Monday, May 30, 2016

May 2016 Book Review: Promise of Shadows


By Justina Ireland

~Book Review~

Warning! Spoilers!

FOR THOSE OF YOU IN MOURNING because Sarah Fine’s Sanctum series is over, just stay calm. STAY CALM. Promise of Shadows is here, and there is plenty of afterlife action in Tartarus. 

I am a big fan of afterlife stories in whatever underworld because they are creepy and cool, and Tartarus didn’t disappoint! Within the first several pages, we are introduced to Zephyr Mourning, the harpy with blue dreads, who has been condemned to the pit of suffering for killing a minor god. When we meet Zephyr, she is despondent and resigned. This minor god murdered her sister, and she was able to kill him by using Erebos, a forbidden dark magic. Only a god can wield that type of power.

Naturally, Greek gods being as self-preserving as they are, they don’t like this one bit. Zephyr has a big target on her back. She teams up with Cass, a shifty sort who may or may not be trustworthy, as well as a pair of hot brothers named Talon and Blue. Together, they fight their way out of Tartarus and try and discover the truth behind why certain gods want Zephyr dead.

I loved the first half of the book set in Tartarus. There are fantastic, nasty descriptions of the horror that goes on there, and there were all sorts of terrifying monsters. After they escape, there was a break in the action to focus on character development as well as the blossoming romance between Zephyr and Tallon, her childhood friend. It wasn’t the sexy swoon-worthy type, but more of a slow and gentle burn. We learn more about the Greek gods and how Zephyr’s sister ended up dead, and it all makes for a great, adventurous read. Highly recommended!

Recommended for fans of: Sarah Fine, Brenna Yovanoff, Susan Ee

Upcoming Book Review: Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Sunday, May 22, 2016

April 2016 Book Review: Reawakened


By Colleen Houck 

~Book Review~

Warning! Major Spoilers!

THE EGYPTIAN LORE OUTSHONE the main plot and characters. The brief glimpse into Isis, Horus, and Seth was by far the most raw and intriguing aspect of this romantic adventure inspired by Egyptian mythology, but their story was told in heavy exposition. Reawakened sadly throws too many clichéd “Indiana Jones” and “The Mummy” references that destroyed any authenticity or respect for the book. When upper class New Yorker Lily's first impulse upon meeting Egyptian Prince Amon is to call him “Ali Baba,” I immediately detached from the story. Such a comment, and other names that she continues to casually refer to him, are inherently racist.

It would have been one thing if Houck had intended for Lily to be a rich, judgmental brat who slowly learns over time and demonstrates some humility. But she doesn’t. Within the first two pages, Lily dismisses a taxi driver and a passerby as “thickly-accented” and “creepy” for asking if she needed help. Later, she describes how she always can afford the best in designer clothes, but yet she manages to sneer at her friends for being so focused on appearances. These “friends” are pretty much the only female characters with speaking time, and they are referred to as “Redhead,” “Blonde,” ect.

Over the course of the story, Lily meets a reawakened Egyptian Prince named Amon, who needs her help to find his other brothers and stop the god of chaos, Seth, who is rising for no reason in particular. Amon and the brothers worship her from day one. Lily can do no wrong. As such, there is zero character growth on her part. She can’t even do much of anything, either. Maybe I missed it because I started skimming once too many chapters turned into inf0-dumps, but Lily’s only purpose seemed to be to replenish Amon’s energy. Super boring; she can’t even change into a hippo or something. I really don’t like it when the main character can’t contribute much to the mission.

I’m sadly not too familiar with Egyptian mythology, so I’ll have to research it further. I was confused on Seth (Set’s) role and Apophis (Apep). I thought Apophis was the snake of chaos, not a crocodile (I guess I’ve seen information that he can be both). Seth didn’t really show up in this book, so his personality and motivations are still very unclear. His absence caused a major lack of tension. Anubis shows up; of course he’s “super hot” like the rest of Lily’s crew, and it seemed like he had taken over Osiris’s role as god of the underworld.

