Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning

23203252Title: A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire #1)

Author: Jessica Cluess

Publisher: Random House BFYR

Publication Date: September 20th, 2016

Summary: Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty’s sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she’s the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city–and the one she loves?

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A huge thanks to Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I’m not going to lie, this one was tough for me. It’s possible that this book is actually amazing on a regular basis but because I read it while still recovering from the disgusting hangover that EoS gave me, I had abnormally difficult time with it. But that being said, it doesn’t change the fact that this book was really just so hard for me to get into and, to be honest, just not that great.

Right away, this book was confusing. I’ve never been opposed the authors acting like their readers actually have brains and letting us fill in some gaps, but damn, this book just jumped right in, talking about Ancients and having spooky monster girls on flying stags dropping out the sky. All with very little explanation about the world or what was happening. My brain was definitely a little annoyed and I found it hard to follow.

But hey, I kept reading because you know, magic and sorcerers and cool staves that you can twirl around and whoosh wind at people with. Those are all things I like. But you know what I don’t like? Boring characters. The typical “chosen one” story line. Continuously stupid decisions. Giant love triangle squiggle things. All of those are bad. And all of those were in this book.

My main issue with this book was that I honestly didn’t care about any of the characters at all. I had a hard time even keeping all of the boys straight, to be honest. But not even that, they also made decisions that made me resent them or had random changes of heart that made no sense to me. Two characters that hate each other with a passion through the whole book suddenly have a little heart to heart and the next thing I know, they are literally best friends. No joke, like calling each other their best friend and parading around with their arms linked, best friend badges nice and shiny for the world to see. And Henrietta lies a lot. But these boys still have this weird unshakable faith in her, almost like some sort of hero worship that feels very undeserved. Speaking of lying, this was one of those books where the main character has to lie and sneak around all the time and you are just counting down the pages until you know it’s going to blow up in their face as dramatically as possible.

And of course, I have to discuss the love blob that was happening here. It felt so forced and shallow, I could hardly stand it. There are multiple guys that have feelings for Henrietta, but she hardly ever thinks about them romantically until they are in the moment and something romantic happens, then she just brushes it off with hardly a second thought. There was no progression or building when it came to the romance, it was just kind of there, but in a way that just didn’t work at all. So there is definitely a love triangle, but I’m going so far as to call it a love blob because there’s a third guy that doesn’t pursue her romantically in this book but I’m calling it right now; it will happen.

This might seem like a random, nit-picky thing, but it bothered me so much that I have to mention it. At some point in this book, a character is telling Henrietta something important. He tries to twice and it’s that thing where he conveniently gets cut off one second before he can mention the important part of what he’s trying to tell her… So for example (this isn’t in the book), he’s like, “I only have a second. The treasure’s buried in-” BOOM, CONVENIENT EXPLOSION.

Come on. This bothers me so much. It feels so childish and lazy, like the author can’t think of a creative way to tie this secret in or make us intrigued enough to pick up the next book without employing the use of this extremely annoying and cheap feeling tactic.

The one redeeming factor this book had was that towards the end, it actually started to pick up and I did get a little interested. Up until about 85%, nothing really happened in the book, just Henrietta lying and juggling multiple boys and bursting into flames a few times. But last chunk of the book was a bit faster paced and exciting.

So overall, my main problem with this book was really that nothing felt original or unique. Not the story or the characters. The writing felt simple and uncomplicated, the relationships flat and forced, and the magic was disappointing. I really wanted to like this book because it sounded like something I would love, but it just didn’t deliver. I will give it two stars though for the fact that I did finish it and didn’t hate the end and that overall, it didn’t make me angry, it just left me feeling very meh.

RATING:

Review: The Clockwork Scarab

Title: The Clockwork Scarab (Stoker and Holmes #1) 17084242

Author: Colleen Gleason

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Publication Date: September 17, 2013

Summary: Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood. And when two society girls go missing, there’s no one more qualified to investigate.

Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The stakes are high. If Stoker and Holmes don’t unravel why the belles of London society are in such danger, they’ll become the next victims.

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You know, you’d never think that two teenage girls, one related to Bram Stoker from Dracula, the other related to Sherlock Holmes, could ever manage to work together to solve mysteries and save the day. And you’d be pretty much right. These two ladies definitely did not like each other and were not above making sure the other one knew it.

