Friday, September 12, 2014

Blog Tour & Amazon Card Giveaway (INT): Coral & Bone by Tiffany Daune

Coral & Bone

Tiffany Daune

Goodreads | Amazon | Tour 

Publication Date: July 8th 2014

Publisher: Jester Ink Press

Genre:  Paranormal, Fantasy, Young Adult

Pages: 290
Halen knows the sparks igniting under her fingertips are dangerous. She has spent her entire life trying to quell the tingly feelings that make her destroy things, but now that she is back in Rockaway Beach, where she watched her father drown, the flames have become impossible to tame.Halen is trying to hold on, but when she is thrust into a mysterious new world, the underwater realm of Elosia, she unravels the secrets of her past and can't help but ignite. As she explores Elosia, she realizes her life has been a lie. And when those who have deceived her come to her for help, Halen must choose—walk away or unleash the magick that could destroy them all

When you first see Coral and Bone the initial thought is that it is a mermaid book. You sit there going ‘Oh she’s going to learn that she was secretly a mermaid and it’ll be pretty basic’. That’s not where this book goes, however. Don’t get me wrong, there are mermaids in the book… in name at least, but that’s far from what our main character is and it is not a truly important part of this book in my opinion (okay somewhat important, but not really important to Halen's specific origins).

Of course I don’t want to give too much away, it’s better to read these things on your own.

Our main character, Halen, has moved around all her life with her mother. Suddenly her senses are working into overdrive and new birthmarks have appeared on her and life in general has gotten really weird.

Not surprisingly there is a strong YOU ARE THE CHOSEN ONE feeling to the beginning of the book. There was one or two chapters in particular that made me wonder if this book was going to fall into a lot of overdone cliches. Luckily however, after that initial dip, Coral and Bone steered more into unique and original story telling, including some fantastic plot twists.

Overall, I really enjoyed Daune’s writing for the book. There were are a few times that fell into feeling a bit off, but then another scene would grab my attention and I’d enjoy it so much I’d forget about that off feeling.

My absolutely favourite parts of this book are how it ended (which I’ll get into under my spoilers tag) and the way Daune cleverly used a cliche to hide one of her twists.

I’d describe this book as a mix of fantasy and urban fantasy. There are some parts that are pure high fantasy and then others, when they are in the “real” world, that you can’t help but get an urban fantasy vibe from. I think it’s pretty unique and I enjoyed it as a read.


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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

ARC Book Review: Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston


Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston

ARC Disclaimer: I was not paid in any way by the publishers to review this book favourably. The review is my own honest opinion (Whether or not it is agreed with).

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Pages: 336

Genre:  Post-Apocalyptic, Fantasy, Adventure, Young Adult

Dress-up turns deadly. . .

For Davis Morrow, perfection is a daily reality. Like all Priors, Davis has spent her whole life primed to be smarter, stronger, and more graceful than the lowly Imperfects, or “Imps.” A fiercely ambitious ballerina, Davis is only a few weeks away from qualifying for the Olympiads and finally living up to her mother’s legacy when 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? Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all.
Frozen has this distinct adventure feel to it. A Treasure Island kind of feeling. We are shoved into this post-apocalyptic version of America that is freezing cold, cancer is the norm, life expectancy is considerably lower than it is now and beings of fantasy have come out of the ice. That last bits important to know before going in, there is a lot of fantasy beings/themes in this book.

We follow Nat who has escape from some kind of facility and is hiding out in New Vegas as a card dealer and Ryan, an ex-soldier turned runner who does the dirty work other’s don’t want to do. Nat has found a way to get to the “Blue” a paradise that is said to be only a rumor and she ends up hiring Ryan and his crew to get her there.

I’d be lying if I said that this book was brilliantly written. Sometimes the main relationship is a little awkward, but other than the ending which felt all over the place and rushed, the writing didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of it.

There was a spark to Frozen that kept my attention. As soon as they were out on the waters, I felt myself wondering what kind of thing they would encounter.

I think if we had focused more on the environment and less on the people encountered it would have been more enjoyable.

Ratings for this book are all over the place if you look it up. I think, however, though it’s not without it’s issues, the idea and plot are interesting and the adventure part is really enjoyable.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Book Review: Poison by Bridget Zinn


Bridget Zinn

Published Date: March 12th 2013

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Pages: 288

Genre:  Fantasy, Adventure, Young Adult
Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.

But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart . . . misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she’s certainly no damsel-in-distress—she’s the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon.
I picked up Poison due the an interesting synopsis paired up with a gorgeous cover. I would be lying if I hadn’t thought of Poison Study and hoped that this book would be written in a similar style.

Luckily, reality didn’t hit too far from my expectations. Things were a little lighter, a little simpler, but the style of the writing the kind I enjoy reading the most.

The book opens up with Kyra sneaking around and avoiding old friends and guards, because she had tried to kill the princess with her potions and poisons. She failed the first time and now everyone is after her, but she is determined to try again… despite the fact that the princess is her best friend.

