Book Review: Sea of Shadows

Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends #1)Image
Kelley Armstrong
YA Fantasy
Publish Date: April 8th 2014
*Received an Advanced Reader Copy in good reads giveaway
** This Opinion is 100% my own.

            In the Forest of the Dead, where the Empires worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

            Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

            Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sister’s journey to find each other sends them far from the only home that they have ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls’ cross a once empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court – one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

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            I’ve only recently started reading Kelley Armstrong’s work. I’ve already invested in her new series Cainsville and was really excited to try her young adult fiction. I definitely was not disappointed with Sea of Shadows!
            I really, really, really enjoyed the backstory and all the lore. The whole concept of the Keeper and Seeker, and even the Forest of the Dead really drew me into the story and hooked me. I’ve been getting into fantasy novels a lot in the past year or so, largely in thanks to my Husband and I am super pleased to be adding this series to my collection!
            It’s dark, edgy and has a strong sense of purpose. There is a point and reason as to why each scene in is in this novel and I find that extremely refreshing and uplifting that there were no needless fillers. The main characters each have their own voices and strongly defined personalities. There is personal growth for each character in Sea of Shadows which doesn’t always happen with series, so it was great to see that already taking off.
            The romance aspect is great and seems really natural. It never seems too forced or too rushed for me to find it awkward and unrealistic. I definitely have a favorite couple and a favorite character at this point in the story but will reserve on ‘fan-girling’ all over this book review.
            I’ve noticed that this book isn’t getting the best reviews currently and am hoping that will soon change as I think this series has a whole lot of potential and has a very fascinating story and cast of characters that I personally cannot wait to get to know even better. I love it when things are revealed over time and when you’re not bombarded with information and I think Kelley Armstrong’s writing style is really suited to my reading style and what I want from out of a novel.
            I am looking forward to the second part of this story and am deeply saddened by how long it is I’ll have to wait for it. Thank goodness Kelley Armstrong has many more books and series for me to try out while I wait!
           

Check out of Goodreads Page Here!

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Book Review: Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & ParkImage
Rainbow Rowell
Young adult Contemporary
Published: 2013
5/5

                Two Misfits.
                One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough… Eleanor.

Park… He know she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs as her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-old – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

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                It’s not often that a book touches me in the way that Eleanor & Park has. The simplest and realistic nature of their relationship was both heartwarming and beautiful. Rainbow Rowell has managed to deliver a love story that is timeless in its content and in its tenderness. Despite not having been born when this book took place, it easily reminded me of my first love, and all the heartbreak and confusion that came with it when I was sixteen.
                Rowell has delivered realistic characters with realistic obstacles. The beginning middle and end made perfect sense and I personally wouldn’t have wanted to see it written any differently. I liked the open ending, because life is open ended. Just because something happens or someone leaves or comes back doesn’t mean that’s how it’s always going to be. Even if someone has hurt you in the past that doesn’t mean that person won’t be your best friend someday or maybe even the person you marry of course the story won’t always end perfectly either. I’ve seen this story happen so many times in my life with my friends and of course, with my own life. This story is truly heartwarming and heartbreaking.
                Worth all the hype, completely and with honesty.    

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BOOK REVIEW: Insurgent

Insurgent (Divergent #2)Image
Veronica Roth
Dystopian YA
Publisher: Harper Collins
Published: May 1st 2012
4/5

 

One Choice can transform you… Or destroy you

                Every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves – and herself – while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.
                Tris’ initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grow. And in the times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable – and even more powerful.
                Transformed by her own decisions but also by her haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so

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                Divergent ended with such a fantastic bang, that I knew despite already having purchased Insurgent I was going to be waiting to read it until Allegiant come out.  I was really excited when I could escape back into the fictional world that Veronica Roth created.  The world building and back story that she has created came through flawlessly in Insurgent, a book that was considerably more action packed than Divergent.
                Insurgent runs high on emotions as politics, family loyalties and friendships are called into question and tough choices have to made. The overall emotional intensity of this books sets it apart from other Young Adult fiction novels that I’ve read and I found that refreshing.  Veronica Roth has a way of exploring more mature themes but in a way that regardless of your age you’re able to identify and relate too.
                The relationship between Four and Tris is constantly tested throughout this book, and despite their differences, personal issues and their young age they deal with them maturely, with unconditional love and compassionate understanding once they allow each other in. They’re both hurting for different reasons and together they are stronger than they ever would be apart. Together, they are an unbreakable force, they are a team and one that I certainly wouldn’t want to tangle with.
                Four’s family background and beliefs are called into attention quite a few times in this book and we learn a lot more about him, mostly why he is the way he is today.  He had very strong character development through out this novel. His loyalty to Tris is unwavering, he is heartwarming to read.
                Over all Insurgent was a good read. It left you waiting for the next and final installment in the series.
                I will be posting the review for Allegiant tomorrow and then will be posting a discussion piece on the series as a whole.
                Let me know what you thought of this book! I’m interested in knowing.

Book Review: Fire

Fire (Graceling Realm #2)Image
Kristin Cashore
Young Adult Fantasy
Published: 2009
Publisher: FireBird
4/5

                It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves and lawless men.
                This is where fire lives. With a wild, irresistible appearance and hair the color of flame, Fire is the last remaining human monster. Equally hated and adored, she had the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people. Especially when she has so many of her own.
                Then Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City, the royal family needs her help to uncover the plot against the king. Far away from home, Fire begins to realize there’s more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom.
                If only she weren’t afraid of becoming the monster her father was.

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                I really enjoyed Fire. Despite complaints that I’ve seen in regards to Fire character I found her engaging and believable because I know firsthand that beauty can be a curse. Beauty can also leave you feeling entitled and considering Fire is so very desirable I find her to fit the role quite well.
                Fire is sweet, sensitive and trying to figure out how to deal with her past while forging a happy future, the sins of our past can really detour us from the potential we all hold and I believe Fire does a fantastic job bringing that to light. I was very pleased that she did out use her powers for selfish gain and that her uses of power were to either defend her-self or help defend the kingdom.
                I really enjoyed the character developments and how the relationships between characters evolved and changed throughout the course of the book. I found all the characters had a strong voice, strong personalities and were all easily imaginable as I read through the book. They all blended in nicely. My only issue with character development was with Leck, since he is mentioned in the prologue I figured he would have a more definitive role in ‘Fire’ however, he was hardly mentioned at all and I found that part of the novel to fall flat, which is why I’ve given Fire four stars instead of five.  I was really looking forward to his development and the issues he’d bring so I was very disappointed in that regard.
                Thought that Kristin Cashore did a great job describing grief; grief is a dark, depressing, and horrible feeling, it was written truthfully and in a way that you identify with.
                I really enjoyed this novel and I am very much looking forward to reading BitterBlue.
                Have you read Fire? What did you think about it?

Book Talk: Literary terms Part 1

        I thought I would take the time to write out what my definitions of genre’s and ‘readership’ labels mean to me. There seems to be so many vastly different opinions online about what they actually are and often times I find myself getting frustrated with people labeling novels incorrectly. However, that being said obviously everyone has the right to their own opinion, I just want to share mine with you
            This is part one of my definitions, and as it’ll be fairly long I’m going to break it up into at least two parts, likely three.
              What do you think of my definitions, do you agree or disagree with them? If you disagree I’d love to know why!  

Science Fiction; Deals with imaginative concepts, often in regards to futuristic technology, space travel, other planets and time travel. However science fiction is not limited, it can also involve aliens, vampires, zombies and werewolves. Many factors come into play when classifying creatures into the genre science fiction; i.e. a virus mutates and creates zombies, it’s a manmade mistake created by science.
                Examples of science Fiction
                                Enders Game – Orson Scott Card
                                Across the Universe – Beth Revis
                                Dune – Frank Herbert
                                Feed – Mira Grant

 

Fantasy; Deals with imaginative concepts that are often improbable or impossible. For example, many fantasy novels include animals such as dragons, trolls and elves. Fantasy novels almost always include a realm of magic, in example characters that are able to wield the elements, heal without medicines, or call upon mystical animals for help in battles. If Vampires, Zombies, aliens or werewolves are involved in fantasy they are almost always natural and not created by man, they’ve always existed in these worlds the way the elves or hobbits have. They are also often series, it is not often that you find a standalone fantasy novel; most that I’ve come across personally have been a part of a large series.
                Examples of Fantasy
                                The Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling
                                The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – J.R.R Tolkien
                                The Inheritance Cycle – Christopher Paolini
                                A Song of Ice and Fire – George R.R.Martin

Horror; in its essence horror is intended to scare you, to keep you up all night with the lights on and send shivers straight through to your bones. The Horror genre is usually quite dark, violent and can at times be gory. Horror can either be supernatural or non-supernatural depending on the content of the novel. This includes but is not limited too; serial killers, ghosts, poltergeists, vampires, zombies, kidnapping, psychological horror, etc.
                  Examples of Horror
                                 The Shining – Stephan King
                                 The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
                                 Dracula – Bram Stoker
                                 Interview with a Vampire – Anne Rice


Young Adult; This category is a little more tricky and can at times be vague but the general rule of thumb is that young adult audience intended are between the ages of 12-18 years old. Recent studies however have shown that 55% of young adult fiction purchased is bought by adults over the age of 18.
               Examples of Young Adult Fiction
                                 The Hunger Games Trilogy –Suszanne Collins
                                 The Delirium Trilogy – Lauren Oliver
                                 The Fault in our Stars – John Green
                                 Lock and Key – Sarah Dessen

New Adult; Deals primarily with protagonists between the ages of 18-25. Unlike Young Adult there is often considerably more descriptive sexual content, drug and alcohol use and more ‘real life’ issues. Despite having a genre, there are not many New Adult novels that are not contemporary, at least not that I’ve currently discovered. This is a highly HOT topic currently as it’s not clear if this is actually a clear genre, category or marketing scheme.
                   Examples of New Adult Fiction
                                      Beautiful Disaster – Jamie McGuire
                                       Slammed – Colleen Hoover
                                       Easy – Tamara Webber
                                      Fallen too Far – Abbi Glines

                               

Book Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

The Coldest Girl in ColdtownImage
Holly Black
YA Horror, Vampire
Published: 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
4/5

                Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. Once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.
                One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.
                The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly black.

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                The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is one of the best young adult vampire fiction novels that I’ve ever read. Original and free-spirited, Holly Black weaves a believable world, with engaging and fascinating creatures and characters.
                The Vampires and Humans in this book are cruel, twisted and make sense. They’re not here for the greater good and none of the Vampires see Humans as anything beyond a tasty snack or a form of entertainment. Holly Black stays true to the true nature of Vampires and does not fluff them up, or make them seem as though they are vulnerable. They are dark, nasty and they will kill you if they’re given the opportunity. There disregard for the life of humanity is right on the spot and leaves you with your bones chilled straight through.
                I thought Tana made a good lead character, I wouldn’t say that she was great as I found some of her actions to be a little too risky for someone that has lived in the constant shadow and fear of a race of Humans that are entirely something else once they’ve been turned and quite honestly even before they’ve been turned. I did however; find it refreshing to have a strong main character, one that wasn’t completely dependent on anyone but herself. She has her own horror stories that leak out into her character and because of that some of her reactions seem a little to forced and not quite believable, however I still found her engaging, lively and interesting enough to keep the novel interesting.
                There wasn’t a whole lot of world building however that’s expected when you have a stand-alone novel. I’m extremely thankful as well that this is a standalone novel as the ending was quite open and you get to draw your own conclusions and ideas in regards to what happens to everyone who is still alive (Or undead) next. In all honesty I haven’t read a standalone novel in so long that left me feeling satisfied, however it does seem to me that if she were wanting to write a second novel in regards to this one she easily could and part of me wonders if that is perhaps why she left the ending so devastatingly open.
                I’ve enjoyed Holly Black’s writing for a long time, since I was a teenager really. She’s definitely worth the read if you’re looking for something fresh and original. If you like Vampire stories that aren’t fluffed up like Twilight, I very much believe you would love this one. Definitely go check it out, already eagerly looking forward to her next novel.
                If you’ve read ‘The Coldest Girl in Coldtown’ what did you think of it? What did you like and not like about the novel?