Book Review: Bitten

cover-bittenTitle: Bitten [Once Bitten, Twice Shy 1]

Author: Noelle Marie

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Bastian had to have been the most handsome man that Katherine had ever met. It really was unfortunate that he was also the most stubborn, controlling, downright infuriating jackass she’d ever known as well. Oh, and there was the fact that he was a werewolf – a werewolf who has bitten her.

Sixteen-year-old Katherine Mayes had never believed in mythological creatures like werewolves or mermaids – certainly not those sparkly vampires that her friend Abby was obsessed with. Even when she’s bitten by a massive animal after a reckless night of teenage adventure and her body begins to change in mystifying ways, she can’t force herself to believe in what she’s convinced is impossible. Little does she realize she’s been infected with a disease a little more permanent than the rabies she feels fortunate to have not contracted.

Lycanthropy.

Her fierce denial is soundly shattered, however, when she is simultaneously saved and kidnapped by Bastian and his pack. Forced to leave small town Iowa behind and adjust to their way of life in a hidden society, Katherine must also deal with fighting the pull she feels towards the man – or wolf, rather – who has bitten her and disrupted her life so completely.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I enjoyed Bitten by Noelle Marie. The characters were well fleshed out, and the lore was clear and pretty standard for the werewolf genre. The plot was entertaining, and overall the book was cohesive.

I was entertained, and overall, enjoyed the story. Was it perfect, though? No.

Honestly, the romance lacked. There was very little if any romance at all, though I think the author tried. I just didn’t feel it.

That aside, the main character, Katherine, was rather immature at times and quick to throw tantrums and put herself and others in danger. Sometimes it was understandable, but a lot of the time it was just the character being overly dramatic.

Also, though I am aware that this book is part of a larger series, I feel like there were certainly bits of the plot, mainly Katherine’s family, that were clearly abandoned for other story elements—which happens—I’m not saying that every loose thread needs to be attended to in the first book, but it felt odd for the author to point out that Katherine’s father is still alive, and then never brought that plot point to fruition as a point of tension between Katherine and Bastian.

I look forward to reading more in this series and from this author. This was a good bit of YA Paranormal Fiction if you are looking for something new to sink your teeth into.

Book Review: Opal

cover-opalTitle: Opal [Lux 3]

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well… There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different… And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we’re stronger… and they know it.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout was an engaging read from start to finish. The book was well-written and grabbed my attention right away. the characters, both new and old to the series, had depth and purpose.

My only complaint, if you can call it that, is that some of the author’s plot hints were rather obvious. it wasn’t a surprise when Simon or Will returned. Did it change how I felt about the book? Not really.

I had fun. The author is good at drawing out tension and using conflict dynamics to drive the story and the character’s relationships. If you enjoy YA science Fiction Romances, this book is going to be right up your alley. I can’t wait to continue on with the series!

Book Review: Sworn

review-cover-swornTitle: Sworn [The Vampire Legends 1]

Author: Emma Knight

Genre: Paranormal, Young Adult

Rating: 1 Star

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Description/Synopsis:

When her dad is transferred, Rachel Wood is uprooted from her home in Pennsylvania and forced to enter a new high school, in 10th grade, in an affluent suburb in Westchester, New York. She finds herself in way over her head, as she struggles to come to grips with meeting new friends, finding a boyfriend, avoiding the cliques of mean girls, and figuring out how to survive in such a hostile new world. She has trouble navigating this new world, where drinking and drugs seem the norm, and where social pressures build on her from every direction.

Everything seems to go wrong for Rachel, until salvation comes in the form of Rob, a football player who takes a liking to her. But just as there romance is about to blossom, she finds herself confused by his actions.

As things reach a low point, Rachel meets a mysterious boy from her school, Benji, a loner who keeps apart from the other kids, and who takes her on a ride on his motorcycle. They have an unforgettable night together in an amusement park—until something goes horribly wrong, and Benji shocks her by saving her life.

Rachel knows that Benji is different from everyone else, and she knows that he is the love of her life. And as their romance deepens, she has to decide if she is willing to give up everything to find out his secret…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I tried to get through Sworn by Emma Knight but instead ended up DNFing the book at just 8% in. Look, the start wasn’t bad on-premise, and I’m sure, had I gone on to read more, the plot would have been mediocre, but okay. It had that vibe. The problem is that the writing was awful. I ran across misspellings, bad grammar, bad punctuation, and improper tense all in the first chapter.

The narrative style was full of mundane tasks, redundant thoughts, and an abundance of ‘telling’. Frankly, the writing was rudimentary at best, and it made it hard to continue. What little I saw of the characters made them seem cliché, and lacking depth. I was skimming before the first chapter ended.

For other readers who have a day job that doesn’t involve being a copyeditor – you might get past this, particularly if you are a teen. I could not, however. Good luck.

Book Review: Death of The Body

review-cover-death of the body

Title: Death of The Body [Crossing Death 1]

Author: Rick Chiantaretto

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult, Horror, New Adult

Rating: 4 Stars (3.5)

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Description/Synopsis:

I grew up in a world of magic. By the time I was ten I understood nature, talked to the trees, and listened to the wind. When the kingdom of men conquered my town, I was murdered by one of my own—the betrayer of my kind. But I didn’t stay dead.

