Sunday, April 29, 2012

"Emerald City" by Alicia K. Leppert

Emerald City

Note: I received this book from Netgalley.

Speechless. That's how I feel after finishing this brilliant work of prose. I'd gladly give it six stars if I were allowed to because it stirred my soul on such a deep level, I can't even begin to describe it.

At first, I thought it'd turn out to be something like A city of angels, but it wasn't. The story was unique in its own way. And it was so well developed, that it had me clinging to every single word, like it was the air I needed to breathe. Honestly, I haven't read such an emotional book in a very long time. I'm sure Emerald City will stay with me for a while, just like I'm sure that I'll be re-reading it sometime soon.

I must say that I was intrigued from the very first page. It was written in such a masterful way, with a style that completely answered my plea for a book that would be worth my time. I am glad for spending every second buried in the pages of Emerald City, because it made me realize many things I hadn't actually thought about. Things like the fact that no matter how bad things look, we should never give up on life. Or that feeling mentally and emotionally low is much much worse than being physically low. But most of all, I realized on a much deeper level that it's love that makes us weak, and love that makes us strong. And ultimately, it's the only thing worth fighting for.

I loved the way every detail was described, and it's a first time where the narrative didn't bug me out of my mind. No, here the narrative was my silent companion that made me feel one with both Olivia and Jude, the two main characters. The descriptions of their states of mind, the importance of their decisions and the thoughts that lurked in their subconscious drew me in like a drug, making me crave for more.

Most of all though, nothing about the story or the characters sounded casual, or cliched, or even a little bit unrealistic. In truth, they all felt so real, that at times I felt like I was pulled into their world and held there with sailing ropes.

The characters:
*Olivia - she started out as a complete mess. She was nobody, she felt like a nobody and somehow she preferred it that way. Until someone noticed her and called her a name that bothered her to the bottom of her soul. That name seemed to be the drop that pushed her into a whirlpool of events she could hardly control. But with all that she went through, she was still incredibly brave in the most human, most feminine way. It felt like she might need superpowers to get back among the living, but all she had were her own strength... and the help of a friend. I honestly loved Olivia, because she was true to herself, and she was real and tangible. She wasn't s shallow character that acted out of need. No, she was a person, living and breathing and hurting. To me, she was real.

*Jude - oh, how my heart ached for him! I knew who he was a couple of chapters before Olivia figured it out herself. And I had a feeling what decisions he would end up making. But boy, was it hard to accept! I think I literally felt pain when I read those last few chapters, because Jude was an amazing person. Everything about his experiences felt so real, that I could feel it along with him. The pain, the struggle, the ultimate decision... and how he grew from there. It was simply amazing. And when he called Olivia 'Liv', it was like my heart melted along with hers. It was beyond beautiful.

*Hal - what would this story be without him? He was the special guy that seemed to hold lots of answers. He was secretive and mysterious and open to help however he could. He made me smile, especially because of his job (you wouldn't believe!), and he totally won me over with his friendly demeanor.

So, in the end all I can say is: Read this book, people!!!! It's worth your time and money!!!!

My rating for this amazing book is

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"My Fairy Tale Life" by Heather M. White

My Fairytale Life (Vampire Hunter Series, #1)
I received this book from the author, Heather White, in return for an honest review. Now, before I start writing my opinion, I have to say that this is a vampire book and I'm not much into such stories. Nevertheless, I try to keep myself open, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Well, I'd like to say that the book has got potential. It's got a pretty nice story about a vamp hunter with a tragic family history, who suddenly finds herself among good-hearted supernaturals. How can this be, right? Well, apparently it can.

But, for all the story has, there are a bunch of things that it lacks. For example, it lacks strong characters. I didn't feel emotionally attached to either one of them, not even the main character, Jadyn. I honestly wanted to, but she just couldn't win me over.
Also, the romance triangle was a bit silly, since the girl could only think of one of the guys all the time.
And, I thought that this would be a stand alone - it would've made a great stand alone. But it's the first book of a trilogy, and that kind of disappointed me as well.
Another thing that wasn't quite thought out was that pretty much everything about the story was cliched. I've seen it in so many other novels, that I could say the originality here was almost down to zero. There could've been some difference, with Jadyn falling for the wolf boy instead of the vamp. But that kind of got screwed in the end, so I don't really know what to say.