First we have Alvermina Holmes, who unsurprisingly goes by Mina, a young lady who was abandoned by her mother, lives with a brillant father who is never home, and is known to mostly because of her crime solving uncle, Sherlock Holmes. She is headstrong, just as brilliant as her uncle, unfortunately not very fashionable, and definitely socially awkward. Mina brings the brains and determination, the logically side to the duo. She is also my favorite out of the two. I loved seeing how her brain works, working out clues and determining all of the possible explanations. But I could still relate to her because she wasn’t just a robot, she was still an awkward teenage girl. And I loved how she had kind of the feminist streak in a time where women aren’t really supposed to do anything improper. She didn’t care about propriety, she just wanted to use her brains and help people, and was constantly annoyed when people underestimated her because she is a woman.

Evaline Stoker was a bit more difficult for me to like. She was beautiful, has super speed and strength, and has never killed a vampire despite her abilities. She made a few rash decisions in the book that she obviously didn’t think out, nearly getting both girls killed, and that annoyed me. I also didn’t like how she kind of seemed to put herself up on a pedestal because she was prettier and had more gentlemen interested in her than Mina. But I did like how she still tried her best to be a good addition to the team and use the strengths she had to help. I can appreciate when a character knows their strengths and weaknesses and can admit when they are a bit out of their league. I also found the whole vampire slaying thing to be really interesting, although we don’t get any of it since there are no vampires in London anymore, but I did like the few bits we got on her family history when vampires were still around.

As far as the romance goes, we have several cases of forced insta-infatuation and even a love triangle. Yep, the dreaded love triangle. Evaline falls for some guy that I can barely understand because he uses a strong Cockney accent, and wears a barrage of disguises. But the best part is that he is named Pix. Like a pixie. Don’t ask because I really don’t know. Then we have Mina who is getting all swoony over some Irish detective, but who could blame her with an accent like that? But she is also panting over some boy that is from the future of a parallel world. When she first sees the future boy, she immediately gasps over how attractive he is. Two second later the detective walks in, and she again gasps at how attractive he is. I’m pretty sure Mina is just going to become obsessed and insert herself into the lives of every eligible bachelor she meets. Really, with both girls, their relationships don’t really get to in depth, it’s mostly just a steamy attraction sort of thing, so it was of little to no interest to me.

I was actually really pleasantly surprised to see that this is a steampunk book. Very light steampunk for sure, but it’s still there and adds a little unexpected fun to this story. So this book looks kind of like a hot mess, considering just in the first few chapters we already have steampunk, vampires, time travel, and an evil Egyptian society, among other things. But I actually found that the author did a fairly good job of making things flow together well. She didn’t shove the steampunk stuff in your face or make it feel forced, so the little mentions we got of it were very intriguing.

The plot itself  was pretty fast paced and fun. The mystery wasn’t anything amazing, especially since it really didn’t even get solved in the end, which I’m sure will tie into a later book. But I did really enjoy the world, the steampunk parts were very interesting and I loved the more traditional historical London feel too. I did enjoy seeing the girls kind of dance around each other, not wanting to work together or cooperate, only to become a bit closer by the end. Their banter was really entertaining, as well as seeing their different lifestyles and how they were both kind of jealous of each other, even though they would never admit it. As for the time travel part, that mystery wasn’t figured out, a pretty stereotypical explanation was given and that was that. I’m convinced that time travel is only in the book so the author could bring a ridiculously attractive boy from the future for Mina to fall in love with, only for there to be a huge amount of drama once they find a way to get him back to his own time.

The villain in this book was really strange to me. I get that the author wanted them to be mysterious, but literally no one in this book could tell if it was a man or a woman. Mina at one point thinks she knows who it is, but even then, I don’t get how there is literally no way to figure out what sex the person is. It absolutely drove me crazy and I didn’t understand the relevance of having the villain be like that in this story. It seemed really random and confusing.

While this book wasn’t anything amazing, I would consider it to be a light, entertaining sort of read. If you just want to settle down with a fun mystery, attractive young men, witty banter, and a hint of supernatural stuff, this would be the book for you. Just don’t expect to have your mind blown by an ingenious plot or character development. I’m pretty sure you’d be rather disappointed.

RATING: 

Review: Rebel Belle

Title: Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle #1) 8475505

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Publication Date: April 8th, 2014

Summary: Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can’t get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper’s least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y’all beg for more.

