ARC Review: Mask of Shadows by Lindsey Miller

I wanted this to be so good. I really did. But then it just … wasn’t. I ended up giving it 2 stars and 1 really impassioned review because I thought it had so much potential and then it never lived up to it.

Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

I’ll be honest – I was hoping for an awesome review here, but that’s not what I’ve got. Seriously, I thought this book was going to be AMAZING. It had such a dark premise, such an interesting wealth of ideas … I loved the concept. I still love the concept. And I love the characters and the world and Kendare writes wonderfully. The problem is the plot, and how mangled it got throughout the story. Sigh. Watch for more on why I was so sad!

Review: “Choosing My Religion” by Stephen J. Dubner

414Dq6zuagL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Choosing by Religion by Stephen J. Dubner

Goodreads | Amazon

Choosing My Religion is a luminous memoir, crafted with the eye of a journalist and the art of a novelist by New York Times Magazine writer and editor Stephen J. Dubner. By turns comic and heartbreaking, it tells the story of a family torn apart by religion, sustained by faith, and reunited by truth.

Two stars

Thesis Thursdays: Review – Poison by Bridget Zinn

Thesis Thursdays is a weekly(ish) feature where I rant, love and talk about young adult books I’m reading because I’m conning my college into thinking this is all for academia! Find out more here!

poisonPoison by Bridget Zinn

Published March 12, 2013, by Disney-Hyperion

Goodreads | Amazon

Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.

But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart . . . misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she’s certainly no damsel-in-distress—she’s the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon.

Two stars

When I realized that I was doing female assassins for my thesis, I bought this one basically without thinking about it. I’d wanted it for a while, and it seemed PERFECT. This synopsis looked A+ on par, everything I wanted, going to be the best thing ever. While I don’t regret buying the paperback … I was wrong.

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Review: “Pippi Longstocking” by Astrid Lindgren

PippiPippi Longstocking (Pippi Longstocking #1) by Astrid Lindgren

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Tommy and his sister Annika have a new neighbor, and her name is Pippi Longstocking. She has crazy red pigtails, no parents to tell her what to do, a horse that lives on her porch, and a flair for the outrageous that seems to lead to one adventure after another!

Two stars

There is nothing more terrifying than reading a book you know your teacher adores but you instantly know from the first page you … won’t. That’s what happened to me with this book.

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Review: “Caddie Woodlawn” by Carol Ryrie Brink

Caddie WoodlawnCaddie Woodlawn (Caddie Woodlawn #1) by Carol Ryrie Brink

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CADDIE WOODLAWN is a real adventurer. She’d rather hunt than sew, plow than bake, and beat her brother’s dares every chance she gets. Caddie is friends with Indians, who scare most of the neighbors — neighbors, who, like her mother and sisters, don’t understand her at all.

Caddie is brave, and her story is special — because it’s true, based on the life and memoires of Carol Ryrie Brink’s grandmother, the real Caddie Woodlawn. Her spirit and sense of fun have made this book a classic that readers have taken to their hearts for over fifty years.

2 stars

I have no trouble admitting that this book probably would have been good, if not for my higher expectations of it. I read this in a slew of books for one of my classes at Ithaca College, and the books that we had read previously had a message. A story. The main character changed in the end. With all that, I couldn’t see how Caddie had a point at all.

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Bibliomancy for Beginners: Review and Hangout Video for “Magic for Beginners” by Kelly Link

All of you probably know how this works by now. I give you my review of this book, and then you get to watch the video of my book club talking about it. It’s pretty cool. Also, this week, Taylor and I went AT each other with verbal sparring, so it’s interesting to say the least. Here we go!

Link_cover.inddMagic for Beginners by Kelly Link

Goodreads | Amazon

The nine stories in Link’s second collection are the spitting image of those in her acclaimed debut, Stranger Things Happen: effervescent blends of quirky humor and pathos that transform stock themes of genre fiction into the stuff of delicate lyrical fantasy. In “Stone Animals,” a house’s haunting takes the unusual form of hordes of rabbits that camp out nightly on the front lawn. This proves just one of several benign but inexplicable phenomena that begin to pull apart the family newly moved into the house as surely as a more sinister supernatural influence might. The title story beautifully captures the unpredictable potential of teenage lives through its account of a group of adolescent schoolfriends whose experiences subtly parallel events in a surreal TV fantasy series. Zombies serve as the focus for a young man’s anxieties about his future in “Some Zombie Contingency Plans” and offer suggestive counterpoint to the lives of two convenience store clerks who serve them in “The Hortlak.” Not only does Link find fresh perspectives from which to explore familiar premises, she also forges ingenious connections between disparate images and narrative approaches to suggest a convincing alternate logic that shapes the worlds of her highly original fantasies.

2 stars

Oh boy did I have opinions on this one. Ooh boy. Considering that this was Taylor’s pick and he and Michaela from The Pied Piper Calls loved it … I had a teeny tiny bit of an … unpopular opinion. (Which is why you should watch the hangout because ohmygod.)

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ARC Review: “Moonset” by Scott Tracey

MoonsetMoonset (Legacy of Moonset #1) by Scott Tracey

Goodreads | Amazon

Justin Daggett, his trouble-making sister, and their three orphan-witch friends have gotten themselves kicked out of high school. Again. Now they’ve ended up in Carrow Mills, New York, the town where their parents—members of the terrorist witch organization known as Moonset—began their evil experiments with the dark arts one generation ago.

