Book Review: Arcana Rising by Kresely Cole

25946891

Title: Arcana Rising by Kresley Cole

Publication Date: August 15, 2016

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: Losses mount and deadly new threats converge in this next action-packed tale of the Arcana Chronicles by #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole.

When the battle is done . . .
The Emperor unleashes hell and annihilates an army, jeopardizing the future of mankind–but Circe strikes back. The epic clash between them devastates the Arcana world and nearly kills Evie, separating her from her allies.

And all hope is lost . . .
With Aric missing and no sign that Jack and Selena escaped Richter’s reach, Evie turns more and more to the darkness lurking inside her. Two Arcana emerge as game changers: one who could be her salvation, the other her worst nightmare.

Vengeance becomes everything.
To take on Richter, Evie must reunite with Death and mend their broken bond. But as she learns more about her role in the future–and her chilling past–will she become a monster like the Emperor? Or can Evie and her allies rise up from Richter’s ashes, stronger than ever before?


The Arcana Chronicles has spanned what feels like a decade. This is one of my favorite yet incredibly spaced out series. In fact, I did not see a date for this installment until the beginning of the summer and even then I did not believe until I saw it on the internet by Cole herself. For those of us who have stuck around for the past several years, these books continue to be a bit of fresh air in the YA paranormal, post-apocolyptic realm. For those who haven’t stuck it out, what the hell are you waiting for, grab the next book! Beware though, there are some spoilers ahead. 

What I liked: I’m team Death/ Aric. Him and Evie are #goals in my opinion, and honestly, I’d be okay if Jack died. I’m beginning to feel like he is more of a tertiary character with little purpose; though I suspect he is somehow involved in this ever-loving cycle of the Arcana. For those of you who love death as much as I do, this is your book. There is major, major steam, and once again, I find myself surprised that a book with this much sex is being marketed to young adults. As much as I love this, I can’t recommend to any of my students (yikes). Once more, we meet new arcana friends and foes, and this installment particularly centers around the mysterious Emperor, who sounds like a douche bag. Because this book focuses so heavily on Evie and Death, we do not actually get to meet the Emperor, but the random tidbits we are privy to ain’t good. Nope. I’d be fine with another book where Evie and Death ride out the apocolypse in their little love nest, but I have a feeling that the next installment will contain more killing. 

While we see a softer side of Evie with Aric, we also are treated to a taste of Evie as a badass, heartbroken, vengeful Empress. In the beginning there, I expected her to burn the world down. Kind of sad that she did not.

Also, THE ENDING! Honestly, don’t read ahead. It’s worth it.

What I didn’t like: I missed the other arcana and the sense of camaraderie we built with them over the years. At this point, we can only speculate as to who is dead and who is alive (though a lot of people are dead). I miss the intrigue and freshness brought by new arcana and their bat-shit craziness. Old lunatics get old. I also did not feel like Evie’s grandmother contributed much to this overall story. She was old, demented, and kind of a psychopath. The only real purpose she served was to leave Evie some cryptic message before she died. YAWN.

Overall, I continue to love these books and I’m grateful the next one will be out sometime this spring (apparently). 5/5

Book Review: Riders by Veronica Rossi

23430471

Title: Riders by Veronica Rossi

Publication Date: February 16, 2016

Genre: Paranormal YA

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis: Nothing but death can keep eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake from achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does.

While recovering from the accident that most definitely killed him, Gideon finds himself with strange new powers and a bizarre cuff he can’t remove. His death has brought to life his real destiny. He has become War, one of the legendary four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Over the coming weeks, he and the other horsemen—Conquest, Famine, and Death—are brought together by a beautiful but frustratingly secretive girl to help save humanity from an ancient evil on the emergence.

They fail.

Now—bound, bloodied, and drugged—Gideon is interrogated by the authorities about his role in a battle that has become an international incident. If he stands any chance of saving his friends and the girl he’s fallen for—not to mention all of humankind—he needs to convince the skeptical government officials the world is in imminent danger.

But will anyone believe him?


Having never read anything by Veronica Rossi, I came into ‘Riders’ with a complete fresh perspective. As a big fan of apocalyptic/ biblical type of lore, I decided to pick this up after a browse through the bookstore. It was an interesting take on the legend of the four horseman. 

