Devouring Books

I love paranormal books, sci-fi, romance and many other genres.

Frostblood by Elly Blake-- Review

Frostblood (The Frostblood Saga) - Elly Blake

You can also find my review here: https://devouringbooks2017.wordpress.com/2018/06/06/frostblood-by-elly-blake-review/

 

This is a book that I passed up reading a bunch of times, but picked it up on a whim because the cover caught my eye and someone agreed to read it with me. I went in blind, only a reputation and cover, without reading a description. I also originally thought that this book was Frostfire by Amanda Hocking, who wrote the Trylle series, which I loved. I am glad that I stumbled across it because I really enjoyed it.

 

Frostblood moved at a really fast pace, which is an aspect that I really enjoy in novels. The world building was pretty cool. I found the descriptions of a few of the mystical beings to be quite vivid and they felt realistic. The origin story of frostbloods and firebloods was placed well in the beginning of the story, and didn’t feel like information dumping. The prophecy and plot were done very well.

 

I liked Ruby as a main character. She had quite a temper and wasn’t as innocent as most protagonists are. She flew off the handle when she was angry. While she gained control of her temper and powers throughout the novel and her character arc, she was still quite wild. I found her a bit different than other protagonists that I read about, which is refreshing because I read a lot of young adult fantasy novels.

 

The rising action and climax of the story weren’t delivered with as much intensity and build up as I preferred, but they were still done well. There was a good plot twist that I didn’t see coming at all. The romance was okay, but more of a secondary element. I didn’t really feel the heat of the relationship, but it was okay. I never had an opportunity to get bored, the action can’t be turning the pages. I would probably be willing to read the sequel, but I won’t be seeking it out. This is the first book that I read by Elly Blake, and it was pretty good

A science fiction masterpiece

Artemis: A Novel - Andy Weir

I received a copy of this from Netgalley and Crown Publishing.

 

I initially requested a copy of this book because Andy Weir also wrote The Martian. Now I never read the book, but I did see the movie and thought it was great. Well once again Andy Weir created what I would refer to as a science fiction masterpiece. Seriously, keep your eyes peeled because this would make for a fantastic movie and Andy Weir has already written a book that made it in Hollywood.

 

With science fiction there are some things that I look for. I like things to be believable, and also well researched. Science heavy books need to be explained well. I have read plenty of books that aren't and it leads to confusion and irritation. But there must be a balance, so the book can't be overwhelming science heavy, as then the story will get bogged down with details and the result is boredom. Andy Weir walked this tight rope act as skillfully as Michael Crichton once did. 

 

The characters were also developed exceptionally well, which is not always true or entirely necessary for science fiction, but is an added bonus here. Jazz was an incredibly fun character to read about, she was snarky, sarcastic and down right diabolical. Svoboda was also one of my favorites. He was a character that embodied a dorky scientist, yet with plenty of adorable quirks. I found myself wishing for more of a romance between these two. 

 

The world of Artemis, the city on the moon, was built well. The writing was descriptive, but the map of the city was also helpful. I could picture most everything, but I also found myself referring to the map at times while reading for a more complete visualization. 

I was reminded of Six of Crows while reading this. They might be completely different genres, but they both pulled off incredible schemes in imaginary worlds with casts full of very interesting characters. They both had masterminded main characters who make you feel like at times you may be rooting for the villain. 

 

The plot was very well planned. The pacing kept me flipping pages, yet the writing never lost details necessary to understand the science. There were many twists along the way that kept you on your toes guessing what would come next. Andy Weir is a genius to have come up with this plot.

 

The cover kind of sucks though. It is kind of dull and doesn't convey that this story will be exciting. I nearly passed this book up because of that. I would recommend this to fans of Michael Crichton, Six of Crows and all science fiction lovers. Andy Weir is a  Science fiction genius and I really hope this becomes a movie.

Unoriginal title but good book

Summoner - S.D. Grimm

I received an Advanced Review Copy of this book from Entangled Teen Publishing and Netgalley. 

Let me start off by saying that I nearly passed this one up because of the title. I have read far too many books with some variation of the same title, and honestly, they are all pretty similar. The main character is able to summon or communicate with the dead and then there are a few variations from one book to another. This story won’t get points from me for being original, but I did happen to enjoy it a lot, so whatever.

I found that I basically tore through this novel in one sitting. There were times where I could set it down, but then the pacing would pick right back up. For a novel of this type, I feel that fast pacing is pretty important. It kind of falls under paranormal thriller, with a romance in there. Honestly though, it really isn’t too often that I read a book without a touch of romance.

