ARC Review: “Risuko” by David Kudler

risuko-v2b-medium-circleRisuko: A Kunoichi Tale (Seasons of the Sword #1) by David Kudler

Goodreads | Amazon

Can one girl win a war?

My name is Kano Murasaki, but most people call me Risuko. Squirrel.

I am from Serenity Province, though I was not born there.

My nation has been at war for a hundred years, Serenity is under attack, my family is in disgrace, but some people think that I can bring victory. That I can be a very special kind of woman.

All I want to do is climb.

My name is Kano Murasaki, but everyone calls me Squirrel.

Risuko.

Though Japan has been devastated by a century of civil war, Risuko just wants to climb trees. Growing up far from the battlefields and court intrigues, the fatherless girl finds herself pulled into a plot that may reunite Japan — or may destroy it. She is torn from her home and what is left of her family, but finds new friends at a school that may not be what it seems.

Magical but historical, Risuko follows her along the first dangerous steps to discovering who she truly is.

Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel) is a young, fatherless girl, more comfortable climbing trees than down on the ground. Yet she finds herself enmeshed in a game where the board is the whole nation of Japan, where the pieces are armies, moved by scheming lords, and a single girl couldn’t possibly have the power to change the outcome. Or could she?

Two and a half stars

Thanks to NetGalley and Stillpoint Digital Press for this eARC! This title will be available on June 15th, 2016.

If you read that blurb, like I did, you might be under the impression that a lot happens in this book. It doesn’t. This book was a constant push and pull for me, where I really wanted to like it … but nothing ever really happened. While Risuko was an interesting character, the cast around her fell flat and the overall plot seemed underdone. I was intrigued by the world and the overall politics, but they were never dealt with overmuch. All in all, this book had all the elements–it just didn’t use them.

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ARC Review: “Tell the Wind and Fire” by Sarah Rees Brennan

16221851Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

Goodreads | Amazon

In a city divided between opulent luxury in the Light and fierce privations in the Dark, a determined young woman survives by guarding her secrets.

Lucie Manette was born in the Dark half of the city, but careful manipulations won her a home in the Light, celebrity status, and a rich, loving boyfriend. Now she just wants to keep her head down, but her boyfriend has a dark secret of his own—one involving an apparent stranger who is destitute and despised. Lucie alone knows the young men’s deadly connection, and even as the knowledge leads her to make a grave mistake, she can trust no one with the truth.

Blood and secrets alike spill out when revolution erupts. With both halves of the city burning, and mercy nowhere to be found, can Lucie save either boy—or herself?

Two and a half stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Clarion Books for this eARC! This title will be released on April 5th, 2016.

I wish this was an April Fools joke. I wish I could say that I did not really rate a SRB book this low. Especially a book with this much potential and thought behind it – which is honestly the reason it’s rated as high as it is. But as much as I desperately wanted to love this book, it was impossible.

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ARC Review: “Annabeth Neverending” by Leyla Kader Dahm

27468996Annabeth Neverending by Leyla Kader Dahm

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At first, teenager Annabeth Prescott thinks she’s found quite a deal when she talks down the price of an ankh pendant she discovers at a flea market. She soon wonders if the bauble is more than she’s bargained for when she faints and glimpses images from a past life in ancient Egypt.

The discovery coincides with another new find: Gabriel, a handsome young man who takes an interest in her. When she meets his twin brother C. J. at a Halloween party, she realizes they look exactly like two boys who figure prominently into her memories.

Does C. J. share the heroic qualities held by his past incarnation Sethe, her bodyguard when she was Princess Ana? Does Gabriel possess the same evil powers he wielded as Kha, the black sorcerer who sought her affection?

Love meets the supernatural in this gripping young adult paranormal romance. Readers with an interest in reincarnation, as well as ancient Egypt, will be drawn to its mystical mixture of history and hesitation as Annabeth sways between the two brothers.

Will her reincarnated soulmate win out? Or will Kha finally find the way to her heart?

