Showing posts with label ARC Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ARC Review. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

ARC Review: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1)Title: Akata Witch
Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Speak; July 11, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Sunny Nwazue lives in Nigeria, but she was born in New York City. Her features are West African, but she's albino. She's a terrific athlete, but can't go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a "free agent" with latent magical power. And she has a lot of catching up to do. Soon she's part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But just as she's finding her footing, Sunny and her friends are asked by the magical authorities to help track down a career criminal who knows magic, too. Will their training be enough to help them against a threat whose powers greatly outnumber theirs?
I’ve been hearing about Akata Witch for a couple of years now and was excited to get a chance to read an eARC of it. On the surface, it appeared to have all the elements I look for in a fantasy. However, I had some reservations about approaching a book that had a substantial amount of hype. That being said, I really enjoyed Akata Witch. There was so much about the story that just clicked for me. So, I’ve seriously had to stop and wonder why I haven’t read any of Nnedi Okrafore’s novels before. Obviously, I’ve been missing out!

The synopsis of this book promises magic, and it fully delivers on that and more. I’d like to just say that I liked this book and you should read it too, but that doesn’t explain why. I’ll start with the story. The story of this book moves at its own pace, and honestly, I didn’t mind because there were a lot of details to take in. There was magic, lots of it actually. That being said, Okrafore put such a fresh and imaginative spin on it that the premise of the story felt entirely new. In that way, I enjoyed the world building a lot and found Okrafore’s version of a magically inclined society interesting and unique. It’s probably one of my favorites thanks to how the characters interacted with each other and the places around them. There were so many cool elements to the story and setting, and I can’t talk about them for fear of accidently spoiling the story. Just know that they were cool.

Before I end this review, I want to mention the characters. Let me just say that they were amazing, especially the main character, Sunny. From the start, I instantly loved how Okrafore portrayed her character. While the core of Akata Witch was arguably Sunny’s journey as she learned how to handle her abilities as a “free agent,” it was also about learning, teamwork, and friendship. The friendship between Sunny and her new friends was one of my favorite things about Akata Witch.

At the end of the day, I’m really looking forward to reading more books by Nnedi Okrafore, especially Akata Warrior. Also, I’ve heard a lot of praise for her Binti series. So I’ll eventually read those books too.

(Actual rating 4.5 out of 5 birdcages)

This copy of the book was provided by First to Read for this review.
About the author...

Nnedi Okorafor is an international award-winning novelist of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults. Born in the United States to two Nigerian immigrant parents, Nnedi is known for weaving African culture into creative evocative settings and memorable characters. In a profile of Nnedi’s work titled, “Weapons of Mass Creation”, The New York Times called Nnedi’s imagination “stunning”. Nnedi Okorafor’s books include Lagoon (a British Science Fiction Association Award finalist for Best Novel), Who Fears Death (a World Fantasy Award winner for Best Novel), Kabu Kabu (A Publisher's Weekly Best Book for Fall 2013), Akata Witch (an Amazon.com Best Book of the Year), Zahrah the Windseeker (winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature), and The Shadow Speaker (a CBS Parallax Award winner). Her latest works include her novel The Book of Phoenix and her novella Binti (a finalist for a Nebula and British Science Fiction Award). Nnedi is an associate professor at the University at Buffalo, New York (SUNY). Learn more at Nnedi.com...

Friday, December 16, 2016

ARC Review: Iceling by Sasha Stephenson

Iceling (Icelings #1)Title: Iceling
Author: Sasha Stephenson 
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Razorbill; December 13, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Lorna’s adopted sister, Callie, is part of a mysterious group of non-lingual teens, Icelings, born on a remote Arctic island, who may not be entirely human. Now Callie wants to go home...

Seventeen-year-old Lorna loves her adoptive sister, Callie. But Callie can’t say “I love you” back. In fact, Callie can’t say anything at all. Because Callie is an Iceling—one of hundreds of teens who were discovered sixteen years ago on a remote Arctic island, all of them lacking the ability to speak or understand any known human language. Mysterious and panicked events lead to the two sisters embarking on a journey to the north, and now Lorna starts to see that there’s a lot more to Callie’s origin story than she’d been led to believe. Little does she know what’s in store, and that she’s about to uncover the terrifying secret about who—and what—Callie really is.
Two words: road trip. Buckle up dear readers, because I need to talk about this book.

