Monday, April 11, 2016

Romancing the Nerd by Leah Rae Miller

Romancing the Nerd (Nerd #2)
Author:  Leah Rae Miller
Publisher:  Entangled Teen, 352 pages
Publication Date:  April 5, 2016

From Goodreads:
Dan Garrett has become exactly what he hates—popular. Until recently, he was just another live-action role-playing (LARP) geek on the lowest run of the social ladder. Cue a massive growth spurt and an uncanny skill at taking three-point shots in basketball and voila…Mr. Popular. It’s definitely weird.
And the biggest drawback? Going from high school zero to basketball hero cost Dan the secret girl-of-his-dorky dreams. A tuba-playing nerd with an eclectic fashion sense, Zelda Potts’s “Coolness” stat is about minus forty-two. Dan turning his back on her and the rest of nerd-dom was brutal enough, but when he humiliates her at school, Zelda decides it’s time for a little revenge—dork style. Nevermind that she used to have a crush on him. Nevermind that her plan could backfire big time.
It’s time to roll the dice…and hope like freakin’ hell she doesn’t lose her heart in the process.

After absolutely loving The Summer I Became a Nerd, I was so excited to read this one.  But it was just ok.  The romance was lacking for me and I actually didn't even like the main characters too much individually.  They acted really young and it was a bit simple for me.  

And why did everyone say "ya know" all the time?  Things like that normally don't bother me but every time I read that phrase I cringed.

Posted by:  Pam

Friday, April 8, 2016

Book Review: The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows

The Mirror King (The Orphan Queen #2)
Author:  Jodi Meadows
Publisher:  Katherine Tegen Books, 544 pages
Publication Date:  April 5, 2016

From Goodreads:
Wilhelmina has a hundred enemies.

HER FRIENDS HAVE TURNED. After her identity is revealed during the Inundation, Princess Wilhelmina is kept prisoner by the Indigo Kingdom, with the Ospreys lost somewhere in the devastated city. When the Ospreys’ leader emerges at the worst possible moment, leaving Wil’s biggest ally on his deathbed, she must become Black Knife to set things right.

HER MAGIC IS UNCONTROLLABLE. Wil’s power is to animate, not to give true life, but in the wraithland she commanded a cloud of wraith mist to save herself, and later ordered it solid. Now there is a living boy made of wraith—destructive and deadly, and willing to do anything for her.

HER HEART IS TORN. Though she’s ready for her crown, declaring herself queen means war. Caught between what she wants and what is right, Wilhelmina realizes the throne might not even matter. Everyone thought the wraith was years off, but already it’s destroying Indigo Kingdom villages. If she can’t protect both kingdoms, soon there won’t be a land to rule.

I liked this sequel and the ending was satisfying and sweet (albeit sad), but I didn't love it.  Wil and Tobiah spend a lot of time apart, and the pacing felt really slow to me.  

I did think the character growth was important, especially for Wil, who has to figure out what kind of queen she wants to be, and how she has to take responsibility for her actions.  I just thought the wraith boy had a lot more potential to be a bigger part of the story, especially as he evolved.

And there's one twist that I sort of saw coming, but it was rather convenient that Wil forgot something that happened in her past.  Um…what?  How did you forget that?  I know that's vague but I don't want to spoil anything.  

I have to say, though, Tobiah's list…that is worth a star (ok, 5 stars) by itself.  Definitely recommend the series and it's so nice that it's a duology.  More of these please!

Posted by:  Pam

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Book Review: Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto

Revenge and the Wild
Author:  Michelle Modesto
Publisher:  Balzer + Bray, 384 pages
Publication Date:  February 2, 2016

From Goodreads:
The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler.

Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways.

But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.

There's a lot to like about Revenge and the Wild.  It's different, for one thing.  I mean, you have a 17 year old recovering alcoholic who is hunting for the cannibals who ate her family.  What?  Then you have a book that mashes up steampunk, western, and paranormal (werewolves, banshees, vampires, ogres, etc).  And it's entertaining for sure.  I still didn't love it, though, and I think there are a couple of reasons for that.  One, the romance was lacking for me.  Just not enough chemistry between the couple.  Second, every single guy is in love with Westie.  Really annoying.  But that plot twist that I didn't see coming…whoa.  Quite brutal.  

Posted by:  Pam

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Book Review: Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

Tell the Wind and Fire
Author:  Sarah Rees Brennan
Publisher:  Clarion Books, 368 pages
Publication Date:  April 5, 2016
*ARC received from publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
In a city divided between opulent luxury in the Light and fierce privations in the Dark, a determined young woman survives by guarding her secrets.

