appeasement, not because it fit or had a meaning. The other trilogy had impact and left a lasting impression because from the characters to the words on the page, everything had weight. It resonated.

I’ve always tried not too gripe with a book, critique yes, but complain no. And definitely not rant. But I was so looking forward to this book. And while I try always to objective, not subjective, the emotional weight I have with being invested in this series does add a different dimension to how I view this book. If there’s one series I recommend to people, it’s this one. A character I consider to be most like myself, it’s Juliette (until now of course). So to come to a book you’ve waited a long time to see happen and only have it wreck what came before is just crushing on many levels. I still adore the original trilogy, and I’m likely going to follow along with the rest of this series just to see how it all washes out in the end. But the best way to describe how I feel after reading this book is utterly disillusioned and disappointed. And I’ve spoken to enough people to know it’s not just me who feels this way. I hope the next one is better, but I probably won’t be reading it. Sometimes a book becomes one you recommend forever and sometimes it just becomes part of a larger series you accept, and that is definitely the case with Restore Me.

(P.S. Happy to share more thoughts with anyone who wants to discuss. All I ask is to keep things civil. )

Reviews of the Shatter Me Series:

#1 – Shatter Me

#2 – Unravel Me

#3 – Ignite Me

Series: Shatter Me Series #4

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

Author: Tahereh Mafi

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Juliette Ferrars thought she’d won. She took over Sector 45, was named the new Supreme Commander, and now has Warner by her side. But she’s still the girl with the ability to kill with a single touch—and now she’s got the whole world in the palm of her hand. When tragedy hits, who will she become? Will she be able to control the power she wields and use it for good?

Review: An Ember in the Ashes

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Rating: ★★★★★

Review:

“We haven’t woken anything from the darkness that wasn’t already awake.”

How in the world did I not come across this series until now, what book abyss have I fallen in that this gem of a writing masterpiece has been hidden from me!?

The best kinds of books are the ones that, when you read them, you feel like you’re whisked off to another place, the world around you disappears and for awhile you lose yourself in the stories of these other people. You become part of their adventures, their struggles and triumphs. Yet all the while these people feel like people you know, people you’ve met, or even people you’ve been or might want to be. This book has all of those glorious elements in it! Reading Ember felt like disappearing into a place that’s recognizable and yet so completely foreign, horrible in its brutality and yet strangely beautiful in its mythology.

And the characters, excuse me but they are so beyond amazing, words cannot express how much I adore all of them. Laia is the most relatable, her growth from being afraid and defenseless to finding her own kind of courage is remarkable. It’s great when a character doesn’t just instantly toughen up because they’re thrown into something difficult. Laia is strong, but her strength overall is a growing process and that made me admire her as a character. And don’t get me talking about Elias because my heart just might explode from how much I love that poor soul. Seriously his development was stellar and intricate, the way everything was woven together with the Augur Cain and seeing the many layers of himself that needed to revealed for him to be “free”, it was just too much for my heart. Now Helene, that girl is still so much of a mystery to me, but in a great way. I want to know more about her and she’s just awesome with being underestimated by everyone and I felt hurt for her after everything with Elias, but she just had such complexity that I can’t wait to find out more!!

Even the side characters in this book were wonderful, like all of Elias and Helene’s Blackcliff friends, I almost cried with what happened to them in the end and Izzi is just the cutest little cupcake after everything that the Commandant has done to her. Who, speaking of, is so the creepiest and worst woman ever. There’s no way I could choose a worst villain of this story, because between Marcus being a super sicko and Keris as the Commandant with her sadistic ways, they were both equally horrid, but in a “I like to dislike you” way.

As romance goes, I’m not super thrilled with the love triangle because, let’s be honest here, I’m all for Laia and Elias and so I was saying no to Keenan early on. Plus his character just wasn’t developed as much as Elias so I didn’t feel as interested in the romance between Laia and him as I did with her and Elias. Now I will admit I still wouldn’t be opposed to a triangle between Elias, Laia and Helene. Elias may have been very clueless there for awhile, but I think his affection for Helene was really genuine and I always adore a good friends turned romantic partners pairing. Of course with everything that happened that’s probably not likely. Especially since Elias and Laia have some serious book chemistry. The kind where even when they’re just on the same page together, or even just mention the other’s name, I’m so glued to the page my eyes hurt.  The author has managed to capture that all important spark and I just can’t wait for it to ignite into something extraordinary.