Still, with all that said, the book was a pretty good light read, fast-paced and interesting. It could be edited out a little bit, and some annoying misspellings could be removed. The substitutions also need to be looked at. I saw (repetitively) the following substitutions:
1. rather instead of whether
2. erotic instead of erratic
3. concur instead of conquer

Oh, and let's not forget the use of digital instead of written numbers. I mean, this is a novel. There are rules for writing, one of them being "write out the numbers." That makes the story flow nicely, instead of making you wonder if you're in math class adding numbers.

The characters:
*Jadyn - she's a vampire hunter. But she's also a seventeen year old teenager who claims she's killed 400 vamps. Umm, I don't really find it in myself to believe such a thing, because for one: vamps are described as strong, fast, lethal creatures. How should an ordinary teenage girl kill even one is beyond me. No matter the training, it's simply impossible unless you're dumb lucky. And the fighting scenes described in the book don't make it any more believable. Because seriously, just imagine yourself for a second, standing in front of a vampire, who can move from one spot to another before you've even blinked. Can you see yourself stabbing the creature with a stake, cutting off its head or burning it in that time? Umm... no.

*Beau - the good vampire. He's not glittery, but other than that he's just another Edward. Nothing special or original about him. He fell in love with Jadyn from the moment he saw her, and knew she was the one for him. Blah blah.

*Jeremy - the wolf boy. I have my sympathies for him. But again, we have an ultimate true love from the first sight. I liked his attitude from before he got all cheesy and mushy and all that. After that he kind of sort of blended into the usual character that has no other qualities than the established cliche.

*Tabatha - the evil vamp. I honestly expected her to be evil, and she behaved like a jealous teenager. Honestly, a six hundred year old vampire could be more original.

A note to the readers: As I mentioned before, I'm not a vamp book lover, so I am a bit more critical than people who actually love this genre. So, I would recommend the book to all you vamp lovers.

My rating is:

Monday, April 23, 2012

"Waiting for Mercy" by Shannon Dermott

Waiting for Mercy (Cambion #2)
This book was just as amazing as the previous installment. It totally blew me off my feet!!! And I needed some time to breathe before I came back to write a decent review. But oh, my! WHAT A MARVELOUS CLIFFHANGER!!!

So, now that I'm back on track and my mind's actually functioning, I can sit down and write a good review of this awesome book. First of all, I want to say that I loved the character growth that I saw in this second installment of the Cambion Series. I was wondering if I would get to see my favorite characters mature. I did, and I am happy for it. Secondly, I really loved the new info that was revealed concerning Mercy, though it wasn't nearly enough for my curiosity and thirst to be quenched. *sigh* Oh well, next book should do it!
And there was this one scene, the one on Valentine's day, which was so totally cheesy, I was laughing wholeheartedly while reading! I'm sure you all will enjoy this book!

Book weaknesses:
Well, I'm really sad to say this but the massive amount of grammar mistakes, missing punctuation, substitutions and such, kind of bore down on me. Also, lots of verbs were wrongly placed in present tense, when the entire novel was in past tense. It was quite confusing, figuring out what happened when.

Book strengths:
Again, I will mention the character development. Especially the growth we see in Mercy. There were some battles that were quite intense. There was passion that totally blew me off. And there were secrets revealed. Still, the mystery of Mercy remains. Who is she? What is she? It's quite weird that even her mom didn't know the answer to those questions.

There was this one thing that I kind of thought was a drawback. I'm talking about the slow pace of the first hundred or so pages. But then again, the book is called WAITING, so I guess it fits, and I won't count it as a weakness. After all the author knows what's best for her characters :)


*Mercy - In the beginning, she was the same kind of girl she was in book one: she didn't push for answers, she didn't get interested in anyone but herself and the boys around her. But then things changed, and she matured. She asked questions, and she tried to help however she could when her friends needed her.

*Luke - he was the same sweet boy as before. Yeah, he was going out, but nothing serious at all. His heart was all for Mercy. Which wasn't the best idea really.

*Flynn - I must say he's my favorite character of them all. He's straight forward, he's strong in his feelings, and he knows what he wants. Sure, he's seduced more girls than anyone else, but he's hasn't really done it out of bad feelings. I keep on wondering whether he'd need all those other girls if Mercy and him ended up together...

*Sebastian - yum yum! But still, he's a full blooded demon, and you've got no idea who his pappy is. Anyway, he's still caring and completely devoted to Mercy. Perhaps he loves her? Who knows what a soulless demon actually feels though?

