Book Review: Superstition

Superstition by Lucy Fenton was a great novel. It set the bar high as one of the best self-published books I have read in a long time.

Superstition
by Lucy Fenton
Release Date: August 2015
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Summary from Goodreads:

What happens when your childhood nightmares of being bitten by strange creatures in a dark wood aren’t just dreams?
Sixteen-year-old Arden St. John’s life takes a strange turn when she finds an unusual animal injured near her new house on the south east coast of Australia. When she takes it to the local vet, a terrible truth is inadvertently exposed to her.
She discovers a secret underworld, where witches are commonplace and trolls masquerade as queen bees, terrorizing the other students with impunity. A world where vampires traffic in the lives of children, draining their bodies once they reach maturity. Where adults auction their own children to extend their lives.
Arden finds out she’s one of those kids, her life traded by the mother she never knew. Now she’s caught up in this ancient and corrupt economy operating just below the surface of modern society. She’s a hot commodity, and it’s only a matter of time before the vampire who bought her comes to claim his prize.
But Arden’s not going down without a fight.

It should be no secret now that I’m a sucker for witchcraft or occult based stories. The world building in Superstition was a neat take on traditional witches and vampires. I appreciate that the vampires are scary monsters and not sparkling hunks – I’m not at all worried that Arden might fall for one in the future. What was most interesting was the currency of lives or years, being able to buy and sell them, or even selling your children’s years instead! I know that our society surely would be doing that if they could. (If not already, but that’s a political essay for another day.)

Arden was a likable main character. The narration was dependable and consistent all of the way through. I admire her determination and grit, but some times she gets what she want way too easily. Her friends were loyal throughout, even when things got tough; and the teen heart throb Nick, well – he was your perfect boy next door. I hope things will work out for them.

I enjoyed the debate on what is good and evil, creation and destruction, and all of the grey areas in between. You can’t have one without the other, but being raised in a Western/ Christian society, if someone is labeled as destructive, they immediately related that with being evil. I like that Arden is determined to use her powers to right wrongs and fight evil.

Over all, the editing for this book was strong, however I feel like it could have been longer. The pacing was off, and some scenes seemed too rushed. The fight scenes could have been fleshed out better, they all seemed to end to easily and too quickly. For a witch with such destructive powers, I was hoping for a bit more blood and gore! The story could have easily filled another 100 pages and not been a drag.

The title fell flat for me. There are so many books out there with the title Superstition (or some close variable) that it makes it harder to search for it. I would have recommended something a bit more unique for a first novel, but naming books is something I also have trouble with.  *cough cough*

I will be checking out the play Gaslight to see how it ties into this novel. It seemed like a not so subtle name drop, and Fenton seems to be a reader of plays so I will be checking that out soon.

I was pleased to find out from the author’s Goodreads page that a sequel was in the works. She noted that it takes her a year or more to write a book, which is totally understandable and I was grateful that she wrapped up the end perfectly – leaving you wanting more but not hanging over a cliff!

*disclaimer* – I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a honest review. 
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Book Review: Red Queen

I devoured Red Queen in less than 48 hours. It’s a fast paced, action-packed YA read that hits the mark on so many levels, but in the end I still feel conflicted about it.

Red Queen
by Victoria Aveyard
Release Date: February 2015
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Summary from Goodreads:

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers. To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

Victoria Aveyard is a trained screenwriter and that is evident in her brilliant action-packed scenes, developed characters and excellent pacing. Red Queen could jump on the movie screen instantly, and I’d be pre-ordering my tickets.

What I loved most about Red Queen was the world building. The story line, however, was a tad predicable.

Ultimately, as much as I loved this book, I couldn’t give it 5 stars. Red Queen was a brilliantly entertaining book but it wasn’t exactly original. (Based on reviews on Goodreads, I’m not the only one who feels that way.) It felt like a mash up of Mockingjay, X-Men, Red Rising and The Selection. With great results mind you, but it kept nagging at the back of my mind. The title Red Queen seemed to be used for theatrics, and it doesn’t really tie into the story line as much as I thought it would.

The sequel, Glass Sword is set for release in February 2016. And so beings the waiting game…

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

I read A Court of Thorns and Roses back in June. I threw it into my queue because this book already has hundreds of great reviews on Goodreads, so I figured this would be good to post when I was busy in August.

A Court of Thorns and Roses
by Sarah J Maas
Release Date: May 2015
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Summary from Goodreads:

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Sarah J Maas is well known for her first series, Throne of Glass, which is on my to-read list but remains un-read. From what I gathered from the reviews, I wasn’t entirely sold on that series. But Court of Thorns and Roses was an amazing read.

I think Bloomsbury tried way too hard to market this book. They describe it as “Beauty and the Beast with faeries” … which is a stretch. They also recommend it for Game of Thrones fans, which I can’t see at all. I don’t understand why publishers go to such great lengths to compare new releases to big sellers (besides $$$), because A Court of Thorns and Roses stood on it’s own two feet and was a great book – no cheap comparisons required.

While it did fall victim to some of the standard YA-tropes, eg. beautiful man loves plain girl, forbidden love, zero to hero etc, there was enough originality that kept it going, even through the slower parts. There’s NO LOVE TRIANGLE! None! I promise!