The great strength of this book is how our main character doesn’t tell us, the reader, anything. For example the book starts off going on about how she needs to kill the princess and after we’re comfortable with that it throws us for a loop with the best friend thing. It then teases us with only half an explanation of why and we spend most of the book wanting to throttle Kyra, and have her think clearly about it all so we can understand what's going on and her motives.

Because of this, the book becomes very engaging, keeping the readers on their toes with an active mind up until the very end.

I also enjoy the fact that the book is carefully set up so that we are dropped in at the middle instead of at the beginning.

The characters are sometimes simple, but varied and charming (when they’re supposed to be). I’m personally a fan of this kind of charaterization, so I enjoyed this.

Where the book did suffer a bit is with the pacing. The climax felt less like a climax, more like it was dragged out and I couldn’t figure out which part was supposed to be the big turning point. Other times the pacing was too fast. It’s not a huge issue, however, and didn’t stop me from enjoying.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys some nice YA Fantasy with charming characters. I also recommend this to anyone who enjoys it when an author carefully fits together the reveal of a mystery like a puzzle.

This book was published post-mortem as the author died of cancer in 2011. There won't be any more books by her and that is such a tragedy. She would have easily become a favourite author of mine. I hope she realized how great this book was.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

ARC Book Review: Fueds by Avery Hastings


Avery Hastings

ARC Disclaimer: I was not paid in any way by the publishers to review this book favourably. The review is my own honest opinion (Whether or not it is agreed with).

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Pages: 272

Genre:  Dystopia, Romance, Young Adult

Dress-up turns deadly. . .

For Davis Morrow, perfection is a daily reality. Like all Priors, Davis has spent her whole life primed to be smarter, stronger, and more graceful than the lowly Imperfects, or “Imps.” A fiercely ambitious ballerina, Davis is only a few weeks away from qualifying for the Olympiads and finally living up to her mother’s legacy when she meets Cole, a mysterious boy who leaves her with more questions each time he disappears.

Davis has no idea that Cole has his own agenda, or that he’s a rising star in the FEUDS, an underground fighting ring where Priors gamble on Imps. Cole has every reason to hate Davis—her father’s campaign hinges on the total segregation of the Imps and Priors—but despite his best efforts, Cole finds himself as drawn to Davis as she is to him.

Then Narxis, a deadly virus, takes its hold--and Davis’s friends start dying. When the Priors refuse to acknowledge the epidemic, Davis has no one to turn to but Cole. Falling in love was never part of their plan, but their love may be the only thing that can save her Avery Hastings's Feuds.
There are two types of people living in the futuristic city of Columbus. There are the Priors and there are the Imps. Priors are genetically enhanced, while Imps are "Imperfect" nothing enhanced about them. It doesn't take much to guess which group is in political power and how the group in power treats the other.

As a romance novel, you can see where this is probably going. Davis, our main female character is a Prior and Cole, the male half, is an Imp. This is a plot that has been done since the dawn of storytelling. It could have easily gone to many cliché places and a couple of times it did, but what saves this book is the amount of layering in the world building and the mysterious disease that haunts the pages.

Hastings held my attention with that mystery. It had me biting my nails as I saw the inevitable coming along. I found myself wondering which characters in power knew and which didn't. The world also, though a play on a common theme, is set up nicely and I feel like there is more to explore about it.

There isn't anything extra-ordinary about the characters themselves for me, but they weren't lacking either. The pacing felt slow from time-to-time, but it continued to keep my attention.

The thing the book has going for it the most, however, is that it is strong enough to carry as a series (and from the cliffhanger ended it most certainly will at least have a sequel). Extra layers were added at the end and the world has enough mysteries while still feeling like the exact story of the first book is at a stopping point.

I recommend this to people who love star-crossed lovers stories. I doubly recommend it if you also like Dystopias and stories about people versus government corruption. It was a satisfying Young Adult read.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Book Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty

Rosamund Hodge

 Published Date: January 28th 2014

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Pages: 342

Genre:  Fairy tale, Mythology, Fantasy-esqe, Romance, Young Adult
Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.
I love the setting and world building of this book. Hodge is absolutely brilliant. It’s part fantasy, part historical fiction, part mythological retelling and part fairytale retelling. In the story, Arcadia is an island off of Greece, sharing in their mythology after the mainland had come to influence and conquer, yet also keeping their own hedge gods. It was a prosperous place until something, no one knows exactly what, happened at the castle, the sky went from blue to parchment, demons came to torture the minds of those the caught and the Gentle Lord came to bargain and rule.

Nyx is around because of one of those bargains, and her fate is sealed because of it as well. She must go off to the castle and marry the Gentle Lord, the one in charge of the demons. She is sent so that her sister can live happily and coddled and so that she can attempt to bring back the blue skies by defeating the house or the Gentle Lord himself.

As a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, it is certainly one of the best and is my favourite. I like it for many of the same reasons why I like The Lunar Chronicles, it’s not a straightforward retelling and instead is very imaginative and clever.

The fairy tale and amazing world aside, however, it’s our main characters, Nyx and Ignifex, the Gentle Lord, who are really the stars of the show. There is a realness and complexity to these characters. They are far from perfect, they are even downright nasty sometimes, but they are learning to accept that in themselves and in each other. They were a joy to read in their growth as separate characters and as a couple.