I’ve already rambled on too much, but I have to mention how well the world was built too. Not just how much I felt immersed in it, like I said above, but just the style of it. Like being plopped down in Ancient Rome, but with a touch of Arabian culture. The mythology of the jinn, efrits, ghuls and other creatures is so intriguing that I’m pulled in by their story as much as the main characters. The author has a talent for weaving stories within stories, within stories and I liked that while the narrative had one overarching goal, Laia saving her brother, there were so many more complex narratives  going on underneath. It gave the book more drive, heart and depth. I’m always completely drawn in by the complexity it must take to come up with not just the original plot, but the stories of so many other moving pieces within the original narrative.

So after all of that, if you’ve read all the way to the bottom of this review (which if you have, thank you and you’re awesome) I think you can surmise by now that I LOVED this book. The characters, the world, the everything. The writing was so well done that every line and moment fit within the frame of what was happening. Stepping back I normally wouldn’t appreciate something that could be considered slightly violent, but within the world that Tahir has set up, it all works together to create a place that’s haunting and poetically moving at the same time. I can’t wait to start reading the next books in the series, if it’s anything like this one, I’m sure it’s going to be amazing!

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
 
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
 
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
 
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Review: The Book of Secrets

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Release Date: February 20, 2018

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review:

“People don’t just receive a book and read out exactly the answer they came for. They have to work at understanding it.”

This book was definitely not what I expected it to be. I enjoyed previous works in Melissa McShane’s “The Extraordinaries” series and so I was excited to read something else from her and the plot of this book really jumped out at me. Of course, anything having to do with a bookstore is going to intrigue me, but this one stood out because it promised to weave together what seemed like a couple different genres, Mystery, Fantasy and Paranormal.

In some ways this book felt almost like a prequel and not a first book. I can’t really explain why I felt that way except that there’s a lot of explanation and just setting up for further events that seems to happen in this book. We get to know the characters, and they’re very likable, but not enough to make me be truly invested in them just yet. The overall plots are very interesting, but there’s still so much left to know and sometimes the explanations appear to fall short or feel open-ended.

I know this is the case with the “romance” between Helena and Malcolm. I put romance in quotes because I feel that’s the direction the author is going with the two of them but they honestly interacted so little and there wasn’t much indication of a romance past Viv and Helena’s interest that it will be a wait and see until the next book. It’s something I’m absolutely interested in. I want to know more about Campbell just on his own, his character is the most interesting out of all of them and there’s little to know about him from this book alone.

I did really enjoy the magical elements of this book, although it is hard to tell whether this book would be considered Fantasy or Paranormal. All of the details on auguries and future predicting was interesting and I’m looking forward to learning more about Abernathy’s and how it works, plus very little was really touched on about this big war that everyone is supposed to be involved in. I would love some flashbacks involving Silas as well, even though he was more of a side mention relating to Helena’s development as custodian in this book, his character is fascinating and it would be great to see more of him.

In the end this book kind of stumped me. It was so enjoyable all the way through, easy to read, the characters grabbed me and so did the story elements, and yet something still felt like it was missing. Overall, wonderful, well-written and enjoyable. But when it ended I almost was still waiting for it to really start, if that makes sense. Like the quote above, I feel like this book is something you have to work at understanding in a way, you have to appreciate it for its uniqueness. Hopefully the next book will really deepen the characters stories more, build up a sense of the world and the mystical elements and maybe then it won’t feel so much like a starter but an adventure.

*I received an e-ARC of this book through NetGalley from Curiosity Quills Press in exchange for an honest review*

Genre: New Adult, Fantasy

Links: Goodreads

Author: Melissa McShane

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Helena Davies just wants a job that will get her out of her parents’ basement. Abernathy’s Bookstore is disorganized, out of the way, and smells funny, but it pays well and promises to at least be interesting. She has no idea how interesting her life will become. By the end of the first day, Helena has a dead boss in the basement, an unexpected promotion, and the news that she is now a part of an endless war against creatures from another reality.

As Abernathy’s newest custodian, Helena is responsible for its secrets, including the most important one: Abernathy’s isn’t just a bookstore. It’s the world’s only living oracle, producing prophecies to help fight the war against alien invaders bent on draining this world of its magic. Helena’s job is to find books to answer questions put to the oracle by the Wardens, fighters in the Long War. It seems simple enough, but Helena’s new job is anything but.