I liked Feyre’s character. When reading 1st person books, it really helps if I actually like the protagonist/narrator and Feyre was alright to me. I appreciated that she wasn’t an innocent virgin (rompin’ around in the barn with her teenage fling…. whoo hoo!) because I feel that the YA genre has too many slut-shaming/virgin-worshiping characters. Let girls be girls! Was I surprised that her weapon of choice was a bow and arrow? Not at all… (Merida/ Katniss/ Nerf Rebelle/ need I go on?)

The two main faerie characters, Tamlin and Lucien were my favorites. Sarah Maas wrote their friendship so effortlessly, their banter flows and their actions compliment each other. Somewhere, I feel like a lot of Slash Fan Fiction is brewing, not that I wouldn’t mind reading it…ahem.

Tamlin was definitely a pretty boy. I try to give the author some credit by putting a mask on his face so we could try to be less shallow. But come on, a bronzed muscled super-hunk, there was no hiding it. Though I did grow tired of how many times his shirt was so soaked with blood that his muscles were visible, kinda gross more than sexy – but to each their own. Despite Tamlin’s appeal, Lucien was my crush throughout this book. I always prefer the dark horse over the glowing hero. That metal eye was just too cool.

Makunga

So, my weird confession of this book review is that for whatever reason, I had a REALLY hard time picturing Rhysand. Which shouldn’t have happened for the amount of times his handsomeness, his dark clothes and “blue-black” hair were mentioned. BUT every time I tried to picture him all I could see was Makunga from Madagascar 2. *shrug* Maybe because they’re both arrogant and (kinda) jerks? After the events leading to book 2, I really hope Rhys doesn’t kick off some unnecessary love triangle.

There were many questions left unanswered. Like, why Feyre’s sister was immune to glamour, what’s going to happen with the Feyre-Rhys dynamic, are more lies going to backfire? I’m just grateful that it wasn’t a cliff hanger. I sense some awesome, gory, action-packed war will be coming our way, the book ended in the calm before the storm.

In the end, I flew through this book, because it’s a real page turner. Every chapter would leave me wanting more action, more secrets and more faerie sexy-time. I’m looking forward to the 2nd book in the series, set to be released sometime in 2016.

 

Book Review: Synthetica

Synthetica by Rachel Pattinson was a great debut novel. At 299 (kindle) pages, Synthetica was a fast-paced read for me. The story was paced well, and had surprises at every turn. Thankfully, it didn’t fall victim to the usual YA tropes and really stands out as an interesting take at the dystopian society. The world of Synthetica isn’t as far-fetched as we’d like to hope.

Synthetica
by Rachel Pattinson
Release Date: April 2015
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Summary from Goodreads:

This city is falling.

Seventeen-year-old Anais Finch lives in a world where everyone is born beautiful, where every dream is a possibility – and where their every move and every piece of personal information is recorded by an ID picochip inserted behind their right ear. When technology giant, Civitas, finally announces the launch of their highly anticipated Scholarly Learning Programs, which allow people to download and learn any subject instantly, Anais can hardly wait.

But not everyone is pleased with society’s progress, and not everyone wants to fit in. When Anais witnesses a brutal murder on an innocent citizen and is implicated in the crime, she becomes determined to uncover the truth, especially when others like it begin to occur all over the city. But it may already be too late for Anais to stop the man who calls himself ‘the Hacker’ before he commits his most appalling crime yet…

Anais, our heroine, is an average girl-next-door who grew up in a lower-middle class family. At her career meeting she is placed in the Picochip factory, just like her parents. Anais’ hope is that she could break out of those limits and become an architect by using SLP chips that allow the user to learn everything instantly. (Which would be awesome in the real world, am I right?) Then after witnessing a murder, her and her friends start to put the pieces together and discover a dangerous terrorist plot.

The world building was fantastic! In fact, it was probably my favorite part of Synthetica. The story is set in the “moderately distant” future of earth, where technology is so advanced that children’s traits can be picked at conception. I always found this fascinating, getting to “build” your perfect child so to speak. On the dark side of this idea, however, I could see how this could turn sour for society and we would become fixated on having the perfect child. Luckily in this world, people can easily change their hair and even eye colour to fit the particular fashion.

The story and action really kick it into gear around the 50% mark. I suddenly found it impossible to put down and I read the latter half of the book in one sitting. The ending was such a cliffhanger, hopefully the second installment will be out soon.

Unfortunately, I must comment on the formatting for the e-reader. I use a free reader, UB reader via the Google Play Store, for the ARC copies I receive. I read exclusively on my Samsung Galaxy Tablet. When I opened the file, I was disappointed to see that none of the chapters were linked or spaced properly and paragraphs cut off mid-line. Hopefully this wasn’t the case for everyone else who is reading it. However, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the story.

Ultimately, I would be interested in seeing more from this author… Particularly the one about a sex-crazed girl in a dome world that she mentioned in her bio!

*disclaimer* – I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a honest review. 
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Camp NaNoWriMo – July

This past April I took part in Camp Nanowrimo. (You can read about that here.) In the end, I completed my goal, hitting just over 20,000 words. I’ve set my goal for July to be 15,000 words because this is going to be a crazy month for me and I need to be realistic. So that puts me at around 480 words per day – should be easy, but I’m not counting on it.

I hit a major writing drought immediately after Camp Nanowrimo in April. I sputtered out and haven’t worked on the manuscript since. So let’s try it again! 15,000 words should put me pretty close to the end of the novel. Who knows, I might just finish it this month? Maybe.

I set my cabin to assigned randomly, but if you’d like to connect with me, visit my profile here.I’m always looking to connect with more indie writers!