The thing I found myself enjoying the most out of this novel, was in fact, the romance. I love when grief and the shared understanding of loss brings two people together. There were some very raw moments in this book where I found myself close to tears. But in my opinion Cody held his walls up just a bit too long.

I enjoyed the writing quite a lot actually. This book had many redeeming qualities even though I found the overall premise very unoriginal. Which is why the rating is a four out of five stars. The romance was really cute and idealistic. I really loved all the dates they went on and the heartfelt gifts that they bought one another.

I would read something else by S.D. Grimm, but I’m glad that there wasn’t an attempt to try and turn this one into a series. It is a good book, but I will continue on my search for the next great fantasy novel.

My review can also be found on my blog: 
https://devouringbooks2017.wordpress....

Had a lot of potential, but fell very short of what it could have been

The West Woods (Fountain) - Suzy Vadori

I received an Advanced Reader's Copy to read and review from Weapenry Co-Op and Netgalley.

If you could have one wish, what would you wish for? This book has you asking yourself that question as the students find a magic wishing well. It certainly puts a lot of pressure on your wish. You want it to be worth it, you don't want to waste your one wish. Well sorry to disappoint you, but that's exactly what these girls do, they waste their wishes. Absolutely no one make a worthwhile wish, making you angry that they have the opportunity. 

I didn't have extremely high expectations for this book, and honestly it was about as good as I expected it to be. The first two-thirds of this book were pretty good and then it started going downhill, and it just kept going.

The characters were all crafted nicely and made a nice group of girlfriends for a boarding school. Courtney was an alright character in the beginning and then she just became more and more selfish and rude. I found myself wondering why the other girls would even want to hang out with her. She treated her friends like dirt, or rather, more like pawns. People who she could manipulate to her will in order to achieve everything she wanted. I like my main characters to have flaws, but damn, Courtney tips the scales overboard in The West Woods.

As for the writing, for the first part of the book I was thinking that this would be a four, potentially a five star read. The author filled some chapters with the feeling of anxiety and excitement as the girls snuck around. Some of the scenes were written so well that I found myself on the edge of my seat, covering my mouth and hoping that the characters could get away with whatever they were attempting at the moment. The writing is what saved this novel from being a two star read. It captivated me and it is clear that the author has the ability to create a five star read.

As for the plot... there was no climax! I feel as if this has happened far too frequently in some books I have been reading as of lately. I finished the book feeling like "that's it?". There were so many loose ends, absolutely no real resolution and not even a cliffhanger that left you feeling as if these problems could be solved later. 

Oh and the romance? You mean the romance that wasn't? It was basically non existent because Courtney decided to be terrible. Good for Cole though, at least he didn't wind up subjected to her terrible treatment as well. The synopsis made it sound like there would be so much more to this romance. 

Basically I feel as if this was a novel with a good idea and great writing, but lacked adequate structure. A book needs to have a climax and a resolution, this one had neither. Courtney was also an incredibly unlikable main character. I definitely would not count out the author, but I would not suggest reading this book.

Authentic

Carry Me Home - Jessica Therrien

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Acorn Publishing. All opinions are my own.

Carry Me Home is a beautifully written novel that follows a family of three women, each trying to escape their own reality in different ways. I found myself able to identify with all three women at different times throughout the novel.These three characters became so real to me throughout reading that I felt as if I could touch them. Jessica Therrien breathes life into these women with her artfully crafted prose.

Although there were times where this novel was filled with action and edge-of-your-seat scenes, I would not refer to the pacing as fast. The point of view switches made it easy to set down in this case. Which is actually okay because this is a novel that invoked so much thought that I don't think it should be devoured in one sitting. But with such beautiful writing and thought provoking prose I did not find that it invoked much emotion within me. With the subject matter it certainly could have, so I kind of felt like that was a missing piece of this puzzle. I just felt a bit of an emotional disconnect, especially with Ruth. Probably because she was the character I related to the least.

This book has so much packed into it that I feel like it might have been better split into several books. Gangs, violence, drugs, alcoholic home, love, grief and family dynamics. It is a realistic story though. It shows you how a person could find themselves addicted to drugs and makes you understand why someone would wind up there. This story is full of ugly truths, and it feels 100% real.

I found myself wondering if this novel is based on personal experience or not. At times I feel as if it could be my story about my years of teenage rebellion. (I wasn't quite as wild as Lucy, but I did sneak out my bedroom window.) It just feels extremely authentic and I wouldn't be surprised if the author had lived through some of this herself.