When the siblings are accused of unleashing black magic on the town, Justin fights to prove their innocence. But tracking down the true culprit leads him to a terrifying discovery about Moonset’s past . . . and its deadly future.

2 stars

Thank you to Flux and NetGalley for this eARC! This title will be available April 8th.

This review was completed by guest reviewer Sarah from Adventures in Storyland! Thank you, Sarah!

“Moonset. The name we’d inherited from our parents, now a slur as bad as any other four letter word. Even fifteen years after their death, people didn’t use the word Moonset lightly.

Because of it, we had people like Miss Virago, following us around. Waiting for the mistake that would push us over the edge from ‘innocent’ to ‘dangerous.’ 

Waiting for the day they could kill us, too.”

Moonset follows five teenagers, the surviving children of a cult behind a lethal uprising in the magical community. They’re cared for by the magic government, constantly moved around from town to town and school to school, and are generally mistrusted because of their heritage. This first novel in a series involves the teens getting trapped into a plot to draw out a warlock, and it’s entirely possible that no one cares whether or not they live through the attempt.

Moonset starts off rocky and then pretty much continues to be rocky right up until the rocky end. It’s not a bad book, it just didn’t really catch my attention. I had trouble connecting to any of the characters, and flat-out hated others. The protagonist, Justin, was okay but he never interested me that much. His twin, Jenna, is a bratty diva with anger issues that I spent the entire book wanting to punch. The other siblings mostly fade into the background. The love interest, Ash, is squashed into the role of manic pixie dream girl for most of the novel.

The plot is okay, but everything moves rather slowly. There’s a lot of talking and thinking and people not trusting them, but between the first chapter and the last half of the book, not a lot of action. Luckily, the magic system and world-building of this magic community are actually pretty awesome. I was really interested in learning about how their magic works and it’s pretty cool.

Basically, if you’re into magic teens and some political mayhem, you’d probably dig the book. I initially gave it a 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, but I think I’m going to downgrade to 2 out of 5 stars. It didn’t keep me nearly interested enough.

ARC Review: “Secrets” by Tim Mettey

Secrets (The Hero Chronicles Book #1) by Tim Mettey

Goodreads | Amazon

The Midwest lies in complete ruins after a catastrophic disaster kills tens of thousands and leaves hundreds of thousands injured. Nicholas Keller emerges out of the devastation as a shining light of hope for all. But his newfound fame comes with a price that his aunt will not let him pay. They flee into the shadows in order to protect his secret. However, as Nicholas begins his sophomore year at his fifth school in five years, strange and unexpected things begin to happen.  He soon tumbles into a web of doomed love, extraordinary talents and a secret past, which threatens the lives of everyone he cares about. It’s up to Nicholas to confront the truth, even if it means his own death.

2 stars

Thank you to the Kenwood Publishing Group for this ARC! This title is already in stores.

Nothing frustrates me more then a book that doesn’t live up to its potential. When I read the blurb for this book, I expected a novel full of excitement. I actually liked how vague it was, because then I didn’t really know what to expect.

The problem is this book is not like the blurb at all. Well, except for the vague part.

The entire premise of this book is that Nicholas has to move every year to avoid…something. The blurb attempts to explain it and there are hints thrown in throughout the book, but honestly I wasn’t sure what was so important that he and his aunt had to uproot their lives every year and live in fear all the time. It never made sense to me, because it was never explained. Well, okay, it is explained, literally in the last seven chapters of the book (there are 32 chapters). Because I never got this explained to me, I never believed the premise of the book once, which snapped my suspension of disbelief almost immediately.

There is also the issue of what actually happens for a bulk of the book. Granted, I was expecting high school drama, but…that’s literally all I got. There was football and a bully and an ardent love that was way overdescribed for fifteen year olds. This was 90% of the book, honestly. We are forever hinted at these “extraordinary talents” that Nicholas is supposed to have, but they are only hints. The description of why he has them–and probably the most awesome thing in the book–doesn’t come until several chapters AFTER it is explained to us why Nicholas is always moving. By that time, the talents weren’t extraordinary anymore as much as something that just happened if he couldn’t eat his Tic Tacs.

In all honesty, I’m not sure I would have finished this book if I hadn’t promised a review for today. From the beginning, the writing was clunky and the dialogue very stiff. You all know how annoyed I get about high school drama and cliches being the forefront of a book, and this was no different.

The problem–and why I stick my review to 2 stars–is that this book has so much potential. The ideas that are here, though I can’t give them away because they’re so close to the end, are really awesome. If Nicholas’s past had been explained a heck of a lot farther towards the beginning, this rating could be whole stars different. Unfortunetly, I felt for the most part like I was being strung along for explanation that was a long time in coming and then never fully explored.

To be honest, I think that the second book in this series will be a lot better than the first. Why? Because now Mettey has gotten all his exposition out of the way. I was told at a writing conference a while back that something I wrote ended where the real story began, and that’s what I feel like happened with this book. You could probably pick up book 2 and read it without being any worse for wear. But I guess we’ll have to see.