I woke to find myself in a strange new world called Los Angeles. The only keys to the life I remembered were my father’s ring, my unique abilities, and the onslaught of demons that seemed hell-bent on finding me. Now I must find out who I really am, protect my friends, and get back to my beloved hometown of Orenda.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Death of The Body by Rick Chiantaretto was not exactly what I expected, but it was certainly a fascinating read. I thought this book was going to be your usual, angsty, teen-becomes-grim-reaper story, but that isn’t exactly what I got.

The book is the story of Edmund, a boy from the world of Orenda, where mages live in harmony with nature and in conflict with the human race. Evil spirits, Energumen, roam the land in search of unwary people to possess and control. Despite the dangers, Edmund’s childhood is filled with adventure, friends, family, and his magical connection to nature. All that changes one day when his people are betrayed by one of their own, and Edmund’s life is thrown into uncertain chaos.

I’ll admit. At first, I was confused. I’d read that this was  a YA novel, but the main character was barely 10 years old. For more than half the book, Edmund was under 14. It threw me off. However, this changed later in the book, and for the remainder of the story, Edmund was a student in college. I can’t fault the author for the way the story was put together. I can’t imagine it having been written any other way. I think it was important to the story line to show Edmund’s childhood, just as it was important to show his older self… however, it did make it hard to place this in the YA category. The first half of the book is very clearly Middle-Grade, and the latter half, I feel, should have been labeled New Adult. There’s large amount of gore, and there are intimate situations that aren’t really appropriate for the early YA crowd—it didn’t feel like it fit into the category it was placed.

Character-wise, I liked the characters. Edmund was an intelligent, conscientious boy, and his friends were equally as enjoyable…. but I didn’t feel like I had a personal investment in any of the characters. Don’t get me wrong, I was interested to see where Edmund’s story was leading, but it wasn’t a soul-gripping heart-wrenching concern over his life. I think part of that is my own fault though. I’m used to reading romance novels where the reader’s association with the main characters is a little deeper than that usually presented in a fantasy novel. I can’t hold that against the story. I will say, however, that I was a little disappointed in the romantic side of the story, regardless. The relationship between Xia and Edmund moved quickly and didn’t seem to have a lot of emotion behind it. I wish it had been developed a little slower.

That aside, the story was well written. There were a few spelling mistakes and incomplete sentences, but nothing too jarring. Overall, I liked the it. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll hold off on long explanations and in-depth delving into the religious aspect of it and how it related to the world building, but it was one of the most fascinating part of the story. The world building was excellent and engaging on a level I didn’t expect. It was a completely new way of looking at the Grim Reaper mythos, and I loved every bit of it. Would I read this book again? I don’t know. It was a good read, but I don’t know that it has a lot of re-read value. Would I continue on with the series? Yes. Definitely. Would I recommend it? Yes. If you enjoy fantasy, you’ll get a kick out of this fresh take on the Grim Reaper. I would highly recommend giving it a chance.

Book Review: Independent Study

review-cover-independent study

Title: Independent Study [The Testing 2]

Author: Joelle Charbonneau

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Cia Vale survived The Testing, as has Tomas, the boy she loves, and they have both gained admission to the University. She has a promising future as a leader of the United Commonwealth and no memory of her bloody testing experience, thanks to a government-sanctioned memory wipe. Cia should be happy but  is plagued by doubts about the past and future. Determined to find the truth, she embarks on a path of study forbidden by the government delving  into the Commonwealth’s darkest secrets. What she finds is the brutal reality lurking behind the friendly faces of her classmates and the unbearable realization that leaders chosen to protect us can be our greatest enemy.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have mixed feelings towards this series. I very nearly gave this five stars because I love Cia so much as a main character. She’s an intelligent, heady character (which I’m partial to), and despite being firmly in the YA genre, she doesn’t make a lot of dumb mistakes. It’s a bit of a breath of fresh air from a lot of the YA I’ve been privileged enough to read. The Narrative is clean and well-written, with a lack of any huge errors in the spelling, grammar, and pace.  I also love how despite the brilliance of Cia, the author doesn’t force things to go her way… quite the opposite—life is very difficult for Cia. I was sucked into the story by her constant struggle.

This edition to the series was a bit of a step back from what I’d come to expect. The first book spent a lot of time immersing the reader into Cia’s struggle as she got a glimpse of how truly terrible her government is. I’m not sure what I was expecting to happen when she passed the test, but I certainly didn’t expect her to be pushed farther into testing. The second book was much like the first. The students are thrown into a cycle of testing where they are in constant danger… and while there are a few intelligence-related puzzles, I think in Independent Study, the tests lean more towards the athletic and quick puzzle-solving skills.

Now, what I didn’t enjoy was the cast of characters. I’m not saying they weren’t well written—most of them were—but I had this impending doom sensation through most of the book. It wasn’t easy to tell who’s side the characters were on. I didn’t trust them—any of them. On one hand, that’s awesome! Cia felt the same way… but it would have been nice to have a breather every now and then.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I did feel it was a little too similar to the first in the series. It felt like I was going through the same journey all over again, except Cia didn’t remember that we’d done this all before. It would have been nice to have a change in main plot in one way or another, but that didn’t keep me from thoroughly enjoying the book. If you like YA Dystopian books, you may really enjoy this series. I do recommend it.