Originally, Iceling by Sasha Stephenson wasn’t one of my most anticipated books of 2016. If anyone would have asked me about the book back in February, I wouldn’t have had much of an answer. Simply put, I hadn’t heard much about this book. However, I eventually saw the synopsis and I liked all the ideas that it introduced and was immediately excited about Iceling.

Just like with every book I’ve ever read, there were things that I really loved about Iceling, and others that I felt sort of mixed about. By no means was this a bad book. In fact, the twists were really surprising and kept me on my toes, and once the plot hit all those pivotal moments the story turned out to be fantastic.

I’m going to talk about what I didn’t like just to get it out of the way. What I disliked about Iceling was the parts that seemed like they were a little extraneous. There were semi-long stretches where facts that had already been stated seemed to be repeated back in several, differently worded ways. I’ve got nothing against repetition since I think it can be used as emphasis to make a point. In Iceling, it was a little much for me, but not something that made me rage-quit the book.

Now, what I did like outweighed what I didn’t like about the book. The synopsis left me with a lot of questions. However, the biggest draw for me was really the Icelings. The Icelings were interesting and probably my favorite part of the book. I really liked them and the role they played in the story. I also liked how the relationships between the Icelings and their adopted siblings were set up. The plot was, overall, really good. Once the story picked up, I could see what Stephenson was setting up during the initial chapters of the book. And man, the end result was something wholly memorable.

Iceling was a solid start to something that could turn out to be a great series. Suffice it to say, I want to see where this goes, and so I have to sit here and wait until book two comes out.
This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (Publisher) for this review, thank you!
 
About the author...

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Review: The Bridge From Me To You by Lisa Schroeder

The Bridge from Me to YouTitle: The Bridge from Me to You
Author: Lisa Schroeder 
Source/Format: Won (Giveaway), Bound ARC
More Details: Young Adult; Contemporary; Romance
Publisher/Publication Date: Point; July 29, 2014

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Lauren has a secret. Colby has a problem. But when they find each other, everything falls into place... 

Lauren is the new girl in town with a dark secret. Colby is the football hero with a dream of something more. In alternating chapters, they come together, fall apart, and build something stronger than either of them thought possible--something to truly believe in...
The synopsis doesn’t tell much about the book, but I decided to give it a try anyway. And folks, let me tell you, I’m glad I did. The Bridge From Me To You is the first book I’ve read by Lisa Schroeder, and it was a very cute contemporary novel. The story focused on a high school football player and a girl just trying to find her place in the world. This concept had the possibility of turning into a been-there-done-that kind of thing. However, it was anything but typical, and I liked this book more than I thought I would. At first, I wasn’t too sure about how I would react to the writing, but actually, I really liked it. The development of the characters respective situations, backstories, and relationships didn’t suffer because of the alternating POVs and writing. The combination of prose and poetry was interesting to read, and worked well. I think Schroeder did a good job at the emotional aspect of the book, and I liked the chemistry between Lauren and Colby. The friendships were great too—they seemed realistic, and the connection between the characters was there. Another thing I liked was how this book didn’t gloss over the issues, but instead showed the potential worries and emotional damage that could come from them.

At the end of the day, The Bridge From Me To You was a very good book. I really enjoyed it, and I would consider picking up another novel by Schroeder.

Monday, October 10, 2016

ARC Review: Cloudwish by Fiona Wood

CloudwishTitle: Cloudwish
Author: Fiona Wood
Source/Format: The NOVL; Paperback ARC
More Details: Young Adult; Contemporary
Publisher/Publication Date: Poppy; October 18, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

For Vân Uoc, fantasies fall into two categories: nourishing or pointless. Daydreaming about attending her own art opening? Nourishing. Daydreaming about Billy Gardiner, star of the rowing team who doesn't even know she's alive? Pointless. So Vân Uoc tries to stick to her reality--keeping a low profile as a scholarship student at her prestigious Melbourne private school, managing her mother's PTSD from a traumatic emigration from Vietnam, and admiring Billy from afar. Until she makes a wish that inexplicably--possibly magically--comes true. Billy actually notices her. In fact, he seems to genuinely like her. But as they try to fit each other into their very different lives, Vân Uoc can't help but wonder why Billy has suddenly fallen for her. Is it the magic of first love, or is it magic from a well-timed wish that will eventually, inevitably, come to an end?
After reading the synopsis for Cloudwish by Fiona Wood, I decided to give it a fair chance. I read it, and it was an okay read. This book certainly had its strengths and weakness—elements that I liked, and others that were just sort of meh. So, yeah, I had some mixed feelings about it.

