Tag Archive | arc

Review: The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano

Series: The Glass Spare #1

the glass spare -lauren destefanoA banished princess.
A deadly curse.
A kingdom at war.

Wil Heidle, the only daughter of the king of the world’s wealthiest nation, has grown up in the shadows. Kept hidden from the world in order to serve as a spy for her father—whose obsession with building his empire is causing a war—Wil wants nothing more than to explore the world beyond her kingdom, if only her father would give her the chance.

Until one night Wil is attacked, and she discovers a dangerous secret. Her touch turns people into gemstone. At first Wil is horrified—but as she tests its limits, she’s drawn more and more to the strange and volatile ability. When it leads to tragedy, Wil is forced to face the destructive power within her and finally leave her home to seek the truth and a cure.

But finding the key to her redemption puts her in the path of a cursed prince who has his own ideas for what to do with her power.

With a world on the brink of war and a power of ultimate destruction, can Wil find a way to help the kingdom that’s turned its back on her, or will she betray her past and her family forever?


2.5 Drink Me Potions


**The Glass Spare comes out October 24, 2017**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

The girl with the magical touch that turns people into gemstones. A unique twist on a familiar story about a certain king with a golden touch, I thought The Glass Spare did its best to create a YA-themed story around a young and uncertain protagonist who had yet to figure out who she was and where she fit into this world. But, I’m rather torn with my feelings on the overall novel.

The characters in the story (who were not just mere acquaintances that flash by in a page or two) were few and far between. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I loved how each of Wil’s brothers were different and had a certain role they fit into that wasn’t necessarily stereotypical. My fave may have to go to the smart one who could create anything – protective equipment to deadly weapons – but the kingly brother with a sense of duty on his shoulders and the dour brother who just didn’t fit in with the rest of his siblings were interesting additions to the overall family dynamic. Even the parents had facets to them that weren’t so simple with a superstitious mother who was once a wanderer of the lands, and a harsh ruling father who had a loving side buried deep inside him. I think Wil’s family was one of my favourite parts of the story.

Unfortunately, the story digresses from them eventually (as the synopsis would suggest). Tragedy struck – I totally saw that particular tragic event coming wayyyy before I reached that page – and Wil has to leave. Oddly enough, this happened past 1/4 of the way into the book which made the beginning drag a little, but as mentioned above, I loved seeing Wil in her element as part of the royal family.

The rest of the story was paced kinda slowly too. Aside from the royal family, I wasn’t particularly fond of the love interest, Loom, for a long time. It wasn’t love at first sight – gosh, by far no – but the way their interactions were depicted didn’t really make me feel like there’s that level of chemistry between them either. The action slowed as the main stressor was protecting Wil’s secret ability from anyone else while searching for a “cure”, and only a couple of problems popped up along the way. It just felt like more could’ve happened in the span of these few hundred pages, and I kept holding my breath for that moment to come.

So with both action and romance not fully captivating my spirit, the high from the beginning with Wil’s family just wasn’t enough. The world building was also a little confusing. This land seems like a rather stereotypical place where people walked or sailed or whatever to travel. But then weird inventions such as flying aircrafts and trains and other things you consider as “modern technology” were also present and it just got my head all turned around with it. I still haven’t figured out if I loved it or not, but it almost felt indecisive on the author’s part.

I didn’t come here to bash the book. I do believe The Glass Spare has more to offer than meets the eye, although it has much to live up to (hopefully coming to light in the second book). It ends not so much on a cliffhanger but on a…moment where you know Wil is about to embark on some new adventure in her quest and we don’t know how that’ll turn out. If the romance had struck a larger spark in me, I think the slowness may have dissipated a little ’cause I’d have something else to focus on. As it is, all I can say is that this book could’ve been better, but I’m hopeful things may get better later.

Overall Recommendation:
The Glass Spare was slow in action and in romance. It had all the components to become something amazing, but it fizzled with its confusing world building and diversions from the main quest of the book: to find a cure for Wil’s unusual abilities. With few characters that were 3-dimensional (and only a portion of these whom I actually liked), sometimes it could get dry reading through those scenes, and the romance didn’t convince me enough to care as much as I normally do. I may just be picky as I do see some potential in this book, but I may have to wait until the next book to make that call. I’d say this novel could be pretty great for non-fantasy readers as there’s not as much to offer in this book as other fantasies that we fantasy-lovers may be unconsciously comparing it to.

