Team Magnus and Lucia because Cleo stinks.

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In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface. As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love. (From Goodreads)

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

I rather enjoyed this one. Somewhat. The characters are really what drives this book (some of them that is) and while the plot moves at a medium pace, it’s understandable as this introduces you to the setting, the characters and what’s in store for us as readers.

World building is straight forward and there’s a handy guide in the beginning so you can figure out who is who and from which Kingdom (there are three). It pretty much centralizes on a small group that are central to the main plot and it’s easy to figure out who is who as you quickly start developing favorites 🙂

And this is where it starts getting interesting. I notice this happens sometimes with fantasy books. The good characters are downright annoying, nauseating (even more so when the love factor is involved) and induce eye rolling moments while reading. The not so nice characters are  more interesting to read, you quietly cheer for them and hope they turn out for the better because you don’t want them going down that path because most likely, they’ll end up being gone and you’ll have nothing else to read but the good guys.

I tried to like Cleo. I really did. However all I see is a little naive twit who’s annoying and I don’t really see her worth in this book and I wonder why Magnus just doesn’t end her so she can join good ol dependable Theon. I am hoping she turns out better in the later books but so far she’s not looking so good and her romance with Theon was so eye rolling inducing it’s characters like these that make or break the novel.

Thankfully, I love the Magnus story arc. He’s turned into a jerk but it’s not really his fault as dad isn’t really nice. The thing with Lucia is creepy and although they’re not blood related it still gives moments of queasiness (dude, you have like so many girls in the Kingdom come on). That being said though, I love reading about Magnus and Lucia. Their story lines are interesting, they have faults, and they deal with it (albeit, perhaps not in an all too healthy manner).

The story arc with Jonas was also interesting and I wish more was written about him (I think Cleo’s got way too much time in spotlight) as he’s gone through so much to get his revenge and only to find out it just opened a giant Pandora’s box and we’re heading towards more epic battling.

The latter third of the book gets really interesting. I’m only hoping there’s going to be a good outcome for everyone and I really hope Cleo’s character improves because she’s really what could make or break my desire to continue onto this series. Sometimes it takes that one character to ruin it all. That being said, I think it’s off to a great start and I’m ready for some more! Great for those into YA fantasy.

I give it a 7 out of 10.  

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Great action and plot, bad love triangle

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MACKENZIE AND AMY WERE BEST FRIENDS.

UNTIL AMY WAS BRUTALLY MURDERED.

Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer: A white werewolf. Lupine syndrome – also known as the werewolf virus – is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control. Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy’s murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy’s boyfriend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk. (From Goodreads)

***Possible spoilers, you’ve been warned***

The book starts off well and has a good pace and momentum throughout the book. The setting is also well done and small with a handful of characters so it’s simple and makes the reading enjoyable. I particularly liked the dream sequences Mac has with Amy. They can be cliche but it helps move the plot along and adds to the mood.

The werewolf aspect is interesting in the book. The notion of them having a ‘rehabilitation’ camp has a dystopia feel and there’s also Mac trying to solve Amy’s murder. So there’s different characteristics of the book to please YA readers which makes the experience reading this fun and enjoyable.

Of course you need a bit of romance in the story as well right? I’m all for Kyle and Mac being together. I found the love triangle aspect here irritating and forced on. Jason did not have sort of chemistry at all with Mac. It felt forced, awkward, and well…it just didn’t sit well with me (your boyfriend likes your best friend…just. No.) The love triangle just made things so cliche and sappy. The story didn’t need this. It was fine with just Kyle and Mac!

The mystery aspect was good throughout the novel. The crumb trail to figuring out who was behind the attacks wasn’t that obvious until the late third of the book and although it was already known who it was, the action sequence and climax of the story was pretty exciting and a lot of things are revealed. The revelations weren’t the type to blind side you, it fits well into the story and puts the pieces together. Which is fine. I think the action scenes are enough to keep readers interested.

I was happy with the way the book ended and I’ll be picking up the second one. Recommended for YA lovers who just want a good light read with some good action and a readable enjoyable plot.

I give it a 7 out of 10.

A lot of characters, but still a good mystery

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1773: Massachusetts colony is torn between patriots who want independence from British rule and loyalists who support the King. At the center is the educated and beautiful Abigail Adams-wife of John Adams, a leader of the Sons of Liberty, the secret organization opposing the Crown. When her husband is accused of murder, she will clear his name. (From Goodreads)

 

I didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I would! It was a great mystery with a hefty set of characters (historical and otherwise) with an underlying theme of political tension playing throughout the plot.

I think that’s what made the book enjoyable, was despite the mystery being the main hook, the political tension and bickering between the patriots and the British was always in the forefront and mentioned when need be as it was central to the story. Every so often you had mention of Abigail’s refusal to drink tea for example, or minor scuffles happening between citizens and the Redcoats.

Despite the tensions however, Abigail puts her ideas and beliefs aside and works alongside the British to solve this mystery. I enjoyed reading her character. She’s strong willed and has a good retort every so often when she needs to speak out, which shocks other characters as it wasn’t considered “proper”. I enjoy Abigail’s unorthodox behavior and it may seem as if she gives an air of an annoying stubborn woman, but it’s because of her personality that things get done no matter whose side you’re on or who you support.

John and Abigail’s relationship was also nice to read. They’re both equals and you can see a subtle quiet strength between them and they compliment each other perfectly. There’s a mutual respect between the two and if they were alive now, they would probably be a political supercouple 😉

The mystery aspect of the book was good and the intrigue is definitely noted. The setting is superbly done and very descriptive. The list of suspects was substantial and revelation of the culprit isn’t much of a surprise but the execution of obtaining the criminal and his background story was excellent to read , and was very satisfying to see the bad guys get their dues. The supporting characters are also well done – although I have to admit, there are just a little too many for me. Even minor characters have their personality and details and although it’s good and makes the world building more detailed and rich, sometimes it’s a bit hard to follow as to who’s who. (Perhaps a section of cast of characters would help in this case – especially when some characters share the same last name)

I’ll be picking up the next book to read. It’s definitely worth looking into for those that love historical fiction mysteries. The tea has been dumped!!! So you have to figure out what sort of chaos is going to happen and what mystery Abigail will solve next.

I give it a 7 out of 10.

Everything Runs Amok in PDX

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24 hours.

That’s all it takes.

A new kind of war has begun.

 

* * *

Pak Han-Yong’s day is here. An elite hacker with Unit 101 of the North Korean military, he’s labored for years to launch Project Sonnimne: a series of deadly viruses set to cripple Imperialist infrastructure.And with one tap of his keyboard, the rewards are immediate.

Brendan Chogan isn’t a hero. He’s an out-of-work parking enforcement officer and one-time collegiate boxer trying to support his wife and children. But now there’s a foreign enemy on the shore, a blackout that extends across America, and an unseen menace targeting him.Brendan must do whatever it takes to keep his family safe. In the wake of the cyber attacks, electrical grids fail, satellites crash to earth, and the destinies of nine strangers collide.Strangers whose survival depends upon each other’s skills and courage. (From Goodreads)

So let’s start with the actual review first. This book was a quick read and an enjoyable one. It was action packed and although it’s a thin book to start with, it makes the reading even quicker.

Those who love plot hooks where the world runs amok and hell breaks loose will love this book. It immediately starts in the first few chapters and sets the ball rolling. The background story as to how the world (or to be exact the USA) goes downhill is explained by having North Korean hackers finding a way to plant viruses into the web which pretty much breaks down society. It’s a good “what if” scenario and further chapters show how fast society just crumbles when things we rely on daily vanish before our eyes.

There’s a variety of characters in the book that are easy to follow. Each have their own share their own spot in the plot and eventually converge and meet together (albeit a bit coincidentally but well, they’d have to meet somewhere right?)