What I liked: It is very rare to read a YA with a male voice and to be honest, I generally shy away from books with male POV because I have difficulty relating to them, but I actually enjoyed Gideon’s voice. Gideon is an interesting character, a series of contradictions. He is a solider who has definite OCD tendencies, but he was also emotionally crippled and incredibly kind. I’m not sure this book would have worked had it been from someone else’s perspective. What truly made ‘Riders’ a stand-out was the way in which the story unfold for the reader. Everything has already taken place for our band of merry-warriors, so the reader is getting a recount from Gideon. Sure this happens in other YA, but what the reader soon learns is that Gideon is not a reliable narrator. In fact, half-way through the book, Gideon begins leaving vital information out of his recount because of circumstances out of his control. 

What I didn’t like: Outside of Gideon, the characters felt incredibly underdeveloped. This is a duology so I don’t expect to read a book from each horsemen, but I would like to see them more developed as people rather than caricatures. My biggest regret when reading this was the Daryn/ Gideon of it all. I’m rarely one to say ‘vomit’ over a romantic relationship, but that’s where I ended up here. The chemistry was absolutely non-existent and felt completely stilted.

Overall, this was interesting enough format wise, but the underdevelopment of the secondary characters and crappy romance pulled from the content. 3/5

Review: Dream a Little Dream by Kersten Gier

21469090

Title: Dream a Little Dream (Book one Silver Trilogy) by Kersten Gier

Publication Date: April 14th, 2015

Genre: YA Paranormal

Buy Links: Barnes and Noble; Amazon

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis: Mysterious doors with lizard-head knobs. Talking stone statues. A crazy girl with a hatchet. Yes, Liv’s dreams have been pretty weird lately. Especially the one where she’s in a graveyard at night, watching four boys conduct dark magic rituals.

The strangest part is that Liv recognizes the boys in her dream. They’re classmates from her new school in London, the school where she’s starting over because her mom has moved them to a new country (again). But what’s really scaring Liv is that the dream boys seem to know things about her in real life, things they couldn’t possibly know–unless they actually are in her dreams? Luckily, Liv never could resist a good mystery, and all four of those boys are pretty cute.


 

I’m a big fan of Gier’s previous series The Ruby Red Trilogy, so I was excited to pick up a new title from her. After reading the book, I have to say that I have a lot of mixed emotions. On to the review: 

 

What I liked: As usual the writing was phenomenal. Gier really makes a tremendous effort to describe her world, which is particularly apparent when she describes the different dreamscapes that our main character Liv encounters. The idea of the dreamscapes is also interested and Gier does a great job of exploring the morality behind going into peoples dreams, which I appreciates.  For me the standout character was Liv’s little sister Mia. She brought the humor and sass and I loved her for it. There’s a particularly fun scene where she throws an apple at her her sister for being so dopey in love. I appreciated the levity she brought to the situation. 

What I meh-ed on: So there wasn’t anything I out and out disliked, but it was difficult for me to absolutely love certain things. I felt like this book had a lot of cliches. Liv is a gawky fifteen year old girl, who of course is somehow oblivious to the fact that all the boys are into her…I wanted to like Liv more but she just felt so blah. There really was not much about her that stood out for me. The boys were also very cliche. All beautiful, English, and well-off. Thrown in a little bad-boy danger and we’ve got our group. Normally, I wouldn’t mind so much cliche, but the premise of the book was so original that I felt like the multiple cliche’s really did the book a disservice and detracted from my initial interest.

Overall, I enjoyed the book well enough. I thought the writing and the story itself were really strong; however, I felt like there were a lot of typical YA cliche’s that detracted from the book. 3/5

Throwback Thursday Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

17675462

Title: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Publication Date: September 18th, 2014

Genre: Paranormal YA

Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks

Synopsis: It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.


It has been a crazy long time since I have done a Throwback Thursday post. Really, I have no excuse outside of the fact that it is the end of the school year and I have been crazy busy with students. For this week, I decided to go back to the start of one of my favorite series, which incidentally will be wrapping up this Fall. I discovered “The Raven Boys,” this past Winter during an epic binge and read all the currently released books. I’m pumped for the next one and also a little weary of the death of my favorite character Gansey. It’s coming. Stiefvater has already confirmed, and it’s just a heartbreaking notion. Anyway, on to the review. 

