Review of Rebel Heart by Moira Young

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Saba thought her world would return to normal after they defeated the Tonton and rescued her kidnapped brother Lugh. The family head west for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But a formidable enemy is on the rise. What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants? (From Goodreads)

 

**Spoilers ahead, you’ve been warned**

First, it’s recommended you read Blood Red Road before you jump into this one. It starts off a little later in the storyline but it’s best to get your background information so you can better understand the second one of the series.

I notice with the second book of almost every series I’ve read, they hit a bump in the plotline and it either goes very well, or sometimes it goes not so good, or terribly bad. In this case, it went a little lackluster. However it wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst either. I suppose sometimes it’s hard to live up to the how high the bar is set when the first novel was written and released. As readers, we expect the same kind of emotional excitement.

So what I notice is a trend in the second book of the series as well, the main character always, (almost always) have their emo moments. This brings the plot down and establishes a lull and you’re left with this mopey character who’s on a complete pity trip while things are hitting the fan everyone around them. For crying out loud Saba. Seriously? I did not expect this from you. Sure, we’re all entitled our own moments but what ever happened to the pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off and carry on motto? We need more of that instead of ‘woe is me the world is against me, I can’t take this anymore’ sort of thinking. So I’d have to say this aspect of the novel, I didn’t like so much.

I wasn’t expecting Saba to meet DeMalo so soon in the series. But oh my goodness he’s bloody insane. His way of thinking of his purpose makes you want to slug him one but you understand given the circumstances and the living conditions of the setting, yeah. It’s enough to make you go completely batshit crazy and think of these things as a way of survival or a way of life in order to make things ‘better’. What baffles me is….she ends up sleeping with him and just wow….seriously? Sleeping with the enemy doesn’t give you any bonus points here Saba darling. So…why? Just why? Don’t give me this emotional fragility crap. That’s getting old and useless.

The pace of the plot is noticeably slower given that perhaps this second book is going to be geared towards character development. Lugh’s still a twit and he wasn’t that likable in the first place – plus you feel like asking what the heck his problem is because he’s just so filled with resentment and anger. Jack is hardly anywhere in the book. He disappears and doesn’t interact with Saba. Still a mystery character with no answers. Sort of made me wonder, then why was he mentioned so much in the first one, to have no place in this one? Frustrating considering he played a big part and his character was one of the most likable in the story.

So overall, it’s okay. Second books in series always go through ruts and patches. I’m reading through this series because I really did like the first one and I’ll finish this one hoping the ending will go with an awesome bang so I can forget Rebel Heart.

I give it an 7 out of 10.

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Review of Starters by Lissa Price

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Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie’s only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man. He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie’s head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator’s grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations’ plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined. . . . (From Goodreads)

I loved the idea behind this book. An interesting concept that makes for good reading for a novel that features dystopia themes. Although it’s not that much different from your usual themes (your usual plague ridden society, with the poor suffering, and the rich being..well rich) it was still worth a read and I rather enjoyed it. The world building and setting is well written and provides a good foundation for reading.

I can’t say I really like Callie though. Sure, who wouldn’t like to live the life of the Ender with all that luxury but she’s not that likable (and you just have those moments where you shake your head and think to yourself ‘really? REALLY? DID YOU JUST DO WHAT I THOUGHT YOU JUST DID?’) and Blake. I really don’t know what the appeal is with him. Sure Callie, he’s cute and all and he’s a lovely treat to look at. That’s ok right? Because poor Michael is back there at home with your suffering brother wondering where the heck you are. But that’s ok, you can walk all over Michael while you fawn over Blake like a lovesick cow.

I have no patience for that kind of stupidity. Really.

So aside from the characters that don’t really appeal to me, I still thought the book was worth the read.  It’s a good addition to one’s collection of dystopian fiction. Give it a try. I’ll be reading Enders (sequel to this) for sure just to see where the story ends up. (Also if my prediction ends up being correct..)

I give it a 6 out of 10

Review of Shadowcry by Jenna Burtenshaw

0425184056.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgTen years ago Kate Winters’ parents were taken by the High Council’s wardens to help with the country’s war effort. Now the wardens are back…and prisoners, including Kate’s uncle Artemis, are taken south on the terrifying Night Train. Kate and her friend Edgar are hunted by a far more dangerous enemy. Silas Dane – the High Council’s most feared man – recognises Kate as one of the Skilled; a rare group of people able to see through the veil between the living and the dead. His spirit was damaged by the High Council’s experiments into the veil, and he’s convinced that Kate can undo the damage and allow him to find peace. The knowledge Kate needs lies within Wintercraft – a book thought to be hidden deep beneath the graveyard city of Fume. But the Night of Souls, when the veil between life and death is at its thinnest, is just days away and the High Council have their own sinister plans for Kate and Wintercraft. (from Goodreads)

The story was pretty interesting and had a neat concept with the “Skilled”. I also liked the setting with the Graveyard city. So this is what rather kept me going for a bit while reading. The magic system itself was interesting and somewhat different from what I’ve read in the past. That kept the flow of reading along. Somewhat. The world building was alright although I wanted more detail and more explanation. What type of world was this? Yes it’s got magic in it but am I looking at fantasy with a Graveyard city? Is it a steampunk setting? What am I looking at here?