Lucie Manette was born in the Dark half of the city, but careful manipulations won her a home in the Light, celebrity status, and a rich, loving boyfriend. Now she just wants to keep her head down, but her boyfriend has a dark secret of his own—one involving an apparent stranger who is destitute and despised. Lucie alone knows the young men’s deadly connection, and even as the knowledge leads her to make a grave mistake, she can trust no one with the truth.

Blood and secrets alike spill out when revolution erupts. With both halves of the city burning, and mercy nowhere to be found, can Lucie save either boy—or herself?

Confession:  I have not read A Tale of Two Cities, although I do know the basic plot.  But I was intrigued by a re-telling and I absolutely love Sarah Rees Brennan so I was super excited to read this one.  And it was good, but not great.

I really liked the magic, the premise of the City of Light and the City of Dark (the info dumping in the beginning was a bit much though).  But the characters fell a little flat for me, especially Ethan.  I only got to know him from what Lucie thinks about him, not from seeing it for myself.  Now Carwyn, he was interesting and complex and had a few funny lines, but this book didn't have the humor that made the Lynburn Legacy books so amazing.  

I do admit that, by the end, my heart did break a little.  So all and all, a mixed bag for me.

Posted by:  Pam

Monday, April 4, 2016

Book Review: Forever Dusk by Jocelyn Adams

Forever Dusk (Mortal Machine #3)
Author:  Jocelyn Adams
Publisher:  Entangled Publishing
Publication Date:  February 8, 2016
*ARC received from publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
Since their last battle, life for the Mortal Machine—the secret-society that protects Earth and its inhabitants from dark outside forces—has become almost...normal. For everyone but Addison. The evil she’s imprisoned in her soul has begun eating away at her sanity, and despite her soul mate Asher’s efforts to hold her together, it’s causing painful and terrifying delusions.
Consequently, nobody believes Addison's warnings that Marcus, their old enemy, has returned. When Marcus threatens Asher and the Machine, she agrees to find what he seeks—a treasure that, in his hands, could be deadly.
If she relies too much on Asher, she knows he’ll likely imprison her, if only to preserve what's left of her deteriorating mind. But if she fails this final test, Earth will fall. So Addison is forced to distance herself from her love, to prevent the life she wants with Asher from being over before it truly begins.

Satisfying ending to the trilogy but this was my least favorite book because it had a couple of my pet peeves in it.  One, almost nothing happened.  It was a lot of waiting and sitting around, the reader was in Addison's head way too much.  Two, Addison and Asher didn't work together.  Why why why can't authors write books where the couple work together?  Instead, Addison was alone.  A lot.

I do recommend this series, however, especially the first book.  

Posted by:  Pam

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Shadowhunters TV Show…Is There Hope?

Let me just start by saying that I LOVE the Moral Instruments books series.  And I LOVE Infernal Devices.  And I actually really liked the movie (except for the changes in some main plot points and the actor who played Jace didn't have the right look). But this series is BAD.  And I keep watching it.  I keep hoping it will get better and it doesn't.  

Here's why it's really bad:
1.  The acting.  It's HORRIBLE.  I mean, it may be the worst acting I've ever seen.  It's so overly dramatic and over the top.

2.  The casting (and look) of certain characters.  Isabelle is sort of skanky (although this last episode it looks like she's changing her look…thank you!) and what is up with Jace's hair?  The actress who plays Clary has the right look and actually has her whininess down, but she's the worst of the bunch as far as her acting skills, which is saying a lot.  Simon has the right look as well, but he's getting on my nerves (although that's probably true to the book as well).  Alec is getting better.

3.  Special effects.  The whole thing is ridiculous, with the special effects almost laughably bad.

4.  The plot.  Why is it following the book (sort of)?  When I first heard about the series, I just figured it would be like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and have the Shadowhunters going week to week fighting demons.  Wouldn't that have been better?  

I had such high hopes for this series.  Really disappointed.


So Pam tell us how you really feel about the series!  While I pretty much agree with Pam's critiques, I am STILL optimistic that the series will improve.  In fact, I have seen some improvements in the last two episodes.  What's changed you might ask? 

Magnus Bane has ARRIVED.  Harry Shum Jr. (yes Mike Chang from Glee) plays Magnus. Even though his performance can be a bit over the top I can't help but love Magnus and I love the way they are developing the relationship between Magnus and Alec.  It's subtle and charming and utterly Alec and Magnus!

The parents are back.  One of the bold casting differences I definitely admire is the decision to cast Isaiah Mustafa as Luc Galloway.  That's right, he's  African American!   While Luc's role in the first 4 episodes was pretty minor it has grown dramatically and he is doing an excellent job in my opinion.  In addition to Luc, the Lightwoods are also back from Idris and have added some interesting twists to the story  line or at least brought out some new tensions I don't remember from the books. Having the parents back seems to have improved the abilities of the younger actors and adds some more depth to the story line.

Even though many of the young actors are a bit over the top, I would like to give a round of applause to the cast diversity.  On the other hand, I would really appreciate toning down the shaming of Isabelle.  I have no problem with the decision to make her comfortable with her sexuality but I don't understand why every episode then has to shame her for the thing that we are supposed to admire about her.  Frankly it's confusing for me and I'm a grown adult so I can only imagine how confusing it can be for the younger viewers. 

At the end of the day I am still excited when the new episode is released on Tuesday nights and I sincerely hope the series is picked up for next year but I completely agree that it needs a lot of work!   

What do you think?  Are you watching the show?  Do you like it?  Dislike it?  Think it has hope? 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Book Review: These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

These Vicious Masks (These Vicious Masks #1)
Authors:  Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
Publisher:  Swoon Reads, 320 pages
Publication Date:  February 9, 2016

From Goodreads:
Jane Austen meets X-­Men in this gripping and adventure-­filled paranormal romance set in Victorian London.

England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.

I admit, I read this book because of the Jane Austen meets X-Men description.  And while it's accurate, this book was disappointing.  Basically, it's pretty silly even though some horrible things happen.  It's like the authors were trying to be funny but it just didn't work.  Evelyn was supposed to be sassy but I didn't like her.  And the two guys…they have potential, but I wasn't in love with either one of them.  

Entertaining and fun, but…just ok.

Posted by:  Pam

Monday, February 15, 2016

Book Review: Pull by Anne Riley

Author:  Anne Riley
Publisher:  Spencer Hill Press, 424 pages
Publication Date:  February 2, 2016

From Goodreads:
Rosie Clayton witnesses a mugging on her first night in London—and then the scene rewinds itself.

She finds herself standing in the same place again, with the mugging happening just like before, except this time a stranger steps in and stops it. There's no way the same incident can have two outcomes. Rosie thinks she’s losing her mind, until just a few days later, the stranger saves her.

The stranger, Albert, and his band of misfit crime-fighters, have the special ability to Pull, which allows them to rewind just enough time to undo a recent event. Someone is hunting Albert and his crew– and now that Rosie’s been seen with them, she’s a target too. Rosie is left with no choice but to trust Albert to keep her safe.

As Rosie learns more about this unbelievable ability and the people – if you can call them that – who want them dead, she discovers that the group’s desire for her blood might be more than mere coincidence. Each step into this magical side of London introduces Rosie to a family history that she never knew existed, and dangerous forces that could unravel her world in an instant.

Her family may be the reason they’re all being hunted—and she may be the only one who can figure out how to save them. Sure, between the lot of them, they have a few shots to get it right. The thing about Pulling, though, is you have to be alive to do it.

Pretty good.  Loved the concept, the pulling.  Everyone travels back in time, not just the people who have the power, which gets rid of a lot of the time traveling issues with some books I've read.  And I liked the idea that they could combine their pulling to go back further and further in time.  

My biggest complaint is just that I wanted MORE.  More with Albert and Rosie. More about the evil group…that was not well fleshed out AT ALL.  More about the other pullers, more about Rosie's abilities.  So many questions, it just seemed like a lot of this book skimmed the surface of things.   

Rosie's family.  Now while I appreciate the fact that they were present (which is lacking is a lot of YA books), they were SO ANNOYING.  And sort of pointless (except for the brother, who I had no sympathy for at all, I really didn't like him). Here's an example.  Apparently Rosie's dad has temper tantrums and goes into rages.  Why?  No idea.  Anything ever done with that?  No.  Was it ever really talked about or resolved?  No.  That's the sort of thing that bothered me throughout the book.  

And the ending…wraps things up but it all felt so rushed and easy.

Basically, this book had all sorts of potential but it was lacking.

Posted by:  Pam

Friday, February 12, 2016

Book Review: Starflight by Melissa Landers

Starflight (Starflight #1)
Author:  Melissa Landers
Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion, 358 pages
Publication Date:  February 2, 2016

From Goodreads:
Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She's so desperate to reach the realm that she's willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he's been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe…

LOVED this one.  Reminded me of Firefly, which is a huge compliment.  It definitely had that whole ragtag colorful character crew thing going for it.

Loved the hate to love relationship between Solara and Doran.  So much tension!  

Sci-fi action, adventure, and romance, this was such a FUN read.

My only complaint is how much of a jerk Doran was.  I mean, really.  He grows, but it's hard to forget how truly mean he was to Solara.  And why?  Just because he was a shallow mean jerk.  After I finished the book, I read where the author says she pitched this as "Overboard" meets "Firefly" and that makes so much sense and makes me appreciate Doran's character growth even more.  But when I was reading the book I had a hard time loving his character even though I did love who he becomes.  Not sure how much sense that makes.

And the best part?  A complete story.  No cliffhanger.  The next book in the series is a companion novel focused on different characters.  I wish there were more of these!!

Posted by:  Pam