 

What I liked: I was nervous when I first picked this book up, because usually I like my YA to be chalked full of romance and this didn’t seem to be that type. That being said, I enjoyed that this is more about the story and development of characters than the usually bad boy/good girl routine. I felt like I really engaged with the entire ensemble, which was unusual for me in a group this large. I obviously have a favorite, Gansey, but I enjoyed all the boys, Blue, and her family’s stories. Outside of this, there’s a certain element of mystery surrounding the actual plot of the book. There’s a bad guy, a dead King, and at times I was generally confused as to which plot I should be watching. In the end it all tied together pretty nicely and the sub-plots actually enriched the overall arch of the story. I’m a big fan of any book that adds in elements or folklore and History as seamlessly as this one does, and I’m anxious to get to the final chapter to see where this all goes. 

What I didn’t like: Knowing that Gansey will die. The entire time I read, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop on this one, it ended up being super stressful. I couldn’t enjoy the action because I kept waiting for the moment Gansey’s life would end. Gah!

Overall, this is a great entry way into an exciting series. After reading it, I became a huge fan. 4/5

Throwback Thursday: Unhinged (Splintered Series #2) by A.G. Howard

9781419709715_p0_v1_s260x420

Title: Unhinged by A.G. Howard

Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Publication Date: January 7, 2014

Genre: YA, Paranormal, Re-telling (kind of)

Synopsis (from ma’ brain): It’s been a year since Alyssa traveled down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. For the most part the year has been normal (re: boring), with minimal netherling interaction–minus, of course, Morpheus. Suddenly, netherling things start to invade the ‘normal’ world. Seems that Alyssa’s fight with Red is far from over, and if she doesn’t kick it into gear soon she risks both her worlds.

Rating: 3.5/5


So, I’m back with a throwback. But, I’m only throwing it kinda back. A few months ago, I discovered the “Splintered” series by A.G. Howard and totally fell in love. Majorly. I loved Alyssa, the anti-heroine; the romance hit the spot; and despite being a re-telling I felt a fresh excitement every time I turned the page. Needless to say, I was eager to pick up the next installments. After finishing “Unhinged,” I wasn’t exactly sure how to feel. There were defintely parts I loved–lots of them; yet, this next installment felt like a bridge between two books. I feel as though it set things up to be wrapped up and while I can appreciate this, I did wish for a few more things. Let me break it down:

What I liked: As I said, this series has so, so many strengths. Howard’s writing is poetically descriptive. Sometimes I don’t even care if I know all the rules to her world because she’s trapped me inside with her imagery. There were honestly times were I drifted off daydreaming because of the lushness of her descriptions. God, it was so good! Her world is full of alternatives (realities, characters, rules) and I don’t think another writer would have been successful in bringing this world to life. Howard’s pen is mighty. Now that I’m done being jealous as heck, let’s move to my main man Morpheus. Morpheus is not the typical male lead I’d usually go for but boy is he so well written that I just go to swoonville everytime he and Alyssa interact. Literally, half of my booknotes say “Morpheus=swoon.” What I love most about him is that he’s multi-dimensional without it being totally obvious that he’s multi-dimensional. We know he loves Alyssa and Wonderland, but we really struggle to understand what motivates him to do some of the crap he does. Is it love? Lust? Loneliness? Power? What is your deal Morpheus?? While that’s not totally answered, I felt like the second book begins to flush him out a little. This book is definitely about peeling back Morpheus for us readers.

What I didn’t like: I have to be a little vague on this as not to spoil anything for anyone, but I‘m starting to feel like everyone in this book is in someway connected to Wonderland. I’m going to be disappointed if this takes a “Vampire Diaries/Heroes” turn and we all end up with magic. I also found myself disappointed by the ending. It all just feels kind of busy. Too many villains, too many netherlings, too much confusion for me.

Overall, this was a strong sequel if you loved “Splintered.” The ending starts to get muddles but seeing as how the third book is out all of that can be worked out in a timely manner (I assume lol). I’ll be reading the conclusion ASAP.

 

Review: Wicked by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Wicked-AmazonGRSW

 

Title: Wicked by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Publication Date: December 8, 2014

Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis: Ivy is a member of a group called The Order and fights fae who basically want to eat your soul and make you crazy. Naturally, she has a tragic past. Death, destruction, mayhem, she’s been through it all. Enter Ren, a super hot, kinda secretive member of The Order. Will he be the one to break Ivy’s self-imposed dry-spell? Oh, and there’s some other magical stuff too.