I would suggest this book to lovers of dark, realistic fiction. At times it might not be entirely appropriate for all young adult readers, probably best for 15 and up.

You won't want to miss this one

Witch on Parole - Kay Latour

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher to read and review. All opinions are my own. 

I was drawn to pick up which under all because of its title. It sounded like it could have an interesting angle on the supernatural world. I'm so glad that I didn't pass this one up. Supernatural prison, witch apprenticeship and a shady vampire parole officer? Count me in! I was surprised to find that this is Kay Latour's debut novel, as the world building is fantastic. I want more books in this universe! Kay Latour just stepped into my radar.

With a lot of books about witchcraft I have found that they simply say the spell and then ta-da! Magic. But I really liked how things could to wrong with potion making and witchcraft in this book, even if the right words were said and the right ingredients were used. It makes it feel more like an art, something you will only get good at with enough practice. In many books I feel as if magic comes too easy.

I really loved Bryn as a main character. She is so used to being considered scum, or rather "slodder" that it is hard for her to get used to being treated as a person of value. She truly takes advantage of her second chance, fighting against prejudices alongside those who had the compassion to take a chance on her. She is a well developed character and comes across very realistic.

The pacing and the plot of this book are both done great. I found myself trying to drag this book out because I didn't want it to end! I am hungry for more of this story and I hope that it becomes a series. I would suggest this to anyone who enjoys fantasy.

Incredible and well thought out. You won't want to miss this one

The Innocence Treatment - Ari Goelman

I received a copy of this book to read and review from Netgalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. All opinions are my own.

When I initially requested this book from Netgalley I thought it was merely a story about a girl who had surgery which cured her brain disorder that caused her to be gullible and not recognize sarcasm. While that was partially what this story was about it was also much more than that. Now that idea alone would have been incredibly interesting. But add in the super strict government and this story was incredibly more interesting than I originally anticipated.

Lauren made for an amazing main character and narrator. As she began to be able to detect sarcasm and lies I was immensely saddened for her. The realization that people were laughing at her and not with her, or that her sister didn't want to walk home with her nearly had me in tears. The transformation after surgery made her incredibly perceptive and led to interesting thought about what white lies we believe because it is easier that way.

The plot was amazingly well thought out. The Department and all of its regulations were explained thoroughly, but not overly so that it bogged down the story or made it boring. It is believable to see how our country could go into that kind of state after an emergency, especially when you consider The Patriot Act that came after 9/11. When people are really scared the idea of more government security sounds comforting, not restrictive.

As for the romance.. I could see the appeal to Sasha. He was honest with her about who he was, even if she might not like the idea of an informant following her around. At times though, his motives were not entirely pure and I'm glad that she didn't blindly trust him. 

This is one of the best novels that I have read in a while. I would suggest it to anyone who likes YA with a touch of science fiction. I would definitely pick up anything else written by Ari Goelman

World building needed some work

Colorless - Rita Stradling

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Pikko's House to read and review.

I was drawn to Colorless because of it's gorgeous cover. I had relatively high expectations for this book and I found it to be quite interesting. I was reminded of the Greek gods with the world presented in Colorless. But I honestly feel as if the gods and magicians were not explained thoroughly enough. The world concept was good, but I feel like it was not entirely fleshed out well enough. I found myself a little confused at times, feeling as though an explanation was missing.

As for the idea of the iconoclasts, I didn't feel the same way. I feel as if this aspect of the book was done very well. I loved the description of the transformation as Annabelle lost her color. The description was so vivid and I thought that the idea was so cool and executed well. I loved that not only could other people not see her, but they that she, or anything that she had touched ever existed.

Colorless made for a rather interesting fantasy novel. It contained mostly original concepts, which is refreshing. I feel as if the market is overflowing with vampires and werewolves. I have read many books that feel as if they could be the same novel. But this felt new and fresh. 

The characters were likable. I loved how stubborn Annabelle could be. I never found her overly haughty or annoying, as I often do with characters of nobility. The brothers were all enjoyable as well. I liked the banter back and forth that you only get within families. Another thing I loved about Annabelle was her loyalty to her cousin. She didn't allow anyone else to speak unkindly about him. It was clear that she valued family, which is a quality that I respect.

Overall, I think that it made for a good read. The world building could use a little work, but besides that it was an interesting, original and captivating tale. I would recommend to readers of fantasy and YA.