The lack of Egypt was also disappointing. I couldn’t get a feel of it; at one point I didn’t even realize they were inside a pyramid because there wasn’t enough physical description. It was primarily dialogue and expository info-dumping. Also, the lack of female characters was disconcerting; it’s just Lily and her worshipful Egyptian royal bros tromping around with little conflict. At least have one of the brothers *not* like her and call her out on her ignorant comments. Unfortunately, the second book in the series, Recreated, sounds like it has even less of a plot. Yet another let-down in Egyptian mythology in the vein of TheChaos of Stars by Kirsten White. At least Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles was fun.

My biggest pet peeve was Amon calling Lily “Young Lily.” Oh. My. Gosh. It made me picture him as an eighty-year-old man every time.

Recommended for fans of: Cassandra Clare, Lauren Kate, Stephanie Meyer
Upcoming Book Review: Promise of Shadows by Justina Ireland

Sunday, May 15, 2016

March 2016 Book Review: The Mark of Noba

The Mark of Noba

By GL Tomas

~Book Review~

*Warning! Spoilers!*

IN THE DEBUT NOVEL OF GL THOMAS, otherwise known as the mighty Twinjas, space adventure and time travel collides on the Earth-like “Geo,” a modern-day high school setting where people are classified by Types. However, a ruthless Naga has come to Geo with the intent to eradicate the last of the Nobans…an unsuspecting boy named Sterling Wayfairer.

Sterling is a likeable high school boy. His world isn’t very big outside of attending classes, parties, and athletic events, but he always means well. However, little does he know that the nightmares he is plagued with are actually suppressed memories of a world far different from Geo. His time traveling partner, a kick-ass Noban girl named Tetra, arrives to open up his world and enlist his help to track down a dangerous space-traveling serpent known as the Naga, whose single-handed intention is to annihilate entire races.

Tetra is a true gem, and the story really came to life with her viewpoint. She is blunt, thoughtful, and loyal to her friends. Particularly entertaining was the part where she straight up tells Kip how bad his kissing is, which was very refreshing outside of the typical YA fiction where kisses with boys is always fireworks and rainbows. From my recollection, high school had some pretty awkward kisses and dating sequences, and I was very glad that The Mark of Noba fully embraces all of high school’s growing pains to make it more realistic.

Tetra’s viewpoint as an alien to Geo also makes for some interesting social commentary in terms of gender identification and how Puritan societies view sex. For example, Tetra calls into question the usage of “slut” for someone who is promiscuous, and what that means about how their society views sex as a whole. The bond between Tetra and Sterling was very precious, and I appreciated that there was no insta-love here but a fully developed relationship.

The writing flows and makes a for a quick pace. The only distracting part was why names of places were italicized, such as “Geo,” “Seaside,” “Megalopolis,” ect. I typically don’t enjoy books where the plot is largely centered around high school, but in the case of The Mark of Noba, the mystery of the Naga, Noba, and what that promised made me excited to read more. I have a feeling we have only seen the tip of the iceberg in relation to what the next book, City of Falling Stars, has in store!

Recommended for fans of: Rick Riordan, Zoraida Córdova, and Susan Ee
Upcoming Book Review: Reawakened by Colleen Houck

February 2016 Book Review: Raised: Part III

Raised: Part III

By Sharon Stevenson

~Book Review~

*Warning! Minor Spoilers!*

RAISED: PART III continues the After Death Series, about Pete the Animate, who was killed and raised to serve a nefarious purpose of his overseers. Of course, Pete has no intention of being used even after death, and he fights back with his group of friends. Although the nasty wizard Nick is gone, the stakes are higher than ever as the charismatic King of Scotland makes decisive moves for power.

This is a fun urban fantasy with real, gritty characters. Even the not-so “real” ones, like Nine and Eight, clones of the beautiful starlet Britt, come to life, and you can’t help but root for them. Leaps in relationships are made, Pete and Kit realize something about themselves, and Mickey discovers more of his fire-wielding power as he fights to save Tim.

The writing style is as humorous, irreverent, and fast-paced as ever. I was able to read Part III in a single sitting and am already look forward to Raised: Part IV. This is a clever zombie book with realistic characters who eat burnt pizza, enjoy sex, and power through all of the twists and turns they are faced with, and I am very eager to see what happens next!

Recommended for fans of: Kim Harrison, Karen Marie Moning, and Richelle Mead
Upcoming Book Review: The Mark of Noba by GL Thomas