Review: The Girl at Midnight

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Goodreads Summary:

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

This description had me pretty excited, but the overall effect left me wanting. I’ve seen a lot of reviews comparing it to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and while I see the general similarities, I don’t think I agree overall as this story was original enough in it’s own right not to be a riff on Taylor’s series.

My main issues with this book were

  • The overuse of snark – one character all right, but when every character is brimming with dramatic phrases and snappy comebacks it gets old, and gives a certain immaturity to it all. After our main character goes through some major emotional moments and does a bit of growing it does get a little better.
  • Insta-love, on several fronts. There were four relationships basically going on in this story. All of them in some sort of beginning or ending, and often including the same people. I love me a romantic element to a story, but I felt this one was way too centered on who was staring deep into whose eyes and failing to emphasize any connections that moved very far beyond appearance.
  • Pacing. With alternating POVs, we often relive the same moment from a different set of eyes, I thought this was unnecessary and reflected the general need of editing I felt this book needed.

Those are some pretty major issues, I know. Honestly, unless I see amazing reviews for the second book that emphasize the author’s wiring improvements, I can’t say I will be giving it a shot.

365DaysofYA December Link-up

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It’s the last month of the challenge, crazy!! Let’s see how well I did. I read 41 books from the list over the 12 months, not too bad I don’t think. Of those, I think it’s safe to say I would never had picked up about 10 of them if they weren’t part of that challenge.

Also, I won Red Queen and Anatomy of a Misfit from the giveaways that were part of the challenge, and free books are always awesome! As well as an adorable set of bookmarks from Craft’ed.

This month to finish out my challenge you’ll see reviews for:

So a thanks to Epic Reads for starting the challenge, and What Sarah Read for keeping us all in the loop, it was so much fun!

Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

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Goodreads Summary:

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one. But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king–a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young. Most of the chosen do.

I like Carson, I read her most recent book, Walk on Earth a Stranger, before I even really thought about this series. She’s great at world building, and it’s now clear to me now how she got so good at it.

I did not like Elisa, the MC, for about the first third of this book; she was deep in a pit of self pity, naive, and ate her feelings instead of confronting them. However, I did like that even though she knew she was overweight, and she knew (to some level) that she ate to fill a hole in herself, she never really cared all that much about her body. She eventually loses all the weight, but again, I like that it didn’t focus on outward appearance when she did, but reflected her new sense of purpose, she was being active, she was living hard, and she was so mentally stimulated that food was no longer her main priority or source of comfort.

Elisa does go through a lot of growth in this book. She takes on her role as some sort of savior as best she can, finding ways to use her natural talents to be helpful and finding something to fight for. I was not a huge fan of the romance in this one, the guy was nice and all, but there really wasn’t a depth to it. I understand why it happened though, he was the first guy who looked past her weight and her title and gave her a support system that she had never had outside her family.

On a much deeper level, Carson was able to bring some pretty serious religious debates into this novel, and I can see this as being something of a turn off to some readers. I was a bit skeptic when I started getting into the story, but it never becomes preachy or fighting for one interpretation over another, which I thought was a great achievement and was very interesting. One of the ones that really struck me was between taking the “word of God” literally or analyzing it. Now, as a Catholic married into a Baptist family, this is a debate I am very familiar with, so it was really interesting to see the different ways that Carson played it out. Overall, the various views of one religion was interesting in general. I could easily get into a pretty intense intellectual discussion about all the ideas and interpretations she highlights in this book, and that alone I think makes this a fantastic read.

My only major complaint was that the ending seemed a bit rushed, especially for being this big battle, it was almost too easy. Based on what I have seen for the remaining books in this series though they only get better, and I am looking forward to continuing with them.

Coming This Week: Dec. 14

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First, let me announce a slight scheduling change. I am taking the holiday break off, so this is the last week of posts before the new year. I should be back on the 4th!

Overall, I think this has been a pretty good blogging year. I’ve had new followers, more comments, more views, and solidified a pretty good schedule for myself. Beyond the numbers though, I’ve been able to develop some pretty strong relationships with some of my blog buddies, and that’s been awesome. I’ve was able to be a beta reader, gotten more in touch with others via social media and even in person. The longer I stick with it the more connections and resources I find through this outlet and I think that’s pretty cool.

So for this last week of 2015 posts, look for book reviews on:

Also, on Wednesday will be my last link-up for the 365DaysofYA challenge, which has been a blast!

I hope all of you enjoy your last couple weeks of the year, whatever holiday’s you’ll be celebrating (Personally, I am super excited to get to decorate a real Christmas tree this year! Hawaii’s evergreen’s are weird), and time with your friends and family. Till next year!

