Review: The Beauty of Darkness (The Remnant Chronicles #3)

The Beauty of Darkness (The Remnant Chronicles, #3)

I could not wait to get my grubby hands on this book. I tore through the first two books like they were nothing. Those books were some of the best writing, the best story I had read in a while. Once I got this book, but I became hesitant to start because it is nearly 700 pages. Just let that sink in… we are talking books nearing the size of Cassandra Clare’s TMI books. That, folks, is dedication and time consuming.

In the final installment of The Remnant Chronicles, Lia is the only one who can save Morrighan. There is an evil determined to destroy that land and Lia cannot let that happen. Finally stepping into her role as First Daughter, Lia has to be not only a soldier, but a leader. This is a title and responsibility she has run away from her whole life. Along the way, she questions her feelings for Rafe and for Kaden. Can she trust her feelings? Is she strong enough to do what is necessary?

To get through this story, I chose to listen to the audiobook. Ladies and gents, the audio is over 18 hours if you listen at 1x playback. Eighteen. HOURS. That may or may not be faster than reading the physical copy, but that is still a lot of time. I listen at a high playback speed (2x) so I gave over 9 hours to this and I don’t believe it was worth it. It was bleak and monotonous. I felt as if nothing happened over a very, very long period of time. The tone was passive and not engaging. There were no character interactions and even fewer reactions. I wanted/needed something to happen. I wanted something to remind me why I fell in love with the first two books. It just didn’t happen, folks. Instead, it was predictable and I was not vested in the outcome anymore. I didn’t care what happened, I just wanted the story to be over. It all fell apart after the first third of the book. BORING. DULL. UNEVENTFUL. People were talking to talk but nothing substantial was being said. yawn

Once again, this story was told from multiple POVs, not all of which were necessary. Why did Pauline need a voice? Why? I liked her as a secondary character but she didn’t deserve to be center stage. Rafe and Kaden were their usual drone selves, whining about how they should be in charge, whatever whatever whatever. It did appear that Lia developed a bit more during this book, but it felt like she did it all at once and not gradually. Can’t say I believe that at all. Nobody grows up overnight, sorry but that isn’t how it is really done.

The action scenes didn’t happen until the last 5% or so. When they did – BAM. They were over before they started because they lasted a few pages at most. Uh… why not find a way to keep that action and suspense throughout the entire book? Just a thought. Forcing it into the very last pages of the story make a reader mad. It makes the story feel rushed, as if you are putting words on a page to make a deadline. There was so little resolution when the story was over and done with. What happened with Jaxon? What of his kingdom? WHO KNOWS because it isn’t talked about.

Overall, I was incredibly let down by this book. I wanted the feel from the first two books to continue in this story but it did not. It was 685 pages of nothing then everything crammed into the last two pages and…. DONE. If you enjoy very long winded stories where little to nothing happens other than pointless interaction, then this is the story for you. If you can handle not having a resolution to the overall story, you are in luck. As for me, I am disappointed with this one. Anticlimactic middle/ending to what could have been a a hell of a story.

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ARC Review (Physical & Audio): Gemina (Illuminae Files_02)

Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)

This book was so high on my TBR list that I almost starting shaking when I finally got to read it. Illuminae was hands down one of the best books I read in 2015, so understandably there was a lot of hype around this story. Would it be as good as the first book? I can say with absolute certainty that it was just as strong as I wanted it to be.

I am going to do something a little different with this review – I have read both the arc book and listened to the arc audio. I’m going to review BOTH as I feel they have both earned it.