Two and a half stars

Thanks to Leyla and NetGalley for this free review copy! Annabeth Neverending is available for purchase now.

Full disclosure: I read this book while recovering from wisdom teeth removal. However, I still don’t think that that impacts just how rough the first part of this book was. The romance–and the way Annabeth talks about the romance–was sometimes uncomfortable. While it began to redeem itself in the middle, the ending was also weirdly rushed. Still, I picked it up because I will read anything vaguely related to Ancient Egypt, and that’s most of what kept me going.

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ARC Review: “Conjured” by Sarah Beth Durst

ConjuredConjured by Sarah Beth Durst

Goodreads |  Amazon

Eve has a new home, a new face, and a new name—but no memories of her past. She’s been told that she’s in a witness protection program. That she escaped a dangerous magic-wielding serial killer who still hunts her. The only thing she knows for sure is that there is something horrifying in her memories the people hiding her want to access—and there is nothing they won’t say—or do—to her to get her to remember.

At night she dreams of a tattered carnival tent and buttons being sewn into her skin. But during the day, she shelves books at the local library, trying to not let anyone know that she can do things—things like change the color of her eyes or walk through walls. When she does use her strange powers, she blacks out and is drawn into terrifying visions, returning to find that days or weeks have passed—and she’s lost all short-term memories. Eve must find out who and what she really is before the killer finds her—but the truth may be more dangerous than anyone could have ever imagined.

Two and a Half Stars

Thanks to Negalley and Walker Childrens for this eARC!  This title will be released on September 3rd, 2013.

Fair warning, guys: I have a serious case of Mixed Feelings about this book.

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Review: “The Collector” by Victoria Scott

The CollectorThe Collector (Dante Walker #1) by Victoria Scott

Goodreads | Amazon

Dante Walker is flippin’ awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence has made him one of Hell’s best — a soul collector. His job is simple, weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag.

Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante’s an equal opportunity collector and doesn’t want it any other way. But he’ll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment: Collect Charlie Cooper’s soul within 10 days.

Dante doesn’t know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that’s a permanent ticket out of Hell. But after Dante meets the quirky, Nerd Alert chick he’s come to collect—he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector, and uncover emotions long ago buried.

Thanks to NetGalley And EntangledTeen for this ebook! 

2 1/2 stars

When this book came out in April, I watched the blogosphere explode. Given the premise of this book, I thought that maybe there was something to it, so I tracked down a copy of it on NetGalley. you’d think I’d have learned after the Sweet Evil fiasco that maybe I should avoid books I hype up in my head.

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Bibliomancy for Beginners: Review and Hangout Video for “City of a Thousand Dolls” by Miriam Forster

First of all, apologies for just up and changing the time for this hangout. We weren’t sure we were going to be able to do one at all this week, and when we got a chance we jumped on it. Quite frankly, if you read this book with us … I apologize.

City of a Thousand DollsCity of a Thousand Dolls (Bhinian Empire #1) by Miriam Forster

Goodreads | Amazon

An exotic treat set in an entirely original, fantastical world brimming with deadly mystery, forbidden romance, and heart-stopping adventure.

Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. Nisha makes her way as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.

Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but her own life.

2 1/2 stars

I hate being disappointed with books I’ve hyped up in my mind. I really, really hate it. Pretty sure I docked at least a half star on my rating of this one just for that fact.

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Review: “Prodigy” by Marie Lu

ProdigyProdigy (Legend #2) by Marie Lu

Goodreads | Amazon

June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long. 

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

In this highly-anticipated sequel, Lu delivers a breathtaking thriller with high stakes and cinematic action.

2 1/2 stars

WARNING: This review WILL have spoilers of the first book; read my review of Legend if you’re interested!

I need to stop reading sophomore/middle/second books in trilogies. I can’t seem to find one that isn’t suffering from a sophomore slump HARD.

To put it bluntly? This was not a “breathtaking thriller”–I was so bored, I might not have finished the book if it wasn’t due back at the library and I didn’t want to have to rent it out again.