Cloudwish was about Vân Uoc and how she makes a wish for her crush to notice her. Sounds fine, right? Well, the idea itself wasn’t bad, and there were so many ways that kind of concept could have gone. And, for the most part, the plot was okay. The story wasn’t bad. The writing was fine and the pacing was good, but I did have some problems with it.

One thing I didn’t like was Billy Gardiner’s character. The way he behaved just sort of left a bad taste in my mouth, and at some points I wondered what it was about him that Vân Uoc found so appealing. He was described as being something along the lines of model-worthy handsome, an outstanding athlete, and smart. But he was also kind of a jerk. There was character growth, but in my eyes, it didn’t really redeem him much. There were also some parts that seemed a little stereotypical in terms of expectations and family/home life for Vân Uoc.

What I did like was Vân Uoc’s skepticism about Billy’s sudden attention. There was something refreshing about seeing her resist his advances—especially when they were otherwise without good reason—rather than just give in and accept her sudden unexplained stroke of luck. There wasn’t much of a magical aspect to it, but I did like the wish part. It was simple, nothing flashy about it, but still nice. Plus, Vân Uoc’s friends were interesting, and I especially enjoyed the scenes when they were present.

So, Cloudwish wasn't all bad. I haven’t read anything else by Fiona Wood so there is a possibility that I would consider giving another one of her novels a try, only if it seems like something of interest to me.
This copy of the book was provided by The Novl (Newsletter; Publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the author...

Fiona Wood is the author of young adult novels, Six Impossible Things and Wildlife. Her third book,Cloudwish, will be published in the US in October. Before writing YA fiction, Fiona worked as a television scriptwriter for twelve years, writing everything from soap, and one-hour adult drama, to children’s drama. Prior to this she dropped out of law and completed an arts degree, both at Melbourne University, worked in marketing and in arts management, did some freelance journalism, and studied screenwriting at RMIT. She has served as a judge for the AWGIE Awards (Australian Writers’ Guild) and is an ambassador for The Stella Prize Schools Program. She has two YA children, and lives in Melbourne with her husband...

Thursday, September 15, 2016

ARC Review: The Reader by Traci Chee

The Reader (Sea of Ink and Gold, #1)Title: The Reader
Author: Traci Chee
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Putnam; September 13, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible...
One word folks: more. I want more of this book—this series—this world that Traci Chee has created. I have one reason for that: The Reader was awesome. The synopsis had a lot of promise—a society that was widely illiterate by custom, a mysterious book, a girl out for revenge against those who have wronged her and those she loves. I went into this book with high expectations, and boy does The Reader deliver.

The primary focus of The Reader was Sefia and her journey to get revenge, and unlock the secrets of the book. She had a thirst for information, and strived to understand things that were never taught to her. Part of The Reader focused on her progress and growth as a character. There were other characters that also had narratives just as strong as Sefia’s, and their stories were just as important—I had my favorites and tolerable secondary characters—but for the most part, the characters were one of the strongest aspects of The Reader. There were just so many compelling and layered pieces of the plot that I found myself easily invested in the story!

The story gets started on strong footing. The setting, society, and problems are quick to show their faces—promptly setting up the main conflict. And while the book was long—almost five hundred pages—there was something gripping about the story. I was never bored. There was always something going on with the characters, and their adventures were fun to read about. The story was also pretty balanced with a solid mystery, action, and a hint of romance.

The writing was also good. The prose was descriptive and straight-forward. There were a lot of POVs but it showed different parts of the fictional world, and painted a broader picture of the circumstances, mindsets, and habits of the main characters.  I actually liked reading from so many perspectives because of that. It kept the story going at a good pace and answered questions while raising others—it also gave background to parts of the story.

All-in-all, The Reader was a solid debut. I liked these characters and their story, and the society they were a part of was fascinating. I still have so many questions—I wasn’t ready for the story to be over, but it was—as such, I will definitely continue on with this series.
This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (Publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the author...

Traci Chee is an author of speculative fiction for teens. An all-around word geek, she loves book arts and art books, poetry and paper crafts, though she also dabbles at piano playing, egg painting, and hosting potluck game nights for family and friends. She studied literature and creative writing at UC Santa Cruz and earned a master of arts degree from San Francisco State University. Traci grew up in a small town with more cows than people, and now feels most at home in the mountains, scaling switchbacks and happening upon hidden highland lakes. She lives in California with her fast-fast dog. The Reader is her YA debut...

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

ARC Review: Thieving Weasels by Billy Taylor

Thieving WeaselsTitle: Thieving Weasels
Author: Billy Taylor
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Young Adult; Contemporary
Publisher/Publication Date: Dial Books; August 23, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Skip O’Rourke is dragged into one last con . . . but he doesn’t know the con’s on him in this funny, page-turning debut YA for fans of Winger and Ocean’s Eleven... 

Cameron Smith attends an elite boarding school and has just been accepted to Princeton University alongside his beautiful girlfriend, Claire. Life for Cameron would be perfect, except that Cameron Smith is actually Skip O’Rourke, and Skip O’Rourke ran away from his grifter family four years ago…along with $100,000 of their “earnings” (because starting a new life is not cheap). But when his uncle Wonderful tracks him down, Skip’s given an ultimatum: come back to the family for one last con, or say good-bye to life as Cameron. “One last con” is easier said than done when Skip’s family is just as merciless (and just as manipulative) as they’ve always been, and everyone around him is lying. Skip may have given up on crime, but there’s one lesson he hasn’t forgotten: always know your mark. And if you don’t know who your mark is . . . it’s probably you...
Let me start out by saying that Thieving Weasels was not a bad book. In fact, it was actually pretty good, I liked it. The story does explore the question of morality since the characters dipped into morally gray areas—they were career criminals after all. Now one thing I do have to note is that this book wasn’t really all that humorous. There were moments that were maybe, possibly a little funny, but there was nothing that made me outright laugh. However, besides that, there were other aspects about Thieving Weasels that I did like.

Thieving Weasels was basically about Cameron Smith, a.k.a Skip O’Rourke. He was running from a life of crime, and he saw the boarding school as an exit from his old life. What I got from the story is that he wasn’t just running from his family, he was trying to find a place that made him feel like an actual person. And yeah, Taylor did show Skip’s history in a way that made his otherwise outlandish decision to take off alone, seem like a plausible thing for someone so desperate for change. That part of the story was handled well, and brought up questions about loyalty and family. In short, I could understand Skip’s feelings on the matter.

The overall plot wasn’t bad, and the story was more entertaining than anything else. The pacing was also good, and it was a light read. One of the biggest draws for me was definitely seeing how Skip would ultimately deal with his family and the situation they put him in—think meddling relatives but about a hundred times worse. That part of the story was pretty good too. Morality was a big theme in this book, and more than once Skip grappled with decisions he had made and happened to be considering at the present point in time. I did like the fact that this was an actual detail, because it made Skip more fleshed-out with faults and habits, and the like.

As far as the secondary characters go, they were just alright. A lot of the development went to Skip’s family—his mother, cousin, and uncle—since they had such prominent roles in the story. I would have liked to have seen more of what his life was like at the boarding school, but Thieving Weasels wasn’t that long of a book. And given where the story began, I didn’t expect to see much of his life outside of his family anyway.

Overall, Thieving Weasels was not a bad read. I went in not knowing what to expect from a story like this, but the book ended up being fun and entertaining.
This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (publisher) for this review, thank you!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

ARC Review: Riverkeep by Martin Stewart

RiverkeepTitle: Riverkeep
Author: Martin Stewart
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Viking; July 26, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

The Danék is a wild, treacherous river, and the Fobisher family has tended it for generations—clearing it of ice and weed, making sure boats can get through, and fishing corpses from its bleak depths. Wulliam’s father, the current Riverkeep, is proud of this work. Wull dreads it. And in one week, when he comes of age, he will have to take over. Then the unthinkable happens. While recovering a drowned man, Wull’s father is pulled under—and when he emerges, he is no longer himself. A dark spirit possesses him, devouring him from the inside. In an instant, Wull is Riverkeep. And he must care for his father, too. When he hears that a cure for his father lurks in the belly of a great sea-dwelling beast known as the mormorach, he embarks on an epic journey down the river that his family has so long protected—but never explored. Along the way, he faces death in any number of ways, meets people and creatures touched by magic and madness and alchemy, and finds courage he never knew he possessed...
As I was reading Riverkeep by Martin Stewart, I had one thought in mind: eh, this is okay. That feeling remained until the end. It had its high and low points, but by farmthe book wasn’t a bad story. And as far as fantasy novels go, Riverkeep was pretty good, a little slow at times, but still alright.