BeiTech is still at it. BeiTech is still attacking other ships in outer space they feel might be a threat. This time they have set their targets on Jump Station Heimdall. What BeiTech has not planned for is Hanna and Nik. Hanna is the daughter of the station captain’s daughter, highly trained in nearly everything deadly. Nik is a member of a vicious crime family. Together, Hanna and Nik are more than BeiTech could have ever imagined. Hanna and Nik fight with everything they have to defend the Heimdall and they are prepared to go down with the ship if it means saving everyone else. There is one thing that is trying to take over the ship and it isn’t AIDAN – an alien predator. Alien predators are picking off crew members one by one and suddenly it isn’t just BeiTech Hanna and Nik are trying to fend off. Packed full of non-stop action and snarky dialogue, Hanna and Nik are not to be messed with but can they save everyone, including themselves?

Physical ARC Review

This was me while reading this book:

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This was me after finishing the book:

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I wasn’t sure if I would like Hanna and Nik because my feels are with Kady and Ezra (I ship them forever). I was right, I didn’t like them in the beginning but they grew on me, especially Nik. I thought Hanna was the spoiled princess with badass training. She was the ship captain’s daughter so it felt like she always got what she wanted. The best training, the best clothing, the ability to get away with nearly everything. Once the assassins board the ship and take the one thing that means the most to her, I was happy to see the spoiled princess side go away. She turned into a lethal weapon with a knack for killing. I liked Nik from the beginning. He was a criminal with a past who was trying to keep his cousin safe. I can’t fault a guy for that. But when Hanna and Nik teamed up, whoa.

I devoured this book. I tried to take my time reading it because the way the story is laid out on the pages is brilliant. IMs, texts, chats, surveillance footage, it is all a lot to take in but it adds so much to the overall story. I wanted to soak it up as slowly as possible. I don’t believe this book/story is meant to be rushed. With as much as I sing the praises of this book, I cannot ignore the fact that there are two things that stood out to me:

Plot: The plot was lacking a little bit. I did not like the introduction of the alien predators so much. Sure, I understand there needed to be some biological threat like there was in Illuminae but this didn’t feel as natural or as much of a threat. They were organisms introduced into livestock in order to produce some type of drug. Uh… okay. But if they are left unattended, they would leave the host and seek another life source. That just didn’t feel as threatening as a deadly airborne virus that could turn a human into a zombie-like creature. Now that was badass.

Connecting with the rest of the characters: I did not feel as connected to the rest of the ship/characters as I was in the first story. I really liked Nik’s cousin and was more worried about her most of the time. I felt there were too many bad guys introduced with specific call names. I had a tough time keeping up with who was where and who was killed.

Audio ARC Review

HOLY CROW. I had heard the audio for Illuminae was good but I was not prepared. All of the issues I had with the physical copy were gone with the audio. Hearing the full cast of characters brought this audio to an entirely new level. I will not ever be able to compare another book to this one – ever. I immediately felt for each character and feel in love with the story all over again. The aliens made sense, probably because you could hear them so you felt they really were right behind you. Just overall the story made more sense to me. I was invested in their escape, their battle, their need for survival. I liked Hanna and Nik so much more. It still felt like there were too many bad guys to keep up with so I stopped trying. I listened for the key players and went that route. It worked for me and would recommend anyone doing that.

I was worried the audio would take way from the originality of the physical pages. You know what I mean because the words and the art on the pages of the physical add another dimension to the story. The audio does not take anything away. In fact, I think it adds more to the story. This felt like a 3D experience! The sound effects and the full cast make you feel as if you have been submerged in this world. It is mind-blowing. I wanted to stop working just so I could sit and listen to the story.

The one thing that did make me over the moon happy was the story line of this book takes place minutes after the end of the first book. Kady and Ezra do have a presence. (EEK!) I cannot and will not lose my faith in this series based on this book. I still loved it and it still blew my hair back. I am a fan for live and will push this book on people every chance I get. I hope this is already on your radar and you read it as soon as it comes out.

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ARC Review: Bound by Blood and Sand (You want this book)

Bound by Blood and Sand

 

This story caught me off guard. Based on the reviews alone I chose to give it a go and I was not disappointed. From the first few minutes of this audio, I was hooked. I wanted to do nothing but finish this book. Sadly, my bills had other plans and I was forced to stop once in a while but when I was not reading this, I was wondering what was going on. To me, that is the sign of a great story. I haven’t been captivated by a story like this in a long time.

Jae is a slave to a household in the middle of the desert. She, and her twin brother, are the cursed ones in this civilization. They are bound an ancient law that forces them to obey every command given to them no matter how repulsive. They are unable to resist this curse no matter how much they try to fight against it. Everything within Jae’s world changes when she hears of Lord Elan’s arrival. Lord Elan is visiting from the main city because he, like many other people, is searching for The Well. The Well is the hidden source of magic and water that could save everyone. But… it is hidden and nobody knows the whereabouts. In a series of fortunate events, Jae discovers The Well and she alone has the power to control it. Elan discovers this and soon fights to control Jae but he cannot. He begs her and tries to bargain with her to help him find The Well. But why would someone that has only known slavery, abuse, neglect, and worse want to help someone of power? Jae sets out to discover the well and hopefully free all of the slaves, that is unless Elan’s power hungry father gets to her first. Will she be able to discover the Well and save those she cares about the most?

The writing style of this story blew me away. It is such a simple story, but wonderfully complex at the same time. The concept of the story was amazing to me. People who are considered to be the reason for the downfall of the civilization were Cursed and forced to pay for the sins of their ancestors for all time. This curse forces the person to do whatever vile order is given to them, not matter how horrid it is. They also are forced to only spoke when asked a question and they can only speak the truth. Brilliant! The foundation of the story, the history of The Well, the ancient war, and the Chosen was just fantastic. This story was so rich with fantasy that I couldn’t get enough.

I really liked Jae’s character. She is no proper female, that’s for sure. She is a tough woman that has been forced to be a slave from the time she could walk. She has served the same household her entire life, along with her twin brother. She has known no other life so being a proper lady with class is nowhere on her To Do list. She does her best to stand up for herself when she can. Her development within the story was very well done. She started out wanting nothing more than to tend the garden, and grew into someone that was determined to find the Well and set her people free, no matter the cost. Jae alone discovered the truth behind the Well and chose to do something about it. I like how she grew to trust Elan. Elan was out to prove that he was not as heartless as his father but still wanted to help people. He, too, grew as the story went along. He discovered the truth behind his family’s blood line and wanted to correct a wrong history. I can’t blame a son for wanting to prove to his father that he is his own man and is on the planet for a reason.

After a lot of thought, I realized that I couldn’t find anything I didn’t like about this story other than the wait until the next in the series. How amazing is that? The best part of this story: NO. ROMANCE. That’s right! There is ZERO romance clouding this story! FINALLY! A bloody brilliant story that has no love angst clogging things up! That leaves the story up for more secrets to be revealed, more mysteries to be solved, more magic, and stronger characters. HOORAY! Thank you Allen for finally writing a story like this!

I cannot wait until the next book in the series comes out. I want to be first in line for that book! I wish more people were talking about this story/series because it deserves the attention. It is worth your time to read/listen. Please read and then we can gush about how amazing this book is.

 

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ARC Review: The Reader (The Reader #1)

The Reader (Sea of Ink and Gold, #1)

 

I’m not sure where to begin with this book. The premise makes the book sound amazing, but this is a story where there is just too much going on. There are too many characters, too many settings, and too many stories. It did not work for me.

From Goodreads:

“Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.”

I wasn’t able to write the blurb about the book myself because I didn’t see this story the same way. I didn’t see it in a positive light. It is no secret that I was disappointed by this book, which was one of my most anticipated reads of 2016. This story was just confusing and left me with more questions than anything. I had was thrown by how quickly the POVs changed and how many POVs there were. Four POVs usually isn’t a terrible number, but it did not work for this story. Each POV started to sound like the same character, the voices just did not sound different enough. If you are able to get through to the end of the book, things come together. Well, enough that it leaves the storyline open for book #2. It just was not enough to save the story in my eyes.

Sefia and the other characters were so basic and interchangable that I am not really able to remember specifics about them. They all felt like they were confusing while trying to be mysterious but instead had a ho-hum backstory and I just never connected with any of them. There wasn’t anything for me to hold on to in order to keep my attention.

The pacing of this story did not work for me. There was so many flash back and flash fowards that I was getting whiplash. More than that, I simply had no idea what was going on. A new POV would start and apparently be talking about something that happened many, many years before the present day but the reader had no idea until the chapter was almost over. I kept checking the audio tracks to make sure I wasn’t accidently playing my tracks on random.

I did not enjoy this story. There was too much crammed into this story and none of it worked for me. I believe I should have DNFd this story instead of pushing through until the end. After I got into the story I was not excited to continue reading it. I still gave this story 2 stars and that is because it was an interesting concept but the execution was just not done well.

 

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Books Left Unread #43

Wallpaper-Books

Books Left Unread

Welcome to my blog post where I talk about the books I have been meaning to read, but just have not yet. You know what I am talking about – the books that have remained unread for various reasons yet when you see them you think, “You know, I really need to read that.” Instead you get distracted by another book, series, or something in your TBR pile. It happens to the best of us. I want to spotlight those books in the hope that I can persuade myself to move them up on my TBR list.

This week’s post is dedicated to:

 

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

 

Of Poseidon (The Syrena Legacy, #1)

 

I wish I had a good reason for not reading this one yet, but alas I don’t. I have the series and I intend to read it, I just haven’t picked it off of my shelf yet. 😦 Have you read this series? Have you read this author before? Let me know!

 

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Review: Magonia (hard pass on this book)

Magonia (Magonia, #1)

My thoughts immediately after I finished this book: What in the heck did I just read? Mind you, that was not said in a positive tone. This book is the textbook definition of “buying a book based completely on its cover”.

This is the story of sixteen year old Aza. Aza has had serious health issues since she was a baby. She has always had trouble breathing and was always in the hospital. This was Aza’s life and she knew at any moment she could take her last breath. By her side the entire time was her best friend, Jason. Jason loved Aza with everything that he had and would do anything to protect her. Everything changed when Aza started noticing birds outside of her home and one even flew into her lung one night. Shortly after that event, Aza took her last human breath and passed away. Well…. sort of. It turns out that Aza is actually from the mystical place called Magonia – a city that lives in the sky. In the sky, nearly everyone is a bird of some sort. Aza happens to be the long lost daughter of the ship’s captain that has been lost for 16 years and she is supposed to be the one that helps set the people aboard her mom’s ship free. Aza has to learn very quickly what her role is in this new life and how she fits in on this ship. She tries her best to fulfill her duties but she cannot stop thinking about her human best friend, Jason. Can Aza life up to the role that is placed before her? Can she save her mother’s ship and be the one everyone needs her to be?

I cannot stop shaking my head at this book. I mean…  I know it’s a fantasy story but this is an absurd fantasy. My mind just could not accept what was going on. Better yet, I did not care. I did not like Aza’s character, or any character within this book. I didn’t connect with anyone in this story. Aza was okay in the beginning but once she was taken aboard the ship, she became worse. She was so whiney, bratty, and wishy-washy that it was making me mad. First she would embrace her new future, then she would change her mind and want to go back to live with the “drowners” (the name for the people that lived on land). If she is the protagonist, I need her to have a backbone of some kind. Instead she flopped back and forth throughout the entire story. Don’t get me started on Aza’s best friend Jason. I couldn’t stand his character. He was sweet but that did not make up for how utterly annoying and frustrating he was. When he gets stressed, he recites the numbers of Pi as far as he can and hearing that on the audio is more than annoying. It would go on for minutes, just rambling numbers of Pi. I should have quit then because he did this all of the time. His character was so all over the place that he was just not well developed. Honestly, I don’t think he was the right type of character for the best friend role. It needed to be… well… anyone but who the author wrote. None of the characters were developed, nor did they develop at all during the story.

