Book Review: Shifting Fate

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Title: Shifting Fate [Descendants 2] (Audio Edition)

Author: Melissa Wright

Genre: New Adult, Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Urban, Paranormal

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

According to prophecy, Brianna Drake was born to save the world. The trouble is, she doesn’t have the slightest idea how. Her visions should have given her the answer, but they’re beginning to shift, making the danger too unpredictable, even for a prophet.

If she can just help her sister restore their hidden powers, she might be able to stop what’s coming. But an old enemy returns, and he’s got plans for Brianna and her visions.

What neither of them knows is that fate has given a stranger one chance to find her. He was trained to protect the chosen—but if he fails, the future will crumble.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT

This was a bit of an odd experience for me. I’ve never before listened to an audio book (and though you can’t see it, I very nearly wrote “read” there). I was a little hesitant to try one out to be honest. Listening to a book is very different than reading one. I’m used to my internal voice. I know how I will narrate certain phrases and interpret actions—but when it’s someone else’s voice, someone else’s interpretation, there’s a large chance that my internal voice isn’t going to match up with theirs.  So let’s take a minute to talk about the narrator.

The Audible Edition of Shifting Fate was narrated by Emily Rankin. My initial reaction was that her voice was too old, too sultry for the POV of a teenage/young adult heroine. (Not to mention how absurd her very feminine voice sounded as she tried to deepen it… without success… to speak for the male characters of the story.) It threw me for a bit of a loop to begin with. I think she did a decent job of narrating the text, and I got used to it after awhile, but my internal voice didn’t match hers at all. I found myself running through the sentences of the book in my head after she said them, rearranging them to fit my own internal narrator… and it was a bit distracting.  that’s not her fault, but it needs be mentioned. I hesitate to say it, but I’m not certain hers was the best voice to use for the POV of Brianna.

That aside, I loved the book—even more so than the first in the series, Bound By Prophecy. I went into this story not expecting to follow a different set of characters from the first book, but glad when I found that it did. Brianna seemed more substantial in the second book of the series, and I think I got better idea of her character. In the first book she seemed weak, frail. That wasn’t so in Shifting Fate. She was an interesting character, shoved into an unwanted spotlight and forced to keep secrets from her twin sister, and the man she loved. It was an impossible position, and every moment she was in very real danger… but she didn’t break down, whine, or get angry. She sucked it up and did her best to make whatever situation she was in, the best option it could be.

As for the romance aspect of the story, can I just say: Swoon~. As the book started I was certain that Brianna was going to end up in a relationship with Brendan—who, may I add, came across as less of a jerk as the book started. Then, just as I was getting comfortable with the idea of the two as a couple, BAM, Logan arrived, and as far as I was concerned, Brendan was thrown out the window.  It was odd, I’ll admit. I’d almost expected a love-triangle to pop up between Logan, Brianna, and Brendan, but it didn’t really turn out that way. It struck me as strange that the opportunity was passed over, but in the end it didn’t matter. The relationship between Brianna and Logan was delicious. The two had a dynamic that was both engaging and entertaining. I think they were both trouble makers in some sense, and so they played off each other throughout the story in ways that made me giggle. In the first book, Emily and Aern had a relationship that was genuine but a bit understated. They fell in love slowly and surely until it simply, was. With Brianna and Logan, it was a different story. From the outset there was passion and lust between the two, and it became more and more severe (and awkward) as the story went on until finally it exploded, and the two could hardly be separated. In a funny way, Brianna, the meeker of the sister, had a more passionate relationship than her warrior sister. It fit, and I think in the end, made for a stronger book.

Now, like the first book, there was a bit of a drawback. As with the previous book, the world building made me want to throw my hands up in the air. Again, it was vague. The author never explained exactly who or what the seven lines were, or what the shadows were. It was frustrating. You’d think that this far into the series, there’d be some backstory… some explanation of the paranormal bits of the story, but there was nothing. Not a single concrete line filling us in on who or what these people were or their role in the world. I was able to ignore it for the most part, and I enjoyed the story immensely (so I didn’t subtract a star) but it was both distracting and irritating. I can’t fathom why the author chose not to divulge this information.

Overall, I loved the book, and so far, I’ve really enjoyed the series. I’d be happy to recommend this to anyone who likes YA/New Adult paranormal romance, and I’m going to keep an eye out for the next book in the series. I’d certainly read/listen to it again.