My initial reaction to the beginning was a little mixed. It wasn’t a bad opening, but I struggled to stick with the story and I almost gave up. However, I stuck with it out of sheer curiosity, and the desire to get answers for the questions I had.

Riverkeep was more of a coming-of-age story set against a fantasy backdrop full of perilous places and even more dangerous creatures. And despite the introduction of numerous characters, and the multitude of POVs throughout Riverkeep, the focus was really on Wull—following him as he struggles against change, and discovering where he belongs while dealing with a slowly unfolding personal tragedy.

There was a lot of traveling in Riverkeep since the characters had places to be for important reasons, which made the story drag in some places. However, the dialogue and slowly developing friendships between the characters is part of what got me through those parts. I was also curious to see how the story ended since the beginning set up a relatively strong conflict.

As promised by the synopsis, Wull met a lot of different people from different backgrounds, and under different circumstances. I won’t go into too much about them since it would be kind of spoiler for parts of the story. The things I liked best about Riverkeep were some of the secondary characters. The Mormorach was a key part of Riverkeep. It was a “great sea-dwelling beast” going about its business—albeit oversized and with a destructive tendency that bordered on absurd. It served as one of the antagonists, a source of conflict amongst the many outside factors that eventually concerned Wull.

Another thing I liked was the setting. It was done really well. It was dark, cold because of the time of year, and harsh—especially the river. It gave the story an eerie atmosphere, which was pretty fitting. The overall plot wasn’t bad. I actually liked it, and the ending was pretty good too since it neatly tied up the story.

So, while my initial reaction to Riverkeep was mixed, I am glad that I stuck with it.
This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (publisher) for this review, thank you!

Monday, May 30, 2016

ARC Review: Oleah Chronicles: Justice by Michelle Johnson

Oleah Chronicles: JusticeTitle: Oleah Chronicles: Justice
Author: Michelle Johnson
Source/Format: Author, EARC
More Details: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher/Publication Date: Michelle Johnson, May 15, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

After discovering the truth about her Oleah origins, Angel thought she could still have a normal life, consisting of normal things – like her seventeenth birthday party. But there is no such thing as normal for Angel anymore. She learned that the hard way after Sindrell – the most powerful sorceress in the universe - crashed her party, destroyed the city, and took her best friend, Julie, captive. Determined to defeat Sindrell for good, Angel must risk her life, along with the fate of the entire universe to get Julie back…alive. The only way she can do this successfully, is to embrace her Oleah instincts and learn what it takes to become a true warrior. Problem is, Sindrell has an insurance policy of her own that will put millions of lives in danger - including Zander’s - to ensure her quest for power is brought to fruition. One way or another. In order to protect Zander, and save Julie, Angel has to make a choice... but will it be the right one?
Author Michelle Johnson is back with the next installment of the Oleah Chronicles. Oleah Chronicles Justice is another amazing young adult fantasy/paranormal novel. And unlike some young adult novels, there are edgy moments between Angel and Zander, but the romance never overshadowed the plot. The intense action filled moments are also well done. They are so vividly depicted that I can only imagine this series playing out on the screen.

In this second installment of the Oleah Chronicles, it begins with training day as Angel learns discipline and self-control, before taking on Sindrell, the most powerful sorceress, in an attempt to save her friend, Julie, and all of humanity. Johnson does an amazing job of bringing the reader into the moment with the depiction of the emotional turmoil that Angel experiences and the action sequences throughout the novel. One difference found in Justice is that it immediately takes on a dark tone as it picks up where Truth left off. Angel is the key to peace; yet she has some growing up to do as she struggles with overcoming her guilt while she learns to use her gifts to save her friend Julie. I loved the fact that she maintained her teen persona with her quirky comments and reactions to certain situations as she was being transformed into a kickass warrior. I also liked the fact that she looked to her parents for advice and approval-Let me just say that their relationship was very ordinary in a supernatural setting.

Although this story was a bit gory, the fluid writing, well-developed characters and engaging storyline hooked me from the beginning. If you haven’t read the first book in the series, Truth, I would suggest that you pick up a copy and start at the beginning, because Justice begins at the point in which Truth ended—a point that left me longing for Oleah Chronicles: Justice to be released. And now… I ‘m eagerly awaiting the next installment of the Oleah Chronicles and future work by Michelle Johnson! (Actual Rating 4.5)
This copy of the book was provided by the author for this review, thank you!
About the Author...


Throughout my childhood I was always told I had a very creative imagination. I was drawn to stories of mythical creatures and all things that would usually give my peers the heebie geebies. Shows like Tales from the Crypt Keeper and Buffy the Vampire Slayer were among some of my favourites. I developed a strong passion for design and illustration, drawing the ideas that arose in my head and finding great excitement in bringing them to life. This led me to pursue a career in graphic design and marketing so that I could always use my creativity to the fullest. I have always loved reading and the way a compelling story would allow my mind to absorb its detailed imagery. I began to use writing as a tool to bring my creative thoughts to fruition one day, which has brought me to this moment. I'm a romantic at heart and a sucker for stories about true love which is reflected in my writing and helped bring the Oleah Chronicles to life. I hope you enjoy my first book and through it you experience the eccentric vision that began in my mind so long ago.

Friday, February 19, 2016

ARC Review: The Radiant Road by Katherine Catmull

The Radiant RoadTitle: The Radiant Road
Author: Katherine Catmull
Source/Format: First to Read (publisher), EARC
More Details: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Dutton Books for Young Readers, January 19, 2016
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Synopsis from Goodreads...

And sometimes the Strange came to visit Clare, and dreams walked through her waking life...

After years of living in America, Clare Macleod and her father are returning to Ireland, where they’ll inhabit the house Clare was born in—a house built into a green hillside with a tree for a wall. For Clare, the house is not only full of memories of her mother, but also of a mysterious boy with raven-dark hair and dreamlike nights filled with stars and magic. Clare soon discovers that the boy is as real as the fairy-making magic, and that they’re both in great danger from an ancient foe.

Fast-paced adventure and spellbinding prose combine to weave a tale of love, loyalty, and the strength we carry within ourselves...
Here’s the thing about The Radiant Road by Katherine Catmull: it was just okay. There was nothing too bad about the book and there were things that I liked about it.

The things I did enjoy were the concept. This was a fairy book; there was no mistaking it since the themes were present throughout the entire book. I have read a handful of books with similar themes, and I did like Catmull’s take on it. The house was especially interesting for many reasons, mainly because it was magical in a natural sort of way. It also contained elements that connected directly to the fairies. So I did like the setting.

Another aspect that I liked were the fairies. They were interesting, and it was the conclusion to that aspect of the story that kept me reading.

Here are some of the things that fell into the gray area for me, between good and bad, just sort of alright. From the start, it was made clear that Clare was special, she could see things no one else could, spoke of magical creatures and sort of believed in them despite being ridiculed for it. Her life seemed typical for this kind of book, and of course, things do take a turn for the worst once her father moves their family back to Ireland—to the house where she was born. In this way The Radiant Road was a little predictable. I could see things happening but Clare still plodded into them anyway despite being warned of the consequences. As often was the case, Clare wasn’t the one paying the majority of the price for her mistakes, but she did suffer some consequences.

Despite that, I found Clare and Finn’s friendships to be nice. And the plot still held some twists. The ending was okay and it wrapped up the story. The majority of the book was spent building up to this end and, I don't know, I was a little disappointed, but despite that it was an okay ending. So the characters and the story were pretty good.

Overall, The Radiant Road was a book that I found to be okay. It was fun for the most part with some faults. And if I was ever in the mood, I might consider picking up another book by Catmull.
This copy of the book was provided by Penguin First to Read (publisher) for this review, thank you!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

ARC Review: The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry

The Love That Split the WorldTitle:The Love That Split the World
Author: Emily Henry
Source/Format: First to Read, eARC
More Details: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Razorbill, January 26, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.  Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start... until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right. That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken...
So, I tried to read this book, and I’m a little sad that it ended up being a DNF. The Love that Split the World turned out to be a big disappointment for me. I was actually looking forward to this book. And initially, I thought that The Love that Split the World would be my kind of book. The writing was good. However, and this is a big deal-breaking kind of “however”, there were a few minor details in the beginning that I really didn’t like. After that, I kept putting the book down, and I just couldn’t get into the story even though there were numerous details that should have caught and held my interest. I did give this book the first hundred pages, even a little more—I skipped ahead to see if there was anything that would make me want to read on. Sadly, there wasn’t. At the end of the day, The Love that Split the World didn’t end up being for me. But, if it seems like something you want to read, check out other reviews, and don’t let my opinion stop you.
This copy of the book was provided by Penguin First to Read (publisher) for this review, thank you!

