Saturday, June 22, 2013

Black City by Elizabeth Richards

Black City by Elizabeth Richards
Genre: YA Paranormal Dystopia
Publication: November 13th, 2012
Publisher: G.P Putnam's Sons
Page Count: 374

A dark and tender post-apocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war.

In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong.

When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.

I really expected this one to sweep me off of my feet.  I may not be one for books centered around a romance, but, considering that I had loved Twilight in it's heyday, I thought I would enjoy this one.  I met Elizabeth Richards on the Breathless Reads tour and I really liked her and I got super excited for her book.  It sounded like something I would enjoy--gritty, dark, and full of action.  It sounded exciting and fun!  It's not say that I didn't enjoy this book at all, but I didn't like it as much as I would have hoped.

First of all, the whole sense of insta-love really got on my nerves.  Now, I know that the whole reason that there is even  a book is because of their relationship, but I really hate insta-love.  It wasn't just a teenage infatuation; it was this full-blown love that they had that bothered me.  I didn't buy into their connection, Ash's and Natalie's, and I think this is what significantly brought down the value of the book for me.  There's the whole meaning behind why they're so in love, but I don't think that it was properly executed for me to enjoy it.  I've read books where the insta-love didn't feel like insta-love because the characters got to know each other more than just the stage of wanting to jump each others' bones.

On top of this, I couldn't connect with any of the characters.  They all seemed so dull and naive and I quickly became bored with the book.  I finished it, because I knew that it was worth finishing and that there was at least some inkling of interest in me that kept me going--but, man, was it hard.  I will read the next book, definitely, but I'm in no rush to get there. 

This book has a lot of potential.  I see it.  I want it.  I'm hoping that with the second book that there will be an improvement in character development and more plot twisty kind of stuff.  I don't know.  I want to like and enjoy this series.  I really do.  There was plenty of action--and a little bit of plot-twisting that went on.  The world building was pretty awesome to picture.  It was very different from what I have ever read in a dystopian.  Like I said, this idea for the book is very interesting, but I can't help but feel that there is something missing from it all. 

Black City was definitely something I haven't read before.  It was gritty and bloody.  Fans of Twilight will definitely enjoy the relationship Ash and Natalie share.  While the book did not reach my expectations, there were a few elements that made the book enjoyable, like the plot twists and world building.  I enjoyed the dual perspectives, like I always do when they're included in books, and I hope to see more of a complex storyline and dimensional relationship to spring up in the second installment.

3 Splashes

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross

The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross
Genre: YA Steampunk
Publication: May 28th, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Page Count: 384

In 1897 London, something not quite human is about to awaken

When mechanical genius Emily is kidnapped by rogue automatons, Finley Jayne and her fellow misfits fear the worst. What's left of their archenemy, The Machinist, hungers to be resurrected, and Emily must transplant his consciousness into one of his automatons—or forfeit her friends' lives.

With Griffin being mysteriously tormented by the Aether, the young duke's sanity is close to the breaking point. Seeking help, Finley turns to Jack Dandy, but trusting the master criminal is as dangerous as controlling her dark side. When Jack kisses her, Finley must finally confront her true feelings for him...and for Griffin.

Meanwhile, Sam is searching everywhere for Emily, from Whitechapel's desolate alleyways to Mayfair's elegant mansions. He would walk into hell for her, but the choice she must make will test them more than they could imagine.

To save those she cares about, Emily must confront The Machinist's ultimate creation—an automaton more human than machine. And if she's to have any chance at triumphing, she must summon a strength even she doesn't know she has....

I have to say that this book series is possibly one of my favorite depictions of Victorian steampunk out there.  Additionally, this series was the first to introduce me to the amazingness that was Steampunk.  Now, I'm definitely not going to try to describe what steampunk is because it takes forever and is considerably complicated since authors can go in so many directions for it.  Sadly, this series experienced a case of 'second book syndrome'.  It's not to say that it wasn't good, but it didn't reach up to the expectations of The Girl in the Steel Corset.  Fortunately, The Girl with the Iron Touch did not fall flat!

Would I say I am a faithful follower and lover of this series?  Yes times a million!  I love pretty much everything about it!  There's these evil and barely hard-to-destroy automatons, these velocycles (which are like motorcycles but cooler and more Victorian), little organites or 'beasties', superpowers, and cravats.  If that doesn't spell for a story of awesomeness, I don't know what will.

Finley Jayne, I think, will always be a favorite character of mine.  I loved the conflicting and polar opposite sides that she had to her in the first book, for it even created a type of mystery and danger to her.  Even though she's not all Jekyll and Hyde anymore, I still find her to be a very captivating and interesting character.  She never does want the assistance of a guy to help her, because she is fully capable of handling things on her own.  However, she doesn't automatically cross the line into martyrdom and actually knows when to accept help.  She, while having a very violent side and a very sweet side on occasion, is a well-balanced character.

And can I just say that I have been in love with Griffin ever since the first book?  Because I do.  As it so happens, I don't think that my love of him will ever die.  I'm not sure what it is exactly about him that makes me love him so much, but maybe it has to do with the fact that he will do anything to save and protect his friends.  He's got this whole tortured aspect to him, but I let that slide because unrequited love never quits.  On top of that, it has been proven that he is in need of saving more than anyone else in this series, and possibly that vulnerability about him and that honesty makes him a real and lovable character.

Action!  Plot!  Mystery!  This book has it all.  Things were unraveling, new characters were introduced (or reintroduced), blood was spilled, relationships were created.  In all, it was a fun time for all the characters (and reader).  There really weren't any dull moments.  The plot was fast-paced and all these things happened and it was all so awesome!  Alas, the writing wasn't all too amazeballs.  As in, there wasn't any lengthy, descriptive paragraphs on the streets of Whitechapel or things of the like.  That was fine, but it's just one of those things, ya know?  Like, it's almost superficial writing.

If you haven't read this series yet, I don't know what you could possibly be doing with your life.  Read the magnificence of Steampunk, read about the motley crew of misfit super power awesome people, and read about their epic story!  Read it all!

5 Splashes

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo + Giveaway

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Expected Publication: June 4th, 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Page Count: 448

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

*A review copy was provided*

I will start off this review and say that if you haven't read the first book in this series yet, Shadow and Bone, please do.  You're missing out big time.  I fell in love with Alina's story and her struggle with the Darkling and her powers.  It all created this epic adventure that was hard to put down.

While I like Alina's character, she actually got a bit on my nerves in this one!  It's not necessarily a big deal, but it definitely created some conflict in the story and made me have the desire to pull out my hair.  Like I said, no biggie.  However, she still was stubborn and determined as ever, making rash decisions and trying to save all of Ravka.  If you don't admire this character, there is something possibly wrong with you.  Also, she's got some great snark.  I loved it.

You don't know how excited I was to jump back into this story.  I got it in the mail and I read it as soon as I possibly could.  While I think I like the first book better, Siege and Storm did not let me down in any way.  There was always plenty of conflict to keep me interested, whether it be romance or saving Ravka.  And right in the beginning there is a major plot twist!  Many new characters are introduced and Mal and Alina's relationship deepens.  And I cannot count how many suitors Alina receives!  But it's okay . . . maybe.

Speaking of relationships!  I might as well bring up Alina and Mal!  I love these two together! While there is a certain alluring quality about the Darkling, I think that Alina and Mal are Meant to Be.  There's something about way-back-when-friendship-turned-couple that makes my heart go all mushy.  It just makes me SO HAPPY.  And seeing them hurt makes me hurt, and when they're happy I'm happy.  I am the commensurable reader benefiting from (or suffering from) their togetherness, an unknown presence to them, but a large part of my survival as a reader.  Also, their banter was so cute to read!  They had such great chemistry!

And may I also bring up the subject of Bardugo's writing skillz??  They are AMAZEBALLS.  Everything about it is visual, the descriptions are beautiful and thus, the wonderful and terrible world that Leigh concocted becomes real.  It is magical in every way!  Her writing really sets the tone.

I drifter through the half-light, past the silent lawns covered in mist, the clouded windows of the greenhouse.  The only sounds was the soft crunch of my shoes on the gravel path.  The morning deliveries of bread and produce were being made at the Grand Palace, and I followed the caravan of wagons straight out the gates and through the cobblestone streets of the upper town.  There were still a few revelers snoozing on a park bench.  A group of girls laughed and splashed in a fountain, their skirts hiked up to their knees.  A man wearing  a wreath of poppies sat on a curb with his head in his hands while a girl in a paper crown patted his shoulder.  I passed them all unseen and unremarked upon, an invisible girl in a drab brown coat.
Isn't it beautiful??  Or maybe it's just because I've been reading such meh books with meh writing that going to this one clearly outshines the others.  But still, I have to admit that Bardugo is a very talented author.

5 Splashes

Now, for everyone to get into the cheer for the release of Siege and Storm, I have a giveaway for you all!  You know the rules: play fair and all.  So, now I'll leave it up to you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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