Showing posts with label three and a half birdcages. Show all posts
Showing posts with label three and a half birdcages. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

ARC Review: Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

30238163Title: Ace of Shades
Series: The Shadow Game #1
Author: Amanda Foody
Source/Format: Netgalley; eARC
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Harlequin Teen; April 10, 2018

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets...and secrets hide in every shadow...

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted. Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn't have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne's offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems. Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi's enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city. And she’ll need to play...
Going into Ace of Shades, I was very excited. I’ve read Amanda Foody’s debut book, Daughter of the Burning City, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the story. I had high hopes that Ace of Shades would be the same way. I had some mixed feelings about it and didn’t like it as much as Daughter of the Burning City. Still, it was a good story.

The story starts quickly with Enne arriving in New Reynes. The reason is immediately stated, and the story and the main players are introduced and developed from there. New Reynes was definitely the City of Sin. Once again, I think Foody did a good job developing the darker themes of the story such as corruption, crime, and gambling. However, so much of the city was dark, dangerous, and rife with corruption with little to nothing else to break up those themes. It certainly lived up to its name. But, I would have liked to see a little more of the outside world beyond it. It was mentioned, but mainly through flashbacks and exposition from Enne’s limited point of view. But I never got a sense for what those places were actually like. The bulk of the action and mystery was centered in New Reynes and the search for Enne’s missing mother. Luckily, I didn't mind because there was a lot going on with the plot.

So who was good and who was bad? Who could be good or bad in a city nicknamed the City of Sin? There was no easy way to tell when many of the characters were morally ambiguous. That being said, the characters were a highlight for me, or more specifically, I liked the dynamics between them. Levi Glaisyer was far from an infallible character. He made a lot of mistakes and kept a lot of secrets. His past was catching up with him. And I could say the same thing about many of the characters from Ace of Shades, including Enne. At times, Enne was a little naïve, but it fit with the context of her upbringing and subsequent arrival in a new place.

Like I said above, Ace of Shades wasn’t a bad story. I liked it a lot actually. However, the beginning didn’t really draw me in the way Daughter of the Burning City did. It took several chapters before I was able to really get into the story. By far my favorite parts of the book took place in the latter half of the story when the true nature of the city and the game were revealed. There were hints of broader political and social unrest brewing beneath the surface of New Reynes, but they were hints. Of course, the implications point toward where the story could go after the end of Ace of Shades. And I’m interested in seeing where those implications eventually lead and what the consequences will be for Enne, Levi, and the other characters.

So, Ace of Shades was a good story. It was a promising beginning to a new series, and I know I’ll probably read the sequel. I also recommend it for those who enjoyed Foody’s last book, Daughter of the Burning City.

Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by Harlequin Teen via Netgalley for this review.

About the author...

Amanda Foody has always considered imagination to be our best attempt at magic. After spending her childhood longing to attend Hogwarts, she now loves to write about immersive settings and characters grappling with insurmountable destinies. She holds a Masters in Accountancy from Villanova University, and a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature from the College of William and Mary. Currently, she works as a tax accountant in Philadelphia, PA, surrounded by her many siblings and many books. DAUGHTER OF THE BURNING CITY is her first novel. Her second, ACE OF SHADES, will follow in April 2018...

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Review: The Witches by Roald Dahl, Illustrated by Quenten Blake

The WitchesTitle: The Witches
Author/Illustrator: Roald Dahl; Quenten Blake
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Paperback
More Details: Middle Grade; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Scholastic inc.; First published in 1983

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

This is not a fairy-tale. This is about REAL WITCHES. Real witches don't ride around on broomsticks. They don't even wear black cloaks and hats. They are vile, cunning, detestable creatures who disguise themselves as nice, ordinary ladies. So how can you tell when you're face to face with one? Well, if you don't know yet you'd better find out quickly-because there's nothing a witch loathes quite as much as children and she'll wield all kinds of terrifying powers to get rid of them...
You know, it seemed like the appropriate time to read Roald Dahl’s The Witches, since it's October and all. This is the first time I’ve read this book, but parts of it seemed familiar to me. At first, I didn’t remember where I’d heard about it before seeing it on Goodreads. Then I sort of realized that I’d seen the movie a really—extremely—long time ago, which explained a lot.

So, did I like the book?

