Monday, September 28, 2015

Discussion Question: Is Killing Off Main Characters the New Trend?

Lately it seems like I've been reading more and more books where one of the main characters gets killed off.  And I'm not talking about books where people are sick or dying or something because well, kind of expected.  I mean fantasy/dystopian/paranormal books.  

I have to say, I HATE THIS. I get to know the characters, a lot of times over multiple books, I'm emotionally invested in them, and then boom, let's kill off one of the main characters.  WHY????  What really gets me is when it seems so pointless, which is most of the time.  Is it for shock value?  To be different?  (which it's not if it's happening more and more).  Is it to be realistic?  (You know, people are dying left and right but then magically, the main characters don't.  Part of me gets this, but still).  

I recently read a book where BOTH of the main characters die at the end.  And I think (not sure, since the main characters died and it was dual POV) that a lot of the other characters died too.  I was like, what??  So disappointing.  I mean, I read three books and everyone dies at the end?  What was the point?

The only time I actually thought it was well done was a long time ago when I was reading a book written in first person and the first chapter ends with that person dying.  Then the POV shifted to a new character.  First of all, so unexpected.  Second, not at all emotionally invested in that character so I didn't mind.  Other than that, I never like it when it happens and honestly, I just want the main characters to end up happy together.  Those are the books I want to read again and again and recommend to people.  

Have you noticed this happening more and more lately?  Do you hate it?  Think it's necessary?  

Posted by:  Pam

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (113)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!  It is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.


From the Library:
Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel

What books did you add to your shelves this week?

Posted by:  Pam

Friday, September 25, 2015

Book Review: Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Wolf by Wolf (Wolf by Wolf #1)
Author:  Ryan Graudin
Publisher:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 400 pages
Expected Publication Date:  October 20, 2015
*ARC received from publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor's ball.

Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year's only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin's brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael's every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

I loved this book!  Perfect pacing, great combination of action, deception, intrigue, and politics.  I admit, I'm a sucker for alternate history books, the what if scenarios. What if World War II happened differently? What if America never entered the war and Germany and Japan won?  Along with that, you have a sort of sci-fi aspect to it, with Yael being experimented on and able to look like anyone.  She joins the resistance and impersonates Adele so she can win a motorcycle race and get close to Hitler to assassinate him.  The competition is brutal and Yael quickly figures out that it's more difficult than she anticipated pretending to be Adele, since her brother is unexpectedly in the race and apparently she has some sort of relationship with Luka and she had no idea about it.  Who can she trust?  Let me just say…this is so good!!!  Cannot wait until the next one.

Posted by:  Pam

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)
Authors:  Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Publisher:  Knopf Books for Young Readers, 608 pages
Expected Publication Date:  October 20, 2015
*ARC received from publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—
Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

All the stars! Amazing, unique, clever, and brilliant, I absolutely devoured this. My heart is still pounding, I feel like I can't catch my breath. Whew! This is one I will buy in hardback and reread.  Not only because I absolutely loved it but also because now that I know a certain something, I'm dying to read it again with that knowledge. Vague, I know.

To be honest, when I first started the book I wasn't sure how I was going to like the format (emails, military files, interviews, etc.)  because I didn't think I would connect with the characters.  I'm so glad I was wrong.  This book will appeal to everyone because it is both character and plot driven.  LOVED LOVED LOVED.

Posted by:  Pam

Monday, September 21, 2015

Book Review: Evolution by Stephanie Diaz

Evolution (Extraction #3)
Author:  Stephanie Diaz
Publisher:  St. Martin's Griffin, 320 pages
Publication Date:  September 8, 2015
*ARC received from publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
Clementine and Logan’s world is on the brink of destruction. An army of aliens from the distant planet Marden has arrived with a massive fleet of battleships, intent on finally putting an end to an age-old war. With the Alliance headquarters reduced to rubble and one of the rebel leaders close to death, Clementine and her friends have no choice but to retreat to the Core to escape the alien ships attacking the Surface.

But safety in the Core means forming a temporary alliance with their sworn enemy. Though he's a ruthless man they cannot trust, striking a bargain with him—his pardon in exchange for their help defeating the Mardenites—seems the only way the rebels might survive. The only way that Clementine and Logan might finally live in peace. But their hope for peace is short lived as they soon find out that Marden's force is more powerful than anyone anticipated, with weapons and technologies never before seen on Kiel. Unless old feuds can be set aside long enough for a diplomatic solution to be found, all of Kiel's people will be destroyed, and all of Clementine’s sacrifices will mean nothing.

With pulse-pounding twists and turns, the stunning conclusion to the Extraction series will leave you breathless!

Evolution was a fast-paced and action-packed conclusion to the series.  To be honest, a little too much action, so much that I felt like I was reading a movie script, if that makes sense.  I wanted more interactions with the characters, more inner monologue, more romantic moments between Clem and Logan.  The book did wrap up the story well, but I did wonder why, if Clem was so important and special and they knew she was, they let her grow up on the Surface, where it was so dangerous. So a bit of a mixed bag for me.

Posted by:  Pam

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (112)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!  It is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Book Review: This Book Will Change Your Life by Amanda Weaver

This Book Will Change Your Life
Author:  Amanda Weaver
Publisher:  Entangled Publishing
Expected Publication Date:  September 28, 2015
*ARC Received from Publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
Take a chance and change your life…

College was supposed to be where Hannah’s hard work paid off, but the major in honors chemistry she’s been working towards since childhood is slipping away. Worse, she’s not sure she wants it anymore. Salvation comes from an unlikely place—a used bookstore and Ben, the passionate college senior who works there.

Ben’s trapped in a life mapped out for him. Trapped in a future career as a lawyer to make his father happy. Trapped pursuing a girl he doesn't even like because she fits into a world he doesn’t want, but can’t escape. But then he meets Hannah. And for the first time, he knows what it means to truly want something.

So he gives in to being her friend. Then to wanting her. Then to kissing her. And within the freedom of his impulsivity, both of their carefully planned lives begin to fall apart…

LOVED that this book was all about books.  Ben is an English major and works in a used bookstore and books are his life.  Hannah has never been a reader but Ben starts recommending books for her to read and she falls in love with reading and they have many conversations about books, reading them together, discussing them, reading aloud to each other.  How could I not love that?

And Hannah…what a great main character.  She's so supportive of Ben, she really does see the best version of him and encourages him to be that person.  She also talks to him about what bothers her, and I appreciated that because it lessened the angsty drama.

While there were parts of Ben I absolutely loved (his passion for reading especially), he was frustrating.  I agreed with Hannah, he needed to man up.  She was spot on when she expressed how his diffidence scared her and I have to say, it did keep me from completely falling for him.  It took him awhile to get his act together (but not too long) and it was obviously a big part of his growth as a character.  

Light and fluffy, This Book Will Change Your Life was a fun read.

Posted by:  Pam

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Book Review: The Midnight Spy by Kiki Hamilton

The Midnight Spy (The Midnight Spy #1)
Author:  Kiki Hamilton
Publisher:  Gaslamp Books, 417 pages
Publication Date:  July 26, 2015

From Goodreads:
She would risk her life to escape...

“What have we here? A midnight spy?”
Nica lifted her chin and hoped he couldn’t feel her knees shaking. “Release me.”
Instead of releasing her, his eyes narrowed as he examined her features. “I didn’t know Mosaba had a daughter,” he said softly. “You wouldn’t be a spy and a liar, would you?”

TRAPPED IN AN unbearable existence, Nica Santos risks her life to escape from her father, only to be captured by one of his soldiers—
until the most unlikely of allies comes to her assistance — but not before she realizes she has traded one prison for another…

As war explodes around her, Nica becomes ensnared in a confusing web of intrigue, romance, betrayal and ancient magic…

I really liked this book.  Here's why:

1.  Nica is a great heroine.  She's lived as quietly as she can, trying not to upset her crazy, power hungry father, the King.  He abuses her but she's still tough, planning her escape.  She's not a Mary Sue, she's just a normal girl.  Loved that she's amazing at languages and how it plays an important role in the story.

2.  The romance is sweet.  It's a little fast, but the two are just perfect for each other.  And they don't play games.  There's a slight misunderstanding but it's cleared up very fast.

3.  The quest isn't just walking around, the pacing is perfect, with just enough action and adventure.  Sometimes these quests, searching for whatever, just gets so boring.  But not in this book.  There are just enough twists and turns to make things interesting.

4.  Even though this is a series, the characters are in a good place, the main part of the story is wrapped up but there's plenty more story to go.  No cliffhanger ending.  

If you like fantasy, you'll really like this book.  One complaint is that the magic is very subtle, it's really just hinted at in this book, but it is just the first in the series. And you can see the betrayal coming a mile away.

Posted by:  Pam

Monday, September 14, 2015

Recommend It? Super Mini Reviews (9)

I got this idea from Danielle at Love at First Page. I read a lot of books that I don't review so I thought I would give a super short review of some books and let you know whether I recommend them or not.