Review: Dwarves of Calcus

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Series: Fairytale Galaxy Chronicles #3

Release Date: March 6, 2018

Rating: ★★★★★

Review:

“Do you trust me enough to believe me when I say we could be magical together?”

We’re back to the Fairytale Galaxy Chronicles and this time it’s all about Snow White. Katie Hamstead has managed yet again to take another classic fairytale and spin it in a way I’d have never imagined. The tale of Snow White gets an all new, completely inventive reimagining in this book and I can say that I enjoyed every minute of it!

This book was a super fast-paced read. From the get go we’re thrown into Snow’s life and it doesn’t slow down from there. Switching between the character’s was a great way to keep everything going but each character still had their own personality, which is sometimes hard to achieve. I liked the way Snow was written as being a pacifist so she used her wits and brains to get through more difficult situations. Snow was an extremely likable heroine, funny, kind to others and bold in her own unique ways. Her relationship with the dwarves was so sweet and heartwarming, you could almost feel the love emanating off the page.

Snow’s romance with Timothy was a whirlwind for sure and at first I’ll admit I wasn’t too fond of that just because I usually like the slow-burn or at least longer developed romances, but in the end their quick coupling worked into something really adorable.  The way it progressed over the book helped grow them as a couple and as individual characters and it was so wonderful to read. It came across as so pure and charming like a true fairytale. Plus it was refreshing to see a book couple stay together from the start of a book through to the end.

Timothy’s character was probably the most enjoyable out of all the characters in the book. His adorable awkwardness and occasional humor were so endearing and his growth over the story was lovely to read as he’s coming into his own being with Snow and growing in confidence.

It was interesting too getting to spend more time with the villain of the story and I’m glad that there wasn’t any kind of redemptive plot for her, sometimes the villain just needs to stay the villain. As creepy as some of the stuff Geneva did was, it was also cool to see how the story of the Evil Queen would fit into the already developing narrative, and it turned out so great. I especially loved how everything ended up with the enchanted mirror, again, while super creepy, that was an awesome way to end things.

The dwarves were so fascinating and it’ll be hard to watch the Disney movie and not want to picture them differently now, but I like the semi-modern spin that Hamstead puts on all of these books. It makes everything easier to imagine, but yet still fantastical enough to be exciting. I enjoy finding out more about the places in these books like Calcus, where the dwarves live and Yenolia, where the leprechauns are. Of course I wish I knew every little detail and Hamstead is good about leaving just enough unsaid so that there’s plenty of mystery still surrounding this world she’s created.

So overall, another fantastic addition to the Fairytale Galaxy Chronicles. I look forward to reading any further additions in the future!

*I received an eARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Previous Book Reviews:

Book 1: Princess of Tyrone

Book 2: Myths of Mish

Genre: New Adult, Fantasy

Links: Goodreads

Author: Katie Hamstead

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

When she was thirteen, Snow Sabbia crash landed on the dwarves’ home planet of Calcus. After fleeing from her step-mother’s huntsman, seven brother dwarves took her in to hide and protect her. She has hidden for years on the peaceful planet, tinkering with old automobiles and pushing papers in the mine office.
Then, Timothy White shows up.
The shy, nervous, nerdy heir captivates Snow before she even knows who he is, and quickly she falls in love. But his high profile in society draws unwanted attention from her vengeful stepmother, who wants Snow dead.
Geneva believed Snow died years earlier and she had consumed her innocent heart. With her late husband’s wealth, Snow’s inheritance, in tow, she married a young lord, Conrad. Both are using each other–Geneva for his title and to have a child, Conrad for her money and beauty. But when Conrad lays eyes on his boyhood rival’s lovely fiance, Snow, his overwhelming desire for her reveals the truth to Geneva, that Snow lives.
Desperate to hold onto her wealth and power, Geneva seeks to kill Snow properly this time. Snow has the power to wield the one thing that can destroy her, so she cannot let the girl claim possession of the family heirloom, the Nevollo Sword.
Snow soon learns her step-mother knows she is alive. But she is a pacifist, so she must outwit Geneva and remain hidden… until Geneva, disguised as a child, presents her with an apple.