Review: The Revolution of Ivy

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Goodreads Summary:

Ivy Westfall is beyond the fence and she is alone. Abandoned by her family and separated from Bishop Lattimer, Ivy must find a way to survive on her own in a land filled with countless dangers, both human and natural. She has traded a more civilized type of cruelty–forced marriages and murder plots–for the bare-knuckled brutality required to survive outside Westfall’s borders.

But there is hope beyond the fence, as well. And when Bishop reappears in Ivy’s life, she must decide if returning to Westfall to take a final stand for what she believes is right is worth losing everything she’s fought for.

I really enjoyed The Book of Ivy, so much that I reread it in preparation for this finale. And everything that I enjoyed in the first book: the realistic and healthy relationship between Ivy and Bishop, the ‘coming of age’ vibe, and the bounds of personal growth Ivy experienced all carried over to this second half of the story.

Seeing Ivy outside of the city was interesting, she’s still balancing who to trust and learning how to be honest with herself and those around her. When Bishop re-enters the scene it was well timed and done really well – no running into each others arms and ignoring everything that had happened between them. I loved watching them grow back together, and stronger. Also, I really liked that Ivy found people she could make a family with – one based not on blood but on trust and caring.

The one downside I saw to this installment was the lack of political plot. The first book discusses the issues constantly, and the synopsis of this one makes us think it will all finally be resolved – and it was, but not how I expected and in a way that felt a bit lack luster to me. While the motives that took Ivy back to Westfall were understandable, it felt a bit rushed. I did like that opposed to the usual trope of women doing everything – good or bad – because of of love (jilted or otherwise) we see that theme mainly through the men of this story, which was very refreshing, and added an interesting element to the overall state of the society.

The epilogue was very satisfying and I can see myself coming back to this series in the future. The originality of this dystopian series is so nice in a genre that often falls into the same reused themes.

Par Avion’s 1st Words!

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I talked a couple weeks ago about a new WiP I am brainstorming/outlining. Well, I now officially have my first words down for it!

If you look right you will also notice a new progress bar for it, I like having visual representations of my writing progress, and you all can keep me honest since you have a way to watch my writing progress too. I am still in major edits of my MS right now so PA won’t get too much new attention for a little bit probably, it’s still exiting though.

In celebration, here are the first lines for my new WiP

December 4, 1941

Dear Mother,

Hawaii is spectacular. I have begun thinking Chuck had the right idea to enlist in the Navy. Perhaps I’ve wasted all those years at University. I can’t imagine the Army will have anything so wondrous for me to encounter. There is a large Army base up north of Pearl Harbor though, maybe Chuck and I could share an apartment. . .

Chuck took me to one of the sailors favorite haunts down in Honolulu. The nurses all come in their uniforms and the local girls did the hula in their grass skirts.

Today we’re going to try surfing at Waikiki beach. It’s littered with sailors in their latex bathing suits and their girls. Swimming in December! Whoever would have thought about that back home, even in Texas it’s too cold for that.

Must go, Chuck sends his love -Tell Father I managed to talk to his commander, he’s doing the family proud.

Your loving son,

Bobby

Review: Ten Thousand Skies Above You

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Goodreads Summary:

Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents’ invention, to cross into alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse—even hurting the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked and his consciousness scattered across multiple dimensions.

Marguerite has no choice but to search for each splinter of Paul’s soul. The hunt sends her racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each world brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with each trial she faces, she begins to question the destiny she thought they shared.

The second book in the Firebird trilogy, Ten Thousand Skies Above You features Claudia Gray’s lush, romantic language and smart, exciting action, and will have readers clamoring for the next book.

I had some issues with this book, but I’m pretty sure I had some issues with it’s predecessor as well. The language that is flouted as being “romantic and smart” I often found wordy and in need of more punctuation and editing. There were some really good moments though that even got highlights from me.

Beyond language it’s the main character I had most of my issues with. I never really liked her all that much, and have felt pretty out of touch with all the characters in general. I think this comes from the vast amouts of telling rather than showing that we get from the narrator (MC). Mostly, what I found so frustrating about this book was the lack of focus on anything beyond the MCs love for her boyfriend. Not that it’s bad, but because I felt like she was trying to convince herself and the reader of her feelings for the majority of the story. And as soon as something happens that doesn’t match up with her illogical idea of her perfect destiny with any version of her bf she gives up.

She’s fickle, and I hate that. She does finally have a revelation of sorts about her relationship though and shows some growth. But what salvaged the book for me was about the last quarter. There is a major reveal about the multiverse and the corporate plan they have been fighting that was interesting. And the book left on a pretty neat cliffhanger that I didn’t see coming – a rarity for this series.

Overall, I’m sure most of my complaints come back to my age and my expectaitions with what I read. I’ll still probably finish the series though so I obviously enjoyed it to some degree.