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Review: Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski

Series: Dare Mighty Things #1

dare mighty things -heather kaczynskiTHE RULES ARE SIMPLE: You must be gifted. You must be younger than twenty-five. You must be willing to accept the dangers that you will face if you win.

Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Gupta’s entire life has been leading up to this—the opportunity to travel to space. But to secure a spot on this classified mission, she must first compete against the best and brightest people on the planet. People who are as determined as she to win a place on a journey to the farthest reaches of the universe.

Cassie is ready for the toll that the competition will take; the rigorous mental and physical tests designed to push her to the brink of her endurance. But nothing could have prepared her for the bonds she would form with the very people she hopes to beat. Or that with each passing day it would be more and more difficult to ignore the feeling that the true objective of the mission is being kept from her.

As the days until the launch tick down and the stakes rise higher than ever before, only one thing is clear to Cassie: she’ll never back down . . . even if it costs her everything.


3 Drink Me Potions


**Dare Mighty Things comes out October 10, 2017**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

Dare Mighty Things holds tightly to a suspenseful twist that underlies the simplicity of the main plotline, and is surprisingly thrilling upon its reveal. It definitely shocked me out of the predictable rut I had placed it in.

There’s a lot of interesting things that were a first for me in this book. Although it was marketed as a selection process similar to The Selection, it’s a lot more grueling academically and physically. Brilliant young minds from across all of the world competing for a spot in NASA’s joint program in sending someone into space with a crew of seasoned astronauts? Believe me when I say the words here sometimes get so big that even my science-loving brain is trying to figure out the physics.

This bunch of young adults ranging in age from 18 to 25 or so were written in such a realistic way that it felt you could’ve met someone them in person. Their personalities weren’t so cliched as the socially awkward yet ridiculously smart nerds. Instead, they were completely multi-faceted and wholly tangible.

That included the protagonist, Cassie Gupta, an Indian-American girl who identified as asexual. This little tidbit wasn’t made clear straight off the bat, but it was kind of implied under the surface for a while even before it was explicitly identified. Personally, I liked her, all of her. Her mind was brilliant, but seeing how she interacted with others and how she developed from the most anti-social person I’ve read about yet to someone who truly valued the friendships she’s made throughout selection was above all intriguing. Her good friends, Emilio and Mitsuko, were both fun yet understandable characters to keep the story engaging but also relatable. I thought the whole cast was well-written.

There was always a hint of potential romance with foreign diplomat, Luka. Considering she’s asexual, there is still a considerable amount of underlying tension going on that was fun. Whether a true romance in any sense would develop, I’m satisfied with the way things are relationship-wise. Heather did a great job in making it so that we, the readers, aren’t terribly dissatisfied with an element of any YA story that a ton of people look forward to (myself included).

While I’ve been raving about firsts and things that were great, the setback still remains the pacing of the plot. I honestly think the selection process took too long to get through. Nothing much happens until you hit the 70% mark. Sure, people slowly dwindle away as the competition are kicked out of the program, but it kept bothering me that the SECRET about the program wouldn’t reveal itself until almost the end. That’s when the true suspense and action really started ratcheting up. I had to satisfy myself with rampant theories about what it could be until then (I secretly was wondering if the competition wasn’t really getting sent home but might’ve led to a more sinister outcome upon rejection from the program).

I can’t say if I loved the way the story twisted at the end or not. It was a bit surprising, although the more I think about it, the more I should’ve seen it coming. I suppose I was pretty far down the rabbit hole I had dug out for this story in my wild theories to have considered another alternative. But anyhow, Dare Mighty Things brings with it a mighty strong debut filled with a cast of intelligent yet different individuals who have to ask themselves one huge question: just how far are they willing to go to make history for mankind in the vast unknowns?

Overall Recommendation:
Dare Mighty Things has many things that should intrigue a fan of sci-fi, including a mysterious program with an unknown objective into space exploration and a cast of diverse characters. Regardless of the lack of romance that occurs in this book, the friendships Cassie develops (which says a lot for a competitive anti-social girl like her) are just a thrilling as she navigates the challenges in attaining the prized spot among the space crew. I loved the science – albeit the sci-fi type that pushes the plausible – and the simmering suspense of what lay ahead for these brilliant minds to discover. If it wasn’t for the ridiculously slow plot, I’d say this would make it one solid debut. As it is, this book should still satisfy lovers of space and sci-fi.

