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:

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Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2016!

Fall is my absolute favorite season. Nothing’s better than curling up with a snuggly sweater, a steaming hot cup of tea and a great book while the world outside consists of gray skies and crunching leaves. Fall is also usually when a big chunk of my most anticipated books of the year come out. The fall season and new books go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas: 28260587I’m not even sure I need to explain this one, and yes, I know it’s already out but I couldn’t leave it off the list. Sexy fae warriors (yes, that is plural, as in more than one), Aelin kicking massive ass with her flame powers, tons more smoochy scenes, Manon slicing people’s guts out, bad guys being bad, and guaranteed heartbreak. What’s not to love?

18584855Heartless by Marissa Meyer: Another book by Marrisa Meyer? How could I possibly resist? Not to mention the fact that it’s a freaking origin story for the Queen of Hearts. I’ve been hearing so many raving reviews for this book already, so I know Marissa Meyer is working her magic yet again. Plus, I really need to know how an innocent baker becomes the evil, head-chopping Queen. I can’t even being to imagine how that comes about.

28448239Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge: After reading Crimson Bound, I can help but be excited for another retelling, this time featuring Romeo and Juliet. I have a love/hate relationship with Romeo and Juliet but I have complete faith in Rosamund Hodge to make it interesting and creepy enough to hold my attention and hopefully capture my heart.

23207027Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake: I adore everything about this book. That cover makes my heart pitter-patter and the idea behind it, of dark magic and trickery, betrayal by those closest to you, and a rivalry between sisters that can only end in death… My stomach is fluttering just thinking about it. This book has so much potential to be one of my favorites of the year.

22299763Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo: Guys… this book. I can’t even begin to describe the feelings I get in my stomach when I think about it. Six of Crows was one of my absolute favorites last year and the wait has nearly killed me. But in a few short weeks, this book will finally be in my hands. There is not a single shred of doubt that I’m going to laugh and cry and probably scream at the heavens for ever cursing me with such a book.

22567184Den of Wolves by Juliet Marillier: This author is one of the few that genuinely makes me cry from a place deep down in my heart. One of the most underrated actors that I love, she’s broken my heart many times with her incredible stories of love, faith, redemption, healing, and a little magic. This series is no exception. Blackthorn and Grim are back and no doubt, once again, getting in way over their heads with someone’s problems. Which I’m actually okay with because with every near death experience, the more their relationship grows and the more feels I get. Win win.

29236299Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff: I’m not even sure how to describe Illuminae to someone who hasn’t read it, but if you haven’t, I’m pretty sure you should just go read it and find out for yourself. One of the most surprising and unique books I’ve read in a long time, and now the sequel is almost out. Be still my heart. But seriously, this book is going to wreck me if it’s even half as good as the first one.

What new fall releases are you guys most excited for?

Giveaway Time!

Hey everyone, to celebrate my return to all things bookish, I’m hosting a new giveaway! Percy says enter to win a fabulous book!

giveaway-pic

The winner will get to pick one of the books from above. This giveaway is US only and will end 9/18.

Enter to win on Rafflecopter.

You can get additional entries through twitter here: https://twitter.com/Book_Babe23/status/775053281919836160

And on Instagram. My username is rowanreadsandraves.

Thanks again to everyone that’s stuck with me this past few months, you guys are unbelievable.

Waiting on Wednesday: Silver in the Blood

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine,
which spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating!

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Title: Silver in the Blood (Silver in the Blood #1) 22929540

Author: Jessica Day George

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Publication Date: July 7, 2015

Summary: Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate . . . or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might.

With a gorgeous Romanian setting, stunning Parisian gowns, and dark brooding young men, readers will be swept up by this epic adventure of two girls in a battle for their lives.

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Surprisingly, I don’t think that I’ve ever read any of Jessica Day George’s other books, but I like that fairy tale retelling seems to be a theme with her. After hearing about this one though, I knew there was no way that I wasn’t going to pick it up. I love the time period, I love the setting, and I love the idea of shape-shifters in both. I hope that Dacia and Lou have a really close relationship and maintain that through the book, not even letting “dark brooding young men” come between them. I am a little nervous that there might be a dreaded love triangle, but I’m going to give this book the benefit of the doubt. I’m assuming that Dacia and Lou are going to have to deal with shape-shifting and how it affects them and their lives, and I hope that it actually feels like they are struggling with it. But on top of the supernatural struggle, I also want there to be turmoil between the family members, no doubt those who view it as a curse and those who view it as a power. Anyone that’s read paranormal or supernatural fantasy books, myself included, have thought at one time that it would be super cool to be a werewolf. But we all know that shape-shifting comes with a huge price and that’s something I want the girls to feel conflicted about. Overall, I think Silver in the Blood will be dark and enchanting, hopefully a little spooky, with a well written romance and two girls fighting for their humanity and freedom.

Review: Dream a Little Dream

Title: Dream a Little Dream (Silver#1) 21469090

Author: Kerstin Gier

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Publication Date: April 14, 2015

Summary: Mysterious doors with lizard-head knobs. Talking stone statues. A crazy girl with a hatchet. Yes, Liv’s dreams have been pretty weird lately. Especially this one where she’s in a graveyard at night, watching four boys conduct dark magic rituals.

The strangest part is that Liv recognizes the boys in her dream. They’re classmates from her new school in London, the school where she’s starting over because her mom has moved them to a new country (again). But what’s really scaring Liv is that the dream boys seem to know things about her in real life, things they couldn’t possibly know—unless they actuallyare in her dreams? Luckily, Liv could never resist a good mystery, and all four of those boys are pretty cute…

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Dream a Little Dream starts of kind of slow, following sassy Liv and her little sister Mia as they move to London and start over with a new school. Not only a new school, but potentially a new family as her mother reveals that she is dating a professor with two kids. Though Liv is tired of moving, there are a few perks about their new life; mostly the intriguing new mystery that presents itself. Not to mention the professor’s hot son and his three equally hot friends. The only problem is that Liv starts having really weird dreams including the four hottest boys at her school, and it seems that her dreams are real.

The main thing that I enjoyed about this book were the fun dream aspects. I loved seeing all of the ways that different people dreamed and what it said about them. The idea in this book, of being able to walk through other’s dreams, is such a fun idea and I thought that the author did a really good job of making the dream scenes funny but insightful. The author also used the idea of doors to other people’s dreams actually being doors and with that, people can put locks and defenses on their doors to keep other’s out. I thought that was a fun way to say something about a person, by how their door looked and what sort of defenses they put up. I kind of wish that Liv had done more snooping through people’s dream, but I felt like we unfortunately didn’t get much dream time through the book, something that was my favorite part and I would have liked to see more of.

I also liked Liv as a main character, I thought she was fun and clever and I loved her constant desire to solve mystery. And I liked her relationship with her sister, the way that they were so familiar and played off of each other’s jokes and snark constantly made me laugh. Liv though, was constantly a weird blend of responsible and irresponsible, which drove me a little crazy. There were times when she would really think things through or make notes and charts, and I would be impressed with how levelheaded she was being about the situation. Then there were times where she would just act so stupid and jump into a situation without thinking. I wish her character would have been a little bit more consistent in her decision making.

My main complaint about this book was that it really felt awkward at times and the writing wasn’t my favorite. The pacing was off sometimes, randomly jumping around without warning and I had to go back sometimes to figure out what day or time we had jumped to because it was so abrupt. Then the writing just felt weird and choppy, which was really off putting. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something about the writing just constantly struck me as strange. I’ve never read any of Kerstin Gier’s other books so I’m not sure if it’s just her writing style or this book in particular.

Unfortunately when it comes to this book, I can’t help but compare this group of boys to the boys from The Raven Boys and these boys pale in comparison. One of the things I absolutely love about the boys in The Raven Boys was the relationship they all have with each other and how they just felt so real. This book is definitely lacking those aspect, you never really feel like you get to know any of the boys on a personal level except for Henry, but that’s mostly because he’s the love interest so he gets more page time. Speaking of love, the romance in this book was another thing that felt pretty bland. Although I like Liv and Henry both as characters, I just was’t buying the romance between them. The banter between the two was great and I liked the similarities between them, but I still don’t believe that two people can fall in love so quick.

Overall, Dream a Little Dream has some really fun aspects, with the witty banter between characters and the interesting dream exploration. However, it was hard to actually get into the story with the awkward writing and not connecting with any of the secondary characters. Despite the slow start though, once the story get’s going, the mystery keeps you entertained and I found that I wanted to learn a lot more about the dreams and the demon that was in the middle of everything. The ending was definitely anti-climactic and felt a little random, but there were enough mysteries left unexplained to keep you intrigued and waiting for the next book.

RATING: 

Review: Obsidian

Title: Obsidian (Lux #1) 12578077

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Publication Date: May 6, 2011

Summary: Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring…. until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something…unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.

If I don’t kill him first, that is.

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Have you guys noticed the growing amount of Jennifer L. Armentrout books I’ve been reading lately? Apparently smoldering romance books have been taking over my life. Maybe I’ll just blame it on the fact that Valentine’s Day is almost here.

Obsidian is about a girl named Katy who moves to this new little town and meets her next door neighbors, a girl named Dee is who super fun and bubbly and wants to be best friends with her, and her brother Daemon who is kind of a huge jerk. She finds out that they are aliens, supernatural shenanigans happen, romance blossoms, feelings are hurt, you guys know how it goes.

I’ve heard nothing but raves and crazy fangirls sobbing over this book, so I went into it fully prepared to swoon and gasp and shriek. Ultimately, I was a little underwhelmed by this book. I knew it was going to be very Twilight-y and I’m okay with that, but that actually wasn’t the reason that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would.

To start with, Daemon was a dick. I love my boys with a nice bit of sass and maybe a little cocky, but Daemon was just a straight up douche. Like, when I compare him to Roth from White Hot Kiss, Roth is playful and funny and a bit of a jerk sometimes but we all know he isn’t being serious. Daemon was rude and hurtful and arrogant in a way that made you want to punch him in the face. I didn’t like how he humiliated Katy in front of a bunch of people, constantly insulted and made fun of her, and how he thought he could act that way then just automatically be forgiven because he occasionally did something nice or because Katy thinks he’s hot. His behavior actually kind of ruined him for me and I never really found myself growing to like him. Maybe I hated him a little less by the end of the book, but I never liked him.

I liked Katy, she had lots of spunk and I enjoyed her witty comebacks when it came to Daemon. I also liked that she didn’t really instantly start falling for him, sure she thought we was hot, but she wasn’t in love with him or anything. She always called him out on being a jerk and walked away a lot which I wanted to give her a high five for, but then she would let him pop back into her life until her did something awful again. I would have respected her a lot more if she had just held her ground and pushed him away until he changed or started acting better, instead of tolerating the way her treated her. Also, Katy was one of those girls that makes some stupid decisions, gets rescued, then makes more stupid decisions. I don’t understand how we are supposed to believe that girls like that survived in the real world for years without some guy to run in and save them all the time.

Despite the issues that I had with the characters, I did really enjoy the alien aspects of this book. Aliens definitely aren’t anything that I read much about, so I really loved the newness of learning about alien powers and culture and whatnot versus the typical supernatural species I read about most of the time. I do wish that Daemon and Dee remembered more about their planet though because I would have loved to learn more about the differences between it and Earth and the way they lived. What we did get, learning about the different powers, their true forms and their enemies, was super intriguing.

As far as the plot went, it was a pretty light read. Most of it focused on the relationship between Katy and Daemon which I wasn’t really grooving on, but the few times that we got more, like the fights between Daemon and the dark aliens, I loved it. I was actually kind of mad that the summary of this book tells you that they are aliens, because probably about half of the book is Katy trying to figure out why they are so weird. Since we already knew what was going on, it almost got boring to wait for her to catch up. However, the superficial stuff like her dealing with bitchy girls and making friends, was entertaining enough to keep me reading until the book started to pick up the pace.

Obsidian was definitely a bit of a disappointment and I didn’t enjoy it half as much as I did White Hot Kiss or Wicked. I was hoping for Daemon to be a hot swoon-worthy hunk, but instead I got an immature, arrogant jerk who didn’t understand that you can keep people at a distance without treating them like total crap. The predictable plot and semi-boring first half was a bit hard to get into, but the humor and alien information kept my interest enough that I obviously finished it. I still wouldn’t consider this book as out of this world as everyone keeps saying it is. Get it? Out of this world? Aliens?