The One Thing by Marci Lyn Curtis.  Loved this! Maggie is sarcastic and snarky and entirely believable as a teen who has recently gone blind.  She's pushed all of her friends away and basically feels sorry for herself.  I could totally see that happening.  And Ben, the 10 year old boy with the biggest heart…I absolutely fell in love with him. You have to suspend your disbelief when it comes to how Maggie can see Ben, but if you do that, you will fall in love with this book.  Highly recommend!
The Heir by Kiera Cass.  Fun and entertaining. I actually really liked Eadlyn.  Yeah, she's spoiled and keeps people at a distance, but that's sort of the whole point.  She thinks she knows how she's going to run the country, but she has a lot to learn and the selection process forces her to let her guard down.  I enjoyed reading about her growth.  I'm also surprised that there are multiple guys that appear to truly be in the running. To be honest, I can't tell who will win.  I will definitely continue with the series.  Recommend!

Posted by:  Pam

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (111)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!  It is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.


From NetGalley:
Time's Divide by Rysa Walker
Evolution by Stephanie Diaz
Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier

From the Library:
The Heir by Kiera Cass
Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

What books did you add to your shelves this week?

Posted by:  Pam

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Spoiler Discussion: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

This post is for anyone who has already read Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas and wants to discuss it.  SPOILER ALERT:  DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE BOOK.
This is one of those books where I find it impossible to review it without spoiling it so I thought I would just have a discussion about it instead.  First of all, let me just say that I did love the book, it was amazing.  Epic, in fact.  The plot was interesting, the pacing felt right, and I absolutely could not put it down.  I also loved the bromances between Aeidon and Rowan and Dorian and Chaol.  When Dorian and Chaol are both crying?  LOVE THEM.  I also thought the female friendships were well done and I don't think we see enough of them.  Loved Aelin and Lysandra as friends  and Manon and Asterin as friends.  I also loved the character growth of Manon and the fact that Lysandra was such a complex character and how great a friend she turns out to be.

Now here's what I didn't like.  What happened between Chaol and Celeana/Aelin.  I reread all three books before reading this one and it just doesn't make sense to me.  In Crown of Midnight, Celeana/Aelin tells Chaol that he is home and that she will always choose him.  In Heir of Fire, she never seems to feel anything but platonic feelings for Rowan.  Then it all just changes in Queen of Shadows.  It felt forced to me.  Like the author just fell in love with Rowan and wanted Celeana/Aelin to fall in love with him too.  And then makes Chaol also seem not to care about her so we wouldn't love him as much either (although I still do).  Instead, he just seems resigned to her not loving him or being with him anymore. Honestly, as soon as Chaol was seen with Nesryn in the very beginning of the book and we find out they had a previous relationship, I knew that was it for him and Aelin. And why is Chaol the bad guy because he doesn't instantly accept the fact that she's Fae and is the queen, etc. Uh, let him have time to adapt, ok? Just so frustrating. And then he's left paralyzed! 

I have nothing against Rowan, to be honest. In fact, I love his character. But why why why can't authors ever have a great platonic male/female relationship? I was so hoping Maas would keep their relationship platonic. It could have been amazing. And how is it going to work with him? He's hundreds of years old and will live forever. Um…does that mean that the author will somehow make Aelin like that? If that happens, how typical and ridiculous.

And the fact that Aelin moved on so quickly (and seemingly effortlessly) from Chaol really cheapened her relationship with Chaol, like it was just a silly girl thing or something. It's not like years passed or something. I didn't like how that was done. I wish Maas had had her and Chaol not necessarily get back together right away, but work through their problems. It could have taken a couple of books. How great would that have been? Have tension, fighting, etc. But NO. Instead she has to fall in love with the Fae prince. After he was HORRIBLE to her for awhile in Heir of Fire.

I tried not to get too upset about this. Just because the main character doesn't end up with the guy I like shouldn't mean that I hate the book. So it's not about that, it's about the WAY it happened. She still loves Sam and has wonderful feelings about him (which she should, I LOVE SAM). Why is she so unfeeling and cold about Chaol? And as much as the author keeps making the point that Celeana and Aelin are different people, THEY AREN'T. She's known she was Aelin the whole time. She's still the same person. I just feel like the author was trying to make Chaol the bad guy. I mean, what happened to the bromance between Aedion and Chaol that was starting in Heir of Fire? Went completely away.

And WHY DIDN'T CELEANA/AELIN KILL AROBYNN????? That is what we all wanted to see, right?  So anticlimactic.

Aelin and Chaol having their relationship almost destroyed and then fighting their way back through multiple books would have been much more unique. And having her and Rowan have a strong, loving, PLATONIC relationship would have been a breath of fresh air. Maas just joins all of the other writers who can't seem to write strong female/male relationships and can't seem to resist having every guy fall in love with the main character.

Now you may say, Aelin and Dorian have a platonic relationship. Yeah, NOW they do. But they didn't before. And rereading Throne of Glass made me think about how easily she turned off her feelings for Dorian. They were actually getting close and she definitely had romantic feelings for him but then it was like, I'm the champion, we're over. And she never looked back. Poor Dorian! Maybe given that I should have realized how easy it would be for her to turn her back on Chaol. When the going gets tough, she finds another guy.

So I did end up giving the book 4 stars (5 stars at first but then the more I thought about it the more I realized I wasn't happy…not just with the result but with the way it all happened). Certain aspects of it were disappointing, to say the least.

What did you think????

Posted by:  Pam

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (110)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!  It is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Firewalker by Josephine Angelini

From NetGalley:
This Book Will Change Your Life by Amanda Weaver

What books did you add to your shelves this week?

Posted by:  Pam

Friday, September 4, 2015

Book Review: Illuminate by Tracy Clark

Illuminate (The Light Key Trilogy #3)
Author:  Tracy Clark
Publisher:  Entangled: Teen, 320 pages
Expected Publication Date:  September 21, 2015
*ARC received from publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
Can one girl be the light in a world spiraling toward darkness?

Haunted by the loss of her loved ones, Cora Sandoval, one of the remaining few of an extraordinary race known as Scintilla, holds the key to disentangling the biggest conspiracy in human history...and its link to the fate of the human race. As Cora follows a trail of centuries-old clues and secrets, she collides with a truth not only shocking, but dangerous.

With enemies both known and unknown hot on her trail, Cora must locate each of the ancient clues hidden in the art, religions, and mythologies of humankind. And through it all, she must keep her heart from being torn apart by the two boys she loves most. One is Scintilla, one is Arazzi.

Save herself. Save the Scintilla. Save the world.
Or die trying…

This is a tough review to write because I absolutely loved the first two books in this series.  But this one…I hated the ending.  With a passion.  It pissed me off for many reasons.  One, I just didn't like it.  But two, the way it ends, there's still so many people that we don't know what happens to them.  I really can't say more about it without spoiling it so I will stop.  Just one last comment.  You think Allegiant was a bad ending?  This book makes me like Allegiant.  

What about the rest of it?  Honestly, even without the horrible and stupid and pointless ending it just wasn't as good as the first two.  Not even close.  Not a lot happened.  And the three main characters were apart almost the entire book.  

I am so disappointed in this book.  I was excited to read it and now I wish I never had.

Posted by:  Pam

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Book Review: The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

The Scorpion Rules
Author:  Erin Bow
Publisher:  Margaret K. McElderry Books, 384 pages
Expected Publication Date:  September 22, 2015
*ARC received from publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
A world battered by climate shift and war turns to an ancient method of keeping peace: the exchange of hostages. The Children of Peace - sons and daughters of kings and presidents and generals - are raised together in small, isolated schools called Preceptures. There, they learn history and political theory, and are taught to gracefully accept what may well be their fate: to die if their countries declare war.

Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation, is the pride of the North American Prefecture. Learned and disciplined, Greta is proud of her role in keeping the global peace, even though, with her country controlling two-thirds of the world’s most war-worthy resource — water — she has little chance of reaching adulthood alive.

Enter Elián Palnik, the Prefecture’s newest hostage and biggest problem. Greta’s world begins to tilt the moment she sees Elián dragged into the school in chains. The Prefecture’s insidious surveillance, its small punishments and rewards, can make no dent in Elián, who is not interested in dignity and tradition, and doesn’t even accept the right of the UN to keep hostages.

What will happen to Elián and Greta as their two nations inch closer to war?

What worked:

1.  The concept.  I loved the idea of the solution to war being to make it personal.  Each ruler has to have a child that is kept hostage.  This makes countries negotiate because if one side declares war, the hostage from each country is killed.  It definitely makes you think.  It's for the greater good and for the most part it works.  But you see how unfair it is to the hostages who live in these "schools."  Children who are terrorized and tortured.

2.  AIs are the rulers.  Don't they always take over?  Even though it's cliche, still loved it.

3.  Quiet and introspective, parts of it reminded me of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.  You wonder why the children are just taking it and not rebelling (although I have to admit, the AIs are SCARY).  It's just part of their life and you definitely get that from the main character, Greta.

4.  Not the typical romance.  You expect it to be, but then it's not.

What didn't work:

1.  The main issue I had was with the characters.  They fell a bit flat.  It may have been because the book is told from the POV of Greta, who has distanced herself from everyone to a certain extent because it's her way of dealing with the possibility/probability of dying.  Apparently water is in short supply (and thus great demand) and her country is powerful and controls a lot of water.  So she's lived her whole life knowing it's only a matter of time until she dies.  And she's such a good hostage. She doesn't make trouble, she just accepts her fate.  It makes her hard to connect with and then I don't feel like I really got to know the other characters because she hasn't allowed herself to get close to them either.

2.  The ending…still thinking about how I feel about it.  There's still so much that's left open, but my understanding is that the author is writing a companion novel so maybe we'll find out.

Posted by:  Pam