*Note there are some adult situations in this book. It is considered NA (New Adult) and not suitable for a younger audience*


 

I love JLA. Like, love her. My girl crush on her is no joke, so when I saw this new series I went BANANAS in excitement. Then I got the flu (twice) and then I got in a hard YA thing I just couldn’t break. Finally, I fired up the good ol’ Kindle ready to sit back and let JLA take me to her magical world where the men are hot and the girls are super sassy. This one took me awhile to get through. I don’t know, but it just didn’t have the usual pizzazz that I’ve come to expect. I didn’t hate it by any means, but it wasn’t my favorite. Let me break it down for you: 

What I liked: TINK. Tink was the total stand-out character in this book. He was a smart, sassy, little S.O.B. and I loved the humor he brought. The scene where Ren (totally naked) discovers him in Ivy’s kitchen nearly gave me a hernia I laughed so freaking hard. Out of all the characters, Tink stood out as the most memorable. I felt like he was the only one with a real ‘voice,’ everyone else just felt a little blah. Outside of my love for Tink, I actually felt myself being more interested in the fairy legacy situation than anything else. I wanted to know more about the gates and the what the heck was going on with The Elite.

What I didn’t like: I found myself not being super invested in the characters. I know, I hate myself right now, but I didn’t feel a connection with Ivy or Ren and I was not feeling their relationship. Their whole situation was kind of ‘meh’ to me. Maybe Ren wasn’t enough of a bad boy for me. I’m sure somehow this is my problem! Either way, I just found myself hoping something would happen. There wasn’t enough steam or action to really catapult me into this world.

Overall, I liked the book. It was a solid read, but I’ve come to expect certain things when reading a JLA that I didn’t feel here. It’s a solid book but I was missing the sparkle. 3/5

Review: Compulsion by Martina Boone

24974-compulsion2bhd

Title: Compulsion by Martina Boone

Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks

Whew, I have been DYING to read this and review it. Literally DYING over it. I think I died while reading it. I’m probably a ghost now. Compulsion was everything I hoped it would be and more. Maybe that sounds cliche but when you build up as much anticipation as I had around this book you really want it to blow you away, and boy did it ever. I spent a Saturday night flying through it. I didn’t sleep till 2am and finished in a total of five hours. I don’t actually think I moved the entire time I read. For some people this is totally par for the course, spending a Saturday night up and reading till the wee hours. Sometimes that’s even my life, but that Saturday it really was not supposed to be what I was doing. I blew off friends and plans and basically hid from the world while I let Martina Boone ensnare me in hers. I live in one of the best cities in the world, with great restaurants and nightlife, but there was no getting me away. I cannot wait to share my review and here other’s thoughts on it.

Synopsis: After her mother dies, Barrie moves into her mothers childhood home with the Aunt she never knew she had as her legal guardian. While at the house she begins to unravel the mystery surrounding Watson’s Island and the three families that founded it. Obviously she meets a boy, his name is Eight and he’s Southern, preppy, and delicious.

What I liked: Is it wrong to say everything? Probably. I’ll start breaking it down piece by piece and only leaving you guys with the highlights. Really, if I didn’t I’d be here all day. Usually, I’m a sucker for language and the development of characters. I studied English in college and have been reading novels since the fourth grade. I’m a huge mechanics nerd and boy did Boone really get me straight in my little nerd heart. She writes in such start, vivid detail that I almost felt like I was reading during the Summer while sitting in my huge plantation home. The setting was almost like another character, which was especially brilliant considering how much the town plays into the actual story. Not only is her setting vivid, but just the general imagery she uses really brings her story to life. I’m not kidding when I say that I was actually a little freaked out by all the ghost stuff, because it felt so real–it was also late at night and raining, but I’m going to attribute this to the language. All of these things were great, they all appealed to my inner nerd. Eight, the handsome boy next-door, appealed to my romantic. Boy did he have all the things I like in a book boyfriend. Hot (check); Southern (check); Smart/Driven (check); a little broody (check). His relationship with Barrie had just enough drama to keep in interesting, but not enough drama to drive me over the crazy edge, which was good considering the general plot line was doing a great job of that. Guy, this plot is AMAZING. There’s a lot happening and a lot that you need to pay attention to, but I did not see the end sneaking up on me the way it did. Speaking of…

What I Didn’t Like: The end! Why? Why? How could you create all those questions and then just leave me hanging. I need to know where the gifts come from, what’s going on with the house, can Barrie ever get out of her deal? I need all of these things and I cannot wait for them.

 

Needless to say, I’m now a HUGE fan of Martina Boone’s and I will be anxiously awaiting her next chapter. Compulsion is my favorite YA of 2014; it had all the elements I love and has me counting down for the next installment 5/5