Saturday, July 12, 2014

Book Review: Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

My Thoughts:  I picked up this series at the beginning of this year.  I am so glad I waited because, to be honest, I don't think I could have waited for the other books to come out.  I am so sad this is the last book in what has quickly become one of my favorite series (trilogies).

Just a warning...this review will most likely have spoilers for this series so if you haven't read the books then don't read this review yet...

Alina is recovering from her showdown with the Darkling.  She is under the very watchful eye of the Apparat in the White Chapel.  She has people worshiping the ground she walked on.  She is the Sun Summoner.  She has a lot at stake however as the Darkling is still stalking her.  She knows she has to find the last amplifier and do her best to ruin the Darkling.

I loved all the characters in this trilogy.  Alina is strong despite having to deal with three men who all want her (although for different reasons).  Mal has finally overcome his jealousy and has come to terms with the fact that he and Alina have no future together.  I am still a major fan of the Darkling too though.  He is just one of those characters that you love and hate at the same time.  He did some things that made me truly want him dead (Nicolai, Keramzin) but I still wanted a somewhat happy ending for him.  Nicolai is still funny and I was very upset with what happened to him.  Zoya was my least favorite character in the first two books as she was obnoxious but she grows in this book and while she can still be obnoxious, she is also funny and loyal.

I absolutely was thrilled that we finally got the whole story behind the Darkling and more importantly, Baghra's story.  It was fascinating to learn about them both and also about Morozova and how they all tied in with Alina and Mal.  

I loved the ending...and I've read a lot of reviews where people hated the way it ended but I thought it was perfect.  It was heartbreaking but so perfect. I loved what happened when Alina wore all three amplifiers.  It was completely unexpected.  

This book takes off from page one and is full of excitement.  You come to love all the characters and you can't help but feeling at least a little bit sorry for the Darkling.  Although I am sad to see this trilogy end, I am happy to say that I thought it ended well!


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book Review: Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Don't Look Back 

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it's one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took "mean girl" to a whole new level, and it's clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She's getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she's falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn't just buried deep inside of Sam's memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

My Thoughts:  If you have read my blog before, you know that I love JLA and her books.  Her Half-Blood series is probably my favorite series ever and her Lux series comes in a close second so I was excited to pick up this book.  I wasn't disappointed in it but it wasn't one of favorites, I am sad to say.  

This books starts out with Sam walking around barefoot in her town with no idea what has happened to her or where she has been.  She's taken to the hospital where they call her family and tell them she has amnesia and doesn't remember a single thing from the past.  She also finds out that her best friend, Cassie, was with her and is still missing.  Sam wants to remember to help the police find Cassie, even though she doesn't remember Cassie at all and has no feelings towards her at all. 

Upon arriving home, Sam realizes that her family is extremely wealthy.  After talking to her brother and meeting her friends and boyfriends, Sam discovers that she was a complete bitch.  She was mean, shallow, had no respect for herself or others and cared entirely too much about image.  Now though, Sam is a completely different person.  She doesn't seem to care so much about money, doesn't care about image and really, she doesn't like her friends or boyfriend at all anymore.   

I could not connect with Sam at all.  She was a little bit naive and way too trusting for my liking.  I would be completely on guard and not trusting anyone if I had no memories.  Her boyfriend, Del, lied to her the entire time about their relationship and she only questioned it a few times.  Del was creepy and a jerk and way too pushy.  Sam's "friends" were your typical "Mean Girl" type friends.  They would back stab each other in a New York minute without a single thought (as you find out later with Cassie) but this is typical of high school (in my opinion).  

I figured out the whole mystery in this one about halfway through the book.  I knew who did it just because of their attitude through the whole book and it wasn't long before I had a sneaking suspicion as to why this person did what they did so that was kinda a letdown for me.  I like a mystery that keeps me wondering until the end.  

I also didn't feel the story was very suspenseful. The notes weren't very scary and the "shadow man" never really did anything to make it scary.  In the end, all this is explained and you see why it is important but it still didn't do it for me in thrill factor department.

However, all that being said, this was still a fast read that kept my attention for the most part.  I enjoyed the amnesia factor and the romance, while a little typical, was sweet.  I got sucked into the book and despite the fact that I had it figured out, I still wanted to find out if Sam stayed "sweet Sam" or went back to "evil Sam".  It's definitely worth a just wasn't one of my favorites.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Review: Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs

Bones to Ashes (Temperance Brennan, #10) 

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Temperance Brennan, like her creator Kathy Reichs, is a brilliant, sexy forensic anthropologist called on to solve the toughest cases. But for Tempe, the discovery of a young girl's skeleton in Acadia, Canada, is more than just another assignment. Evangeline, Tempe's childhood best friend, was also from Acadia. Named for the character in the Longfellow poem, Evangeline was the most exotic person in Tempe's eight-year-old world. When Evangeline disappeared, Tempe was warned not to search for her, that the girl was "dangerous."Thirty years later, flooded with memories, Tempe cannot help wondering if this skeleton could be the friend she lost so many years ago. And what is the meaning of the strange skeletal lesions found on the bones of the young girl?

Meanwhile, Tempe's beau, Ryan, investigates a series of cold cases. Three girls dead. Four missing. Could the New Brunswick skeleton be part of the pattern? As Tempe draws on the latest advances in forensic anthropology to penetrate the past, Ryan hunts down a serial predator.

My Thoughts: I have enjoyed all of Kathy Reichs "Bones" books and this one is no exception.  I can always count on these books if I am in a reading slump.

This book starts out with some of Tempe's childhood history.  You learn a little about Tempe's family, the death of her brother and father and her good friend, Evangeline.  Tempe hasn't really thought of Evangeline in awhile.  Evangeline disappeared with her sister when Tempe was young.  When a detective brings Tempe a skeleton of a young girl, Tempe wonders if it might be Evangeline's (there are some clues that lead her to think of Evangeline).  

In the meantime, Tempe is also helping Ryan with some missing girls/dead girls cases.  This part of the book was very disturbing to me, in particular, one somewhat graphic scene, that I had to actually just skim past.  I have an 8-year daughter so that part was tough for me to read.  Somehow, Ryan's case ties into Tempe's friend's case and through that, Tempe is able to find out what has happened to Evangeline and her sister.  

This book was very fast paced and kept me on my toes.  This book dealt with Leprosy, which was interesting to me to read about since I knew very little about it.  It seems a little strange to me that the family (who has money) would not seek medical care but I also know people who are very wary about hospitals and the government in general so I can see it happening.

If you like Kathy Reich's books, you won't be disappointed in this one.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Book Review: Origins (Lux #4) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.

After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.

All Katy can do is survive.

Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?

Together, they can face anything.

But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on?

And will they even be together?

My Thoughts:  

If you haven't read this series then don't read this review.  It has some spoilers in it from the last book that you just don't want to know about yet.  
So, after the rescue mission for Beth went horribly wrong, Katy is now in the hands of Daedalus and Daemon is livid!  The book begins with Daemon's point of view which was awesome.  Daemon has decided that nothing will stop him from rescuing Katy.  After knowing what they did to Dawson and Beth, can you blame him for that?

While Daemon is in the process of his rescue mission, we switch to Katy's point of view.  Katy is being held at Daedalus and is not having a pleasant time.  There are things that happen that make cheer though ( spoilers for this book) but I wasn't quite sure why Katy felt the need to hide what she did from Daemon.  

Things start out in this book with a bang and they don't stop.  The whole book is a roller coaster ride of emotions and so much action.  I loved the fact that it had alternating POVs (Katy's and Daemon's).  Katy and Daemon's relationship grows in many ways in this book.  They have been through so much together and I loved the spontaneous moves they made.  

There are some serious surprises in this book as well.  I could not believe what happened with Matthew but figured out what was going on with Beth and Dawson almost right away.  I really enjoyed getting to know Archer and Luc better and I hope that Dee gets some much needed romance in the next book.

The end of the book isn't as much of a cliff hanger as Opal but it leaves you with only about a million questions.  My goal was to space out the reading of this series so that Opposition was out by the time I finished Origins but once I started, I couldn't stop.  So now I have to wait.  I have a feeling it will definitely be worth the wait though!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Book Review: Opal (Lux #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well... There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different... And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we’re stronger... and they know it.

My Thoughts:  I finished this book last month but we are wrapping up school and have some house stuff going on (a kitchen remodel) so I'm slacking here.  
My first word of advice for this book is to have the next book, Origin, ready to read because the cliff hanger on this one is crazy!  My heart broke when I read the end of this one so I was happy that I could immediately jump into the next book.

Katy and Daemon are finally together and admitting their feelings for each other without any hesitation.  With that being said, I have to tell you, I miss the romantic tension there.  It's not quite as fun to read about them because you aren't waiting on edge for the romance to happen anymore.  Daemon is still funny and sarcastic though and I love him for that.  Katy still makes some dumb choices but hey, we are all human right?  Well, I guess maybe not in this case but you know what I mean!

Blake is a jerk.  I can't stand him but honestly, there are times when I actually feel a little sorry for him.  I am still not really sure what his part is in this whole story but he's still hiding a lot (which becomes painfully obvious at the end).  I think he really does miss Katy as a friend though and I think he did really like her but I cannot bring myself to like his character at all.

When it comes to Katy and Dee's friendship, you can't help but feel for both of them.  Katy made some seriously bad choices in the last book so I can understand why Dee is so angry at her.  But at the same time, it wasn't ALL Katy's fault.  I really want Katy and Dee to repair this friendship but I'm not sure how that's going to turn out.  

