ARC Review: “Mystic City” by Theo Lawrence

Mystic City (Mystic City #1) by Theo Lawrence

Goodreads | Amazon

A magical city divided.
A political rebellion ignited.
A love that was meant to last forever.

Aria Rose, youngest scion of one of Mystic City’s two ruling rival families, finds herself betrothed to Thomas Foster, the son of her parents’ sworn enemies. The union of the two will end the generations-long political feud—and unite all those living in the Aeries, the privileged upper reaches of the city, against the banished mystics who dwell below in the Depths.

But Aria doesn’t remember falling in love with Thomas; in fact, she wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. And she can’t conceive why her parents would have agreed to unite with the Fosters in the first place.

Only when Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic from the Depths, does she start to have glimmers of recollection—and to understand that he holds the key to unlocking her past. The choices she makes can save or doom the city—including herself.

3 1/2 stars

Thank you to Edelweiss and Random House Children’s Books for this eARC! You can pick up a copy for yourself on October 9th, 2012!

Well that … was exactly what I expected.

I mean, of course I’d hoped for something more, but at least my expectations weren’t unfounded, right? …let me explain.

After you read that blurb, you have a ridiculously good idea about what’s going to happen in the novel. You’ve basically got this backwards Romeo and Juliet thing going on. (That was actually mentioned several times.) (I hated Romeo and Juliet. Just sayin’.) ANYWAYS. Right from the get go, something is clearly amiss. They say that Aria got the memory loss because she overdosed on drugs, but she is clearly not the kind of girl who does that sort of thing. The fact that she even partially accepts that story completely boggled my mind.

I’m going to attempt not to make things any more obvious than they are, but I guessed the reason for Aria’s memory loss from the very first chapter. It was not entirely subtle, or even halfway concealed. If you can pick out YA clichés, you can pick out where this is going to go from a mile away.

You know what? I’m fine with novels that draw the readers to conclusions the narrator is too stupid to grasp right away. IF IF IF we don’t take too long before we bring the narrator in on the secret before you start screaming, “ARIA YOU IDIOT HE-LLO!” My major critique of this book is that it gave us a very obvious plot line and then took an overly long time to spell it out for Aria.

That being said, though, I am usually the first to critique slow pacing in a book and that’s not at all what happened here. Aria may have remained far too clueless for far too long, but there were ALWAYS things happening. I could almost, ALMOST forgive her slow brain because of the fast plot. Again, none of the revelations were particularly surprising for the most part, but they were presented in an aesthetically pleasing way. The plot was not complex, but I still enjoyed what I was reading.

The world building was also nice. I didn’t find too many obvious plot holes, but then it wasn’t particularly complicated, either. You have your mobster elite who rule the city, their supporters, regular people, and then you’ve got the mystics they drain to keep from being dangerous. I would have loved to have spent more time in the mystic underground than we did, but I guess that’s for the second book. And there was plenty of magic usage, so that makes me happy.

And, of course, let’s talk romance. Awkward semi-love triangle/square? Check. Clichéd lines? Check. It didn’t annoy me–which is a good mark!–but I certainly am not about to sing its praises, either.

The second half of the book is where it really gets interesting in places. It did manage to surprise me a few times, and I always love a good display of magic, especially when there’s fighting involved. 😛 There was a distinct attempt to give several characters depth, which I appreciated, but most of the characters–including Aria, Hunter and Thomas–remain fairly unimpressive. They were okay, yes, but just not very unique. Although, I must say Aria DOES pick up some heavy machinery in the final battle that is impressive, if a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment.

All in all, I enjoyed this book. I didn’t LOVE it, but I certainly liked it. It was a very fast read that was an enjoyable way to spend the day. If dystopian romance is you thing, then you might like this one! Actually, it reminded me very much of Matched by Ally Condie. (See my review HERE.) Very, very romance centric, but there is also plenty of guns and magic flying around. If you’re looking for a quick read with an easy plot that doesn’t require much thinking–EXACTLY what I wanted when I read this!–then this is for you!

The second and yet untitled book in the Mystic City series is slated for a 2013 release.

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Blog Tour: “Nerve” by Jeanne Ryan – Review + Giveaway!

Welcome to my stop of this great blog tour, as hosted by A Tale of Many Reviews and made possibly by Dial Books (Penguin)! I’ve got some great stuff for you guys today, so let’s get going! Don’t forget to check out the other blogs that are participating in this blog tour HERE.

Nerve by Jeanne Ryan

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Author Website

A high-stakes online game of dares turns deadly

When Vee is picked to be a player in NERVE, an anonymous game of dares broadcast live online, she discovers that the game knows her. They tempt her with prizes taken from her ThisIsMe page and team her up with the perfect boy, sizzling-hot Ian. At first it’s exhilarating–Vee and Ian’s fans cheer them on to riskier dares with higher stakes. But the game takes a twisted turn when they’re directed to a secret location with five other players for the Grand Prize round. Suddenly they’re playing all or nothing, with their lives on the line. Just how far will Vee go before she loses NERVE?

3 1/2 stars

Thank you to A Tale of Many Reviews and Dial Books (Penguin) for this eARC! Nerve is now available for your reading pleasure!

Holy hair raiser.

Holy stomach churner.

Dear sweet “I WANT TO STOP READING BUT I CAN’T.”

That, in three sentences, was Nerve.