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You might not know this about me, but I’m actually not a huge girly girl. I don’t really like pink, I don’t wear makeup, I wouldn’t dream of casually wearing heels, and I think beauty pageants are just ridiculous. Instead, I usually rock jeans and a nerdy t-shirt, spend my time reading fantasy books or gaming with my guy friends, and I swear worse than my sixteen year old brother. So just looking at this cover had me a little hesitant, and when I read the summary, I was ready to chuck this book in the fire. But, through the sheer power of will and the overwhelming fear of being murdered by my reader friends if I didn’t finish this book, I started the first page. And didn’t put the book down once. Yeah, you heard me. I busted this book in a few hours, finishing at about one in the morning, very alarmed to see it was that late because I hadn’t even noticed the time passing. I liked this book. I liked this book with it’s pink cover and perky heroine and silly dresses and lighthearted magic stuff. It was actually kind of… cute.

In Rebel Belle, we meet Harper, the sort of girl that I probably would have avoided in high school. She’s head of practically every club or leadership related thing in the school, she says cutesy little things instead of swear words, she spent over a thousand dollars on her Homecoming dress and she keeps her lips perfectly glossed at all times. Right off, I did not like Harper one bit. But as the pages flew by, she started to grow on me. Under that perfect, perky exterior, Harper had a tough, loyal, fun side to her that I adored. She ends up getting super Paladin powers from her janitor, and suddenly she can kick ass. Like, really kick ass. Like, she stabbed someone in the throat with her heel. Suddenly, girly shoes became a lot more interesting to me. She was fierce and strong and confident, and I love how self sufficient she was. This girl doesn’t need anyone, and I loved it. Harper actually had more layers than I expected, an unending arsenal of witty comebacks, and a whole lot of spunk.

Then we meet David, the boy that Harper is supposed to protect with her new-found powers. Because he may or may not be very very special. The only problem is, they absolutely despise each other. I mean, they hate each other with a fiery passion. David is the hipster guy that wears corduroy pants and writes stories for the school newspaper, occasionally pointing out bad things about Harper, which is unacceptable. But when they are forced to work together, she realizes that David might not be so bad after all. I adored David. Let’s just say that it takes a special kind of guy to deal with Harper. And he is such a cutie, I almost couldn’t handle it. Did I mention that he likes Doctor Who and Lord of the Rings and probably a plethora of other adorable nerdy things? Cue the wistful sighing. Anyways, David has some secrets of his own, but most importantly, under those layers of v-necks and striped sweaters, he has a big heart of gold.

One of the only problems I had with this book was the big fat love-triangle that was determined to drag itself out through the whole book. Harper of course, starts to deal with some questionable feelings about David, all while she is dating the most perfect boyfriend possible, Ryan. And Ryan is a good guy and a pretty awesome boyfriend, I’ll give him that. The things is, as far as love triangles go, this is probably the type that I find to be the most acceptable. Where the girl has a steady boyfriend then meets the new guy and starts to like him. That’s an okay thing to happen and a lot less annoying then two guys suddenly taking an interest in a girl and fighting to the death over her. No thanks. The problem in this book though was that it just went on and on. And I get that Harper has this weird thing with having to be the best and keeping things perfect, so possibly not liking her perfect boyfriend is scary and all, but she should have dropped him from like page one. Watching her run back and forth between the two of them got frustrating after like the first ten times it happened.

As far as the plot goes, it was really cutesy and fun. Rachel Hawkins really has a way of making her books just an enjoyable, lighthearted read while still making you care about the characters and I love it. Since I adored the characters and their interactions, it made the book a million times better. The only problem was that not a whole lot really happens. The beginning took right off with Harper getting her powers and killing a guy, then finding out what all she could do and a few things including a car chase. I mean, it was a great start and it really draws you in. But then, things start to slow down. Now I obviously loved this book and raced through it, but once I was done, there was kind of that moment where I looked back and realized not a whole lot actually happened. Most of the book is just character interaction and trying to solve a few mysteries and a few bad guys trying to do bad stuff, but not a whole lot besides that.