When the book begins, Day and June are hunting for the Patriots…despite the fact that Day has ardently tried to have nothing to do with them for years upon years. Right before they find the Patriots, the old Elector Primo dies and his son, Anden, ascends to the position. When they meet up with the Patriots, they realize–quite quickly and without asking the price–that it is best to take the mission the Patriots want to give them in order to get Day medical attention. Only after they agree are they told that the Patriots want them to assassinate the new Elector–and they want to pimp June out as bait.

Now, maybe this is a personal opinion, but Day and June’s relationship has always been iffy for me. I mean, they’re fifteen, even if it is hard to remember that sometimes. In Legend, I thought it could work because, hey, it’s young love and what have you. In Prodigy, it just gets ridiculous. Too much of the book is driven by their “love,” even though they spend a majority of the book apart. Also, I wasn’t kidding. The Patriots grand plan is to send June out to win the new Elector’s heart because he’s ridiculously attracted to this fifteen year old girl and wants to make her his wife so bad he conveniently forgets there’s pretty compelling evidence she’s a traitor. The entire situation makes me feel awkward, and I don’t buy a cent of it. It gets worse when even Lu seems to forget that they are actually fifteen, not older.

This isn’t the only characterization problem, though. Remember Day’s friend, Tessa? Well, when we get back to her–and it really hasn’t been that long since we’ve seen her–she’s suddenly really in love with Day and “a lot more grown up.” Though there may have been a gap between the publishing of the two books, in book time this is like her character flipped a switch real fast. Her severe hatred of all things June also makes this worse.

The way this book is written also works against it this time. It tries to go back and forth between Day and June, but this is totally Day’s book–despite the fact that June is the one constantly referred to as the “prodigy.” June has her own story line, yes, but where it really gets interesting is how it affects Day and their combined relationship.

There is also a brief jaunt into the Colonies for some reason, which paints the Colonies as some communist crazy town. Why this happens I have no idea, and it just seems to take up space at the end of the book.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but the ending is also a complete cliche. The things that happen between Day and June were the final straw in leaving me to close to book and whallop it against my forehead.

I continued to read this book for the character of Day, and he did not disappoint me–except when he was thinking about June. I honestly hope that they end up with different people, because that seems to make them both happier. I might read the last book in this trilogy, only because I made it so far. I rated Legend 4 stars, and I do think this story can get back to that. Here’s to hoping.

ARC Review: “The Obsidian Mirror” by Catherine Fisher

The Obsidian MirrorThe Obsidian Mirror (Chronoptika #1) by Catherine Fisher

Goodreads | Amazon

Jake’s father disappears while working on mysterious experiments with the obsessive, reclusive Oberon Venn. Jake is convinced Venn has murdered him. But the truth he finds at the snow-bound Wintercombe Abbey is far stranger … The experiments concerned a black mirror, which is a portal to both the past and the future. Venn is not alone in wanting to use its powers. Strangers begin gathering in and around Venn’s estate: Sarah – a runaway, who appears out of nowhere and is clearly not what she says, Maskelyne – who claims the mirror was stolen from him in some past century. There are others, a product of the mirror’s power to twist time. And a tribe of elemental beings surround this isolated estate, fey, cold, untrustworthy, and filled with hate for humans. But of them all, Jake is hell-bent on using the mirror to get to the truth. Whatever the cost, he must learn what really happened to his father.

2 1/2 stars

Thanks to NetGalley and Dial Publishers for this eARC! This title is now available.

I am usually pretty easy to please with world building. As long as I know enough to keep me up to date on the lingo of the story, I’m fine. If the story can whizz by so fast the world building is not necessary, I never require it. But when a book keeps chucking terms and events at me with absolutely no explanation? Then I get annoyed.