My favourites would have to be Brandon, Vailea , and Carmen. Although the survivors of the crisis have their own strengths, these three stood out for me the most. They’re likeable, and as mentioned before showed their strengths to survive to protect their loved ones (or avenge them in some cases)

Orion and Xandra would be my two least favorite ones. Orion because he was just so whiny, Xandra because although I know she’s supposed to be analytical and a computer whiz, her personality was blah and just downright unlikable. She has her uses but she’s not really someone I would ideally have tea with if I had a choice.

So overall, a really good plot, filled with action and fun to read. The ending does result in a cliffhanger but it was a really good one. I’d love to know what’s going to happen next. It does play out almost like a movie and it’s well done.

Now for the next part of my review. Why did I like this so much? Well considering I just moved to Portland, it got me recognizing street names, bridges (still haven’t memorized all of them yet) and asking my husband (who’s lived in Portland all his life) all sorts of questions (ie: “Where is <enter name of street here>” in which  he replies with a sigh and says: “Oh god you’re reading a book that’s set in Portland aren’t you?!?!?”) so because I’m familiar with the setting, it even made the reading experience twice as special.

I greatly enjoyed this one. I can’t wait for the second.

I give it a 7 out of 10.

Thank you FSB Associates for providing me a review copy of the book in exchange for a review!

 

Serious Subject Matter but needs to be read.

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Seventeen-year-old Charlotte barely escaped from her abusive parents. Her little brother, Sam, wasn’t as lucky. Now she’s trying to begin the new life she always dreamed of for them, but never thought she’d have to experience alone. She’s hired a techie-genius with a knack for forgery to remove the last ties to her old life. But while she can erase her former identity, she can’t rid herself of the memories. And her troubled history won’t let her ignore the little girl she sees one day in the park. The girl with the bruises and burn marks. That’s when Charlotte begins to receive the messages. Threatening notes left in her apartment–without a trace of entry. And they’re addressed to Piper, her old name. As the messages grow in frequency, she doesn’t just need to uncover who is leaving them; she needs to stop whoever it is before anyone else she loves ends up dead. (From Goodreads)

You simply just can’t imagine the terror Piper had to go through all throughout her life, and then to get out of that vicious cycle shows how strong she is. It’s sad that it had to come to severe extreme measure for her to escape but nevertheless she was able to do so is a feat in itself.

The way the characters; both Piper and Sanda are extremely well done in this book. They’re both mistrustful of others (can’t blame them) and although they try hard to learn how to integrate with society, they do tend to stand out. (Examples such as Sanda being fearful of not seeing Piper again or Piper learning how to register Sanda to school) This is so well done by Johansson. It’s very realistic of their characters and it shows how they struggle to blend in because of their fear of standing out due to their trauma. They shy away from physical contact to the point where it causes them physical discomfort. This is well written and felt by the characters accurately.

The plot itself was good as well. It just seems like wherever Piper goes horrible awful things just seem to follow. It’s serious and dark, and Piper being stalked does increase the chill factor several notches up. The idea of someone breaking into your apartment and leaving lovely goodies to freak you out is unsettling and terrifying. These moments are well written and does set the mood for the plot. There’s a moment or two where you feel so angry because of particular actions and the suffering some of the characters go through. (Yes Lily, I’m looking at you…you horrible girl you…)

I’m not sure what to think of the relationship between Cam and Piper. Sure Piper has a great deal of mistrust and puts Cam at an arm length’s distance but seriously? Romance? I know he’s trying to be friendly and has a bleeding heart for those in need but I’m not sure Piper would jump in at the chance to have a romance with him. Yes, she puts him as far away from her as possible and he tries hard to approach her through different ways but I really don’t see a romance as a thing in this story. Should there even be one? Why was there one in the first place? I found it rather unnecessary considering the serious subject matter.

This novel is nerve wracking, and props to Piper and Sanda for their inner strength. It was a good read. Not a light hearted one, but one worth the read nevertheless.

I give it a 7 out of 10.

Average Guy, not so Average London

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Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic. (From Goodreads)

I enjoyed reading this one as it featured a main character who wasn’t your typical anti-hero – which we seem to have a lot lately. I’m glad to see Peter was just your average good guy who’s doing his best to be a policeman until he comes across supernatural things in which his whole life changes.

Peter’s relationship with Nightingale is pretty much a mentor/student one. Nightingale has his own secrets though and a few are revealed but there’s more to him that you think – I hope there’s more information about him in the later books to come. There are other supporting characters; I do like Leslie because she’s got the wit (possible love interest, maybe) and she’s a perfect sidekick to Peter. Molly is another interesting character that I would love to know more about. Again this is the first book in the series so I’m hoping more character development will eventually come forth in later books.

The world building is pretty good and Peter does a good job also explaining how things are in London (I admit I had to google a couple of things as I didn’t know who or what Punch and Judy were) but it gives you information on the city and events that are common there to actually make you feel as if you are following Peter around as he tries to solve the case and becomes an apprentice.

The plot was well done and I liked how the different story arcs come together in the end into one large circle. It may seem confusing at first but once you have everything laid out and you know who is who everything comes to a close and it’s a great closing. It obviously leaves room for more books coming so one can look forward to what is next for Peter.

(The Riot scene though? Holyyyyy sheeeeeee what the……)

It’s a good read, those who are into urban fantasy mysteries will likely like this type of book. Looking forward to book two!

I give it a 7 out of 10.

Mister Tender ain’t so sweet

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How far are you willing to go for Mister Tender? At fourteen, Alice Hill was viciously attacked by two of her classmates and left to die. The teens claim she was a sacrifice for a man called Mister Tender, but that could never be true: Mister Tender doesn’t exist. His sinister character is pop-culture fiction, created by Alice’s own father in a series of popular graphic novels. Over a decade later, Alice has changed her name and is trying to heal. But someone is watching her. They know more about Alice than any stranger could: her scars, her fears, and the secrets she keeps locked away. She can try to escape her past, but Mister Tender is never far behind. He will come with a smile that seduces, and a dark whisper in her ear… (From Goodreads)

This was a really good thrilling read. I enjoyed the twists and the overall feeling of the book really gave you the feeling you were being observed just like Alice felt throughout the novel.

Depictions of anxiety, of Alice breaking down and feeling defeated, her constant fear of being watched and followed, there’s a lot of emotions in the book and you can’t blame her as she went through a real rough patch in her past. It’s amazing she’s able to do the things she does (like owning a coffee shop for example). Alice is a very strong and determined character with considerable vulnerabilities.

I wasn’t really much into the guessing game as to who’s the one doing the following here. I was much too engrossed on how Alice was faring throughout the story as it seemed she was going to snap at any moment.

However, let’s get to the last third of the book.

Holy jeez. I don’t even know what to think.

You ever get that horrible creepy feeling when you come across something so terrible and bizarre and the only thing you can do is keep reading about it until your curiosity either gets the best out of you and you can’t sleep for the rest of the night or you turn away (but your curiosity hasn’t been satiated and you go back to step one)

That’s how I felt while reading the last third of the novel. To even think something like *that* actually exists out there (and worse) is frightening.

Now there were some unanswered and strings that weren’t really tied together or finished. Some characters just vanished without a trace and you’re left wondering what’s going to happen to them or if Alice is going to keep in touch with these particular people. Or maybe, Alice is just going to start fresh again ? who knows. I just didn’t like that some of them were just left there forgotten.

Other than that little bit, I enjoyed reading this book. You’d be surprised what awful twisted things lurk out there in the world and they’re probably just watching without us even knowing it. Great suspense and thrills. Worth a read!

I give it a 7 out of 10.