Also, the whole Paladin, while original, was a little lacking. I enjoyed it just because it was a new thing I’d never read about, but there just wasn’t really anything about it to make it unique or memorable. Basically, Harper being a Paladin just meant that she has super fighting skills now and a strong urge to protect David from harm. So while I did like the magic elements in this book, everything seemed kind of mashed together with no clear connection. We are given some back-story to the whole Paladin thing, but it wasn’t really a strong mythology and seemed a little discombobulated. But by the end of this book, it feels like there are still lots of things that Harper and David don’t know yet, so maybe we will get more explanations in the next book, and hopefully it can bring the mythology together a bit better.

The thing about this book though is that despite the few things that I didn’t like, I still had a great time reading this book. I was giggling and cheering and covering my eyes at the embarrassing parts. I loved Harper and David and their friends and the little Southern town they live in and all the people in it. This book is definitely a cutesy book, but it still won me over purely because it is so cute and fun. Honestly, if you have any girly bone in your body, something about this book will probably appeal to you, as long as you can deal with the few technical issues.

RATING: 

Review: Sweet Peril

Title: Sweet Peril (The Sweet Trilogy #2) 15768191

Author: Wendy Higgins

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publication Date: April 30, 2013

Summary: Anna Whitt, the daughter of a guardian angel and a demon, promised herself she’d never do the work of her father—polluting souls. She’d been naive to make such a vow. She’d been naive about a lot of things.

Haunted by demon whisperers, Anna does whatever she can to survive, even if it means embracing her dark side and earning an unwanted reputation as her school’s party girl. Her life has never looked more bleak. And all the while there’s Kaidan Rowe, son of the Duke of Lust, plaguing her heart and mind.

When an unexpected lost message from the angels surfaces, Anna finds herself traveling the globe with Kopano, son of Wrath, in an attempt to gain support of fellow Nephilim and give them hope for the first time. It soon becomes clear that whatever freedoms Anna and the rest of the Neph are hoping to win will not be gained without a fight. Until then, Anna and Kaidan must put aside the issues between them, overcome the steamiest of temptations yet, and face the ultimate question: is loving someone worth risking their life?

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That’s right you guys, book two of The Sweet Trilogy. More of angel Anna and her relentless pursuit of Kai, the smoldering British lust bomb. More of that super awkward love triangle thing going on between the two of them and poor Kopano. More jealousy and cheating and all that wonderful high school drama that we’ve all come to love. Woo hoo.

In some ways, I actually liked this book more than Sweet Evil, and in some ways I liked it less. Something that I did like was seeing Anna kind of coming out of her shell a little bit. Don’t get me wrong, she was still sweet little Anna on the inside, but she was a bit more confident and sassy and fun on the outside and I liked that. In the first book, it didn’t seem like she was ever going to go through any sort of personal growth, but in this book, we at least get little hints of it. She still has internal struggles about being forced to do these things that she doesn’t want to do, being a party girl and drinking so much, but a small part of her still enjoys it and she doesn’t quite know how to handle that.

Another thing that I liked was seeing more of the other Nephilim. Anna and Kopano are going on a sort of quest around the world to try and gather allies in a fight that they know is coming, due to Anna potentially being some savior in an ancient prophecy. Yes, it is as cliche as it sounds. But it was cool to finally meet some new kids and see exactly how their powers work and how they use them to do naughty things. We get introduced to a daughter of the Duke of Hatred, which was really interesting and kind of sad to see how she used herself to make men hate her, then allowed herself to be punished for it. She was a really interesting character because she seemed entirely hopeless and resigned to her fate. We also get to spend a bit more time with Kopano, who I really liked but we didn’t get to see much of him in the last book, so it was interesting to see the contrast between him, a Nephilim who doesn’t have to work and is basically sin-free, and the other kids who are forced to do their parent’s work.

The main problem I had in this book was that there was the dreaded love triangle of death. As in, it kills any books it’s present in. The whole situation was pretty ridiculous just because everyone was beyond stupid and annoying. Kai would ignore Anna for months, tell Kopano to go for Anna because he doesn’t care, then get all jealous and bang other girls in revenge once Anna and Kopano kiss. Then innocent little Anna would get all smoochy with poor Kopano, knowing that she doesn’t like him in that way, then get all butt hurt when Kai turns to other girls to fill the gaping Anna-shaped hole in his heart. The only one that’s really not at fault is Kopano, who in turn gets the short end of the stick by having his friend mad at him and the girl he wants rejecting him. It’s all so aggravating.