To be honest, this book didn’t set off on a good foot with me. The prologue chapter takes place at the end of the book, with the first chapter backing way up in time. This is a pet peeve of mine, and personally I thought it took a ton of suspense out of the ending, which upon reading the prologue still didn’t make any sense. But once you hit the first chapter, all that is forgotten.

It actually goes through that whole, “everything is perfect” phase before heading into hair rasing territory. Vee is the best friend of the most popular girl in school but pining for the hottest guy. She is quiet, she’s more of a loner–she’s basically the best friend cliché. It is this normalcy and the distinct want to feel something different that forces Vee into the game of NERVE in the first place. As far as reasons go, it was a fairly believable one, even if it was never developed as fully as I’d have liked.

The game of NERVE is sickening on several levels–and it’s meant to be. Vee is forced to do a whole lot of things that NO sane person would do. The reasons she keeps going after things clearly start getting sketchy were, again, not as developed as I’d have liked, but this book seemed to sacrifice fleshing out of the plot in a lot of places to make room for the pacing.

And OHMYGOD was that some pacing.

Nerve never stops. Not once. Even when you want to because your stomach is attempting seven kinds of sailor’s knots. Vee’s rationale towards NERVE at the beginning is one I’ve used a thousand times to scoff at reality TV shows: it’s scripted, it’s fake, it’s just a game. NERVE pulling information about her from her ThisIsMe page sounds creepily similar to the kinds of things people maintain Facebook does. The book takes on all these secret fears we have about technology and throws them into one fiery explosion. There were several times when I felt like I had to step back and breathe or even stop reading all together because OHMYGOD, but I couldn’t do it because the book just kept charging forward into darker and darker territory.

As I said, though, the downside of this was that many aspects of the plot were never fleshed out. This goes for characterization and key plot points alike. There were passing comments made for some things and half-baked explanation for others, but all in all many parts of the story almost became useless in the HOLY CRAP THIS IS MADNESS of NERVE. Though I’d say Ryan managed to make it work because of her awesome pacing, the nitpicky side of me can’t let it go.

Personally, I was not entirely satisfied with the ending. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you why because part of my blog tour compliance is that there are no spoilers. Sorry! However, I CAN tell you that I’m begging someone to tell me there’s a sequel coming, because you CANNOT end it like that and leave us all hanging. But then, there were several things I thought you could not do and then Ryan did them and left me reading faster with a dryer mouth.

IN FOR A THRILLER? THEN ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

That’s right, GIVEAWAY! The prize is one hardcopy of Nerve, SIGNED. The giveaway is open to US/Canada only. Please click HERE to enter!

ARC Review: “Eve and Adam” by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant

Eve and Adam by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant

Goodreads | Amazon

In the beginning, there was an apple—

And then there was a car crash, a horrible injury, and a hospital. But before Evening Spiker’s head clears a strange boy named Solo is rushing her to her mother’s research facility. There, under the best care available, Eve is left alone to heal.

Just when Eve thinks she will die—not from her injuries, but from boredom—her mother gives her a special project: Create the perfect boy.

Using an amazingly detailed simulation, Eve starts building a boy from the ground up. Eve is creating Adam. And he will be just perfect… won’t he?

3 1/2 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Feiwel and Friends for this eARC! You can get a copy for yourself on October 2nd, 2012!

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure at all how Eve and Adam was going to turn out. I was only lukewarm about the concept, but requested it in a slew of requests from Macmillan publishing (which owns F&F). I then proceeded to read the entire book in two days.

Actually, the entire first half of the book didn’t sell me too strongly. The apple thing–which is, in fact, in the beginning–doesn’t seem to have a point except for being thrown in there as an obvious allusion (she also loses a rib for no reason except for this, I’m guessing). It seemed to detract from the fact that Evening is being HIT by a VEHICLE and having her LEG RIPPED OFF. (Graphic imagery not included.)

I was, entirely through the book, lukewarm about the characters of Evening and Solo. I honestly did not understand why the for the life of me Evening and Solo were splitting the narrating, besides the fact that this is written by a male-female team. Evening does most of the narrating because even the authors seem to subconsciously know that this is Evening’s story and Solo is just kind of there. Evening’s mother is just kind of there and stereotypically evil, but PROPS for the character of Evening’s best friend. Now SHE was fun.

You know what? For the first half of the book I was just entirely lukewarm about everything.

And then the second half happened.

The action? Kicked up SEVERAL notches. All of the sudden we went from not much happening to EVERYTHING HAPPENING. Upon rereading the Goodreads synopsis, I can’t help be realize how much of the story isn’t in it. But you wouldn’t know it until the second half of the book.

Alright, I still wasn’t in love with the characters, but FINALLY the multiple points of view had purpose. The romance was particularly awkward and I didn’t find it that believable or real, but the way it’s handled was really sweet. I honestly have to be that vague because otherwise I’d reveal a MAJOR plot point, so … don’t hurt me. Trying to be non-spoiler here. 😛

The plot also never hit a point of entire believability with me, especially the plot twist at the end. The character in the plot twist was far too one-dimensional for the entire book, and there were absolutely no hints that this was coming. All of the sudden there’s just this HAHAHA, GOTCHA moment that I still honestly don’t believe.

All and all, the three and half star rating is perfect for me and this book. I liked it a lot, but I certainly didn’t love it. Though the end did a great deal to redeem the first half, I was just never really engaged with the characters or the plot. The action was great, and so was the subplots, but the overarching concepts just didn’t fit for me.