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Friday, May 1, 2015

Review: Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. PearsonThe Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles, Book 2
Also in this series: The Kiss of Deception
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on 07 July 2015
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Emotions & Feelings, Epic Fantasy, Espionage, Friendship, Romance, Royalty, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 470
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: The Kiss of Deception

Place(s) Traveled To: Venda

First Line(s): One swift act. I had thought that was all it would take. A knife to the gut. A firm twist for good measure.

 

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson (my review) wasn’t my most favorite book and it certainly didn’t live up to the hype of those that I know read it before me. I found it to be a little predictable and slow. Oh so very slow. But by the end of that story I did like it. So when I received a copy of Heart of Betrayal for review I picked it up eagerly since I head that it was better than the first and to try and beat any hype that might get built up around the story. Whenever possible I like to walk into a new story with little expectations so I can enjoy it (or not) based on its own merits. One thing that I do really enjoy with the second book in a series is that the world and characters are already established which means that more time can be spent on the plot and further fleshing out the other details. That was the case with Heart of Betrayal and it started off strong with lots of tension and mystery. Though Lia and her snobbery did still annoy. She doesn’t always make the best choices throughout Heart of Betrayal but overall I did like her better in this story than in Kiss of Deception.

Unlike with Kiss of Deception there isn’t much mystery in this book just some political intrigue and tension from not know what will happen to Lia and the Prince. Will they escape? Will they be killed at the whim of the Komisar? Which side will Kaden land on if there is a fight between Lia and his leader? I liked how Heart of Betrayal kept me on the edge of my seat for most of the book, eagerly flipping the pages to see how things would end. I liked the new details that were revealed and I just loved the barbarian lands of Venda which were so much more interesting than the wastelands where Lia and Kaden spent much of book 1. But Heart of Betrayal wasn’t all action packed and I did find that it dragged a bit in the middle. There events that were a bit slow to develop and I feel as though some parts could have been edited out to make things flow a little better.

Heart of Betrayal Quote

But the middle of Heart of Betrayal wasn’t as painful for me as the middle of Kiss of Deception and the rewards for making my way through it were far better in this book than with the first. Because that ending!! What a crazy action fueled thing that was! This one has a bit of a cliff hanger, much like the first book did, but many of the threads in this story were closed. Lives are still in balance and the fate of Lia’s world is unknown but the characters all end in a decent place and aren’t left dangling from a cliff by their fingernails. I liked the ending and know that if I can get my hands on a copy of the final book in the series that I will jump on it wanting to know how it all ends. Because I have my theories and I want to see if they will come true.

If you were on the fence when you finished Kiss of Deception then I encourage you to try Heart of Betrayal as I think that you’ll like it more. And fans of the first book will also be really pleased with how things go with this one. The stakes are higher and the tension is real. Even with its flaws this one was a fun read and I want to know what will happen next.

 

irishdarkblue

 IR - Kiss of Deception

Add Death Sworn by Leah Cypess to Goodreads! (Click here for my review)

Add Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch to Goodreads! (Click here for my review)

four-stars
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Friday, September 19, 2014

Review: My Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter

Posted by Irish in 2 Stars, Review, Young Adult3 Comments

Review: My Best Friend, Maybe by Caela CarterMy Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter
Published by Bloomsbury on 03 June 2014
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, Girls & Women, GLBT, Love & Romance, People & Places, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
two-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Bridgewater, New Jersey // Athens, Greece // Santorini, Greece // Crete, Greece

First Line(s): “So, you wanna go?” That’s how she asks me.

 

 My Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter is a book that I really wanted to like. I liked the idea of the premise and loved that the bulk of the book was going to be set in Greece. This was also a book that came to me as highly recommend and so I had high hopes for it when I first opened its pages. However, the book that I read was nothing like my expectations and it really strained credibility in how events transpired. It starts off with Colette’s former best friend, Sadie, asking her to join the family on their upcoming trip to Greece. This happens a couple weeks before the trip is supposed to take place and is crazy, out of the blue as Colette and Sadie haven’t spoken to each other in three years. Also, Colette has a trip booked to Cosa Rica (or somewhere, I forget the exact place) to do some missionary work with her boyfriend. The fact that Colette says yes without considering her other trip or what her parents might say just made me go, WTF? And that wasn’t the first time that phrase came out of my mouth during my read of the story.

As a character Colette often comes across as very young and naive. She’s also a very passive character and tends to do what everyone arounds her tells her to do. Sadie says go to Greece and she does. Her boyfriend says he’ll break up with her if she goes so she says she’ll won’t. And then randomly her dad just drops her off at the airport and tells her to go to Greece. Then while there Colette is placed in some awkward situations as Sadie’s family all know the big secret and she is drawn into Sadie’s schemes. And the secret? The whole reason why Sadie just stopped talking to Colette is one that is super sigh inducing and eye roll worth. I swear communication is the source of so much angst within books and this thing is something could have been avoided if the two had just talked to each other. Maybe they still would have stopped being friends, especially with Colette passive ways, but maybe they wouldn’t have.

There was also some romance aspect to My Best Friend, Maybe but it just seemed like an after thought and I never really believed in the various couples that formed over the course of the novel. These romantic moments also had me rolling my eyes as the characters all failed to communicate and let misunderstandings get in the way. Again. Overall, My Best Friend, Maybe was a head ache inducing book because I often stopped reading it in order to bang my head against it or throw it across the room in disgust. Even the promise of a Grecian setting fell flat as it wasn’t much discussed and Colette seemed to spend a lot of time in her room moping. This wasn’t a book for me and I am not sure if I’ll read another Caela Carter book. My Best Friend, Maybe wasn’t a book for me but I do know several people who enjoyed it so maybe you will as well.

irishdarkblue

 

 

 

 

People Who Liked This Book Better Than I Did:

Itching for Books – “Overall, it was a good story and I don’t want to say more about it and risk spoiling it. But it is great writing and interesting themes that will have you thinking. Good job, Caela. I look forward to reading more of your work.”

Book.Blog.Bake – “My Best Friend, Maybe is full of tough decisions and themes. Colette and Sadie both find themselves having to confront their own prejudice and preconceived notions again & again.”

Rather Be Reading – “Despite the heaviness of the conflicts and secrets in My Best Friend, Maybe, I gobbled this one up. Read it in under 24 hours. I had to see how Greece would change Colette, get her thinking on her own without constant pressure from her parents. I had to know if Colette and Sadie’s friendship had anything left after all these years and after this trip. Plus, there’s a sweet romance that felt just right.”

 

two-stars
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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Posted by Irish in 2 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. MaasThrone of Glass by Sarah J Maas
Series: Throne of Glass,
Also in this series: The Assassin's Blade, Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire
Published by Bloomsbury on 07 August 2012
Genres: Action & Adventure, Assassins, Death & Dying, Epic Fantasy, Espionage, Friendship, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, Magic, Mystery & Detective, Politics & Intrigue, Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 404
Format: ARC
Source: Book Expo (BEA-ALA-et al)
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
two-stars
Also by this author: The Assassin's Blade, Crown of Midnight, A Court of Thorns and Roses, Heir of Fire

Place(s) Traveled To: Endovier, Adarlan // Rhifthold, Adarlan (World: Erilea)

First Line(s): After a year of slavery in the Salt Mines of Endovier, Celaena Sardothien was accustomed to being escorted everywhere in shackles and at sword-point.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas is one of those books that came highly recommended to me by multiple people and one that had lots of promise. I have always loved a good fantasy read, especially when you add in assassins, and so I was looking forward to this one. However, this is one that never quite lived up to its promise and I ended up being horribly disappointed in it. Celaena Sardothien is supposed to be the worlds greatest assassin and yet we never see that side of her. She’s supposedly in this competition that will release her from slavery and make her the King’s Champion and yet despite 400 pages of text we see little of this competition. Even though, according to the synopsis, its supposed to be the main focus of the book. Instead, we get a character more focused on dresses or pouting because she has to miss a party. Then as the book progresses she shifts her focus a little and she gets all swoony in lust with the two male leads, Prince Dorian and Chaol Westfall who is Captain of the Guard.

*insert huge mega sigh here*

I was expecting more of a mystery as Celaena tried to figure out what was causing the deaths of her fellow contestants but she never really investigated and just sort of stumbled onto clues. Clues that were blatenly obvious and even though the big reveal didn’t happen until the end of the story I had this one figure out very early on. Which just added a whole other level of frustration to the story as things were so obvious and yet all the characters just sort of fumbled about turning a blind eye to things that were right in front of them. There there was one scene in the end where Celaena barely glances at a body and makes all these observations and the super smart Captain of the Guard is all how did I miss these obvious things on all those other bodies, wow Celaena for a cold-hearted assassin you sure are brilliant. Not to mention how he then asked her if looking at a dead boy was too much for her? Um…isn’t she the biggest, baddest assassin Erilea has ever seen? Dead bodies should be nothing new to her.

Another aspect about Throne of Glass that annoyed me was is shift in POV from Celaena to Dorian to Chaol. Now, if you know me, then you know I am usually a fan of multiple POV stores…when its done right. But in the case of Throne of Glass it came across as lazy story telling as Maas needed to move the story along but wasn’t entirely sure how so she just jumped into another characters head to do so. And don’t even get me started on the Lady Kaltain POV. Seriously that is a rant for another day. This may have been around the time I started to hit myself in the head with the book. Literally. In all honesty I have no idea how I managed to finish this one until the end. I really did want to like it but it was just a poor imiatation of a fantasy novel and it read more like a high school contemporary set in a fictional world.

Celaena is supposed to be this strong female lead but she never comes across as such. Not that she’s weak or anything its more that she’s just there and things happen around her. Then on occassion she’ll seize an opportunity and everyone will praise her and tell her how wonderful she is or how beautiful she is. We’re told over and over that she’s an amazing person and a deadly assassin but nothing in the text ever supports these claims. I much prefer my books to show me how a character is and leave the telling for other details that aren’t as readily explained. Celaena is also so oblivous to things around her and she keeps saying she’s a light sleeper or that she placed something in front of her door but people are constantly sneaking up on her while she sleeps. She’s so trusting that she eats everything that she finds and doens’t question where it came from or if it might be poisoned. Everything she does seems to be in direct opposition to how a fearless, trained assassin would act and I am abosultely amazed that she hasn’t been killed long ago.

In the end, Throne of Glass just wasn’t for me and while I initially rated it as a low 3 stars after writing this review I have to drop it down to 2. The more I think about this book the more it frustrates me. I think that Throne of Glass will appeal to the non-fantasy reader as its not really a fantasy story but those that love the genre as much as I do may be disappointed.

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People who liked this one more that I did:

AndiABCs: “What I truly liked about the book most were the characters. Celaena was awesome. She had an edge to her but she was still a teenager with past demons. She was strong and did what she had to but she still felt things deeply no matter what people thought about her based on the fact that she was an assassin.”

Overstuffed Bookcase: “I loved the whole plot of this story, I loved all the characters, and here’s something I bet most people don’t say often with books these days–I loved the love triangle.”

Book.Blog.Bake: “I was worried for the safety of the characters I grew to love in a very short amount of time, especially since this book is part murder mystery. I think this really added a needed additional element to Throne of Glass.”

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two-stars
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Friday, July 11, 2014

Review: Her Dark Places by Kelly Killarney

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, New Adult, Review1 Comment

Review: Her Dark Places by Kelly KillarneyHer Dark Places by Kelly Killarney
Series: The Sutton Files,
Published by Self-Published on 03 June 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, Mystery & Detective, New Adult, Social Issues, Survival Stories, Thrillers
Pages: 175
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Unnamed, New Hampshire

First Line(s): I always knew it was Saturday morning when the elevator smelled like puke, piss, and sex.

Her Dark Places by Kelly Killarney is a new adult thriller set on a college campus. Its a books of secrets and snarky moments and one that I enjoyed. It focuses on Jasmine “Jazz” and how she attended Sutton University with a purpose and getting an education there is only a small part of that. Because Jazz is smart and she could have gone to any other school, in fact, her plan was to attend college with her boyrfriend Graham. But things happened and plans changed and now Jazz is looking for answers. She doesn’t want to make friends but she finds it impossible to keep her roommate Audrey at arms length. Especially when Audrey acquires a stalker so Jazz makes it her mission to figure out who is tormenting Audrey.

Along the way Jazz meets two very opposite guys, Brennan and Sean. Brennan is the all-American good boy that every girl says she wants all while falling for the Seans of the world. Sean is an aloof, loner that has bad boy written all over him. He is also the Veronica Mars of Sutton University in that he’s an amatuer private investigator and for reasons known only to himself he decides to help Jazz and Audrey. So there is the love tirangle, or rather the love square since Jazz is attacted to both Sean and Brennan but she also has a boyfriend. But rest assured, dear readers, while there is attraction there is no cheating involved. Things go as they so often do when teens leave high school for college, they change and grow appart and find it hard to maintain a long distance love. Its not impossible to stay together but its rare when it does. So SPOILER Jazz and Graham eventually break up and she is free to focus on the two very different boys in her life. And even though Her Dark Places is the start of a series she does make a definate choice at the end.

Yay for choices!!

I really hate when a girl waffles between two guys for the length of a series especially when its usually pretty obvious who she is going to end up with. So while this one does have a bit of a love triangle it does have an ending.

Overall I did enjoy Her Dark Places but I felt that the ending was a little rushed and that it glossed over some things that shouldn’t have been. I do feel that the series shows promise as I enjoyed the main characters and do plan on checking out the next book once it becomes available. I liked how the main mystery was resolved in this book that but that there are threads still open for another one, mainly that secret that Jazz has, which you do find out during the course of reading Her Dark Places. In a way Her Dark Places is a bit like season 1 of Veronica Mars where you have the mystery of the week and then the overall mystery of who killed Lily Kane. Jazz is no Veronica but I liked her and I liked her friends and I hope to see more of them all as the series continues. 

If you are looking for a New Adult book that is a bit different from your angsty, broken character storites that currently flood the market then I suggest giving Her Dark Places a try. The writing and pacing of the story are solid and while I did figure out the mystery I think there is enough there to keep those who aren’t avid mystery readers guessing.

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three-half-stars
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Monday, July 7, 2014

Review: Red at Night by Katie McGarry

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: Red at Night by Katie McGarryRed at Night by Katie McGarry
Published by Harlequin Teen on 01 April 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Short Story / Novella, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 84
Format: eBook
Source: Free Download
Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Crossing the Line, Crash Into You

Place(s) Traveled To: Louisville, Kentucky

First Line(s): I like cemeteries.

Red at Night by Katie McGarry is a novella that set in the same world as her Pushing the Limits series but doesn’t involve characters from those books. This short little novella is told from the POVs of Stella (social outcast) and Jonah (popular jock). Stella comes from the poor side of town and has never had the best clothes and often worried where her next meal would come from. In grade school, because kids can be cruel, rumors where started and as a result she’s become the butt of many a joke and so has spent the majority of her school experience alone. Prior to the start of Red at Night she’s taken to hanging out in cemeteries, visiting the dead, because its quiet and the risk of running into anyone she knows is low. That is until Jonah starts to visit a grave a few stones away from Stella and eventually the two begin to talk without the pressures of high school weighing them down.

I loved this novella and was fully invested in the story of Stella and Jonah both of who were really complex characters and both dealling with some heavy issues. Red at Night gave me so many feels and I really wish that it had been a full length story. This is the writing and the character development that I fell in love with in Pushing the Limits and something that has been drifting out of her other novels. I still love McGarry’s work but after Crash Into You left me feeling a bit meh I don’t have much desire to read Take Me On as I hated West so much in Crash. There is just so much story in Red at Night that its bursting at the seems and even though its only 84 pages there is just so much that happens.

Red at Night gave me all of those heart-achy feels that I love and restored my faith in McGarry’s writing and storytelling. Stella and Jonah have so much chemistry and how they help each other with their different problems adds a lot of growth to their characters. My heart broke from them as high school pressures got in the way of their friendship and budding romance and I feared on how this one would end. I admired Stella’s strength and Jonah’s kind heart and I did like seeing a certain guidance counscelor make an appearance. Overall, this was a great novella and its one that I highly recommend for all fans of Katie McGarry.

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