RATING: 

 

Review: Chasing Power

Title: Chasing Power 20613479

Author: Sarah Beth Durst

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: October 14, 2014

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Kayla was born with the ability to move things with her mind-things like credit cards and buttons on cash registers-and she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again . . . which would mean grave danger for them both.

When she’s caught stealing by a boy named Daniel-a boy with the ability to teleport-he needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel’s kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family-and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive . . . or survive.

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This book had a few things with really cool potential, but ultimately fell flat. We have a girl who can move things with her mind and a boy who can teleport anywhere as long as he has seen it in a picture; how could that possibly be boring? Well, let me tell you.

To start off with, Kayla was one of the the most uninteresting heroines of all time. She just didn’t really have anything about her that made her stand out and her personality was flat at best. She jumped between being very calm and collected, to being dramatic and kind of stupid. The thing I really did like though was that her powers were very interesting. She can move things with her mind, but only small things, so it requires her to get creative sometimes and I really liked that. For example, at one point, someone is underwater so she sends bubbles of air down so they can breathe. Or she changes the course of bullets instead of ripping the gun out of someones hands. Because she had to be creative, it made it much more interesting when she had to use her powers to steal things or help in fights.

As for the love interest Daniel, he just made me really mad. I’m getting really frustrated with every boy in YA books being so ridiculously attractive, then having it brought up like every ten pages. It makes me angry that apparently for a boy to be brave or snarky or have superpowers, he’s also required to look like a super model. Or maybe there are so many hot guys in YA books so all the girls reading drown in jealousy because obviously the heroine must be so much prettier and cooler than us to score such a hottie. In which case, I’m even angrier.

Ranting aside, Daniel seemed like an interesting character and his power is awesome, but we never really get any depth. Mostly Kayla just jumps between hating him, admiring how hot he is, then hating him so more. He was kind of annoying at first because he was impulsive and idiotic and didn’t listen to anyone, but it was also kind of sweet to see how determined he was. Unfortunately, just like Kayla though, he suffered from having little to no personality.

Their relationship isn’t even really worth talking about but I’m going to waste my time explaining why it was awful anyways. This whole book is so fast paced and all over the place that I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure the whole thing happened in just a few days. So if Kayla and Daniel are literally confessing their undying love to each other within this period of time, I’m going to have a little problem. Not to mention that through the whole book, Kayla is hating him and thinking about what an idiot he is. Then they are randomly kissing a bunch and in love? Are you kidding me?

As far as the plot goes, this should have been a really interesting book. Kayla and Daniel travel around to try and find some ancient stones, jumping from place to place, racing against bad guys and whatnot. But basically, they did nothing to work together, constantly got screwed over, and mostly bored me to death.The story behind the stones was kind of interesting, but that was only briefly touched upon. Then the clues they were left to hunting down the stones were solved in like five seconds, so there wasn’t even much of a mystery, it was more like just waiting for them to actually get to the place.

And oh my god you guys, the best part of this whole book was how much of it that Daniel spent unconscious. Being able to teleport is kind of an unfair ability in a fight and if Kayla and Daniel could just jump away every time the bad guys showed up, how would the bad guys ever be able to say some cryptic stuff and try to steal the stones? So the author’s solution? Knock Daniel out every five seconds. Seriously. He either teleports too much, overexerting himself and falling unconscious like an idiot so they are stranded in some dangerous place, or the bad guys knock him out in some way. It would have almost been funny if it wasn’t so annoying.

All of the secondary characters were just as boring as Kayla and Daniel and you don’t end up caring about any of them. Kayla’s best friend, her mother, who she calls Moonbeam (yeah, I have no idea), Daniel’s mother, they were all just one dimensional. They all felt awkward and fake, and anything “interesting” about them felt so forced. Even the villains were predictable and their reasons behind being evil weren’t interesting at all.

Ultimately, with the combination of an uninteresting cast of characters and a plot that almost had me snoring, I was amazed that I made it to the end. A few of the concepts were intriguing and the author had a unique take on Kayla’s telekinesis powers, but even that wasn’t enough to keep me focused.

RATING: