A Throne of Books

The Vengeful Half Review

The Vengeful Half (The Hidden Lands) (Volume 1) - Jaclyn Dolamore

"How terrifying it would be, if even death wasn't an escape from our past sins and suffering."

Olivia grew up in America and knows little of the Hidden Lands. After her mother is abducted she is forced to trust two strangers to help her. They take Olivia to the Hidden Lands to find her mother. Atlantis, a city in the Hidden Lands, isn't quite the fantasy world Olivia always pictured. There are cell phones, airplanes, and a surprising amount of American pop culture.

I quite enjoyed the technologically advanced magical world. I enjoyed most of what I saw of the Hidden Lands actually. I was surprised by how a book touching on issues of racism and mind control could be such a light read. The second you hear three warring races or slavery you expect a book to be heavier. The hilarious comics and dialogue made a read full of substance somehow feel like a fluff read. Yes, there is a plot, it's a great plot, but it's never mentally taxing.

Jaclyn Dolamore talked about first inventing the Hidden Lands in 1993. The world was so well built that I actually wondered if it was based in some mythology I didn't know much about. (Seriously, I googled Miralem expecting mythology and got some Bosnian dude instead.) There was so much thought put into the past of both the characters and the history of the Hidden Lands that you can't help but be impressed. I complained early on about giant info dumps but there isn't another way to present this much lore.

I really enjoyed the cast of characters, they all had varying personalities that seemed to leap off the page. The characters each had quirks and strengths that made them feel real to me. Olivia is a home schooled, antique-loving girl who longs for family and a sense of belonging. Alfred is a prideful, blind, history buff who's only wish is to take over his fathers potion-making industry. They have a bit of a budding romance which was well done in my opinion. Too often the romance overshadows the plot, I would just read romance if I wanted a romantic focus. It also didn't fall into either hate turns to love or love at first sight, these are both annoyingly overdone, again in my opinion. The non-main characters were just a fully thought out. George is a pop culture loving sanarune who is just the best friend a guy could ever have. Thessia is a beautiful, equal rights activist with more going on than there seems on the surface.

Lastly I was happy to see that actions had effects all throughout the book. Not just on the character in question but those around them as well. All too often books have the mentality of all cause to further the plot but no effect ever. (For example, cheats on husband, gets caught, very little reaction, they stay together. That just doesn't happen!!) In The Vengeful Half effects were still taking place from actions years before, kind of a driving factor for the entire book. I respect and enjoy that. It takes a lot of effort to analyze what's being done at every step and what the ramifications will be. When the effort is taken you get a book that seems seamless, everything just flows and is.

Overall I found the book to have a great setup and characters. I think this series will be a blast to finish and things can only get more interesting from here. I will definitely be reading the second book in the series and can hardly wait! Thank you Jaclyn Dolamore for contacting me about reading this book, it was right up my alley and I had fun.

Let me stalk you!

I've been so busy the last few weeks that I haven't had much free time to see what everyone is posting. If you get a ridiculous number of likes from me I'm sorry. I'm going to spend quite a bit of my day off catching up on reviews! :D 

Threats of Sky and Sea Review

Threats of Sky and Sea - Jennifer Ellision
*Disclaimer: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are mine.*
 
If you know me at all you know that I have a hard time reading books in first person. I don't have an exact reason why, things just seems stilted to me. This book was hard for me to get into at first. I liked the story and the characters but the overall style threw me. I eased into it, and it once I finally adjusted to the writing style I couldn't put it down.

I wrote a note early on that the characters fell flat. That they all fell into tropes that were carbon copies of most YA novels. I was wrong, so freaking wrong. As the book goes on Ellision did an amazing job of revealing each characters motivations and past. Looking back now, the personalities fit perfectly and they come to life in time as we learn more about who they actually are. My favorite part character-wise is that both the King and Kat had motivations revealed though not directly. Too often it seems the "bad guy" is either evil just to be evil or they have reasons but cue a shitty long speech as to why. That's uncharacteristic of a "villain" in my opinion but Ellision revealed their reasoning through other ways. I'm so sorry for thinking the characters were flat because in the end the slow reveal of why each acted as they did made the book that much better. I got to see them first as Breena saw them and eventually as who they really were.

I'm more reluctant to comment on story because I'm always worried to give anything away. Personally I like going into stories completely blind and seeing where things go. My only comment would be that nothing felt useless. Like Maas, Ellision did a great job of making every scene matter, either it added to story or character progression. I see that as a great feat, not one all writers can pull off. The story did a fabulous job with the ending. It managed to leave you wanting more without a cliffhanger.

All in all it was a fun read and really enjoyable. I really am looking forward to Riot of Storm and Smoke. I'm reluctant to start it without a definite release date for book 3 though! Thank you so much Jennifer Ellision for reaching out to me, I really enjoyed the read!

Zero Echo Shadow Prime Review

Zero Echo Shadow Prime - Peter Samet

How could she face all those lonely years when she'd barely made it through the past two?

Who's in the wrong here, the Sapien movement against rapid technological progression or the Rivir Company who is hoping to be the first to make a robot that is fully sentient to the point of being almost human? The book has a unique concept, Charlie's brain scan is used in some underground projects. We have 4 main characters which are different versions of the same woman: Zero, the original Charlie who suffers from an aggressive form of cancer. Echo, a four armed clone on Planet Echo where you, Kill them all or feel withdrawal. Shadow, a holographic assistant to the Rivir CEO's son. And Prime, a robot who has caused great backlash in the community.

What makes us human? The book manages to address this and a plethora of other questions that will stick with you long after you've finished. Despite touching on some more complex topics it's a very easy read to get through.

Samet does a great job with the alternating characters and storylines. It's a common enough theme but books written like this have a tendency to be hit or miss. I, personally, think it was a hit.

It is filled with just the right balance of darkness, showing an accurate representation of human complexity. The world isn't always a happy place and the book does a great job of making the situations and choices feel real. As I've said before, maybe I'm a cynic but if a book is overly sweet and happy I lose interest, well generally, there are exceptions to the rule.

The book is fast-paced, well-written, unique, and unforgettable. As someone who isn't an avid reader of sci-fi it has made me want to get into the genre more. My only regret is that I didn't read it sooner.

This is a really great book and it deserves more recognition that it's been getting. Read it, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

The Dragon Round Review

The Dragon Round - Stephen S. Power

*I received a copy of the book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

 

The Dragon Round gave me conflicting feelings all the way through. The writing wasn't my favorite too much he did this, he said that, for my tastes. And of course as others have said it was over detailed at times. The underlying story was fascinating though, a bit on the darker side of humanity though. If you're looking for a happy story with nice characters this isn't it. Self-preservation and coin is the name of the game with the Hanoshi, murder and sex with the Ynessi, though I've yet to learn much of the ways of the Aydeni I'm sure it will be a big aspect of book two (assuming there is one).

 

This book has been getting quite harsh ratings so far but I really think it's worth a look. Of course if you don't like revenge as a motive or dragons in general then this isn't recommended because those are two major aspects of the book. I was going to give the book a three star rating based on the writing style and most of the book. I decided on a 3.5 because of the brave chances Power's took. He did two things that aren't always well-received: The Dragon Round wasn't driven by romance, and there was no overtly happy ending. I applaud both, too many books follow the same basic rules and it gets boring after awhile. This was a refreshingly different story from most of what I read, no love triangles, no invalid reasons for characters to have conflict, and I was actually worried for the fate of main characters.

 

Overall I'd say if you're a bit of a cynic and love fantasy stories give this one a read. I still don't adore the style in general but it wasn't unreadable just caused me to slow pace a bit. I really hope this one gets a book two because the setup is there and I'm curious to see where Powers plans to take things.

The Adventures of Lettie Peppercorn Review

The Adventures of Lettie Peppercorn - Sam Gayton, Poly Bernatene

*Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

 

The Adventures of Lettie Peppercorn was a cute and whimsical story. It's rating is comparative to other middle grade books. Middle grade books tend to do a good job of being readable but leave holes here and there. For instance it's not always clear why the bad guy is bad at this age range, but they don't get as much flak for it as adult fiction would. It makes sense of course, kids don't over-analyze books. I, unfortunately, can't seem to stop analyzing so harshly.

 

It was a good middle grade book. Fun from start to finish, magical, and friendship as a main theme. There was something that bugged me about the book and made me knock it down a half star, everyone seemed to be rude. The bad guys were rude which is acceptable but by the end of the book the only thing I knew about them was they were greedy. The good guys were a bit more complex in that they had motivation but they were still needlessly rude. I'm sure this seems like a strange complaint but it's a bit weird for all the characters to act so similarly.

 

The illustrations are done in such a beautiful style. It was the perfect illustrator for the job, they fit the overall mood perfectly. If you have kid that likes tales that are a bit strange then give this one a try. Any kid would love the imaginative nature of the story. Honestly I feel bad that my rating is only 3.5, because children will love it!

Article 5 Review

Article 5 - Kristen Simmons

DNF at 73% because getting through every page became a struggle. I know I might get backlash for writing a review on a DNF but I feel justified. And I will give a star rating as I made it way over 50%. Just think if everyone who disliked a book enough to not finish refuses to review, the actual opinions of readers is not reflected in the average star rating. One last point in my defense, I NEVER DNF a book. Honestly I had to create a whole new shelf just for this book.

I'm going to start off by saying this book should have been a definite hit with me. YA dystopian fiction is a genre I read heavily. The book features an oppressive government, ludicrous laws, and a unique enough world to make me want to dive in. Despite all of the factors that usually equate to a book I love this particular one fell flat for me very early on. I kept holding out hope that it would turn into something I could enjoy but that never happened. In fact it took me 13 days just to get this far in the book because I couldn't read more than a chapter at a time without cringing. I honestly hope I don't sound harsh because I just want my opinions represented to my followers, that's why I started a blog in the first place.

Let's start out this discussion with the difficult subject of Ember. Ember is one of the most self-important, naive, and overall infuriating characters in the entirety of YA fiction. The entire first half of the book all Ember can manage to do is obsess over her mother, go back and forth on her feelings for Chase, and screw up in every way possible. Why do I find obsessing over her mother so bad? I shouldn't but the book did a very poor job of making me care about their relationship. I can deal with Ember being motivated but it became overkill. At some point you need to switch to actions rather than repeating “I had to get to my mother. That was my only priority,” for the hundredth time. Next up the relationship, Ember is mistrusting of someone who has given up everything for her. She criticizes him and risks getting them caught because she can't keep her temper in check. The I hate him but I love him crap got old so quick. The main reason I quit was the characters and specifically the fact that most of their interaction was just them stammering and over analyzing how the other might react. Finally the sheer stupidity of Ember at times was just way too much for me. She got mad because Chase protected her and nearly killed someone who was ready to kill them for a backpack, are you kidding me? She literally thought, and I quote, “I knew what he was capable of, he needed to know the same about me.” This was after he saved her life for about the fourth time. From what I could tell the only thing Ember was capable of is getting those around her in trouble and acting like a child.

I think what makes me most angry is the fact that Chase was actually a compelling character. It felt like she put all this effort into making him realistic when the lead wasn't. Simmons proved she could write a good character through Chase so why didn't she with Ember? I would have much much much rather read a book through his eyes. I think I would have actually enjoyed it had it been written that way. Chase was interesting where Ember was painful as a character with only one redeeming quality, she cared. Unfortunately she used caring as an excuse to ignore everyone she put in danger along the way. Meaning that her one redeeming quality could ultimately be seen as a huge flaw.

Oh wow I rambled on so far and didn't even hit all the points I meant to. Well I felt genuinely bad about disliking the book so much but there are obviously plenty of people who loved it. Hopefully if you pick it up you fall into that category instead. Personally, I will not be finishing this book and definitely won't continue with the series. Sorry Kristen Simmons, you seem nice and I do plan to read The Glass Arrow. Hopefully I love that and can give it a glowing review so I feel like less of a jerk!

It Takes One Review

It Takes One - Kate Kessler

*Disclaimer: I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Audrey Harte is a criminal psychologist who often provides her professional opinions on the tv show, When Kids Kill. And no one is more qualified to defend the kids that have killed as Aubrey herself. When they were kids Aubrey and her best friend Maggie killed someone. As is life in a small town no one ever forgot. When Aubrey returns home for the first time in seven years Maggie turns up dead and most are quick to assume it was Aubrey's doing. Can Aubrey catch the real killer before she goes down for the crime?

This book wasn't one I could have possibly passed up, not when it features criminal psychology and small town life. Kate Kessler hit the nail on the head with both. The psychological observations seemed dead on. She really managed to get into every character'3s head with what motivates them, their biggest flaws, etc. The depiction of small town life was perfect, so simply complex. I've never been able to describe it, the hanging out late at night drinking with friends and nobody caring while on the other hand all the drama and nosiness that goes with it. As someone who grew up in a small town and has always wanted to study criminal psychology I jumped at the chance to read this.

I had one complaint that i don't even think is really a complaint. I figured out who did it way too soon, though I got the why wrong. Some people would complain on that note but I don't see it that way. It was a great story being told and Kessler was aware enough to leave hints here and there. I much prefer this nicely done and clearly valid type of mystery over the fast paced but the answer at the end is someone random you'd never expect. Actually I was watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents the other night and they told this story where at the end the person who did it was someone you had never seen or heard of before. Like okay yes, it was entertaining but also stupid the big "twist/reveal" should never be something so unpredictable it makes no sense.

All in all I really enjoyed the book. I loved the characters and the romance. I enjoyed the setting and the plausibility of the book as a whole. I will most definitely pick up the second book in the series when I can. Thank you Redhook and Kate Kessler for allowing me to read this book early and tell everyone how great I found it.

Opinions?

So I have a question for everyone. With ARCs when is it acceptable to post your review?

 

So I received an ARC of a book that doesn't release until April. I finished it and wrote up my review pretty quickly but rather than posting it I shot the publisher's email (well the only one I could find) the question of if they wanted it posted closer to the release date. After over 72 hours with no reply I'm contemplating posting it anyways. The goal of advanced review copies is to, well, review them early and get people talking about your book? Right? I don't want to offend the publisher and go against their wishes but if their wishes aren't clearly stated is it wrong to post the review now?

Help me out?

So I'm reading an arc of a book right now. I went to go add the book and it wasn't there. No problem I thought so I tried to set it up myself and succeeded EXCEPT she's a new author and it refused to take her name at all. So long story short I couldn't get the book on the site here. Where do I go to get a book added do i request it in a discussion? You guys that have been around booklikes longer than me what's the procedure for this?

 

This is the book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26030701-it-takes-one

Fangirl Review

Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell
“I'm rooting for you.”

To me this book was magic. Rainbow Rowell wrote the most realistic characters each with their own fear and flaws, even when they were hidden under layers of confidence. It was honest, bordering on brutal honesty. She tackled family drama, college life, and new relationships with a style of writing that I found impossible to put down. Actually this book screwed up my sleep schedule for the week because I stayed up until 6 am reading it.

I related with Cath so easily it amazed me. The same anxiety and awkwardness that's in me I saw on the page. Feeling like the messed up one who's worried they won't be able to function in life, that's me. At one point I laughed so hard because Cath mentions “as long as she was worrying about it, it probably wasn't going to happen.” I've done that exact thing my entire life. I always think about the worst thing that could possibly happen and relax a little knowing that since I expect it to, it won't. The only time I've explained that thought process to anyone they called me crazy, so imagine my instant happiness when someone else gets it. She may be crazy too, but it meant the world to me not to feel alone.

The book made me smile all the way through. It did the same cheeky humor that I use in my everyday life. Everything about this book felt real to me. It's rare to see an author who can capture the way I both think and speak and manage to do it in such an interesting way. Also I bloody love when an author has a full-fledged book (or movie) inside of what I'm reading. Not only is she writing this brilliant contemporary romance but she's managing to pull off not only the Simon Snow novels by another author and by her main character. Think about it. She managed to make the writing styles between Gemma, Nick, and Cath all separate sounding. That's just brilliance.

I applaud Rainbow Rowell and this masterpiece that is now among my favorites and I can't wait to read Carry On! That whole concept blows my mind. She's now made a book that's a “fanfiction” of another book she created in her first one, it's just too much!

