Sunday, February 26, 2017

R&R Review Sunday: Touched by Elisa S. Amore


Touched Saga #1

Goodreads Blurb:
"Based on a Norwegian legend
A Sealed Fate
An Angel of Death
A Forbidden Love

What are you willing to sacrifice when the only person who can save you is the same one who has to kill you?

After vampires and werewolves, after wizards and fallen angels, a new breed of Angels is here to usher you into their dark world. An ancient, deadly, inescapable race.
No one can see them. They’re shadows of destiny. They’re knights of death. They’re the Subterraneans and they’re here to claim our lives.
Commanded by a mysterious congregation called the M├ásala, the Angels of Death ensure that each man’s destiny takes its due course on Earth.
But what happens when love intervenes?
Can an Angel of Death deny his own nature and challenge destiny?
Can love rebel against fate?

When Gemma’s eyes first meet the dark, piercing gaze of Evan James, an ominous shadow creeps into her life, ultimately leading her to face her destiny. She doesn't realize Evan is one of Death's soldiers and that Death is summoning her.
Her time is up: Gemma must die . . . and Evan has been sent to kill her.
But what if she’s the only one who can truly see him?

Against every rule. Against fate itself. Against everything and everyone. A story of forbidden love and star-crossed destinies.

Dark. Romantic. Dangerous.

Touched combines devastating passion and unconfessable secrets, heartrending decisions and deep emotions, giving life to a love story as intense as the feelings that unite Evan and Gemma, as inescapable as the destiny that looms over them . . ."


Review:
Thank you to the author, Elisa S. Amore, and publicist of Touched for gifting me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review!

This book just wasn't for me.  You may ask why I still gave it 3 stars and that's because I could definitely see myself loving this book two years ago.  As a more mature reader that's becoming more and more immersed in more complex YA, NA, and Adult books, I think I'm leaving behind these kinds of novels.  Let's get into it!

1.  The plot.  In the blurb, it says this book is based on a Norwegian legend.  Now, I'm not an expert on Norwegian legends so I won't even try to go that route.  But what I don't understand is why it's always the guy in a heterosexual relationship that has to be the mysterious one with powers.  This book also felt incredibly long; almost as long as the Eragon series felt (the first book is 503 pages which this book is 462 pages).  With that being said, this book has a very start and go type of flow.  There are multiple climaxes and plenty of description in between.  This made the book tremendously easy to read in some places and slightly difficult in others.  Overall, though, I do like the direction the plot took.  While it was slightly typical, I found that it was still enjoyable.  The ending is also something I want to address.  While I liked it for the most part, I thought it a little strange that it ended without even referencing Gemma's friends.  It's like they ceased to exist once Evan came into her life (except for brief cameos).

2.  The characters.  I did like the characters themselves.  While slightly underdeveloped for a book of this length, they aren't inadequate and are quite at home in the setting that's set up.  Their dialogue and interactions flow well together (with exception in the romance which I'll address next).  I enjoyed getting to know Evan and Gemma as well.

3.  The romance.  Now this is where my problems come in and where I think someone else would be better suited for this book.  The romance was insta-love, true and simple.  However, it had that fantasy element in it which makes you think there's some else going on in their relationship, however we never really get any explanation on that front (perhaps in the next book?).  Furthermore, Evan's attitude toward Gemma and telling her the truth about him really irked me.  It's an important conversation that he just couldn't accept which leads me to believe their relationship was much too advanced, too soon, but again, there wasn't really any information there.  Two years ago, I loved these types of relationships with the mysterious guy who swept the girl off her feet.  But now, not so much.

4.  The writing.  The writing of this book reminds me of LOTR because of all the descriptions and the flowery language.  I loved how, when I was in Gemma's head (there are two POVs, Gemma's and Evan's), more flowery language was used to illustrate her expanded vocabulary because of her reading habits.  I just loved how that was showcased.  On the flip side of that coin, however, is the potential for being too drawn out.  If you don't like that type of writing, I'm not sure how you'd get along with this book.

The Final Verdict:
While I didn't enjoy the romance of the book, the core building blocks are well installed.
3 stars

Friday, February 24, 2017

50/50 Friday (21): Most/Least Intricately Built World


50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @The Butterfly Reads and I and focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc).  Every week will have a new topic and several advance topics will be listed in the tab labeled 50/50 Friday!

Today's Topic: Most/Least Intricately Built World


Most:

Goodreads Blurb:
"In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world."


To me, this prompt really showcases fantasy books because while other genre's can have wonderfully built worlds, in my experience, it's fantasy authors that really take it to the next level by creating an entirely new world with new rules.  In this series, I have to say, everything is thought out to an extensive level.  It has a detailed world map in the front of each book, and the author really sticks to her guns in terms of the world rules.  I think an important factor going into this is the fact that SJM has been writing this series for a while (we're now on the 5th book) so she's had lots of space to continue the world development.  A close second for me when I was deciding was The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan which is like a second LOTR with a different premise (it's really good btw, you should definitely check it out!).


Least:

Goodreads Blurb:
"Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all—the lights are failing. Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness…

But when two children, Lina and Doon, discover fragments of an ancient parchment, they begin to wonder if there could be a way out of Ember. Can they decipher the words from long ago and find a new future for everyone? Will the people of Ember listen to them?"


I'm trying to keep the stakes about even for this one so I decided to only compare books that created their entire world and are pretty solidly set in the fantasy genre.  Since most science fiction books take place in our current world, that seemed like a bit harsh because it's not like people want to read descriptions of a world they already know and live in the intricacies every day.  The Book of Ember series is a science fiction book, however a lot of the first book takes place underground and in the rest of the series, they're in places in our world that have been decimated entirely so there's an entirely new world order happening.  When I read this, I just felt like I didn't really have my bearings physically in the world I just got general feelings rather than precise directives.  A close second was The Selection series by Kiera Cass.  I know what you're thinking: that's also a science fiction series which takes place in a much more current US which doesn't really fit the bill of world building!  However, I don't think the author put enough effort into defining the world and fleshing out the rebels and all of the elements that made it distinctly not the current US.  She also doesn't include a map of the new land sections so you just have to guess.


What worlds do you think are intricately built?  Do you agree with my picks?  Make a post and link up down below!


Next Week's Topic: Best/Worst Book Read in February

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

R&R Review Wednesday: The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak


Stand alone to date

Goodreads Blurb:
"A dazzling debut novel—at once a charming romance and a moving coming-of-age story—about what happens when a fourteen-year old boy pretends to seduce a girl to steal a copy of Playboy but then discovers she is his computer-loving soulmate.

Billy Marvin’s first love was a computer. Then he met Mary Zelinsky.

Do you remember your first love?

The Impossible Fortress begins with a magazine…The year is 1987 and Playboy has just published scandalous photographs of Vanna White, from the popular TV game show Wheel of Fortune. For three teenage boys—Billy, Alf, and Clark—who are desperately uneducated in the ways of women, the magazine is somewhat of a Holy Grail: priceless beyond measure and impossible to attain. So, they hatch a plan to steal it.

The heist will be fraught with peril: a locked building, intrepid police officers, rusty fire escapes, leaps across rooftops, electronic alarm systems, and a hyperactive Shih Tzu named Arnold Schwarzenegger. Failed attempt after failed attempt leads them to a genius master plan—they’ll swipe the security code to Zelinsky’s convenience store by seducing the owner’s daughter, Mary Zelinsky. It becomes Billy’s mission to befriend her and get the information by any means necessary. But Mary isn’t your average teenage girl. She’s a computer loving, expert coder, already strides ahead of Billy in ability, with a wry sense of humor and a hidden, big heart. But what starts as a game to win Mary’s affection leaves Billy with a gut-wrenching choice: deceive the girl who may well be his first love or break a promise to his best friends.

At its heart, The Impossible Fortress is a tender exploration of young love, true friends, and the confusing realities of male adolescence—with a dash of old school computer programming.

Bonus content: Play the "The Impossible Fortress" video game at
http://www.jasonrekulak.com/game/"

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Review Sunday: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis


Stand-alone to date

Goodreads Blurb:
"Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us."

Friday, February 17, 2017

50/50 Friday (20): Character Most/Least Likely to be a World Traveler


50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @The Butterfly Reads and I and focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc).  Every week will have a new topic and several advance topics will be listed in the tab labeled 50/50 Friday!

Today's Topic: Character Most/Least Likely to be a World Traveler

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

R&R Review Wednesday: Lessons on St. Barts by Emme Cross


St. Barts #2 (see the review for the first book in the series, Love on St. Barts, HERE)

Goodreads Blurb:
"Sunny’s happiness with Sven is threatened by a murderous stalker
Sunny O’Hara thought everything was going smoothly with her sexy movie-star boyfriend Sven. He initiates in her all the ways of love and seems to have stopped sleeping around. But everything is threatened by a vicious stalker who wants her out the picture.

Will Sunny survive, and if she does, can her relationship with Sven last?

This is the second book in the St. Barts Romance series by Emme Cross. Set on the island of St. Barts, eight square miles of gourmet restaurants, designer shops, yachts . . . and sultry secrets."

Monday, February 13, 2017

Music Monday (5)


Music Monday is a weekly event hosted by Lauren over at Always Me.  Every Monday, you share one or two of your favorite songs you've been enjoying that week to help other people discover new music!  Here are my picks for this week:

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