I have to say though, something that I really like about these books is that the author isn’t afraid to talk about sex. These are YA books and most of what I read seem to stay within smooching and maybe a little tentative touching, or just very very implied sex. Which is totally fine, since it’s YA. But I really like that this author is not afraid to have teenagers talking about their sex lives, making sexual jokes, and other realistic things that peverted young men would talk about. And I like that Anna and Kai have to struggle with not having sex, since they are obviously attracted to each other and would go a little further than kissing. I guess I just admire Wendy Higgins by not really caring and writing some super steamy make out scenes where things are constantly on the edge of going to the next step.

As far as the plot went in this book, I found it more engaging than the first one, just because I was very intrigued by the other Nephilim that Anna and Kopano were trying to find. While I found the whole prophecy thing to be cliche, I am interested to see how everything goes down. I like it just because the idea that these kids are kind of screwed no matter what happens, since they are going to hell when they die no matter what, it seems so hopeless and kind of sad. But I like seeing them finding hope that they can be free of their parents and at least have a life worth living before they go to hell. While I’m not a huge fan of these books in general, I do really like that concept because it’s both bleak and hopeful at the same time.

I obviously enjoyed this book a bit more than the first one, so I have high hopes for Sweet Reckoning. And not to spoil anything, but I found the ending of this one to be ten times better than the last one, just because some things were resolved. I will say though, if there’s magically some more hot and cold crap going on in the next book between Anna and Kai, I’m going to pitch a fit. Sweet Peril was still and fun, easy read, but I enjoyed the darker undertones and new characters we got introduced to, and I’m excited to see the part everyone plays in the next book.

RATING: 

Review: Sweet Evil

Title: Sweet Evil (The Sweet Trilogy #1)  11808950

Author: Wendy Higgins

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publication Date: May 1st, 2012

Summary: Embrace the Forbidden

What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences?

This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.


Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She’s aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but it isn’t until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He’s the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.

Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?

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When this first book came out a few years ago, I took one look at the silly cover with the creepy guy in black sniffing that poor girl’s hair, or whatever he is doing back there, and promptly stuck it back on the shelf. Yes, I happily judged this book by it’s cover. But come on, look at it. Look at her stupid scrunchy dress and his creepy face and chiseled jaw, the mysterious fog in the background… The whole thing just screams Twilighty tween bullshit. And what’s with her awkward arm across her stomach? Is she trying to stop her ovaries from exploding due to the raw sexy man-power radiating off the guy behind her? That’s got to be it.

Okay okay, but seriously, this book wasn’t half as bad as I thought it would be. I just couldn’t understand how these books had so much hype and such a freaking good rating on Goodreads, so I had to find out for myself what sort of sorcery was going on here. And it was exactly what I thought… Swoony, unobtainable guy, forces of darkness, angels vs. demons, sexy hot make out scenes, and a perky blonde heroine. The perfect concoction to guarantee tons of squealing fangirls. This author wasn’t messing around.

Right from like page three, this book had me giggling uncontrollably and reading lines that I found hilarious out loud to my younger brother who just looked confused as to why I was reading something so stupid. I mean, holy crap, I was almost peeing my pants at some of the things out innocent little Anna was thinking about Kaidan. How about a few examples?

“He was smokin’ hot. As in H-O-T-T hott. I’d never understood until that moment why girls insisted on adding an extra T. This guy was extra-T worthy.”

“His eyes were narrow and his eyebrows were a bit thick and… Oh, who was I kidding? I could pick him apart, but even the shifty slant of his eyes made him more alluring to me.”

“Kai, like Thai, only yummier.”

“Good gracious, he was sexy- a word that had not existed in my personal vocabulary until that moment. This guy was sexy like it was his job or something.”

“Gosh, his eyes were gorgeous- the color of tropical honeymoon waters ringed in dark sapphire and enclosed by thick lashes.”

Can you understand why I was cracking up?

So we have the obviously sheltered Anna, who finds out that she is the offspring of an angel and demon, Belial, The Duke of Addiction. She has super senses galore but hides it and only uses her powers for good because even the thought of doing something bad, like lying *gasp!* makes her so upset. She runs into Kaidan who is just like her expect his father is the Duke of Lust, which I’m sure none of you saw coming, and he explains to her what she is and how she has to start working for her father. Any kids of the Dukes have to spread their sin around, so for Anna that means drinking and selling drugs and things, and for Kaidan that means seducing a lot of chicks and getting into their pants. Yuck.

I had a really hard time with Anna just because I found her so unrealistic and I wasn’t able to relate to her at all. She was so angelic that it was almost sickening and I found myself laughing at her the whole time for being so silly. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a good person or not having sex, but Anna was almost just annoying how she constantly cried over things that upset her or acted stupid just to do something nice because she wouldn’t help it. But it was also annoying how I really didn’t get much of a sense of internal conflict from her. I mean, she finds out that she is going to have to start doing bad things, and she just kind of goes with the flow the whole time. And after being around Kaidan for five seconds, she is more than ready to have sex with him. She was so hot and cold that her character felt almost lost and undefined.

And it was so completely ridiculous because a decent chunk of this book was Anna and Kaidan on a road trip to find her demon dad and talk to some nun. But how, you might ask, did she manage to get her parents to let her go with some sexy guy they don’t even know who would clearly take advantage of their daughter? Well that’s a funny question. Anna’s overprotective, freakishly sweet and goodhearted “mom”, who has done everything in her power to keep Anna safe and protected, randomly comes up with the idea herself. That’s right, mommy dearest suggests that they go on a road trip together, but she’s sure nothing could go wrong because she asks the son of The Duke of Lust to pretty please not deflower her daughter? I think I know who’s going to get mother of the year award.

The romance aspect of this book was pretty steamy, I’ll admit that. But it was so freaking dramatic. Kaidan was just the definition of the hot, mysterious guy who wants the heroine so bad but can’t be with her because it’s too dangerous, blah, blah, blah. I mean, one minute he is all over her, trying to seduce her and get laid, and the next minute he is freaking out and smashing lamps and being a cold jerk because she likes him. It was frustrating. There was intsa-love and a weird, awkwardly placed love triangle that I didn’t even understand the purpose of, except to make Kaidan jealous. But I was really excited because at one point in this book, they aren’t around each other very much, and I always like to see the heroine being productive and doing things without constantly needing her man at her side. But Anna just goes into this dark depression because she isn’t seeing Kaidan and is literally just the most pathetic thing ever.

The plot and writing wasn’t anything amazing, but it was fun. Everything was fairly predictable and cliche but in a familiar, relaxing sort of way. I did find the mythology pretty interesting, and getting to meet the other kids with all their different parents and what sort of bad things they have to do was pretty cool. And I do love angel and demon stuff, so the background with Anna’s parents and the struggle between heaven and hell was intriguing too. I have to give this book brownie points for being a fun read, even if I got annoyed a lot, I was still having a good time reading it and interested enough to see where it was going that I kept reading and finished the book pretty quickly.

Over all, this book was pretty much what I expected, but I had a better time with it that I thought I would. Anna didn’t really do anything for me, and I didn’t have much connection with any of the other characters but the ridiculous drama between all of them was entertaining enough that I made my way through it. I actually did order the next book from the library, so I must have liked it a little bit. I just feel bad because the only parts I really did like about it were ones that made me laugh for being so utterly silly. I feel like that wasn’t the author’s intention, but it was a nice quick book with a fun plot and lots of steamy moments, which was exactly what I was in the mood for. Still doesn’t make it a worthy of it’s 4.17/5 rating on Goodreads though.

RATING: 

Review: Her Dark Curiosity

Title: Her Dark Curiousity (The Madman’s Daughter #2) 16182304

Author: Megan Shepard

Publisher: Balzer+Bray

Publication Date: January 28, 2014

Summary: To defeat the darkness, she must first embrace it.

Months have passed since Juliet Moreau returned to civilization after escaping her father’s island—and the secrets she left behind. Now, back in London once more, she is rebuilding the life she once knew and trying to forget Dr. Moreau’s horrific legacy—though someone, or something, hasn’t forgotten her.

As people close to Juliet fall victim one by one to a murderer who leaves a macabre calling card of three clawlike slashes, Juliet fears one of her father’s creations may have also escaped the island. She is determined to find the killer before Scotland Yard does, though it means awakening sides of herself she had thought long banished, and facing loves from her past she never expected to see again.

As Juliet strives to stop a killer while searching for a serum to cure her own worsening illness, she finds herself once more in the midst of a world of scandal and danger. Her heart torn in two, past bubbling to the surface, life threatened by an obsessive killer—Juliet will be lucky to escape alive.

With inspiration from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this is a tantalizing mystery about the hidden natures of those we love and how far we’ll go to save them from themselves.

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This is the second book in The Madman’s Daughter trilogy, and I loved the first one with it’s spooky tale, strong heroine, and deep questions about humanity. This book starts off with Juliet, having made it back to London and now in the care of one of her father’s old friends. Her injections are no longer effective and she’s desperately looking for a cure while trying to forget everything that happened on the island and the people she left behind. Then a string of brutal murders happen across London, all the people being killed somehow connected to Juliet.

I can’t help but adore Juliet as a heroine since she is so smart and intense for a girl in 18th century London, and she is so advanced in science. Watching her use her talent to try and find a cure in a secret attic, only to rush back to the huge mansion she is living in and put on pretty dresses and act demure, it’s almost funny. In this book, Juliet is having trouble  accepting who she is and the things she discovered and did on the island. This book kind of explored her dark curiosity (hehe, see what I did there?) and whether her interest in science and the things her father did make her just as bad as him. Whether her morbid thoughts are because of what her father did to her or because it’s in her nature, something she can’t escape. Watching Juliet struggle to understand who she is and what she could do was so interesting and it was never really black and white.

With all the murders happening, Juliet knows Edward escaped the island is the one doing it. That’s not really a spoiler since we find out almost immediately, so the real question is how and why. My favorite part of this book is watching Edward struggle with his weird split personality, between the Edward that loves and wants to protect Juliet, and the Beast who wants to kill people and make Juliet like him. Seeing his struggle was so sad to watch because you really just feel like the whole situation is hopeless, but he wants to live so badly. Juliet has to ask herself if her father making Edward the way he is makes him bad, if it really makes it his fault. She wants to help Edward, to give him another chance at life and being a good person, but how can she when the Beast takes over and murders people without feeling?

That’s the thing I really enjoy about these books, is that they kind of address deep questions, questions that usually fall on the morally gray line. Juliet has to constantly question her father’s work, how far it’s acceptable to go for science and what sacrifices should be made for discovery. Then she has to decide whether Edward is responsible for Beast’s crimes, if he deserves to die for them, and whether it’s crueler to keep him alive. As you read, you personally feel Juliet’s struggle, her indecisiveness about everything. I mean, I love Edward as a character and I really feel awful for him, so I obviously wanted Juliet to help him find a cure. But then Beast comes out and kills people and tries to force Juliet to do things and is so creepy and sinister that I find myself wanting her to kill him. If I’m having an internal struggle, Juliet’s definitely having a hard time.

Montgomery comes back in this book too, hunting Edward through London and him and Juliet eventually cross paths. I have a bit of a hard time with Montgomery. I don’t care that Dr. Moreau was like a father to him, in the last book he still helped with the experiments and knew what he was doing. After all of that, he still judges Juliet for the things she has done and the darker side of her. I feel like Montgomery is in love with an idea of Juliet, the way he thinks she is and should be, instead of accepting her how she actually is. I feel like Edward understands Juliet more and loves her despite that and would never try to change her.

While the romance in this book was more tolerable than the last, I still wish it would have toned down a little bit. It feels like with Edward, she has lust and with Montgomery it’s love. Or at least she thinks it is. Juliet was constantly jumping back and forth between boys and it got a little annoying. I’m all for a girl in this time period not giving a damn about what’s proper and all of that, but she needed to calm down just a little. Besides that, the only other thing I had a problem with was that it wasn’t quite as spooky as the last book and there was some shoddy police work going on. Juliet is smart for sure, but she figures out some fairly obvious stuff that the police have been working on for months, which is just sad. Also, there was a certain surprise bad guy that I found fairly predictable, I knew he was bad right away, but it didn’t really take away from the story.

Overall, I thought this was a great sequel to the first book. I loved seeing Juliet change and struggle with accepting herself and her inner darkness. Even more than that though, watching Edward struggle with Beast, it broke my heart and gave me such conflicted feelings. This book was fast paced, suspenseful, and had some great, thought provoking questions. I can’t wait to get my hands on A Cold Legacy.