Friday, November 20, 2015

ARC Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)Title: Illuminae
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Source/Format: First In Line, Hardcover ARC
More Details: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Knopf Books for Young Readers, October 20, 2015
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Synopsis from Goodreads...

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded. The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit. But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes...
I kind of have a lot to say. You’ve been warned...

I’m going to be honest, if Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff was a movie I would see it, not just that, I would buy the DVD. In short, this book was awesome, and I consider it to be one of the best I’ve read in 2015 and a new favorite.

The way the story was told was something I was immediately interested in. It was told through a mixture of different things—emails, interviews, classified files, illustrations of the ships, and so on—it was a style I enjoyed. The mixture of different mediums added another layer to the story. One of my favorite aspects of science fiction is the technology—ships, weapons, etc.—so it was pretty cool getting to see them in illustrated form.

The story itself was also exciting, with plenty of action. It follows Kady Grant and Ezra Mason—who used to date but broke up at the beginning of the book—as they survive in space after the destruction of their home. But what once seemed like a good escape plan quickly took a turn for the worst. Like, worst case scenario type bad. The troubles started early on in the book—surviving the evacuation of the planet being the least of their problems—it’s what came after that had me hooked. Despite the length of this book there wasn’t a part that I found boring. There was always something going on.

As far as characters go, Kady was pretty cool. She was by far one of my favorite aspects of the story. People deal with grief differently and the same thing could be said about Kady, she reacted to the events of the novel differently than some of the other characters. Though all of them experienced loss at some point of the novel and grieved in different ways as they adjusted to their situation. Ezra was also interesting and I liked seeing the two characters interact with one another. The conversations were especially entertaining.

The villain wasn’t just one person specifically but many different things that stemmed from the beginning of the book and continued to have a ripple effect across the entire novel. I would (kind of) call them immediate consequences and unforeseen difficulties. That’s the best way I can describe them without going into detail.

While the ending was pretty solid, I look forward to seeing what happens next. Suffice to say, Illuminae was a great opening to this trilogy.
 
This copy of the book was provided by First In Line (publisher) for this review, thank you!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

ARC Review: Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Wolf By Wolf (Wolf By Wolf, #1)Title: Wolf By Wolf
Author: Ryan Graudin
Source/Format: The Novl Newsletter (publisher), ARC
More Details: Young Adult, Fantasy, Alternative History
Publisher/Publication Date: Little Brown Books for Young Readers, October 22, 2015

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor's ball. Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year's only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin's brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael's every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?
Hold on I need a second, to, you know, catch my breath…

**deep breaths**

Alright, Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin was absolutely fantastic, and one of the best books I’ve read this year. Period. End of Discussion. But I can’t end the review yet, I have to actually talk about the book. So here goes nothing…

From the start I was interested in Wolf by Wolf because it’s an alternative-history novel, a “what if such and such didn’t happen/end as we know it” kind of book—a genre I enjoy but haven’t read enough of (A good example of this type of book would be Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan Trilogy). So, I had pretty high expectations, and Wolf by Wolf did not let me down.

What if the Axis powers won the war?

This book ultimately explores those possibilities by using its setting and time period to tell the story of Yael. Yael’s experience was nothing short of horrifying. These things were revealed by alternating chapters that told the “then” combined with the present, the “now”. The “then” told Yael’s history, showing her experience through her eyes when she was a child rather than just telling about it later. These chapters were essential to understanding Yael—her fears, determination, all of it. Yael was a complex and interesting character, like many of the others—Luka, Felix, Adele—they all had layers and stories to tell.

The concept of an alternative ending to World War II and a race that spans across continents was fantastic. The idea of skinshifting was also pretty cool. The world building was handled really well, and it was easy to get into the story. Even with all of the different things going on, it worked.

There’s so much more that I could say, but this review would never end. So, final thoughts. The ending left me with some questions, like: What’s in store for Yael next? I want to know, because Wolf by Wolf is a story I’m invested in. It made me root for the characters to succeed every step of the way. And that’s a good thing in my book.

Now the wait for book two begins.
 This copy of the book was provided by The Novl Newsletter (Publisher) for this review, thank you!
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