Review: Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

Series: Fallen Isles Trilogy #1

before she ignites -jodi meadowsBefore

Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

After

Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.


3 Drink Me Potions


**Before She Ignites comes out September 12, 2017**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

What can I truly say about this novel, hmm? I know there are several factors that have gotten everyone excited. Dragons being namely the biggest one. In a world post-Game of Thrones popularity, dragons are a wonderful thing to have in a story. But does this do it justice? Or the rest of the story, for that matter?

Here’s what I liked and disliked about Before She Ignites.

LIKES:

There was a lot of interesting worldbuilding going on, although it came together very slowly. The 7 islands and their corresponding gods that ultimately belonged to a larger story of creation. I loved that although each island followed and portrayed the traits of their particular god, each Book of rules that they followed ultimately reflected similar beliefs and values. I’ve become pretty invested in how each island looks on situations differently, and how they may hopefully come to see each other from the other’s perspective.

The amazing morals of equality, both by race and by gender.
At the heart of this book is a fight for equality among all the islanders, without one group being lowered compared to all the rest. Our protagonist, Mira, really stood up for the Treaty she was named for and that she believed wholeheartedly where peace and equality could be found among everyone.

-That brings me to the growth of Mira.
It was slow and steady, but it did progress over time. She was a little naive and definitely unlearned in trials of hardship when she first was thrown into prison. I always love a good story that tests and allows the protagonist to find out just what she is made of. I’m glad to say that Jodi Meadows really honed in on this as Mira had so many difficult choices to make throughout the book.

The intrigue and mystery of what had brought Mira to the prisons in the first place.
She was the face of the Mira Treaty that provided new rules for peace among the islands. She was basically a political figure (without having all the power of one since there was a council acting behind her), so the downfall into a prisoner definitely played a major part in keeping me with this book, even with all the dislikes (SEE BELOW).
Plus, a good secret always got my blood tingling and makes me ridiculously stubborn in figuring it out.

Here it is, of course, the dragons are a plus.
Getting to read about how dragons were revered as children of the gods and were kept safe in sanctuaries to preserve them from extinction was a lot of fun. I think Meadows had a lot of fun with it, creating different Latin names for the various species and their particular abilities and features. I think she should make a glossary at the back to make it even more clear and enjoyable for all the dragon fans out there, but otherwise, I was impressed enough with the amount of detail provided here.

DISLIKES:

-The slowness. Moving at like a glacier’s pace.
I’m not kidding. By 50% of the book, I was wondering if Mira was ever going to see the outside of her prison walls. I truly thought that this book would probably just be in this one setting: the darkest prison of all the islands.
The only action took place when she was being tormented by her rival, aka a guard who seemed to have taken a particular interest in Mira’s secret. Otherwise, it was pages of what should I do? and let’s mimic the girl in the dungeon across from me in her cell exercises. It was frankly tiring at times and I wished for a change in scenery (besides the BEFORE flashbacks that occur between chapters).

-A romance with Aaru?
I put this in the dislikes simply because I’m uncertain if there is one? I think it’s hinted but it’s hard to tell as Aaru is from the island of Idris, known for being silent. Their secret coded language (aka like the Morse code) was cool enough, I suppose, but at this rate it seems their relationship is rather cool and on level with a good friendship. Who knows? I may start cheering for something to happen with her bestie and personal guard, Hristo. Since nothing literally fired up my heart between any of the characters.
And that would have at least made things more exciting.

I’m not sure how to sum up my feelings, even after finishing this novel for a while now. Before She Ignites has its merits and I can plainly see that book two is being set up for great things. It’s just getting through the foundational stuff here that can be slow and somewhat confusing at times as the pieces slowly start to fall into place. I regrettably say that I have mixed feelings about the book.

Overall Recommendation:
Before She Ignites really lays it on with the world building and its secrets. Jodi Meadows holds these secrets close to her chest as we slowly figure out what has brought upon the downfall of beloved political figure, Mira. The suspense is slow in simmering, and the pace can feel utterly exhausting at times, but as secrets start unfolding and the bits of action occur, there are wondrous things that this book could do to me. If you can last through the slow layout of the core foundations to this world building, I believe this book could truly astound with a protagonist who learned more about who she is and what her role is among her beloved islands. Before She Ignites has the potential to blow us away – especially in book 2.