My answer to that is yes. There were things that I really enjoyed about The Witches. For instance, the writing was good—Dahl’s style was a perfect fit for the story. It wasn’t that long of a book, but the story was done really well. One thing I especially liked was Dahl’s version of magic and witches. That part of the story was highly imaginative, and the witches themselves were as fantastic as they were spooky. The other characters—such as the narrator and his grandmother--were just as interesting as the witches. I liked them, and their respective quirks gave them personality.

I haven’t read anything else by Roald Dahl, but I would definitely consider it, because The Witches was a fun and incredibly timely October read. (Actual rating 3.5)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Review: Need by Carrie Jones

Need (Need, #1)Title: Need
Author: Carrie Jones
Source/Format: Purchased, Paperback
More Details: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher/Publication Date: Bloomsbury, January 1, 2008

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Zara White suspects there's a freaky guy semi-stalking her. She's also obsessed with phobias. And it's true, she hasn't exactly been herself since her stepfather died. But exiling her to shivery Maine to live with her grandmother? That seems a bit extreme. The move is supposed to help her stay sane...but Zara's pretty sure her mom just can't deal with her right now.

She couldn't be more wrong. Turns out the semi-stalker is not a figment of Zara's overactive imagination. In fact, he's still following her, leaving behind an eerie trail of gold dust. There's something not right - not human - in this sleepy Maine town, and all signs point to Zara...
So, last week I read Need by Carrie Jones, and I have to say that It was pretty good; yet, this book had its ups and down. Sure, there were cheesy/cute moments, but in terms of general reading experience and enjoyment, Need was a fun book and an interesting opening to the series.

Need was definitely a paranormal novel. A half-frozen, decidedly sleepy town in the middle of nowhere? Check. Mysterious things happening upon arrival? Check. Paranormal elements? Check. All the semi-necessary ingredients for a paranormal pie heaped with an extra added dose of trouble. I actually liked the way Jones chose to gradually introduce the supernatural aspects into the story. As the story progressed, it became apparent that trouble had been brewing for a while. So, it was nice to see how well those details were developed, and later integrated into Zara’s story.

Zara is the main character, and she was sent to live with her grandmother to help her cope with a recent death in her family. That part of Need was pretty good. The writing was good and made it easy to get into the story, but it also captured Zara’s emotions in a way that made them seem realistic—when it concerned her family.

One of the lower points for me was some of  Zara’s blatantly bad decisions. Despite repeated warnings, she insisted on walking right into trouble against better judgment. The romantic aspect wasn’t necessarily my favorite, but I didn’t really pay much attention to it. I was more interested in the mystery and its solution. It wasn’t all bad of course, I liked the majority of the secondary characters—especially Zara’s new friends and her grandmother, Betty. The paranormal aspects, writing, and the overall plot were also good.

So, Need was interesting. Would I continue on with this series? The copy of Need that I have has a small sneak peek of the second book in the very back. And, just from the sneak peek alone, things seemed to be getting very interesting. So, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of picking up the next book. (Actual Rating 3.5)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Review: The Keep by Veronica Wolff

The Keep (The Watchers, #4)Title: The Keep
Author: Veronica Wolff
Source/ Format: Purchased, Paperback
More Details: YA, Paranormal
Publisher/ Publication Date: NAL Trade, June 4, 2013

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I had a hard time deciding just how much I liked this book after I finished it. It took me some time to get to The Keep, but at least now I can say that I finished the series. And I’m trying to finish more of the various series I started a while ago. And this one happened to be about vampires. I did enjoy the concept of The Watchers series throughout the previous books, and I was looking forward to seeing how it ended.

I’m conflicted, I really am. Don’t get me wrong I liked this book, but it was just sort of average for me. However, there were a few things that bothered me. But first I’m going to start with what I did like.

The Keep sat on my shelf for about two months. I finally decided to read it after finishing and reviewing a book for another blog. This book began a short time after Blood Fever ended, and Drew is basically struggling with what happened. I’m not going to specify what that something was, but it changed things on the island for Drew. Speaking of the main character, well, she was reckless and didn't seem to listen to any advice being given to her—and one aspect of the story almost seemed to become an obsession for her. Though I could understand why, the Isle of Night was a horrible place to be. So I think Wolff did a good job capturing the overall atmosphere of the Isle of Night, and portraying the characters—including those that thrived in that environment and others that didn't do so well.

And now here’s what I didn't like so much: the ending and parts of the plot. The plot…hmmm, well at times I felt like it was a little repetitive but interesting enough to keep my attention. The part that really got me was the ending. It felt entirely rushed and unfinished to me. There were too many mysteries introduced in this novel—even at the very end—and I had to sit down and think for a while about what I wanted to say about The Keep. I believe that this is the last book and I wish that there had been more—maybe even another book to finish tying up those loose ends. I liked this book but not as much as the previous three in The Watchers Series. So that's why I'm going to give it a 3.5.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Review: Until Midnight by Melissa Landers

Until Midnight (Alienated, #1.5)Title: Until Midnight
Author: Melissa Landers
Souce/Format: freebie, iTunes ebook editon
Age Range: YA
Publisher/ Publication Date: Disney Hyperion, December 23, 2014

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     When I saw that Until Midnight by Melissa Landers was free, I got it as a way to get introduced to the writers’ style to see if I would be interested in reading the actual novel that went along with it. I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed the short story. It was easy to get into—even though I didn’t read Alienated—it was short and sweet. I liked Cara and Aelyx in this short story and I’m curious to see how their relationship got started. The writing paired nicely with the story, and had a good flow to it. Until Midnight was a great way to start the year, and I might consider picking up another book by Melissa Landers. Actual rating 3.5

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)Title:The Raven Boys (Click Title for Synopsis)
Source/Format: Purchased, Paperback
Age Range: YA
Publisher/Publication Date: Scholastic, September 18, 2012

My Thoughts:

     It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve been in a pretty bad reading slump as of late, which is evident in the lack of reviews showing up on the blog.  So, I’ve been searching around for a book to get me interested in reading again.  In the end I decided to give something that a lot of people seemed to love, a try.  That’s how I ended up buying The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.

     The Raven Boys, for me, teetered on the edge between just ok and absolutely spectacular, but just couldn’t tip the scales in its favor.  Don’t get me wrong.  The Raven Boys by far is not the worst book I’ve read this year, but it just didn’t wow me.  I liked it well enough, but the first half of the story felt a little slow and the descriptions just weren’t there for me.  I had a hard time visualizing what was going on and where it was happening. 

     Now on to what I did like about The Raven Boys.  Stiefvater did a nice job with the characterization, and I was immediately interested in finding out more about Gansey and his friends.  Noah was mysterious to say the least, Ronan was just angry about something we seemingly know nothing about yet, and Adam, well his life is less than exultant.  Blue’s family was also a nice addition to the story, and I liked seeing the way they conducted themselves…as psychics.  But by far, my favorite character in the story was Chainsaw, she was adorable.

     There were a few twists, but nothing that I wasn’t already suspicious of.  I think the overall idea surrounding the events in The Raven Boys was ok.  Would I read the sequel The Dream Thieves?  Hmm I’m not sure, possibly, but only because I want to know more about Ronan and how Chainsaw fits into all of this. {Actual rating is 3.5}

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Review: Torn by Erica O'Rourke

Torn (Torn Trilogy, #1)Title: Torn (Click on title for Synopsis)
Source/ Format: Won, Paperback
Age Range: YA
Publisher/Publication Date: Kensington, June 28, 2011

My Thoughts:

    I have to admit that I’ve put off reading Torn for a long time, but recently I moved it up on my list of things to read.  Although short, Torn presented me with a mystery that sucked me in—it had me wanting to know more about the characters.  O’Rourke did a fantastic job on the plot.

    From the first pages, the mystery became apparent with the murder of Mo’s best friend, an attack that almost left her dead as well.  It was heartbreaking seeing her struggle to regain her life, only to have it derailed again.  At some points I just felt so bad for her, not only was she still dealing with her friend’s death, she also learned some facts about herself and her family.  Then there was Luc.  From the beginning his motives were unclear to me, and I was left with a lot of questions.  Verity seemed like a good friend, but you can never tell things just from the exterior, after all, she did have her own set of secrets.

    With Torn, you never knew who was who until it was finally revealed.  The way it was written I honestly thought things were going to be predictable, but I was wrong about that.  There were some things I had an issue with, like the ages of both love interests, which kind of bugged me throughout the book, but the plot and writing style is what kept it going for me.  The ending left a lot of things open and I do want to see where the sequel takes things. I'm giving this book a 3.5.

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