The pacing of this story was not done well, nor was the plot actually delivered in a sane fashion. The main part of the story didn’t happen until almost half way through and until that happened, all I learned was that Aza was really, really sick. Uh.. ok. I understand that but how about you get to the meat & potatoes of the story already, author? The meat & potatoes didn’t happen until after Aza died, which was about 50% of the way through the book. That means the reader gets to listen to her whine and complain and tell you again that she is sick. Once you learned why the book is called Magonia and what Aza’s true role is – BAM – info dump! Definitations, terminology, history, people, places, and things from this new world are thrown at the reader at rapid speed which leaves you very confused and wondering what is going on.

I am not against books about/containing/deailng with bird characters at all (Daughter of Smoke and Bone?! The Girl At Midnight?!) What I am against is books where the plot is not well written and the characters not developed well. That is what this book was to me: not done well at all. I fell victim to the beautiful cover and thought that the story must be just as beautiful. WRONG. I struggled to get through this book so I certainly will not be picking up the second book. I just don’t care what happens.

 

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ARC Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper

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Stalking Jack the Ripper

 

I couldn’t wait to get my grubby hands on this book. It was right up my alley and I’m happy to say that this book does not disappoint.

Stalking Jack the Ripper is set in the 1880s, right around the time of the famous Jack the Ripper killings. Our protagonist, Audrey Rose, is a 17 year old girl born into wealth and privilege. Instead of doing what most propery girls do, Audrey Rose loves to spend almost all of her free time in the morgue learning the ways of science with her uncle. She is not like other girls, that is for sure. She jumped at the chance to follow her uncle when he was asked to help investigate the recent Jack the Ripper murders. Audrey Rose finds that she is quickly drawn into the decaying streets of Whitechapel in hopes of bringing the horrific and gruesome murders to an end.

I loved Audrey Rose’s character. She is a take charge, strong willed, brilliant young woman who knows what she wants and is not willing to back down. She was so confident in who she was and what she wanted to do with her life. I really enjoyed reading her in this story and cannot wait to see how the rest of the books play out (this is book one of an unnamed trilogy). I really liked how Maniscalco was not afraid to write a strong female lead is a role that was not typical of the British time period. Audrey Rose was still bound by the customs and traditions of the day, such as young single women had to be supervised by adults if in the same room with young single men. She was often in the company of the charmingly handsome Thomas Cresswell. They found themselves sneaking around the streets of Whitecastle in search of “Leather Apron” and escaping the danger that is around every turn.

There is not much romance in this book, and I think that made for a better read. There was not the dreaded love traingle to worry about, only the thrill of the hunt. Do they like each other? Will they get together? The reader never knows until the very end. What the reader is given instead of instalove or a love triangle is a wonderful friendship that is built on mutual understanding and acceptance. Audrey Rose and Thomas start out as classmates and things build from there. It is a progression and it is beautiful to watch. That’s not to say Thomas isn’t snarky, challenging, and frustrating at times, but that makes him so much more endearing.

This book had so many twists and turns! Just when I thought I figured out who Jack the Ripper was, I was given a huge curve ball. The mystery itself is very well written. I always struggle with historical novels set in the 1800s as I can easily be bored with filler talk of weekly tea parties full of gossip and what is propery for a young lady to do. In case you are curious, that is needle work and shopping. If a lady shows even so much as an ankle or touches a young man with a bare hand, it is scandalous! Honestly, I don’t like stories like that. Thankfully this story was not so dull and kept my interest with mystery instead.

I highly recommend this book to everyone! As a member of the Knights of Whitechapel, I hope you pick up this one and love it as much as I do. If you have already read it, let me know what you thought!

 

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