Tuesday, April 25, 2017

[Review] Four Weeks, Five People by Jennifer Yu

Four Weeks, Five People by Jennifer Yu
Version: ARC Paperback
Rating: 3 stars

Release Date: May 2nd 2017

Goodreads Synopsis:
They're more than their problems
Obsessive-compulsive teen Clarissa wants to get better, if only so her mother will stop asking her if she's okay.
Andrew wants to overcome his eating disorder so he can get back to his band and their dreams of becoming famous.
Film aficionado Ben would rather live in the movies than in reality.
Gorgeous and overly confident Mason thinks everyone is an idiot.
And Stella just doesn't want to be back for her second summer of wilderness therapy.
As the five teens get to know one another and work to overcome the various disorders that have affected their lives, they find themselves forming bonds they never thought they would, discovering new truths about themselves and actually looking forward to the future.
I received this ARC from Miss Print's (Emma) ARC Adoption over here! Thank you Emma!

This will be a hard review to tackle, so please bear with me.

Four Weeks, Five People is told in alternating 5-POVs from the characters attending a wilderness therapy camp for the summer for their respective disorders. Stella has an anger-based depression and it's her second time coming to the camp. Clarisa has OCD and has a mother who is never satisfied with anything she does. Ben has a dissociative disorder and makes everything in his life into a movie. Mason has narcissist personality disorder and he thinks everyone at the camp is below him. Andrew has an eating disorder and he yearns to return back to his band and make them famous. 

The five of them are stuck together for four weeks and learn much about themselves and the people surrounding them.

Monday, April 24, 2017

[Review] Bound by Blood and Sand by Becky Allen

Bound by Blood and Sand by Becky Allen
Series: Bound by Blood and Sand #1
Version: ARC paperback
Rating: 4 stars

Published: October 11th 2016

Goodreads Synopsis: 
Jae is a slave in a dying desert world.
Once verdant with water from a magical Well, the land is drying up, and no one remembers the magic needed to keep the water flowing. If a new source isn’t found soon, the people will perish. Jae doesn’t mind, in a way. By law, she is bound by a curse to obey every order given her, no matter how vile. At least in death, she’ll be free.
Lord Elan’s family rules the fading realm. He comes to the estate where Jae works, searching for the hidden magic needed to replenish the Well, but it’s Jae who finds it, and she who must wield it. Desperate to save his realm, Elan begs her to use it to locate the Well.
But why would a slave—abused, beaten, and treated as less than human—want to save the system that shackles her? Jae would rather see the world burn.
Though revenge clouds her vision, she agrees to help if the kingdom’s slaves are freed. Then Elan’s father arrives. The ruler’s cruelty knows no limits. He is determined that the class system will not change—and that Jae will remain a slave forever.
I think I'm just a sucker for Avatar: TLA with the whole four-elements wielding thing, especially when it is done right.

Bound by Blood and Sand definitely was right up my alley. It takes place in a dessert world where water is slowly drying up, and all water comes from the magical Well. However, no one really knows how to get the Well working again. This is where Jae comes in.

Jae is a Closest, and in this world, there are two groups of people - the Highest and the Closest. The Highest can be Avowed, and are given a certain role to fulfill (aka their vow). The Closest are slaves to the Highest, and when a Highest makes a demand, the Closest must see that it is fulfilled, no matter what. This is known as the Curse. We see Jae endure the hardships that come with being a Closest, and she begins to have visions of a past when her people were free.

Friday, April 21, 2017

[Review] We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen

We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen
Version: ARC Paperback
Rating: 4.5 stars

Published: November 1st 2016

Goodreads Synopsis:
It’s the summer of 1982, and for Scott and Cath, everything is about to change.
Growing up across the street from each other, Scott and Cath have been best friends for most of their lives. Now they’ve graduated high school, and Cath is off to college while Scott stays at home trying to get his band off the ground. Neither of them realized that their first year after high school would be so hard.
Fortunately, Scott and Cath still have each other, and it’s through their letters that they survive heartache, annoying roommates, family dramas, and the pressure of figuring out what to do with the rest of their lives. And through it all, they realize that the only person they’ve ever wanted to turn to is each other. But does that mean they should think about being more than friends? One thing is clear: Change is an inescapable part of growing up, and we share unbreakable bonds with the friends who help us navigate it.
Finally. A YA contemporary that doesn't take place in high school. I was waiting all my life for something like this. It even fulfilled my expectations.

The letter-writing method of telling the story was definitely an effective way of getting the point across. It was very 80s... if only penpal-ing was still a popular thing, instead of the phone, no? It was a lot more sincere reading the viewpoints of the two main characters, Scott and Catherine, as they navigate the first year after high school through their own eyes, instead of through a third person POV. Of course, this means that there is a lot of gaps the reader must fill in for themselves, trying to figure out when one thing happens to someone but it take several letters to explain it. Never fear, Scott and Cath are surprisingly thorough when they describe the many dramatic events that take place over the course of their first year!

Because I am in college myself, I was able to relate to our two protagonists more. Relationships ending, friendships ending, grades dropping, all that lovely stuff was what I experienced (or something similar) in my first year. Scott's songs about his so-called friends hit the mark. Did I mention Scott is in a band? All these 80s vibes are in here... Granted, I haven't seen many 80s movies, but being in a band seems like an 80s thing.

Now I'm just the guy at the gasoline station,
Now I'm just the singer in this band.
Don't say what happened was an aberration,
That I just don't understand.
I understand that you don't know me
Anymore.

Now all you need with this book is a proper 80s mix tape.

And did I mention... There's a lot of f-bombs in this one. Well, to the extent any regular college student would curse. It was entertaining and realistic. I felt that the college setting made this book more relatable to a college person (aka me), and reading about Cath's and Scott's relationship and its development through letters is touching. And nostalgic for more simple times.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

[Review] Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #1
Rating: 4 stars

Published: July 24th 2012

Goodreads Synopsis: 
There's something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia. . . .
Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about.
Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she's just read in the newspaper:
The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.
And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor . . . from her brother.
Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she'll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

Eleanor Fitt has two problems. One, her brother Elijah as gone missing. Two, the Dead are rising in Philadelphia. Add in the fact that the first problem may be related to the second, and it's time to call in the Spirit Hunters, who are professionals are dealing with the other-worldly. 

Late 19th century and zombies? Count me in.

Monday, April 17, 2017

[Review] Shadow Run by Adrianne Strickland and Michael Miller

Shadow Run by Adrianne Strickland and Michael Miller
Series: Kaitan Chronicles #1
Rating: 3 stars

Published: March 21st 2017

Goodreads Synopsis:
Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can't resist her, even if her ship is an antique.
As for Nev, he's a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.
But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they're more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive.
Nev's mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she'll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power--and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.
Another space adventure of epic proportions.

But, to me, maybe it was a little too epic.

We have alternating viewpoints of Qole, a captain of the Kaitan Heritage, and Nev, who joins her crew for more mysterious purposes. Turns out, Qole has something Nev believes would be beneficial to the entire galaxy. The only problem is, the entire galaxy is against the two of them getting to Nev's home planet Dracorva safely, including Qole's own crew. Qole, the young space captain, has abilities that only people on her planet of Alaxak have - Shadow abilities. She also catches Shadows in space as a source of income... think of it as some sort of high-sea fishing, if you will.

Friday, April 14, 2017

[Review] Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves 
Series: Blood Rose Rebellion #1
Rating: 2.5 stars

Published: March 28th 2017

Goodreads Synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.
Her life might well be over.
In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.
As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

This book is typical of what has been seen again and again by others in the YA fantasy genre. There are some new elements here, but honestly, it's mostly the same old material that's just changed setting and character names. 

The special snowflake, Anna Arden. She's part of the magical society in England (and the rest of Europe) known as the Luminates. However, she's the outcast of the family for being the only one who can't use magic. The kicker is, at her sister's coming out ball, it is revealed that she is not a wielder of magic, but a breaker of spells, instead. So she's whisked away to Hungary with her grandma until the commotion about her lack of magic dies down in England.