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Thursday, April 24, 2014

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

Title: Sea of Shadows
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: April 8 2014
Publishing House: Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780062071248
Source of Copy: Edelweiss

Summary:

In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire's worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls o the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by ana nicent evil, the sister's journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they've ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the grls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court - one that will alter the balance of their world forever.


(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads.)

Review:

Moria and Ashyn - sisters, twins, Keeper and Seeker. They have a task every year - quiet the sprits that roam the forest near their home. Spirits of the exiled criminals who die in the forest near their home. It's Ashyn's first year to do it without her mentor and when things start going wrong and people start dying she's not sure what to think. Her fault? Or maybe just a bad year for her and her sister. When their tiny little town is attacked, the sisters have to bring news to their Emperor crossing paths with monsters and journeying across deserts and mountains. But thing is, trouble has a way of following the sisters and court life isn't exactly the reprieve they thought it'd be.

Sea of Shadows is a pretty good story - the pacing's great and the world-building was decent. I liked the atmosphere, it was creepy and dark. My only problem was how it seemed like the ending was too quick which left the story feeling a little cut short but that's about it.

The story is told in the alternating voices of Moria and Ashyn, two wholly different characters. Moria is the fighter, brash, bold and gorgeous, she has all the boys falling at her feet. Especially that imperial guard who's taken a liking to her. Moira has a cat, a big hunting cat who tags along wherever she goes. ( I like the cat better than I do Moria)

Ashyn, the other twin, is as beautiful but more timid. I was more partial to Ashyn and might be a little guilty of just skimming through Moria's parts and paying more attention to her twin's. After getting separated from her sister, she's forced to travel with an exile named Ronan. I liked him with Ashyn and when it was clear that he might have been more interested in Moria, initially, I wasn't happy. There was a little case of insta-love and Ashyn feeling a whole lot sorry for herself and comparing herself to her sister but thankfully it doesn't last the whole book. I can deal with a little self-pity.

Long story short, they do some traveling then encounter supposedly nonexistent mythical creatures and get into fights. They get deceived by bad men out to get them and escape and have to travel to the city. There are kisses in between. Then we realize that Ronan leaves the scene and there's something wrong with Moria's choice in men. See Moria? This is why I prefer your sister. She's not stupid. 

Overall a pretty entertaining book, I'd recommend this for those looking for their next fantasy read.


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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Stolen Songbird by Danielle Jensen

Title: Stolen Songbird
Author: Danielle Jensen
Format Acquired: ARC
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Publishing House: Strange Chemistry
ISBN: 9781908844965
Source of Copy: Requested from publisher

Summary:


For five centuries, a witch's curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the mountain. When Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she realizes that the trolls are relying on her to break the curse.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind: escape. But the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time...

But the more time she spends with the trolls, the more she understands their plight. There is a rebellion brewing. And she just might be the one the trolls were looking for...


(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from ARC)

Review:

Cécile was on her way to the city to further hone her skills as a singer and join her estranged mother, when she was abducted to become the troll prince's bride.  Now bonded to Tristan - against her will, of course - Cécile could feel his thoughts and feelings, and vice versa. Humans aren't exactly favored in Trollus, a town that used to revel in sunlight but what has now become a mountain of rubble, so half-bloods are definitely discriminated against. If it weren't for the prophecy, and the fact that harming Cécile definitely will hurt Tristan as well because of the bond, Cécile would obviously not be the bride the town wants for their prince. All the while steering clear of her hot-and-cold husband, Cécile stumbles onto a revolution that vows change for the half-breeds, headed by a very unlikely leader. 

This initially reminded me a lot of Chloe Jacobs' Greta and the Goblin King (which I reviewed here), and I kept hoping and praying (my co-blogger can attest to this) that it could fill the "fantasy creature-human romance" hole in my heart. 

While it does indeed deliver what the blurb promises, Stolen Songbird has not stolen my heart or my whole attention when I was reading it, for that matter. I don't know, but there seems to be something almost a bit too rehearsed about the whole book, but I think it manifests most especially in Tristan's lines. Yes, he's the prince and he's supposed to be worldly and everything about the workings of the Royal Court, and it's not exactly surprising that he is glib and sarcastic about absolutely everything (aren't almost all YA princes?) I wasn't so into Tristan probably because he reminded me so much of Defy's Prince Damian (which was absolutely pas terrible for me; you can read the review here). Tristan and Damian can fool all the people they want, but they're definitely not fooling me with their bored rich kid attitude. The main protagonist, Cécile, wasn't much interesting either, except when she uses her voice to lure Tristan simply because it's amusing to watch him kind of follow her in a stupor.

Stolen Songbird does get a bit more action as the story progresses, so it wasn't as boring and monotonous as I make it out to be. I did like that there were some French terminology (Francophile that I am). The ending was surprising, but not unexpected, and it did leave me a tiny bit curious as to the next book.

I think that if you liked Prince Damian from Sara Larson's Defy, then you will like Prince Tristan, which I think is a pretty big factor since he plays an important role in the book. I do think that this is considerably better than Chloe Jacobs' Greta and the Goblin King, so if you were disappointed by that one, you can give this one a try.




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Monday, April 21, 2014

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Title: Not a Drop to Drink
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: September 24 2013
Publishing House: Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN: 9780062198501
Source of Copy: Purchased from FullyBooked

Summary:

Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most important, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the ponds leaves thirsty or doesn't leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, the nighttime threats, and the gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won't stop until they get it...


(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)

Review:

Lynn's okay with the way she lives. It's day after endless day of protecting her pond, looking for food and surviving the winter. She doesn't see the point of moving away from the tiny pond, content with her day-to-day routine. So when stragglers threaten her pond - she's going to do anything to keep it safe, things happen and she's got no choice but to deal with this upheaval on her routine.

The scariest thing about Not a Drop to Drink is how the events that happen in the book could actually happen in real life. It's an intense read about a girl's struggle to survive in a world where water is scarce and if you have it, you'll have to fight to the death to protect it. And that's exactly what Lynn does, with the help of her mother. 

The post-apocalyptic setting was really well done. One of the few post-apocalyptic books that actually feels like a dark, desolate world where people cling to fragments of their old life. The author doesn't drop you in the middle of some wasteland, says it's the aftermath of the war and boom. Post-apocalyptic. She takes time to build the world and introduce her characters.

McGinnis has a strong heroine - Lynn. All her life she's been taught to survive by her mother. Taught how to shoot, to hunt, skin an animal and how to purify water from their pond. She keeps vigil over their house at night by setting point up on the roof. But from the way her mother brought her up - to not trust strangers and shoot before she speaks - it makes for a very lonely life. She's stubborn and set in her ways, but she's totally unsure of how to interact with other people.

When she meets a boy - there will always be a boy - named Eli, she starts acting differently and the book started loosing it's survivalist feel. I get how meeting Eli was totally new for Lynn seeing as how there aren't much teenage boys just hanging around but things start getting more emotional and survival seems to be the last thing on Lynn's mind... I got bored. Mainly because it was't as gripping but also maybe because I wasn't really feeling Eli and Lynn. She's such a capable heroine and Eli's this bumbling idiot who can't do anything to save his own life. Maybe the idea of having to care for someone lesser than her was her thing - she did take in a little girl you know - and regards Eli as a pet. Wishful thinking on my part because it's pretty obvious that they're into each other.

But the book isn't all about the survival of these few people because there are bigger things going on and there are still men in trucks who snatch people of their belongings to looks out for. Obviously, Lynn's got to find out more about these people and when she does, she's going to have to find a way to stop them from bulldozing over her and everyone she's come to care for. 

I'll stop here to keep myself from being too spoilery but if you're on the lookout for a post-apocalyptic survivalist story, pick this one. It's terrifyingly realistic.


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