I was out of my depth with this book from almost the first moment. There are multiple storylines for multiple characters straight from the gate. The character of Jake is by far my favorite, just because everything he does makes sense and he never uses fancy words. I start to lose it, however, with the introduction of Sarah. She lands in a field from out of nowhere, starts shouting names of people we’ve never met, is suddenly being chased by a wolf that is not a wolf (or is it?) and gets into the home of Jake’s godfather by pretending she’s an escaped crazy patient (or is she?). There’s talk of time travel and replicants, which gives this a distinctly scifi feel, but then we also get introduced to the Shee, which are basically fairies. Confused yet? Because at this point my head was just exploding—and this isn’t even the half of it.

I was never able to get into the groove of this book, because I only ever got half of what was going on. Every attempt I made to get into the flow was instantly thwarted by a new term or concept or event that I didn’t understand the basics of.  I will say, though, that Fisher did a masterful job of tying everything together in the end of the book. Things that had been confusing before suddenly made a lot more sense, even as new befuddlements cropped up. Still, if I hadn’t been reading this for review, I probably would never have made it that far into the book. I was so frustrated for so long that I almost stopped reading.

That being said, the characters in this book had very obvious motives for everything that happened, with the exception of the butler who is still a mystery to me. Jake is searching for his lost parents, Sarah wants to rescue her parents, Venn wants to save his wife, Wharton wants to protect Jake, etc. They all have very human reasons for what they do, and I never question their actions, even when they have negative consequences. It’s rare that a cast this large has that as an almost universal quality, and that impressed me.

This book could be a great read for someone with more patience with me, or maybe the ability to read between the lines better than I can. For me, though, I just didn’t have the patience to wait for things to be explained to me until literally the falling action of the book. The concept was an interesting one, but it quickly soured on me when I couldn’t get into the action—which was plentiful—because I still had no idea how anything worked. If I can get an ARC of the next book, then I might read it for the sake of the characters, but it won’t be a must grab for me.

ARC Review: “Vengeance Bound” by Justina Ireland

Vengeance boundVengeance Bound by Justina Ireland

Goodreads | Amazon

The Goddess Test meets Dexter in an edgy, compelling debut about one teen’s quest for revenge… no matter how far it takes her.

Cory Graff is not alone in her head. Bound to a deal of desperation made when she was a child, Cory’s mind houses the Furies—the hawk and the serpent—lingering always, waiting for her to satisfy their bloodlust. After escaping the asylum where she was trapped for years, Cory knows how to keep the Furies quiet. By day, she lives a normal life, but by night, she tracks down targets the Furies send her way. And she brings down Justice upon them.

Cory’s perfected her system of survival, but when she meets a mysterious boy named Niko at her new school, she can’t figure out how she feels about him. For the first time, the Furies are quiet in her head around a guy. But does this mean that Cory’s finally found someone who she can trust, or are there greater factors at work? As Cory’s mind becomes a battlefield, with the Furies fighting for control, Cory will have to put everything on the line to hold on to what she’s worked so hard to build.

2 1/2 stars

Thank you to Simon and Schuster and Edelweiss for this eARC! This title is now available.

There was a time I thought this book could be something great. There was a time I thought this concept was the best thing since sliced bread. But then everything fell apart.

The book starts out with the most awesome concept. This girl, Amelie, has a bit of a problem. There are a couple of Greek Furies in her head, and they constantly want her to kill people. Well, they call it “handing out justice.” (It’s still killing people, evil though they may be.) Amelie was once in a state of distress, and the Furies answered her call for help. Now she can’t get rid of them. Her entire family is dead. In the book’s prologue, we find her a medicated vegetable under the care of a doctor who isn’t helping at all—only hurting. The Furies help her escape, and then the book cuts to a couple of years later where Amelie, as “Cory,” is still in hiding, trying to track down that doctor to enact vengeance. However, the Furies are getting more powerful and threatening to take over her mind. So what does she do to stay sane? She enrolls in high school.

That chunk right there, which I just summarized, was the best part of the book. The sad thing is that it’s basically the first two or three chapters, and they’re all set up. I should have had alarm bells go off when Cory/Amelie decided that English class was more important than enacting justice on murderers, rapists and the like. But I kept reading on, so sweet was the promise of those first few chapters.

