Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Book Review - Cruel Beauty

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge 
Series: Cruel Beauty Universe
Published January 28th 2014 by Balzer + Bray
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Romance, Young Adult 
Pages: 342
Source: Bought
Rating: 2 of 5 stars
Review by Shon

Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle—a shifting maze of magical rooms—enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

My Review: 

Cruel Beauty was not what I expected it to be.

The book was supposed to be a retelling of Beauty and the Beast but it was hard to get into the story.

The characters were nothing special.

Spoiler alert! I'm not sure you can call it a love triangle when two of the people in the triangle are the same person. I suppose that was the big shocker at the end of the book, however, by the way the book was written, I figured that out right from the beginning of the story. No surprise there.

And speaking of the writing, in my opinion, the book wasn't really well written. 

The best part about this book was its cover. I love the beautiful cover art for this book; it was what drew me into wanting to read this book in the first place. Two thumbs up to the artist(s) that designed this cover.

I don't think I'm going to continue with the series even though the second book is a different story with different characters but set in the same world universe. I'm gonna have to take a pass. I highly do not recommend this book.

The Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

So today Shon & Tina will be doing The Unpopular Opinions Book Tag.  We weren't tagged by anyone to do this tag.  This tag was originally created by TheBookArcher 

1. A Popular Book or series that you didn't like.

  • Shon - A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas; 70% into the book, I quit.
  • Tina - The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson; despite rave reviews the writing was a bit  juvenile for me.  Nevertheless, I finished it.

2. A Popular Book or series that every one else seems to hate but you love.

  • Shon - Grey by  E.L. James; this was 100 times better the Fifty Shades of Grey.
  • Tina - Ready Player One by Ernest Cline; the references are a bit nerdy but the progression of the story had me delve heavily into watching 80's pop movies and big finale was exhilarating.

3. A Love Triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did NOT want them to end up with OR an OTP (One True Pairing) that you don't like.

  • Shon - P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han.  I did not like Lara Jean and Peter together in this book.
  • Tina - N/A

4. A popular book Genre that you hardly reach for.

  •  Shon - Contemporary
  •  Tina - Contemporary

5. A popular or beloved character that you do not like.

  •  Shon - Edward Cullen from the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer
  •  Tina - Edward Cullen from the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer

6. A popular author that you can't seem to get into.

  •  Shon - John Green
  •  Tina - John Green

7. A popular book trope that you're tired of seeing. (examples "lost princess", corrupt ruler, love triangles, etc.)

  •  Shon - Love triangles
  •  Tina - Ditzy girls/obnoxious side characters

8. A popular series that you have no interest in reading.

  • Shon - The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare; after reading The Mortal Instruments series I have no desire to read any of her other witting.
  • Tina - Legend series by Marie Lu and The Selection series by Kiera Cass; read both book ones and didn't like them.

9. The saying goes "The book is always better than the movie", but what movie or T.V. show adaptation do you prefer more than the book?

  • Shon - The Vampire Diaries
  • Tina - Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl

So what are some of your unpopular opinions, let us know in the comments down below.

Monday, September 28, 2015

October 2015 New Releases

Our most anticipated reads for October!

The Rose Society by Marie Lu - October 13, 2015

Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all.

Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she and her sister flee Kenettra to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers that murdered her love, the Crown Prince Enzo Valenciano.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good, when her very existence depends on darkness?

Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch - October 13, 2015

It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.

Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?

Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?

As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world. 

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman - October 20, 2015

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

What are books are you looking forward to reading this October?  Let us know, leave a comment down below.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Series: An Ember in the Ashes
Published April 28th 2015 by by Razorbill 
Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult 
Pages: 446
Source: eBook
Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Review by Tina

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

My Review
The story development could use a lot of work. Maybe because it's a new author and this is her debut novel but her scenes are chaotic and messy at times.

There are quite a few changes I'd like to make with the story:

1. Why does Keenan turn soft so quickly in the beginning stages of the story? He is described as a soldier with a cold stone face who is more about fighting for a cause and keeping his group safe than wasting resources on a rescue mission. He softens and falls for the heroine in the beginning chapters when the attraction is unwarranted and unnecessary. His character development needs more time to make this believable.

2. Mazen, shady from the start; I find it surprising how long it took his men to see him as conniving and manipulative. All that mystery was to show a simple plot at the end *shakes my head*. Worst resistant leader.

3. By the latter chapters, I cringed through Laia's whining, misfortunes, and naivete. If it was a standalone book solely on Elias, I would warm up to the story more. Part III underwhelmed me.

4. Despite the flourishing recommendations from well established authors, the book does not meet my standards for an epic civil war novel. The story starts off well but slowly became disengaging and the ending makes me not want to continue with the series. 

The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Series: The 5th Wave
Published May 7th 2013 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers 
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Aliens, Apocalyptic, Post Apocalyptic, Fantasy, Romance 
Pages: 457
Source: eBook
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Review by Tina

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker.

Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up. 

"1st Wave: lights out. 2nd Wave: surf's up. 3rd Wave: pestilence. 4th Wave: Silencer. Time was flowing in reverse. The 1st Wave knocked us back to the eighteenth century. The next two slammed us into the Neolithic. We were hunter-gatherers again. Nomads. Bottom of the pyramid. But we weren't ready to give up hope. Not yet."

This book is a two person narrative. Throughout the story, you wonder, who is Human? who is Other?

A lot of things had already happened... humanity is barely hanging on. What's left of the world are a handful of children and the adults over the age of 20 cannot be trusted. The story picks up with the survivors experiencing the 4th Wave and starting the 5th Wave.

It's amazing how the two narrations collide towards the ending. A rush of action packed alien-butt-kicking chapters flew by. It's uncertain what steps Humans will take after the encounter with the Others. Do they want to annihilate? Can they co-exist? It will be an interesting adventure to follow this group of young kids into the next volume.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin 
Published October 23rd 2011 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genres: Young adult, Fantasy/ Paranormal, Romance, Mystery, Supernatural, Fiction, Horror, Contemporary
Pages: 452
Source: Bought
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Review by Wendy 

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.It can.She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.There is.She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.She’s wrong.

This book seriously kept me on my toes from the beginning! Very paranormal, hallucinating, and thrilling. It literally had every type of genre I like.

It starts off with Mara Dyer as the main character and an incident involving her friends. After this incident Mara doesn't seem to be herself. She and her family move to Florida to start fresh after Mara's incident but it only gets worse. Her past seems to follow her no matter where she goes. She attends high school and typically meets the popular/bad boy Noah Shaw, but her past seems to keep reminding her she is nowhere near a fresh start!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Martian

The Martian by Andy Weir
Published by Crown on February 11th 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Fiction, Adventure, Thriller
Page: 369
Source: Library
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Review by: Tina

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

To start, I was not planning to read this book. When I heard it's actually funny after I had just seen the movie trailer in theaters, I decided to give it a go. What's 369 pages?

First of all, the novel radiates hope. It is not gloomy or self-deprecating; a major plus! Second, I'm completely thrown by Mark Watney's sense of humor and attitude. His letters to his crew mates are a crack up. So are his conversations with Houston. Sometimes it seems like he can't catch a break; whenever he succeeds, something happens. Not to mention what a brilliant genius he is! Who can comes up with solutions to such difficult tasks??

I was thrilled when he first made contact with Houston. Again thrilled, when he lost contact with Houston haha. They were getting annoying so good move Andy Weir!

Some memorable quotes:

"First guy to climb that hill (on Mars. First guy) to kick that rock. That rock hasn't moved in a million years."

"I can be a product tester for Mars rovers."

“We are the first to visit Mars twice. Even Watney can’t say that.”

To sum up this humorously intelligent story from the mouth of Andy Weir, "it's MacGyver in space!"

A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Series: A Darker Shade of Magic
Published February 24th 2015 by Tor Books
Genres: Adult, Adventure,  Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Source: Library
Rating: 2 of 5 stars
Review by Shon

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped. 

Disappointed once again. A Darker Shade of Magic had so many good reviews, that after reading this book I felt let down by it. This book took me longer to finish than I would have like, simply because there was such much character and world building at the start of the book. At time I got bored with the story and had to put the book down.

I will not continue with this series.

Anna and the French Kiss

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss
Published December 2nd 2010 by Dutton Juvenile
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 372
Source: Library
Rating: 2 of 5 stars
Review by Shon 

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend. 
But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

So many people loved Anna and the French Kiss while I had such a strong dislike for it. There where a few jokes here and there that made me laugh.

Also there is a scene in the novel between Anna and her little brother Seany that made me laugh because they where playing with Star Wars action figure, that alone is worth one star.

But otherwise a lot of my feelings towards Anna and the French Kiss consist of intense dislike.

There were several times when I honestly had to put the book down and walk away for a while because I was getting so frustrated with the story and characters.

I'm just happy it over, and I have no wish to continue to read the rest of this series.