Now let’s move onto the characters.

Out of all of them, Silas even though he was pretty much your typical villain, was actually the most interesting. Even though he was the most interesting though, he wasn’t really that likable (understandably so, he’s a villain BUT I  always root for the bad guy). He wasn’t really part of the “cool bad guy” crowd I suppose for lack of a better explanation.

Edgar, who is Kate’s friend, meh. Not sure if I really liked him. He was a wuss. Sure, he had some few good moments. Otherwise though he just wasn’t that great at all. Kate was okay. She was a typical strong girl character you see in most YA novels like these.

In summary though, I’d have to say these characters in the book are ho hum. There’s not much feeling to them, they’re not likable, and they’re just…blah. Because of this and the lack of world building I just didn’t feel that much into the book and didn’t grab my attention. Sure, there were good points in the book but it just wasn’t quite enough to get me into the book like some others have. I’m not sure I’m going to go further into the series. I’d say take it or leave it with this one. I’ve seen other reviews where some have really enjoyed the book. Unfortunately much as I wanted to, I didn’t so much.
I give it a 7 out of 10.

Review of A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger

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London, 1385. Surrounded by ruthless courtiers—including his powerful uncle, John of Gaunt, and Gaunt’s flamboyant mistress, Katherine Swynford—England’s young, still untested king, Richard II, is in mortal peril, and the danger is only beginning. Songs are heard across London—catchy verses said to originate from an ancient book that prophesies the end of England’s kings—and among the book’s predictions is Richard’s assassination. Only a few powerful men know that the cryptic lines derive from a “burnable book,” a seditious work that threatens the stability of the realm. To find the manuscript, wily bureaucrat Geoffrey Chaucer turns to fellow poet John Gower, a professional trader in information with connections high and low. Gower discovers that the book and incriminating evidence about its author have fallen into the unwitting hands of innocents, who will be drawn into a labyrinthine conspiracy that reaches from the king’s court to London’s slums and stews–and potentially implicates his own son. As the intrigue deepens, it becomes clear that Gower, a man with secrets of his own, may be the last hope to save a king from a terrible fate. (From Goodreads)

 

Definitely not a book to be read in a quick setting. Are you into literary figures? Historical fiction? Historical mystery filled with spies and intrigue? Something that takes place in the Middle Ages? All of the above in one book? Sure! Let’s take it!

I’d have to say, there can be no better description of the Middle Ages than in this book. Everything was so visual and well written. The setting itself has good amounts of description, the characters definitely helped as well. They even had the mannerisms and speech of the time.

Speaking of characters.

Oh Chaucer. No. Just no. I don’t like you. He’s not exactly painted in the most best of light here is he? Manipulative, wife stealer, even with his supposed close friend he’s not upfront and honest with. You definitely have sympathy with Gower here. Even though he has a questionable job and past with his son Simon, he’s still a much more likable character than Chaucer in my opinion. Other characters that I liked; Edgar/Eleanor – the story arc with Millicent and Agnes was a good one. I enjoyed their side of the story with the ‘dregs’ of society. Another character I liked, Hawkwood. Yes he’s an odious villain that oozed all the horrible things you didn’t like. But he was such an awesome villain! Cold, calculating, and not one to trifle with when you get on his bad side and think you can get away with (that poor sod – those who read the book should know what I’m talking about)

The plot itself was pretty good. Lots of plot twists and turns. You’re left peeling layer after layer of intrigue and mystery while you get to the bottom of it. Once you had it figured out there’s still more left to figure out. I enjoyed it! There’s something about all the layers of intrigue that makes it a more compelling read.

However, a couple of things that made this read a not so easy one. The amount of characters. Quite a few to keep track of. So this isn’t the type of book that you can drop and come back to after a while (I mistakenly did that unfortunately, as life got in the way). You need to take you time, get to know the characters, the plot and how everything comes together. It sometimes can get a little confusing so some extra attention is needed while reading this book. Also, have a dictionary beside you. I suppose to keep with the medieval thing, there’s some medieval terminology that you’ll need to familiarize yourself with. It adds more to the book but I could have done without it. To be on the bright side, my vocabulary has increased with various middle age words.

Overall, take the time to read the book and enjoy. The spinning and weaving of the web and trying to find the center spot is fun and always is a treat to read when figuring out a historical mystery. Greatly recommended for Hist-fic fans.

I give it a 6 out of 10.

Thank you William Morrow for providing me a review copy!