If you like Beauty and the Beast, read this book, but even if you’re not into fairytales, if you enjoy fantasy mixed with mythology, or just great characters and a great couple, I highly recommend this book. It’s world is amazing and unique and it’s characters layered and real.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Book Review: Taken by David Massey


David Massey

ARC Disclaimer: I was not paid in any way by the publishers to review this book favourably. The review is my own honest opinion (Whether or not it is agreed with).

Publisher: Chicken House

Published Date: March 6th 2014

Genre:  Adventure, Suspense

A young crew of five are toughing it out together, sailing around the world on a gruelling charity challenge. They are used to being pushed to the limit, but nothing could have prepared them for being kidnapped.

When they are taken hostage by a notorious warlord and his band of child soldiers, the trip of a lifetime turns into a one-way journey into the heart of the African jungle.

When hope is all you have, survival is all you can fight for...
Taken is most certainly a plot driven book. A group of young ex-soldiers whose service was cut short by debilitating injuries decide to show their new disabilities do not hinder them by taking a sailing trip around the world for charity. Rio, our main character, is hired as support crew as she is a sailing champion and they are required to have a certain number of able bodied members aboard or no sponsors.

As that stands there is of course a little tension as Rio is an outsider to this close knit group. Of course, when a group of child soldiers led by a terrorist attacks their ship and takes them captive every thing soon changes.

Taken is a pretty unique book among New Adult. I feel as if most NA and YA books are heavily character (or romance) driven as opposed to plot. Of course, due to the focus the main group of characters feels underdeveloped compared to what I am used to. Many of them are a bit one note, which didn't ring well with me. The most developed and layered character however, is the Empty Child. She soon becomes the mystery that I am most interested in and her story does not disappoint.

Along those lines for much of the book I was confused as to the age of our main characters. Rio seems to be sixteen or seventeen, but the others were all in military and trained. I don't know the age for military service in Great Britain and the book didn’t specifically say what their ages were. This may not bother most people, but I spent half the book wondering about it.

On the plus side, the environment and situations in this book is very well done. A couple of scenes had my heart dropping. Others filled me with grisly anticipation.

There also was an obvious amount of research done which I appreciated as a reader. I loved the inclusion of the runner blades for Ash as those are one of the cooler innovations I’ve come across. And all of their issues were different as was how they dealt with them. On top of that we have the horrifying description of child soldiers, fear and brainwashing and the wild animals the group comes across.

I think if you enjoy survival and adventure stories you will enjoy Taken. If you find plot more important to you than character development than I also recommend this book to you.


Update: I'm back~!

I have officially climbed Mount Fuji as of now and can get back to my regularly scheduled book reviewing updates!

If anyone's wondering about the climb, I did it all in one go with a friend. We started the hike at ~8:15 and ended at 7:15, so all together it took around 11 hours. 

One of the coolest moments of my life.

I already want to do it again.

I'm also done moving (though I am living a no-fridge life at the moment). And have a temporary internet set up, so my updating schedule should return to normal.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Blog Tour & Giveaway(INT): Fractured by Erin Hayes


Erin Hayes

Goodreads | Amazon | Tour 

Publication Date: July 8th 2014

Genre:  Horror, Adult
Blinded by a mysterious seizure when she was three years old, Bash Martin has managed to carve out a normal life for herself as an adult. Yet she still yearns for a deeper connection with her twin sister Lily, who has always been jealous of the attention their parents bestowed upon Bash due to her disability.

A dream vacation seems like the perfect chance to heal their relationship, but Bash soon realizes there is something terribly wrong with Lily and that her sister is hiding a dark secret. And when a supernatural fire engulfs their hotel and corpses come back to life, the sisters are plunged into a nightmarish world that threatens not only their lives, but their very souls.

The best way I can describe Fractured by Erin Hayes is as a Horror Movie in print.

We follow several characters, focusing in on a pair of twins and the man that both of them love. Of course, something has been "haunting" the twins for a while and that something is absolutely terrifying and dangerous.

The twins are set up well as characters. They have two very distinct personalities and we can see how they both got to that point. I found myself easily being able to compare them to people I knew in real life.

The darkness of the book is set up well as well. Things are littered throughout the beginning that become important later. We are given enough things, that if we're paying close enough attention, we can guess and figure things out.

The fact that this is pretty much a Horror Movie in print is a double edged sword. On one hand everything is very visual in the book. I can see everything playing out in my mind perfectly. I can even imagine up the music playing in the background at certain moments and the fear in the characters voices. The imagery is very, very scary.

On the other hand it would have come across much scarier as a movie due to the fact that in a book you can't just introduce characters for a second and expect them to make impacts on us. Fractured has three sets of characters. The three main ones, the secondary characters (their group of friends) and the background characters. I feel like if this last group had been set up far in advanced, things later would have had a greater impact on us readers.

That aside, however, I greatly enjoyed the mythology and main characters that the book did present.

If you like Horror Movies, you will like Fractured. It's not quite at Stephen King level, but the imagery is top-notch and it is quite scary.


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