Sunday, February 28, 2016

Review: Glass Sword

Book: Glass Sword

Series: Red Queen

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Release Date: February 9th 2016

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control. 

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors. 

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat. 

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

Rating: 5/5 stars

Review: Yep. This is one of those books... the books that leave you sobbing at 3 am after you decide "just one more page..." I had almost forgotten most of the first book, and I was going to reread it before when I got lazy (this seems to happen a lot) and decided to just read this one. Thankfully, Victoria Aveyard did a really good job of reminding the reader what happened in the last book without being too redundant, and I had no problems trying to remember anything.

One of my favorite parts of Glass Sword was the way that, although it seems like it's set in a different world, when one looks closer it turns out that it's a future version of the US and that all of the cities are real places, albeit with slightly different names. I had a lot of fun trying to guess which settings were which in real life (21st century), and here's the list I came up with:

Delphie: Philadelphia
Naercy: New York City
Harbor Bay: Boston
Tuck: Nantucket (?)

And of course, I might be wrong about some of the places, but those are the ones that seem logical to me.

Another aspect of the story that I really liked was the new characters. Often, a problem I have with sequels where there aren't many new characters, and because of this I'll start to get bored with the preexisting ones. However, this book had so many new (and awesome!) characters, it was almost hard to keep track of them all. While some people may not like the confusion this caused, I really enjoyed it and found it added a lot to the story.

Overall, I don't really have any complaints about this book, and it definitely deserves a 5 star rating!!!

Would I recommend it?:  If you haven't already, I would definitely recommend reading this series, especially if you like fantasy books.

-Serena :)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Review: Truthwitch

21414439Book: Truthwitch

Author: Susan Dennard

Release Date: January 5th 2016

Synopsis (from Goodreads): In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she's a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden - lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult's true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls' heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Review: This book has been on my TBR list since the first time I read the synopsis several months ago. It sounded exactly like the type of book I would love, and I was desperate to read it. I even bought a paper copy of the book, which I almost never do (library=reading for free). Thankfully, the book lived up to my expectations, and I loved the world, the characters, the writing style, and most of all, the magic.

Safi and Iseult, the main characters, are best friends and "Threadsisters," which basically means they'll do anything for each other. The bond between them is an interesting addition to the book, and helps makes me like them much more than I would. Another thing I love about them is the way they contrast each other. Safi is the sun while Iseult is the moon, and neither would be complete without the other. On top of their awesome magic skills, they're both great fighters and it's really fun to read about the way that they beat their opponents.

Another thing I loved in this book was the magic. The way it was woven in was beautiful—not too much of it, just enough that it added another layer to the story. Both Safi and Iseult use their powers all the time, but it's not their only skills and they don't rely on them to survive. The world itself is deeply entwined with the magic of the land—and how that magic is missing.

The only thing about this book that threw me off slightly was that it was hard to get into the flow of the book. For the first 100 pages or so I had trouble connecting with the story, and I couldn't concentrate on what I was reading. However, it gets much more interesting by the time you reach the halfway mark, and it's definitely worth sticking with. This is the only reason I didn't give Truthwitch 5 stars, and I'm glad I stuck with the book because the second half was amazing.

Would I recommend it: Yes, this is an amazing book and you're missing out if you don't read it!


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Review: Wolf By Wolf

Book: Wolf By Wolf

Author:  Ryan Graudin

Release Date: October 20th 2015

Rating: 5/5 stars

Review: This book amazed me. Not because of the plot (although it was excellent) or the characters (also great), but because of the writing. It was just so beautiful, and although the subject was a hard one to write about (the holocaust/world war 2), Ryan Graudin pulled it off better than almost any other author I've read a book by so far.

It's not often that I love every part of a book. In fact, it's been about 20 books since I've read one that was as well rounded as this one. There's just something about it that calls to me.

Let's start with the characters. The main character, Yael, is in my opinion one of the most resilient and strong characters in YA lit. Even though she's only a teenager, she's been through more loss than most people will in their life, but she doesn't let that loss consume her. Instead, she uses her loss to shape her into the person she is now, someone that will not hesitate to take someone else's identity, race halfway across the world on a high-stakes motorcycle race, and then assassinate Hitler.

Another thing about this book that I love is the action. At first, this book sounded terrible to me, as I am most definitely not a person who reads about motorcycle races. However, Ryan Graudin manages to turn something that would normally repel me into an aspect of the story that makes me love it even more. This isn't just a motorcycle race, it's a fast paced, dangerous game of strategy and deception, which is much more my speed.

There wasn't really anything that I didn't like, and this is one of the books that I know I'll remember years from now!

Would I recommend it: Definitely! The only warning I have is if you're sensitive to any of the holocaust material, this book may not be the best for you.

-Serena :)

Friday, February 5, 2016

Review: Cruel Beauty

Book: Cruel Beauty

Author: Rosamund Hodge

Release Date: January 28th 2014 

Rating: 4/5 stars

Review: Well, this book was better than I expected. Like, way better. Mind-blown better. Last year, I read Rosamund Hodge's new(er) book: Crimson Bound. It was okay, but there was nothing special about it that stood out to me. 

This book was different. 

Everything Crimson Bound was lacking in, this book had. There was better character development, better mystery, better characters and better romance. The list goes on and on. One thing I especially loved was the way that, although it's a fairy tale retelling (of Beauty and the Beast), there are so many new and different aspects that made it refreshing to read. There's even some Greek mythology mixed in. I definitely did not expect that (in a good way)!

Another major part of the book that I absolutely adore is the main character,  Nyx. She's not like most YA main characters, who are all a different version of "no one can choose my fate but me." She know's exactly what she's destined to be, and she's not ignorant enough to try and change it. Although many people would consider that a weakness, I believe that there's a certain strength in knowing what you have to do and accepting it, even if you realize it will destroy you.

The only major complaint I have against the book was the ending. The entire time I was reading it, my mind was on an endless loop of "wait what?" and "I am so confused right now." Eventually, after several times rereading the last 20 or so pages, I understood what was happening, but I didn't like it. Basically, (SPOILERS) it changes Nyx's entire life, as well as the last 900 years of history. And to make it worse, then she randomly(ish) remembers her alternate life that was destroyed again. Then she goes on to live happily ever after.(END SPOILERS) No. Just... no. I may end up traumatized by an unhappy ending, but at least it would feel less forced. 

Would I recommend it: Definitely! This book is perfect for a  rainy day, so grab a cup of tea and get reading!


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Review: Echoes of Us (The Hybrid Chronicles #3)

If you want to see my review of the second book in this trilogy, click here

Also, do you think that I should start putting the synopsis of the book I'm reviewing directly in the post instead of linking it? Tell me in the comments below :)

17352960Book: Echoes of Us

Author: Kat Zhang

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Review: I wasn't sure if I wanted to read this book after finishing the second book in the series, which I didn't like at all. However, I had already taken Echoes of Us out of the library and I was curious to see how the series ended, so I gave it the "read the first chapter and see how good it is" test. I'm so glad that I did, because I loved this book! Everything the other books were lacking in were included in this one, and the writing was much better.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the setting. Basically, the two main characters, Eva and Addie, allow themselves to be taken to a hybrid institution to film the terrible conditions so that people know how bad things are there. The institution is so well described, I can picture it in my mind, and it almost feels like a real place. The fact that the author isn't hesitant to make a really creepy place one of the main settings makes me like this book much more.

Another thing I loved about this book (and the series in general) was how much character development there was between the first and third book. In the beginning of the trilogy, Eva and Addie are completely innocent and unaware of the struggles going on in their country, but over the course of the series they become conscious of fight for hybrid freedom and the details the government is hiding from them about the rest of the world. They change from a normal 15 year old high school student into a rebel leader who talks to the president in less than a year, and the best part is it feels like a completely natural transition.

Overall there wasn't much about the book that I didn't like, and I'm (happily) surprised about the way the series ended.


-Serena :)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Review: Once We Were (The Hybrid Chronicles #2)

Sorry I haven't posted a review in a week! I have midterms right now and I'm spending all of my free time studying/doing homework, but I finally managed to make time to do this :) .

Also, I've realized that I never shared my Goodreads profile with you, so if you want to look at that just click here.

16109664Book: Once We Were

Author: Kat Zhang

Rating: 3/5 stars

Review: I have mixed opinions on this book because although I found myself sometimes not enjoying it, in terms of being a sequel this book was amazing. It tied up a lot of the loose ends of the first book and kept the story going exactly the way I wanted it. Also, Kat Zhang was very good at refreshing my memory of what happened in the last book (there was a gap of several years between when I read the first one and this one). I almost never had trouble figuring out who an old character was, or why a certain place was significant and what happened there. If I was just rating it as a sequel and not on the content, I would give it 4/5 stars.

Another thing that I love is how cool the actual concept of the book is. Basically, in a different version of America/the world, people are born with two souls in one body, but normally the "recessive soul" (the weaker one) disappears before people reach middle school age. However, although the main character is the recessive soul, she never fully vanished from her body.

Although the idea of the book was amazing, I didn't particularly enjoy reading this book and it felt a lot longer than it's actual length of 350 pages. I often had to force myself not to stop reading it altogether, and I'm happy that I finished it because now I can read something that I'll enjoy. The major problem with the book was that there wasn't enough action. This made for long stretches of nothnig big happening, which made me want to throw the book out of the window. If I were to just rate the plot/story, I would give it a 2/5.

Overall, a 3/5 seems like a fair rating because while I didn't like the overall feel of the book, the way it continued the story was very good.

Would I recommend it: It's right on the border between yes/no so honestly it depends on how cool the synopsis sounds, because it does capture the feel of the book pretty well


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Review: Frozen Tides (Falling Kingdoms #4)

 WARNING: If you haven't read the first three books in this series yet, there may be minor spoilers


Book: Frozen Tides

Author:  Morgan Rhodes

Rating: 4/5 stars

Review: This book was definitely my favorite in the series so far! One of the things I loved the most was the way that the chapters switched POV between so many characters (all of the books are like that but in this one there are a lot more characters). This made the book a lot more complicated, because you'd know when a villain was planning something new, what feelings people had for another, when someone was lying, or when someone was dead/dying before any of the other characters knew. However, this also made the book extremely annoying because you would know that a character was about to be attacked but then you'd have to read about the character from their POV and they didn't know anything and it was agony not being able to tell them to watch out.

Another thing I liked was that Morgan Rhodes stopped killing off all of the characters. My major problem with the first three books was that everyone except a few people were always dead by the end of the book. Sure, this book wasn't perfect—some people I loved still died—but it was much better than the others. In fact, Morgan Rhodes went as far as to let a character who was definitely dead come back to life at the end (which is probably the point where I hugged the book).

The only thing I didn't really like was that I wanted more magic. I mean, there was still magic, but in general my two favorite parts of fantasy books are the world building and the magic, and I didn't feel satisfied with the amount. The thing that annoyed me the most was that throughout the book, there was almost no development with the Kindred, and even though YOU know the secret behind what they actually are, almost no one (even the people in possession of one of them) realize what they actually are.

Would I recommend it: Overall the book was really good and it's definitely worth giving the series a try if you haven't already

-Serena :)