Book Review: Bound By Prophecy

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Title: Bound By Prophecy [Descendants 1 ]

Author: Melissa Wright

Genre: Fantasy, New Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult, Urban, Thriller

Rating: 5 (4.5) Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Twenty-two-year-old Aern is done watching his brother destroy the only thing that matters. He never wanted to take Morgan’s place among council, never wanted to rule their hidden world. But when the key to the prophecy is found, a young girl named Brianna whom Morgan will destroy, Aern knows he has to take action.

What he really wants, is for things to go back to normal. But now he’s kidnapped a girl, and his brother’s men are after him. His only hope is to join with the Division, but they have plans of their own, and it’s the last thing Aern is willing to do.

Emily just wants her sister back. She doesn’t care about the prophecy, or realize what’s at stake. But when she goes after Aern, the truth of the matter uncoils, and Brianna isn’t the only one who’s in danger.

Suddenly, they’re at the center of a secret war, and unless they can work together, they’ll both have a sacrifice too big to make.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

First: The covers in this series are gorgeous, and this one isn’t an exception. I really enjoyed this book. As far as the technical aspect of things go, the writing was clear, engaging, and easy-to-follow. The descriptions were nicely balanced, and didn’t feel verbose nor skimmed over.

The characters for the most part were detailed, full of personality, and interesting. Aern and Emily were definitely the highlight of the book, but the other characters stood up nearly as well.  I’ll admit, most of the characters outside the main couple were more or less cameo’s. There was a lot of talk involved around the other characters (such as Brianna and Morgan), but their actual face time in the book was rather limited. It didn’t make them less interesting, and I didn’t miss their presence in the story, but they certainly didn’t stand out in the book as part of the core of characters like Aern and Emily did.

I guess in that way, the story was very insular. This was very much Aern and Emily’s story (not that I minded). I loved the dynamic between these two characters. Aern was dedicated and kind-hearted, and he genuinely cared for Emily and her sister even when it made things more difficult for himself. Emily was determined and fiercely loyal to her sister, but there was also a side to her that was vulnerable and unsure. I admired her determination to save her sister despite the opposition she faced. She wasn’t about to let anything stand in her way even though she was obviously terrified for all their lives. I think the author did a fantastic job on the romance between Emily and Aern. The relationship between the two started as one of comfort and familiarity and slowly but surely blossomed into something inevitably heated. I never doubted that the two cared for each other, and it didn’t feel rushed. I routed for them every step of the way.

Now, there were some aspects of the book that I questioned a little bit. There were one or two times when Aern spent a strange amount of time noticing the outfits of the other characters… which, for a male character, seemed a little odd. It kicked me out of the story a bit, and I had a moment of “yah, definitely a female author” that I wish hadn’t happened. Another of these strange incidents was a moment during the book when Aern made a strange comment:

If I had been a psychopathic killer, her mood would have taken the fun right out of it.

I couldn’t help but stare at the line and wonder what on Earth possessed the author to write that line. Luckily, it was a one-shot and there were no other moments that made me question where the author was going with the narrative.

Perhaps the most book-breaking aspect of the book however, was a rather serious one, and I questioned myself whether I should knock a star off the rating for it. The world-building in this book was both confusing and vague. I knew Aern’s people were supernatural beings of some sort, but that’s about all I knew. It was never truly explained who his people were, what sort of powers they generally had, or why they were trying to rule over things. It wasn’t clear what kind of history Aern and his brother, Morgan had between them, or why either one of them was set up to rule their people. The prophecy, though mentioned dozens of times, was never outright explained… I spent the entire first couple of chapters in the book lost and wondering what was going on.

After the first chapter, I had to check and make sure this was the first book in the series. It felt as if I’d been dropped into the middle of a story and missed the first half… and it never really cleared up. Eventually there came a point where I got the gist of what was going on and was able to ignore the confusion the world-building provided, but it was certainly a negative for the story. If you’re not okay with jumping in mid-story and figuring out what’s going on in a very slow, meandering manner, you may have serious problems with this book. There simply wasn’t enough information provided about the world and the backstory of any of the characters.  It was still a good book though, and since I was able to move past it, I didn’t mark off any stars for the confusion. It wasn’t a problem for me in the end, and I was able to enjoy the story despite this irritating aspect of the story.

In the end, I really enjoyed the story. There was a major drawback (the lack of information), but if you can handle the confusion of the world building, I think you can probably enjoy this book as much as I did. It was a quick read, it was entertaining, and the romance seemed real. I’d certainly recommend it to anyone who likes paranormal romances with a twist of thriller thrown in to spice things up. I’m interested to see how the second book in the series pans out!