“I'm going to go drown myself in the moat. Tell my mother I always knew she loved me best.”

Reading progress update: I've read 51%.

Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell

I totally get all the love for Rainbow Rowell now. I love this book.

The Alchemist Review

The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

If I ever hear the words personal legend again I may lose it. This book went from ooh he's on an exciting adventure of self discovery to wow he's on a boring adventure where everyone he meets says the same thing. It got repetitive hearing, everything in the universe wants you to succeed, every few pages. I think I may be too much of a cynic for such an overly positive book. It was everything happens for a reason in book form and that reason was always positive and beneficial in the end. I guess in my eyes things aren't always for the best, and that's okay. Part of life is unexpected slip-ups. So a book about the meaning of life where there was always someone there to fix the issue in less than a day felt superficial.

Just so I don't ramble on for days I'll wrap things up.  I like to believe that much of the book's meaning was lost in translation. In English it felt like it tried to be profound and failed. This book has a big following, people shout how life changing it was, but I can't get on board. I didn't even enjoy the book the first time and it's spiritual claims were all overly positive and overall superficial. (yes I used that word already but that's what this book oozes.)

Final thought: Don't refer to your character as "the boy" and expect anyone to form attachments to him. Character development was non existent sadly. And by the end I had forgotten who Santiago was because the author never used his name.

Rash Review

Rash - Pete Hautman

Rash is placed in the United Safer States of America, where everything is safe and nothing is fun. Though it's not so bad for those who grew up  there as they have nothing to compare it with. In the United States today people seem to be so dramatic/worried about everything, this is a world where the government steps in and makes everything safe. With that safety they lose their freedoms, among the now illegal is alcohol, football, forgetting to take your medication, etc.

I instantly connected with this book but in an unexpected way. It was through the grandfather, it mentions he was born in 1990 before all the changes were introduced. It made me think, where would I be in this society? I'd only be a bit younger than his grandfather, would I have kids who saw this overprotective way of life as necessary? And after thinking about that I read the book feeling a part of their world.

It was short, and the world created worked, and was interesting. I would love to read more stories from the USSA but I doubt that is going to happen. For me the book felt a bit juvinile, at least for such a huge topic, but it was writen for younger boys not to be a big political statement. It could have been more but I enjoyed it for the quick read it was. It took my mind off of things for a bit and for that I thank Hautman. 

The House Review

The House - Christina Lauren

*Disclaimer: I recieved this book in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway, my review is honest and all opinions are my own.*

I'll admit it; I'm woman enough. I saw this book and was just in the mood for a haunted house story. I didn't read the synopsis at all for once and went in completely blind. Turns out I am not the target audience for this book at all. Yes, I fit the age range and the horror angle but overall the romance didn't work for me. I have to be tricked into reading a romantic story like in Throne of Glass. She brought me into the story first, made me love Celaena and the world around her and THEN she did the lovey dovey stuff and I ate it up. Romance-centered novels too often, for me, feel forced. That's my opinion but if you like romance you might enjoy it more.

So, The House was a bit out there. It was...strange, but personally I enjoy strange and macabre. Unfortunately, as I said before, the whole romance just fell flat for me. It wasn't eased into at all, it was more of the entire world knew that they would be together since the day they were both born. And since the romance was the thing that kept the story moving the book overall started to fall flat for me. It did manage to be creepy at times, so I had no problem trucking through but when all was said and done I just found it alright.

I feel a bit bad in a way though, if I had read the synopsis I would have known right away that it probably wasn't the book for me. Note to future self: Pay attention you moron!

Rantings of a Mad Woman. (Help me!!)

So looking back on my ratings from this year I've noticed several cases where I rated something higher than I actually felt about it. For instance if I didn't totally hate it they seem to have gotten 3 stars. I was new to the whole book blogging and rating game and I don't think I've done a great job of it. I think I want to go back and adjust it better but overall I don't think the choosing a rating on a whim is working for me. So I need help choosing a better system, maybe one with criteria and such, I'm not sure. What ways do you follow or have you heard of? I'm trying to find a new one but if I do do I need to go back through and adjust all my old ratings to reflect the new system?

 

HELP ME! Any idea you have is better than my lack of ideas.