Realistically shows the ugly sides of addiction

Fix Me - Lisa M Cronkhite

The description of this book is the initial reason I picked it up. I can relate to wanting to escape from the pain of grief all too well and found myself drawn to read this novel. Fix Me makes for an interesting story about a circle of addicts and a bit of a murder mystery. Lisa Cronkhite does a good job capturing the mind of an addict in the crux of their addiction. She also does a great job capturing and conveying the emotions of the characters. The writing really made the story great.

Right away the book exposes you to the ugly side of addiction. The sickly parlor, jittery nerves and bones protruding from two addicts who can't seem to kick the habit. They're addicted to "Fix" a drug that sounds similar to acid with its hallucinogenic properties. It enhances the five senses and causes the main character to see people who aren't really there.

The relationship between addicts are often complicated and I think that this was portrayed very well. Rose, for example, was clearly lonely and wanted to have friends, but it was clear that her addiction took priority over anything else. I found Fix Me to be a relatively realistic portrayal of addiction, even though "fix" is a made-up drug.

I found the climax to kind of come out of left field and the ending was a bit to "happily ever after "for me. But the harsh reality of addiction is that getting clean is much harder for most, although some get so do get sober abruptly like this novel portrayed. I would definitely read another book by Lisa Cronkhite as she brought these characters and this story to life for me

An adventure

[ 13 Little Blue Envelopes By Johnson, Maureen ( Author ) Paperback 2010 ] - Maureen Johnson

This book sat on my shelf unread for far too long. This is a great adventure story of coming of age, getting out of one's comfort zone and the beginnings of love and loss. I tore through 13 Little Blue Envelopes as if I was on the adventure myself.

Having just taken a vacation I found this book refreshing. I felt adventurous and as if nothing can stop you from seeing or doing anything. Is the kind of book that helps you realize that your restraints of your own making. 

Ginny makes for a good main character. She is likable and relatively easy to relate to. In the beginning of the novel she is a bit shy and inexperienced, but the adventure that envelopes sent her on help her grow and the experience really changes her. 

I can understand why Ginny likes Keith. He is exciting and different, and at times a little weird. He is up for adventure so it is easy to like him. He's the kind of guy that makes you think anything is possible. I could see myself dating someone like Keith because it is a relationship that is filled with excitement. 

The ending of the book happens at the perfect time. This isn't the type of book that I would pick up the rest of the series. After an adventure like this one returning to normal life would seem dull. However I did really enjoy the story, so I would pick up another book by Maureen Johnson. I was surprised to see that she did make a series out of this one.

I really enjoyed reading this novel as I found myself relating to Ginny (I would have hated traveling with the Knapp's). My only regret is that I didn't pick this one up sooner. I would suggest this novel for fans of YA or for anyone starting a new beginning.

I want more gangsters

Bright Young Things - Anna Godbersen

Bright Young Things was a novel that had everything I wanted for being set in the 1920's. It had the air of The Great Gatsby while also including speakeasies under a church that you need to know the password to enter. I felt myself pulled back into one of my favorite time periods, filled with smoke, bootlegging, gangsters and dancing. I picked this one up at a library book sale and couldn't have been happier when I spied the title as I have wanted to read one of Anna Godbersen's series for a long time now. And I only paid a dollar for it! I knew I had scored gold.

I'm really glad that multiple point of views were shown in this book because at times I found myself irritated with each narrator and at other times I wish that I could continue reading the one point of view. The change was fluid and help keep the pacing of the book moving. 

The plot kind of fell flat for me, but I did love the world and the setting. The pacing was alright, and was was really saved by the multiple point of views. My heart wasn't really in the budding romance, probably because it was so brief. I don't blame Cordelia for what happened though, she was really kept out of the loop. It would have been far more interesting if her father had included her in the business rather than just keeping her a party girl.

One things I didn't like about this book was that there wasn't enough about the gangsters. Also, they refuse to tell Cordelia anything, which makes it really hard to blame her as she was just thrown into this new world. I wanted so much more and I am sure to return for the sequel this was the first book that I have read by Anna Godbersen and I can't wait to read more by her. At times I was irritated with the characters, but I love them more than anything.

Unlikable main character

After - Amy Efaw

Picking up After was hard for me. The crimes described in this book are unimaginable and horrific. It was hard for me to keep an open mind. In my opinion these kinds of crimes are unforgivable and inexcusable. With that being said I opened the book with the mindset of trying to keep my mind open. 