This was not my favorite book in this series.  I felt that out of the three that I have read, there wasn't really a lot of action until the end.  Dawson is back and they are trying to find a way to save Beth but it wasn't all that exciting.  Don't get me wrong, it was still a good book but it wasn't an "I cannot put this book down" kind of book like the first two were.  

If you haven't picked up this series yet, I really recommend that you do.  Even though this book wasn't my favorite, the ending made up for a lot of it.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Book Review: The Body in the Woods (Point Last Seen #1) by April Henry

**Received from NetGalley for an honest review**

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  In this new series told from multiple perspectives, teen members of a search and rescue team discover a dead body in the woods.

Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear, and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.

This first book in April Henry’s Point Last Seen YA mystery series is full of riveting suspense, putting readers in the middle of harrowing rescues and crime scene investigations.
My Thoughts:  This book was very difficult for me to get through. Have you ever read a book or even watched a movie and sat through the whole thing saying "yeah right" or "this would never happen like that"?  That's how I was reading this book and it was very frustrating to me.

Now, I am 35 so I am older than the intended audience (although I read mostly YA books so this shouldn't be a problem) and I grew up in a law enforcement family (my dad was Chief for over 20 years, my uncle was Sheriff) and my husband is a deputy for our county and also a SAR coordinator (SAR = Search and Rescue).  I cannot tell you how many times my husband is called out to look for missing hikers!  I also live in the heart of the Columbia Gorge and only 40 minutes from Portland, OR, where this story takes place so I have a lot of background knowledge.  This was not a good thing while reading this book.  Maybe if I didn't have a lot of knowledge about how this stuff works, it wouldn't have seemed so farfetched to me.

The Body in the Woods starts out with Alexis, Nick and Ruby, three teenage SAR volunteers (with very limited training), getting called out to a "hasty search".  They are looking for an autistic man in a local park.  First thing that struck me as a little odd was that these three inexperienced volunteers are put together in a group to search for this man without any experienced SAR.  Yeah, this would NEVER happen because the last thing you want to do is have to send in a SAR team for your first SAR team (although it has happened).  Now, the guy who sent the groups out did admit that it was a mistake but the guy that split up the groups was an Eagle Scout volunteer who also did not appear to have much experience.  It just didn't ring true to me at all.  They should have a deputy or someone with a lot of experience dividing the people into groups and telling them where to go.

So, Alexis, Ruby and Nick are on the trail looking for this guy.  They are told to stay together but of course, they don't.  After asking some people the see on the trail if they have seen the missing man, Nick and Ruby both run ahead of Alexis.   While looking, Alexis spots someone in the brush and it ends up being a dead girl.  Alexis is obviously traumatized and calls for help.  In the meantime, Ruby and Nick hurry back to her and Ruby (who appears to have Aspberger's) takes in the scene very closely.  Ruby has amazing observation skills and is very interested in forensics so this could be very helpful.
After the body is removed, the kids are questioned by a detective.  Now, I realize that a cop does not need the parent around or even the parent's permission to talk to a kid.  However, these kids just found a dead body.  You would think that the police would have contacted the parents and had them come down to pick up their kids and be supportive.  Not only did they not do that (and as a parent, I would be very upset if the police didn't have me come down to pick up my kid who had just seen a murdered girl) but they told the kids that they couldn't talk about anything to anyone, including their parents about this.  I found this a little odd too.  I understand not talking about things that are confidential but surely the kids could talk to the parents about how they felt finding a dead body.  They weren't privy to any confidential information at that point because there was only a dead body found.  That was in the news by the morning.  They did bring in some grief counselors but these people were also very young and also volunteers.  I'm just not sure how much help an 18 year old volunteer could be.  I would think if they were bringing someone in, it would be an experienced counselor (probably with education and a degree behind them). 
Anyways, the kids are convinced that they can find the killer and help the police.  They help with an evidence search and then get caught up in trying to find out who is killing homeless girls and the whole time they don't realize that one of them is now on the killer's list.  

Another issue I had with the book was the constantly changing POVs.  I just never felt like I got to connect with any characters and in the beginning, it was difficult to try to figure out what was going on.  Plus, I really didn't like Nick at all so did not find his chapters entertaining in any way. 
 I think Ruby was my favorite character but we were constantly being told how socially awkward or "weird" she was.  Her parents thought her "obsessed with death/darkness" which I didn't get at all. She was interested in crime and forensics.  How is that obsessed with death?  She was the character that I could most connect with and I would have loved it if the whole story was told from her POV.

This is the first book from April Henry that I have read and I have heard some of her other books, like The Girl who was Supposed to Die or The Night she Disappeared, are really good so I might give one of those ones a try.  I won't be picking up anymore books in this series though.  If you like crime books, you might want to try this one.  Again, I think people that are younger would enjoy this book but it just wasn't one for me.  I would love to hear your thoughts on it though!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Opal (Lux #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

     I no longer saw the world in black and white and deep down I knew I didn't operate on basic social norms anymore.
     Like thy shalt not kill or whatever.
~page 23 of Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout