The Lantern’s Ember-review

lantern

 

Published September 11th 2018 by Delacorte Press

3.5

Sigh. Sigh again. Triple Sigh.

This was my first Colleen Houck book, and I have to say I don’t think I will be reading any of her others unless you can convince me otherwise. This book, for all its gorgeous cover and cool synopsis, was disappointing.

This book mostly follows Ember, where it should have followed Jack, to be honest. He was the more interesting of the pair. Ember is a witch living in the mortal world whereas Jack is a “lantern” one meant to watch portal to the Otherworld and banish monsters that happen to cross over. When Ember decides she wants to be a total fool and go to the Otherworld, she enlists the help of a vampire, whom she follows quite blindly, and Jack follows to save her.

This is where it should have turned kinda awesome. Instead, it turned into some weirdo steampunk version of Oz with some legendary creatures lurking behind the scenes. But nothing truly happens that kept me on the edge of my seat. It was just…meh. The vampire, Dev, turns into a quick love interest so pile him onto Jack and Finney, Ember’s best friend and we have some distracting, useless entanglements. Ember doesn’t do much of consequence. For being a witch, I expected a bit more from her, but she seemed like a defenseless dolt, traipsing around and not being able to decide what body type she is. I mean, Houck first suggests that she is not as think as other girls and then chooses to describe her a waif and petite girl only to go back at the end and have the antagonist call her plump. I am so confused. IS SHE A STICK OR AN APPLE????

I read this pretty quickly because I skimmed over a lot of the other POV’s, but I didn’t miss much. Ember was flat and boring whereas Jack was interesting and driven so I could not see what he saw in her at all. There was no tension, and the world was jarring. I needed more enemies, more near-death situations and certainly not a ball and some lame skyship. GIVE ME STAKES. There were no stakes. That isn’t a vampire joke either.

Colleen wrapped it up. I will give her that. I was afraid I’d have to suffer through Ember again to read a second book.  I’d read it mainly for Jack. Overall this book was frustrating because it had potential. At least I didn’t throw this one across the bed. I’m looking at you, Mirage.

Fin

The Waking Forest-review

forest

 

Expected publication: March 12th 2019 by Delacorte

 

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

3.5*

So this was so-so for me. I wanted to like it, but some things kept me teetering.

This story follows Rhea who is plagued by nightmares both while asleep and awake. When a strange boy who only seems to exist in the dark appears, she is thrust into a game where she soon discovers who she truly is.

This book is pitched with comparisons to Pan’s Labyrinth, which is one of my favorite movies of all time so I had some high expectations. As I did not get Pan vibes, I did get some Mirrormask, Oz, and Alice vibes instead. I can see some Hazelwood in there, but I chose to ignore it because that book was a major disappointment for me and I wanted to separate that book from this one.

What I did not like was the flowery writing. The descriptions were a bit extra and took me out of the book often. I found myself huffing and rolling my eyes because some of them just didn’t make a lot of sense to me and often dragged out without ending for an entire paragraph. I felt breathless after reading it. Not in a good way. In a way that was kind of like choking on a piece of popcorn.

What kept me reading was the expectation of magic and some cool ass beasts, but that didn’t come either. And the intrigue and tension weren’t there. I think that this may play out better as a movie and I would watch it if they did adapt it.

I did like Rhea and her family. The love gave me the feels. There was no real romantic love, though I the hint of it was there. It was a quick read with a tied up ending that will leave you satisfied.

 

 

The Cold in Her Bones-review

cold

 

258 pages
Expected publication: January 22nd 2019 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for allowing me to review this title ahead of the release date.
I know this is an old song, but after finishing this, I could not get Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie out of my head. Seeing as music inspires my writing, it is no surprise that it encourages my reading as well, but for one to fit so perfectly is a shock even to me. Music is life.
This book is about a curse that plagues young girls after one particular was shunned for being different. Because of the fear of being overcome by the “demons” Milla has been kept under lock and key only knowing her parents, neighbors, and brother. After a young girl comes to live with her grandparents, Milla’s neighbors, they find themselves becoming close friends. But when Iris begins showing signs of being taken by the curse, she is sent off to The Place, a sort of prison for possessed young girls. When Milla’s brother decides to stay behind with Iris, Milla sets off to find him and set things right. Heroines journey, ACTIVATE.
I am a sucker for any book that involves curses, and I have read some outstanding ones this year. This one is no exception. I was hooked in by page one. It reads like a dark fairy-tale and focuses on female friendships as well as sending out the message that no matter how ostracized you or broken down you are, there is always a way to break free. Be it from society or your own personal demons. Although the end reminded me a lot of The Ring and finding out how the curse originated and how to break it, it was still engrossing. I think if the book had been a tad longer, the end wouldn’t have seemed so rushed and Milla would have time to better organize her decisions, which seemed confusing at times. MILLA I WANT TO LIKE YOU, BUT WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was a quick read and didn’t leave me bored whatsoever. And that cover is gorgeous! LOOK AT THOSE SNAKES, YO!

You’d Be Mine-review

bemine

 

320 pages
Expected publication: April 2nd 2019 by Wednesday Books
Okay, so I just got done watching A Star is Born and reading this book in parts for the past two days, and I think my emotions were sky high because this book and that movie are like peanut butter and chocolate so this is going to be a FIVE STAR review.
From afar this appears to be a simple story of two teenage rising country stars who go on tour together, laugh, cry, and fall in love. But when you get a little closer, you see that this is really a story of heartache and grief and the coping mechanisms some use to see themselves through it.
Meet Annie. She is the daughter of two country music legends who died tragically. Annie has talent beyond her years, yet is fearful of following in her parent’s footsteps. In comes Clay. He’s a borderline alcoholic who lost his brother in Iraq and has his own personal demons to contend with. When Clay’s label threatens to drop his due to his booze-filled antics, he’s forced to recruit Annie for his summer tour. Together, they form a songwriting duo that captures the country’s hearts. But the past sneaks on the both of them, threatening to stall them where they stand.
I was all on board with Annie and Clay from the first two chapters. I am not a fan of country music save for Garth Brooks, and maybe some Carrie Underwood (Blown Away is the most epic song ever) but this book had me pulling out the old Johnny Cash albums that my husband and I used to take cross-country road trips to and losing myself in the nostalgia. These two kids are broken yet together they find themselves whole. I read this book and imagined it as a movie, and honestly, it should be.
This is one I would probably buy even though I received an e-arc from the publisher and Netgalley. I cannot wait to see what Erin has in store for us next.

Not Even Bones-review

bones

 

368 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Since this was compared to Dexter (one of my favorite shows of all time), I knew I had to read this. Because of Dexter. And because semi-justified murder is my bag, baby.
This book follows Nita, who works alongside her mother who kills supernatural creatures and has Nita butcher them up to sell for parts. One day, her mother brings home one, ALIVE, and Nita decides that she has morals. Nita can’t kill another, but she enjoys cutting them up, so there’s that. She makes a choice that propels her into the black market of perverts and murderers and forms an unlikely friendship with a being who feeds off pain. Yes, it IS as bizarre as it sounds.
As bizarre as this book was, it certainly entertained me. It was unlike anything I have read, and I have read A LOT this year alone. Barring the gruesome violence of the story, it actually had a decent plot that kept me on my toes. You know how some movies or books rely mostly on the gore to keep viewers? This one didn’t count on that. It carried itself.
Nita is not a villain nor is she a hero. She spirals down a tunnel of her own morality. To survive, she must go against what she believes in, which landed her in her predicament to begin with. She makes some bad choices and suffers the consequences. Her character arc was done nicely. This does end on a cliffhanger, FYI.
In closing, this book was really anything like Dexter, but by the first chapter, I really didn’t care. It’s gruesome and violent, and I loved every second. I followed this book by reading #MurderTrending, so I had a delicious weekend of mayhem and murder. See my review for MT here-https://theworldofceliamcmahon.com/2018/10/09/murder-trending-review/

 

Murder Trending: review

murder tre

 

352 pages
Published August 7th 2018 by Freeform
Holy crap, this book was terrific.
This had to have been the most fun I have had reading a book. I felt like I was in a Saw movie…or a twisted video game with bizarre bosses that needed defeating. Needless to say, I was quite entertained.
So, Dee lives in a world where a reality star President (hahahaha) greenlights a program where convicts go to an island (Alcatraz 2.0 aptly named) to fight off against serial killers who are sent to the island to kill them off. Sort of like a really messed death penalty. But televised. Dee is sent there after the murder of her step-sister, which she says she didn’t do. There’s also a weird backstory of her being kidnapped as a kid that ties into the plot.
Let me cut in and say that one of my favorite movies of all time is Battle Royale. You know, the original kids killing kids on an island story. So, that being said, I am a fan of the pure fun that is mindless violence and the strain of survival when everything is stacked up against you. There are a lot of dystopian books with similar plots, but this one stands out as it ties in with current trends such as social media and the world’s obsession with violence. What is scary about the book is that at this current state of the country, none of it seemed all that far-fetched. Hey, maybe there’s something wrong with me that I get excited about the prospect of someone being torn apart by animals or running around in a princess dress taking down serial killers. I mean, it’s all in good fun. Blood and gore and violence, oh my.
The book is fast paced, filled with action. With it being pretty gory, I want to say this is not a YA book, BUT it’s no more than what teenagers see on the news in the real world, so I am not jumping on that bandwagon of censorship. I grew up reading Clive Barker and Stephen King, so this is cake compared to books like Desperation or Books of Blood. At times, it did feel a little silly and Dee’s reactions a little flat, but the writing was excellent and the pacing was top-notch.
This is the first book I’ve read by Gretchen, but I am going to go back and see what else has to offer.

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

ladies

 

464 pages
Expected publication: October 2nd 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books
Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for the chance to review this e-arc.
Truthfully, I thought I didn’t like Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue after I read it. A few days went by and it sunk it that, I really did enjoy it more than I thought I did. Thus, I had to read this one, and I was not disappointed. Only I realized I loved it as I was reading it.
This centers around Felicity Montague who wants so badly to become a doctor in a time when women were not allowed in such fields. Her tenacity leads her to Germany where she plans to procure a job with a famous doctor who just so happens to be marrying her former childhood best friend, Johanna.
This book navigates not only the misogyny of the times but also racism. Felicity enlists the help of an Algerian Muslim pirate named Sim and soon enough find themselves on an adventure. Along with Johanna, Felicity finds herself int he most precarious situations all while rejecting the notion that women are lesser to men and even explores character’s like Johanna who argues that she can like pretty dresses and shoes and still be intelligent. Felicity learns about her own prejudices and grows as she tries to find her place in the world.
There were so many moments where I laughed out loud, which rarely happens. I was also nervous the whole time for Felicity and what other hijinks she was going to get herself into. The fact that Lee made Felicity aromantic was also so exciting. I mean, everything about this book was exciting and a breath of fresh air.
This may be one of the best books I have read in 2018, and my count is currently at 166, so those are crazy odds.

The Tiger at Midnight-review

tiger

496 pages
Expected publication: April 23rd 2019 by Katherine Tegen Books
A huge thanks to Edelweiss and Katherine Tegan Books for allowing me an advance copy of this book to review.
This book drew me in from page one. But after reading more, I almost set it aside for next month. This was not because the story was terrible, but because I got some book mail and had other books that were higher on my Setempber reading list. But after reading one of those books and about to move on to another, I got the nagging feeling that leaving this book waiting and unfinished wasn’t going to fly, so I went back to it and finished the last 400 pages in less than a day.
This story is told by two POV’s. Esha, a rebel assassin and Kunal, a dutiful soldier. Their paths cross one night and take their lives in a direction neither anticipated. Along the backdrop of an Indian inspired fantasy world, we learn of betrayals, secrets, and an exciting game of cat and mouse as Kunal hunts Esha across the land for the death of his uncle. They are two incredibly different people who bond over their past and realize their futures were not as they imagined them to be.
First off, I LOVE enemies to lovers. I’m sorry, but I’m not. Kunal going on a wild goose chase after Esha and having her slip from his grasp over and over did me in. I loved every second of it.  The slow burn romance and the fact that Kunal is a soldier falling for assassin just so swoon-worthy. Esha is cool and all, but KUNAL IS MY BOY. Skilled, strong and a little in touch with his emotions. Yes, yes and yes. And, MY GOD, he loves to paint. MY BOY IS A SOLDIER WHO LOVES TO PAINT. Just kill me now because I am already dying in love with him. GIVE ME BOOK TWO NOW.
Anyhow, deep breaths, I am upset at how early I read this book because it doesn’t come out until April of next year and that means I have to wait longer for the second book. All that depression aside, fans of Ember of the Ashes and Onyx and Ivory will love this book. I loved it. And I will probably name my second born Kunal. Thanks, Swati.

 

Dragon Pearl-review

dragonpearl

 

304 pages
Expected publication: January 15th 2019 by Rick Riordan Presents
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to review this title.
This book follows thirteen-year-old Min who runs away from home in search of her brother who is suspected of desertion from the Space Force. She is also a fox with special powers. Most of the universe in this story have different abilities and appear as a human though they are different animals such as tigers and dragons.
I had to keep reminding myself that this was a middle-grade novel and all the sheer coincidences were, so the story wasn’t too complicated for younger audiences. Once I remembered that t the story took off for me. But something continued to drag, and I started to feel bored. The instances of situations happening just to add drama jarred me, as well as characters appearing that did not appear again in the story, which I would have liked a lot. Min made decisions so quickly, there was no build-up, as most of her choices lacked. The pacing was off. I also wanted more of other animals to appear. The dragons, for instance. The ending also irked me a lot. UGH
I can see how this would appeal to younger audiences, but as an adult reading it (and don’t get me wrong, I read a ton of MG books) it wasn’t doing it for me. There was a lot of potential for the story that never got there.

Resistance: review

resistance

 

400 pages
Published August 28th 2018 by Scholastic Inc.
Bravo! That is the one word I thought to use after I finished this amazing novel. Bravo.
This story follows Chaya who, after her family is split apart during the war, decides to use her job as a courier (adopting a Polish persona) and joins a Jewish resistance group called Akiva.  The story skirts along actual events that took place in several ghettos throughout Poland. After a semi-botched event, Chaya is separated from her group, only to find that one is left and that their mission has become more dire and important than she ever imagined.
As I said before, this story centers around actual events and actual people like Chaya and those we are introduced to in a fictional and nonfictional sense. Chaya is courageous in every sense. She stands for every brave soul who fought for their freedom. Those whose stories we don’t know. She had her share of heartache, but rises above it. She knows she cannot save everyone, but even just one life would be worth it to her. She is probably the most heroic protagonist I have ever read about
I swept up by this story, its nonstop action, and tension. This is one of those books that will stick with me. I will also probably buy it for anyone who doesn’t already own it whom I think will enjoy it as much as I did.
Bravo, Jennifer. This get s rare five stars from me.