At many times I found myself very annoyed with Devon. She was so meek and resistant. At times she came across as dumb. I understand that she was going through a lot, but geez, toughen up. She acts like such a victim throughout so much of the book and I couldn't find myself able to really feel sorry for her at all. Let's be clear here she is not the victim in this story. If it was rape then I could have understood her actions, I really could have. But it wasn't.

I found the setting of a juvenile detention center to be very interesting. I don't think I read any book that was set in one, but it certainly makes for an interesting environment. I was curious of the stories of the other girls. 

Overall I give this 3 stars, but it's probably more like 2 1/2 . Interesting storyline and plot, but such an unlikable main character with so little depth or feelings to her. I think I would've enjoyed the story so much more through Dom's point of view. (the lawyer)

Dark and Graphic Tale

The Wager - Donna Jo Napoli

The Wager is a retelling of an old Sicilian fairytale. Unlike the Disney retellings, but closer to the original tales, The Wager is more of a dark tale and is filled with graphic depiction of the disgusting reality of being unwashed for three years. My mother asked me "Why would you want to read about that?" I had no answer for her. So I thought about why I picked this one up. I love reading about the dark, unpleasant and wrong, the despicable, vile and disgusting. In recent review I said I sometimes root for the villain. A book with the tagline "never make a deal with the devil" let's just say I was enticed.

This book did not disappoint. There were times when it became so graphic and disgusting that my stomach churned. I was filled with pity for Don Giovanni, but also pride as I watched him become humble after being humiliated. It was a story where the character experienced immense change as time passed with the wager.

Don Giovanni went from being a stuck up, rude and ungrateful man, to the most down-to-earth, charitable and shameful man. The transformation was remarkable. When the devil proposed the wager I'm sure he had no idea that it would make Don Giovanni a better person.

It was a decent story, but it was a bit drawn out . It could've been 50-100 pages shorter . I would suggest it to those who like to read fairytale retellings or dark novels. I have read many retellings in this is among the darkest of the tales that I have read .

Fast paced and action packed

This Body Won't Break: Part 1 (The O-Negative Series) - Lea McKee

I received a copy of this book to review from Netgalley. 
Wow. This Body Won't Break had me tearing through the pages as the first chapter starts off with a bang and the pacing only gets faster. You won't be able to put this one down. Right from the start the book is intriguing and mysterious, it only takes a few pages before the author has you hooked for an intense ride. Lea McKee does a fantastic job setting a tense and anxious tone helping convey that something is clearly wrong with where the orphans are being sent. The brevity of this book is perfect for the pacing and leaves the reader anxious for the next installment in the series. I wanted more, but the length was good because it didn't bog down a fast paced novel with unnecessary details.

Aimed really high, fell too short

Surrogate - David Bernstein

Surrogate is a twisted, calculated, dark thriller that has a science fiction sprinkled in. It starts off with an opening that is guaranteed to grab your attention and the book remains fast paced until the end. Emotions run high and are portrayed well even though the book moves fast.

The characters are pretty well developed. Typically I prefer books to be written in 1st person, but this book is a great example of when 3rd person should be used. David Bernstein does a great job of conveying the effects of events on multiple characters by using 3rd person. Emotions are conveyed through action a lot in this book, which gives you a really good feel for the characters.

There is a science fiction feel for the majority of the book with the idea of cloning, and then it kind of takes a weird turn when Jane's soul jumps into a cloned body. This book could have remained a horror novel without the soul jumping weirdness. That whole aspect was what brought the book down in my opinion.

I feel like parts of this book were anti-climatic and could have been done a lot better. The ideas were great, but they weren't executed all that well. It was half science fiction, half horror novel, and half drama... that doesn't seem to add up does it? Exactly my point, they tried to shove too many genres into one book.

Each aspect could have been done great. It got really graphic at times, and that could have made for a great horror book. The character Jane had an interesting back story, so that could have made a great drama. The idea to have a clone grow a baby was a great idea for a science fiction book. But all of it mashed together in this short book was just a little much. This book aimed really high and fell short for me.

Dark and Surprising

Every Ugly Word - Aimee L. Salter

Every Ugly Word was really good. I love twists in books, and this one had a really good one. I didn't expect it to go the way it did. The main character is well developed, but she is a little hard to relate to. At times I found myself frustrated with her decisions. I would suggest this book to any one of my friends. It was pretty great. I was full of empathy for the main character. When a book really makes you feel, you know it's amazing.