Well, what are you waiting for? Go grab the book and read, read, read it! :)))

My honest rating (though I wish I could give it more, but those weaknesses don't allow me to *sigh*) is:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"A poison most vial" by Benedict Carey

Poison Most Vial: A Mystery

I received this book to review from Netgalley. Here are my thoughts:

This is a middle grade book, and I know what you're gonna say, but honestly - the story is quite intriguing and really funny. It's got some awesome mystery, a murder case, and a great exploration adventure.

The only reason why I'm giving it this rating, is because the world building could've been more detailed. I mean, the whole time I was reading, I was wondering where the action was taking place. It felt like the States, but was it? It also had a tiny feel of dystopian, but again, I can't really tell. It seemed to be some sort of a closed community, somewhere. There apparently were different neighborhoods, and then everybody working at the university/school/lab lived in the same building (called the Terraces). Other than that, I don't know anything. I don't even know if anything else existed outside of this little village(or was it a town).

But, leaving that aside, I think that any kid 8-15 (and perhaps older readers as well) would enjoy the story very much. The murder case was presented pretty neatly, and got me sucked in right away.

To be honest, from my viewpoint, most of the adults felt like mannequins, doing almost nothing. But hey, it's a kids' story, so the teen characters are those who truly matter.

The characters:

*Ruby Rose - she was a lively kid, full of ideas, and devoted to her dad (dunno where her mom is). She's also talented in drawing and critical thinking. She was the real investigator, though at one point she was quite surprised to find herself in charge. Loved that about her, being modest and all.

*Theodore, aka T-Rex - he was a Jamaican boy, Ruby's only friend. He also has good ideas sometimes, pushing the investigation onwards. His sheer size saved the two not once. I also loved his slang, it sounded pretty genuine.

*Mrs. Whitmore - I think that's the name - was the old lady who never went out of her apartment. Legends were told about her, that mostly scared children. In truth, this woman was the puppeteer who controlled the young investigators from afar, giving them clues and new ways to think.

My rating is

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Artemis Fowl and the Arctic Incident" by Eoin Colfer

The Arctic Incident
This is the second book in the Artemis Fowl series, that I got from Netgalley to review. Here are my thoughts of it:

Another awesome book for readers of all ages. Yes, I mean 7 thru 77. This series is kind of like Harry Potter - it's good for children and adults alike, because it's funny and entertaining, and tells a story of bravery, taking risks, and thinking with your head.

I loved the action packed scenes, as well as those where Artemis's genius came into play. Of course, his plans are always risky, at the very edge of success, but with the help of his fairy friends, everything manages to go smoothly.

My particular interest was spiked when Artemis and Foaly got to talk face to face. Two geniuses in the same room... well let's just say that they got my admiration. And when everyone else just nods around them (as if they understood what was going on between the two)... it was priceless!

The characters:

*Artemis - I love his attitude. He's the boy in control. He's the mastermind, though sometimes his plans get him in more trouble than not. But he's adorable, especially when his true boyish character gets to peak through the mask of the genius.

*Butler - the megaman, whose only care is to keep his boss safe. Sometimes I feel so bad for him, having Artemis as boss could be tiring, and dangerous. But Butler is always prepared.

*Captain Holly Short - She's once again quick witted and ready to plunge into the action with no second thoughts. I love her self-denial, her respect for those who earn her trust, and most of all, I love the way she affects Artemis.

*Commander Julius Root - he's the same quick to anger persona. He made me laugh on more than one occasion. Especially when he clearly doesn't understand something, and just says "I see."

*Foaly - the super techie of the fairy police... what can I say - he's another genius alright. I was kind of disappointed by him though. At least for a little bit. Thought he'd find a way out of the mess from the inside.

A great read that I recommend to book lovers of all age groups.

My rating for this book is

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"Artemis Fowl" by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, #1)

This is yet another Netgalley book I received in exchange for an honest review. Here it comes:

I loved everything about this book. It was hilarious, highly entertaining and difficult to put down. It was also an easy, quick read that left me longing for more. I enjoyed every single word of it, and honestly, I can't believe I hadn't read it until now.

The story was fascinating. From the beginning, where we got a touch of Artemis's foul plan and brilliant mind, to the very end, where we're fully convinced that indeed, he is an evil genius, though one with a good heart. This is the first book I've read where the villain is portrayed as the good guy. Well, he is just a 12 year old kid to begin with. But still, such understatements could get a fairy kidnapped, tricked and well, expelled from the fairy (People's) society.

I was introduced to many interesting characters throughout the pages of this book, and I was impressed by the fact that they were all so real, so tangible, I thought they might pop up in front of me at any moment.

*Artemis - well, he was the evil mastermind alright. He had it all (or well, almost all) figured out in his plan. The abduction, the ransom, etc. etc. The only thing he hadn't planned was being tricked himself. What I really liked about him was that underneath it all, he was still just a kid who longed for his parents - to be alive, sane and by his side. So, I wasn't really surprised at the ending. I was actually pleased by Artemis. Also, I loved that he was a realistic character. He made mistakes, he had human feelings (though he tried to hide them), and in some scenes he made me want to strangle him for being so self-centered.

*Butler - oh man! The big guy whom you just couldn't mess with. He can kill a person in at least fifty different ways if either he, his sister, or his boss (Artemis) is somehow threatened. I loved the guy, because he wasn't just a brainless bodyguard. Oh, no. He was highly intelligent, and even though he mostly didn't question his boss's orders, it was due to trust, not lack of brains.

*Captain Holly Short - an elfin police officer was also a favorite character. I was with her every time she disobeyed an order, and loved her every step of the way. I loved her even more when she risked her life to save the humans. She was real and zesty.

*Commander Julius Root - he cracked me up. He wasn't dumb exactly, but he was always following protocol, and that sometimes messed up the operations. But he was loveable (though he'd prefer being intimidating), and quite amusing (especially when he couldn't get the jokes thrown his way).

I'd recommend this book to all readers who enjoy some comedy, genius thinking and an intriguing story.

My rating, clearly is

Monday, April 9, 2012

"Candlewax" by C.Bailey Sims


This is a book I received from NetGalley upon request.

I really liked the story, because the idea was original. I loved the concept of the ferrier cats and the power of the Onyxes; the speaking aloud vs. speaking in thoughts only. I also liked how Catherine (the lead female) compared her studies at the castle with the much more helpful hands-on experience she got in the world outside. It meant that she was learning and growing, and that is important to see in a character.

However, the writing style really put me off. It felt like it was written in partitions. Some chapters sounded really good, really interesting, with depth to plunge in. While others felt like they needed more substance.

Another thing that wasn't quite to my taste was that the entire book was written in the manner of a fairy tale, i.e. with language quality more appealing to younger audiences (10-15), while the story itself seemed to have an older target audience (16-20).

Some scenes (like the longbow shooting) felt forced to me. As if the characters wanted to do something else, but the author forced them to just go along with her wishes. It felt unnatural and unrealistic. Made me feel sympathetic toward the characters.

In addition to all that, I'm quite sorry to say that not even one of the characters made me really love them. Catherine was brave and all, but she was too trusting and naive. Besides, she was a 16-year old pampered princess, who upon her running away from the castle is suddenly perfectly capable of taking care of herself. I am not sure how this transition happened. Also, there were scenes that should've scared her - if she was true to her character - but she simply dismissed them.
Cyril wasn't really the strong male I had expected him to be. He was more like a boy at the age of 22, than the grown king he should have been. I know that young readers can't realize this, but a king at 22 cannot allow himself to think like a boy where his kingdom and people are concerned. I'm afraid that Cyril wasn't really all that concerned.
Spelopokos, the ferrier cat, kind of made an impression in the first couple of chapters, then he faded in the background of it all.
The only strong feeling I got was for the villain - Kallik. He was ruthless, ambitious and ready to obliterate the entire realm just so he can rule it afterwards. When he was described, the images I got were grotesque and mind-shuddering. Perhaps, he was the only real, deep character in this book.

And just a final side note: I hope that the published version of this book has the characters' thoughts marked in Italic, because otherwise it gets confusing as to who is saying/thinking what.

I would recommend this book to readers 12-15, although there was some violence that isn't quite
appropriate for that age group.

My rating for this novel is

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"Half Black Soul" by H.D. Gordon

Half Black Soul (The Alexa Montgomery Saga, #2)

When I was given this book to review, I was more than a little skeptical about it. Not because of what I'd heard of it, because most reviews have been positive. It's rather because book 1, Blood Warrior, hadn't really made such a good impression on me.

But I can say that Half Black Soul was nothing like Blood Warrior. And by this I mean that the writing style had improved, the grammatical mistakes were mostly fixed and the story was actually making a great deal of sense.

**What I didn't like:**

True, there are some misspellings, some minor substitutions like 'too' for 'to' and 'passed' for 'past' (as in 'moved passed me'), but that can't really be too bothersome.
What really annoyed me were the overused italics. There wasn't a paragraph where at least one word would be italicized, sometimes two or tree words, and it just totally overdid it.
Also, one other thing that kind of bothered me was that sometimes the voices didn't sound realistic. Kayden for instance seemed so stiff and out of his skin that I wanted to strangle him. And sometimes Nelly's thoughts and conclusions sounded too childish.
Lastly, since this is a YA book, I felt that Alexa's language should've been a little toned down.

**What I liked:**

In this book we can finally hear Nelly's voice, and at one point Kayden's as well. It was nice to get to know Nelly for who she really was. In book 1 we only knew Alexa and how she saw the world. So Half Black Soul kind of broadened our scope of things.

Blood Warrior left us with Alexa leaving Two Rivers in order to find her mother. She had rejected Kayden's help, but I knew in my mind that he won't stop at anything and sooner or later would find her. I was not disappointed. And I give credit to the author for having Kayden appear at the perfect moment. The timing was just first class.

I loved the development of the romantic relationship by the Warrior and the Libra. It was about time that those two figured out how they felt about each other. And the guilt that Alexa felt for cheating on Jackson really annoyed me. I mean, yeah he was her boyfriend, but she never really hold any passionate feelings for him. So, with gorgeous Kayden by her side, why think of Jackson at all?

Besides I never got a good vibe off Jackson. I just didn't like the dude, especially when he sounded like a control freak or something.

The restaurant scene was really cheesy in the "Twilight" kind of way. I mean, everything about it felt like it came straight out of "Twilight" and just landed on this book's pages. I kind of laughed when I read it.

I loved how Nelly's searching abilities seemed to stretch almost indefinitely. She kind of grew up in this book from the frail child she was to a mentally strong person. The control she could exercise on people was totally amazing.

What really got me interested was the ending. I had never anticipated that wicked twist of events, but hey, it's the cliff hanger that makes you buy the next book, right?

My rating is an honest

Monday, April 2, 2012

"Temptation" by Travis Thrasher

Temptation: A Novel

Please take note that there are some minor spoilers in this review.

Another awesome book I got from Netgalley. Another awesome book from this extremely talented author.

I absolutely love this series, because not a single string of action, not a single word is out of its appropriate place. And also because everything in it is so unbelievably complicated. So complicated in fact, that you get the feeling that the tight knot of events and mysteries and unanswered questions would never ever get untied. And it's so complicated because people - real people - are complicated. Only a true writing master can portray fictional characters as if they were real, tangible, and Thrasher does a marvelous job of it.

During the entire novel I felt like I knew Chris as if he was in my own circle of friends. I felt like he was a boy from the neighborhood, whose life I was privy to. It was an incredible experience, walking alongside him, seeing through his eyes, feeling through his heart, and figuring things out through the cogs and wheels in his brain.

Absolutely fantastic!

Well, I can't say that all his decisions were great, but hey - we're talking about a 17 year old boy here. A teenager who's been through so much, and the miracle here was that he's still standing, and he's still willing to fight. Yeah, he got pretty beat up by the reality of who was pulling the strings, but I can't really blame him. Fighting hadn't really won him any freedom. Or answers.

Now the temptation to give in is stronger than ever and it almost felt like Chris was ready to just let go and stop fighting.

The twists and turns were incredibly strong. I had no idea what was going on half the time, and I got blown by a heap of surprises. It was an amazing experience... not knowing what would happen in the next scene and just anticipating some sort of an outcome.

I was on an emotional roller-coaster from the very first chapter till the very last one. The tides kept on coming and going, leaving me speechless. It was like a storm had been unleashed, ready to strike over and over again over my exposed heart. And I loved it!!

Sure, there were times when I just wanted to kick Chris unconscious. Like when the only thought in his mind was sleeping with Lily. Or when he kind of abandoned his mom. Or especially when he left his mom in Solitary, while knowing that the bad guys would be pissed at him. Seriously, I was pulling my hair out as I read that he took Kelsey with him, but left his mom!!!! Urghh!!! Silly boy!!! But that's all a part of getting to know the characters, getting to love them, and just feeling that somehow they're real. Not just a flat image on a page of text.

Anyway, the answers we got in this book were so vital, so dark and sounded so realistic, that I was creeped out the entire time. And I can gladly say that Thrasher is a master in making the readers forget themselves into the story.

Also, I can't not wonder the following: How on earth is Chris going to pull off that task of denying Jesus, when all he wants is to hold on to Him with both hands??? That would be something interesting to see, that's for sure!

Which is to say that I just can't wait for the next installment to come out, so the mystery would finally be revealed, and HOPEFULLY the bad guys would get their rightful punishment.

Obviously, I can't rate this book with anything else but a solid