Enter Cory/Amelie’s trio of girl friends. Each one of them is more terrible than the last. One is a complete witch, the other is a surprise witch, and the other one is so emotionally unstable she is constantly having nasty little break downs. You’d think the Furies would be the only insane and malicious girls in this story, but you’d be oh so wrong. I hated every single one of them with a fiery, burning passion. Even Cory/Amelie didn’t seem to like them. They made little to no sense at all.

Then enter a boy named Niko, who actually makes the Furies stay quiet for once. Drum roll please for INSTA-LOVE! Other than the fact that he makes the Furies stay quiet, there is literally no reason of Cory/Amelie to be attracted to him. We never learn anything about him. His entire character is built to love Cory/Amelie for no reason. Literally none. He’s as flat as a piece of paper.

Last but not least, the ending. That wasn’t an ending. I had made it all this way, hoping and praying for redemption but I just started shouting. That wasn’t an ending. It was … convenient. There was no real triumph. There was no real end. Things were just … released to go as they would. There won’t ever be any retribution for it, either, because this is a stand alone. This is just … it. That wasn’t an ending.

Frankly, I’m just disappointed. I really am. The first two chapters had such great promise, but things fell apart so fast and never even tried to self correct. The characters were all completely 2-D, the love interest wasn’t a relationship at all, and that wasn’t an ending. I hoped and expected so much more from this. I had originally rated this 3 stars on Goodreads, but I think I’m actually going to stick with a 2.5 rating.

ARC Review: “Wilde’s Meadow” by Krystal Wade

Wilde’s Meadow (Darkness Falls #3) by Krystal Wade

Goodreads | Amazon

Happy endings are hard to find, and even though Katriona is in the middle of a war with someone who’s already stolen more than she can replace, she aches for a positive future with her Draíochtans.

Armed with hope, confidence in her abilities, and a strange new gift from her mother, Kate ventures into the Darkness to defeat a fallen god.

Losses add up, and new obstacles rise to stand in the way. Is the one determined to bring Encardia light strong enough to keep fighting, or will all the sacrifices to stop those who seek domination be for nothing?

2 1/2 stars

Thank you to NetGally and Curiousity Quills Press for this eARC! This book is now available.

Well, this is the end. Hopefully, if you’re reading this, you’ve read my reviews of Wilde’s Fire and Wilde’s Army. If not, spoilers will abound.

I did not like Wilde’s Fire. I’m just going to put that out there. I thought Kate and Arland’s romance was absolutely ridiculous and creepy, but I finished the book anyways. Somehow, for some reason, I also requested Wilde’s Army when it came out. It wasn’t the best, but it was actually surprisingly better than the first one. Maybe it’s because Arland is absent for a long time in that one…

For better or for worse, I also requested Wilde’s Meadow, because since I’d made it through the first two, why not? Unfortunetly, I was rather disappointed.

Kate and Arland are back in full swing for this one, and syrupy sweet. The freaky intensity of their relationship brings me to think of Twilight, which is never a good thing. In multiple instances, they leave people waiting and ignore a war so they can “enjoy being newlyweds.” Honestly, I prefer it when you’re fighting demons.

Despite the war aspect, there wasn’t as much action as I was expecting. Or, rather, when it happened, Kate wasn’t always actively participating. Sure, she did her fair share, but too many huge plot points in the novel were taken out of Kate’s hands and figured out for her. The amount of times that people had to lead her around to what she needed to save the world was infuriating.

There were also far, far too many characters, once again. Worse, these characters got an attempt at depth, but then nothing ever fully did them justice. I never believed in the change of the character of Perth, for example. He was always pretty rude, and otherwise flat. The senseless deaths of other characters also made no sense.

I think the biggest things that threw me off were the plot “twists.” But they weren’t really twists. The way they were thrown into the story, they felt like plot inventions, suddenly thrown in to move things along, like a NaNo novel.

All in all, it was a fight to get to the end of the book. The characters were always defeating my attempts to like them, and the plot was really jerky. I find this to be one of the few series where the middle book was actually the best.