RATING: 

Review: The Kiss of Deception

Title: The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1) 16429619

Author: Mary E. Pearson

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Publication Date: July 8, 2014

Summary: A princess must find her place in a reborn world.

She flees on her wedding day.

She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor’s secret collection.

She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can’t abide. Like having to marry someone she’s never met to secure a political alliance.

Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.

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A love triangle, a special snowflake princess, and lots of drama. Yay.

Okay, maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself. This book wasn’t all bad. There were actually some parts of it that I really enjoyed. But unfortunately the things that stuck with me the most were the bad and I have to rant for a minute before I can move on to the good components of this book.

Lia is our main character, a princess who decides to flee on her wedding day, potentially destroying a peace treaty because she can’t stand the thought of marrying someone she doesn’t love. Which I can understand. I think being married of for political reasons would be the absolute worst, and I can completely understand wanting to leave that all behind. So I support her decision, the problem is that I just didn’t really like Lia as a character. She wasn’t awful or anything, I just found her to be annoying. She willingly takes her best friend with her, risking her life as well, they ride to some town where they are going to disguise themselves and life happily ever after in. Except Lia is not very smart about it. She does literally nothing to disguise herself besides change her clothes. She doesn’t even cut her hair. Then she proceeds to loudly chew out soldiers in a very snobby and royal sort of way, discusses her situation with her friends where anyone listening could hear, and even keeps her name the same. But I enjoyed her strength and stubborn attitude and her snarky comments, and that she still had to work for things.

The two love interests in this book were Kaden and Rafe, one who is a prince and one who is an assassin. Problem is, you don’t know which one is which. And that was kind of cool, but also really frustrating. You literally go a majority of this book not knowing which is which. But at a certain point, you kind of make up your mind and decide who you think is who. The problem was, I picked wrong. Which I’m sure was probably the author’s intention except it just pissed me off. Because suddenly, everything I thought I knew about the prince was wrong. And everything I thought I knew about the assassin was wrong. It really just kind of ruined the characters for me, which in turn, make me dislike this book a little. Plus I felt like the author tried to confuse us on purpose, but it gave the guys certain attributes that didn’t seem to actually fit them.

Also, this book had the worst assassin in the history of forever. Seriously. This guy comes into town with every intention to kill Lia, sits down to have a drink, sees her and instantly falls in love with her and decides he is just going to super procrastinate so every day he falls more in love and the likeliness of him actually being able to kill her gets less and less. Bravo, that’s an awesome job you just did there Mr. Assassin. I’m confused though, aren’t you supposed to like, kill her? Maybe I missed something.

Logically, I had a problem with her escape and settling down in the town. She is a princess. A princess. Wouldn’t the king’s like entire army be out looking for her? I mean, the prince and assassin both had an easy enough time tracking her down, but for some reason, it’s impossible for everyone else. The author gave an easy excuse, Lia’s brother telling her that their father wasn’t actually pushing the bounty on her, he was just kind of keeping it within their city. But that’s totally lame and unrealistic. She is a freaking princess. People know she ran away, someone is going to try to find her and get that reward. but magically Lia, a complete amateur, is able to hide her tracks well enough that she can live in this city for months with only one person (besides the love interest) finding her. I might have to call bullshit on that one.

The plot wasn’t bad, minus as the mushy love triangle crap, I like the interesting mythology in the world and the war, even though we don’t really get much information about it. The world building was okay, I’m hoping we get more on the world and the war between the countries in the next book, since it seems like politics will play a bigger part. I was intrigued by the books that Lia stole and the weird prophecy she finds, although I don’t like that it implies that she is even more of a special snowflake then everyone already thinks.

I have to admit, despite all the problems I had with this book, I did enjoy it to a certain degree. Trying to figure out which guy was which was pretty fun and made the book a bit more interactive. The last third or fourth of the book got a lot more interesting, and I liked the introduction of new land and people. Even if I absolutely despised the love triangle and how the plot suffered because of it, I’ll confess that I found each guy intriguing in his own way.

Over all, this book did have some downfalls, but I still flew through it, eager to see what happened next. And even though I thought this book was going to be predictable, which it was in some spots, I was still surprised by certain things as I read. I wouldn’t consider this the best or the worst fantasy book  I’ve read in a while, but I enjoyed it enough that I am planning on reading the next one. And maybe rereading this one sometime just to be able to actually know who is who and see if that makes the story better for me.

RATING: