Book Review: For the Clan

I really enjoyed this book. For the Clan had so many different surprises that I consider this to be one of the most memorable books I have read so far this year! I am so thankful to Xpresso Book Tours for the chance to review this novel by Archer Kay Leah.


29470767For the Clan
by Archer Kay Leah
Release Date: May 2016
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Summary from Goodreads:

Canada, 2165 AD. The Water Wars and a decimated economy have taken their toll. Anyone who doesn’t live in a military-patrolled metropolis lives in a clan. But being in a clan doesn’t mean safety.

And for a Ven like Roan Lee, it doesn’t matter where he lives. Safety is a luxury. So is freedom.

Roan is desperate to escape the governtary’s exploitation and torture. He is nothing to them but 54σK1, an artifact born from a genetic mishap. When the chance to escape arises, he makes a run for it—and encounters the lover from his past, twisting his future into a second chance he never expected.

As leaders of Clan Teach, Jace Ama and his wife, Cayra Diega, have enough difficulty keeping their people safe. When Roan is thrown to their feet as a prisoner, their marriage becomes an additional challenge. Jace still loves Roan, but where does that leave Cayra?

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When I requested to review For the Clan, I wanted to read it because it was a dystopian novel that was set in Canada. (Yay, Canadian here!) And what’s more awesome is that my home down of Windsor got a shout out! 😀

I loved the dystopian world that Archer Kay Leah created. It has been written in such a way that it could actually seem plausible for it to happen in the near future, except for the magic using Ven people. I don’t want to leave any spoilers, but the action was AWESOME!

The bulk of this story focuses on a polyamorous romance between Jace, Roan and Cayra. (MMF) I wasn’t expecting this to happen, because the blurb does not really hint to it, but I was pleasantly surprised. The romance felt natural (maybe a little too fast, but still good) and the sex was pretty darn hot. I was a little worried for the author, considering that the romance was only briefly mentioned in the blurb, but it was categorized properly in Amazon, so I guess we’re all good.

The two aspects of the book that I feel needed work were the lack of back story and the “easiness” of it all. I feel like this novel could have easily filled 300+ pages instead of less than 200, and I would have been happy to read every single word. Though the Water Wars were mentioned, I would have appreciated a bit more back story. The rest of the plot moves quick, and their obstacles seem to be over come with little effort (relatively speaking of course).

I love, love, loved the cover. The feel of it is so dystopian, military-action, video-gamy goodness. (I really can’t think of any other way to explain it.)

In closing, I found For the Clan to be a quick, fun read. I hope that the author continues to use their skills and write more dystopian stories in the future.

A free copy of this book was provided for an honest review. Thank you Xpresso Book Tours!

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Book Review: Hex Hall Series

Hex Hall is the 3 part series about Sophie Mercer, who is a Prodigium aka magical beastie. I’ll admit it, this was actually the first series I put on my Goodreads list years ago. Surprisingly, I didn’t get around to reading it until now, even though it was the first cover to pop on my “to-read” list every time I opened my page to find my next series. So, as you can see I finally got around to reading them. I got all three books at once from the library. I wanted some light reading; took me less than a day each to read all three books.

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father—an elusive European warlock—only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tag-along ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Oh Hex Hall, where to begin. This series was just “ok.” But my inner-teen enjoyed it very much. It was simple, light reading full of magic, demons and hot boys. I know that this book was not meant for my age group, it’s definitely YA Paranormal for teens, probably 15 or 16 years old. But I wanted a break from heavier books and younger YA is always a nice sugary treat.

As I was saying Hex Hall is your usual YA paranormal story set in a “school for the gifted”. Full of your standard tropes: love triangles, bitchy mean girls, chosen-one syndrome, the list goes on… BUT it was executed in a way that didn’t cause too many eye rolls. Hex Hall fell victim to the three-book series grab, but the story line didn’t weaken much. In the end it was what it was: A marketable series for teens. (And I’m the grown adult reading them so who am I to judge?)

Aside from all the obvious tropes, I disliked the ending. (No Spoilers) It just seemed to end too quickly. The giant battle I was expecting fizzled out into convenient accidents and drawn out villain speeches. I’ve noticed this in other series (eg. House of Night), it’s almost as if the author gets tired during the last 100 pages and just sums it all up and ties it with a bow.

However, this series did leave me wanted to read more from Rachel Hawkins. Her next series Rebel Belle is now on my list… What can I say? YA is my not-so-guilty pleasure.

Book Review: The False Princess

I really loved The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal. I think it’s one of those books that never gets the attention it truly deserves. I’ll be honest, this book sat in my “to-read list” on my Overdrive app for months. When a book doesn’t have a hold list in the library, I always think that maybe it’s not that great of a read. However, the premise sounded intriguing and when the rest of my holds weren’t coming through (the joy of Toronto Public Library, sometimes you’re #100 for a book that has less than 5 copies) I decided to check it out.

The official blurb is:

Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia’s led a privileged life at court.  But everything changes when it’s revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection.  Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she’s ever known.
Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks.  But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins – long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control – she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.
Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor’s history, forever.
A dazzling first novel, The False Princess is an engrossing fantasy full of mystery, action, and romance.

So after reading it, I don’t have much criticism for this book at all. I’ve been reading a lot of YA Paranormal lately and it was nice to dive into some light fantasy. What I loved the most was that it was 1 book. The YA genre has been plagued with drawn-out, money grabbing series that water down an already “meh” story line. (I’m looking at you House of Night) Most series coming out now are at least three novels that can easily be edited or condensed. The False Princess could have fallen into that trap, but it didn’t.

Eilis O’Neal provided a well structured, well written single volume story. The plot was fairly straight forward and simple, but that enough twists and turns to keep me interested. The world building was decent, set in a magical re-imagining of the 1100s in a fictional kingdom. I liked the was magic was depicted. The main character Nalia/Sinda was believable. No Mary Sues here! She was determined to over come challenges and while she might have had her own interests in mind for some of the story, she ended up being successful. She really had a uphill battle after living in the lap of luxury for 16 years and she made it work for her. It was refreshing to read about a main character struggling with their powers and making due with what she had in order to save the day.  There was no insta-love between her and Keirnan, but a slow build up to a relationship years in the making.

This was Eilis O’Neal’s first book and sadly her next book Charmed Deception isn’t expected to be released until October 2015. The cover art seems to be similar to The False Princess and based on the blurb, it might be set in a comparable world. There isn’t much detail available yet, but I can say without a doubt that I will be on the waiting list as soon as possible.

 

Book Review: Earth Girl

Book Review: Earth Girl (Earth Girl Series # 1) 
Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover – a term most of us are familiar with and I’ll admit it: I do. This time, I was smitten by the mysterious blue cover and I needed to know more. Then I read the synopsis and I immediately hopped on the waiting list at my local library.

The official teaser for Earth Girl is this:

A sensational YA science fiction debut from an exciting new British author. Jarra is stuck on Earth while the rest of humanity portals around the universe. But can she prove to the norms that she’s more than just an Earth Girl?

2788. Only the handicapped live on Earth. While everyone else portals between worlds, 18-year-old Jarra is among the one in a thousand people born with an immune system that cannot survive on other planets. Sent to Earth at birth to save her life, she has been abandoned by her parents. She can’t travel to other worlds, but she can watch their vids, and she knows all the jokes they make. She’s an ‘ape’, a ‘throwback’, but this is one ape girl who won’t give in.

My thoughts were: All Right! A strong female character that (hopefully) I won’t end up hating! So far so good, I really like Jarra. She’s a smart, determined girl who despite her Handicap says “eff you” to society and tries to live her life as if she were “normal”. I think that can speak to anyone living today, about overcoming challenges you face and being yourself, living life to the fullest every day. What I just didn’t get was why some people couldn’t live on other planets. Why not people who could live in some places and not others? I know it’s necessary for the plot, but I’m hoping more gets revealed in book 2, Earth Star.

Jarra sometimes is too good to be true. She’s way more experienced in the field than other students, knows how to fly a plane etc. Sometimes it can get a little dry “Oh look she knows how to do that too.” And in the synopsis, it’s mentioned that she “can’t hide in the back of the class anymore.” Except she NEVER did. She was schooling them right from the beginning – so I thought that was a bit misleading. However, Edwards did explain how she was so much more further ahead than her class, she simply had the advantage living on earth all her life. Despite the fact she had all the experience, how she led the class in everything and no one seemed to care was annoying. Sometimes Jarra was just too perfect.

While living in the fantastical world of Earth 2778, the author Janet Edwards gives all of the cast members believable pasts and presents. They’re kids in the first year of college – included is all the awkwardness, hormones, drama and romance that we remember (or will experience) from those years. The emotions and relationships were all fairly believable and there was even spins on the stereotypes, eg. the rich popular girl ends up not to be a jerk. The love interest Fian isn’t really my type (I’m more of an Alpha-man fan) but it was nice to see less stereotypical take on the YA love tropes.

Jarra’s inner struggles were well illustrated and it was helpful that it was written in first person. To avoid spoilers I won’t get into much detail here, but around 50% into the book she suffers a shocking loss and goes inside herself, reemerging as a character, Military Jarra not the Jarra we knew from before. I have mixed feelings about that and it was confusing at first. I like the real Jarra much better, and I’m sure the author intended it to be that way, but Military Jarra was too cocky for me. Eventually she snaps out of it, but I found it too sudden.

Oh the world building – what can I say? I loved it! Now keeping in mind I’m not a Sci-Fi reader most of the time, I know other people did have mixed views on the world, but I thought it was well put together. There was history, back stories, culture, customs, languages – this list goes on.  I think it all tied in really well, but sometimes the chunks of history got a bit overwhelming and I started to feel like I was reading a textbook, however it was all necessary to the plot. I just wish it could had been done in a less “info dump” manner. The technology was awesome. I especially enjoyed the slang terms like “amaz” and “newzies”, it was close enough to how we speak now that I knew what was being said and it flowed into regular conversations seamlessly. I’ve even caught myself thinking “nardle” a few times since finishing the book.  From history to entertainment, transportation to food, Edwards has really put effort into making the world of 2778 come together full circle.

Also I just need a moment to share with you all how much I loved the hover suitcases.
It was such a small thing in the world-building, but I went giddy over it. But honestly how can you not when it was phrased like this: “My bags gathered up in a tight group behind me, bouncing up and down slightly in mid air like obedient but excited puppies.” (Chapter 3, Earth Girl)
I even tweeted about it. (Sad to say I didn’t get hover luggage from Santa.)

Even though the ending was a bit anti-climatic (eg. the big “I’m an ape-girl” reveal was nearly non-existent), I think this book deserves a lot more attention than it’s been getting. I’m not even a Sci-Fi fan and I loved it. As soon as my copy of Earth Star comes in, I will most likely go into hermit mode and read it in one sitting.

 

“Always” – Rereading Harry Potter from the Beginning.

 In 2001, back when I was eleven years old, I started reading Harry Potter. It was a series that defined a generation, and that continues to impact people of all ages, nationalities and languages. It is (in my opinion) one of the most important children’s series to have ever existed. – I say “children’s series” with the full understanding that anyone can enjoy it, but being based on the original target audience. That being said, I don’t think anyone could have anticipated what a phenomenon it has continued to be since the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was published in 1997 (UK) and 1998 (North America).

Like I said before, I didn’t get my hands on the first Harry Potter book until sometime in 2001. And believe it or not, I didn’t even really want to read it. My librarian recommended it to me – I was a very active member in the youth reading clubs – and I figured I’d give it a go. Then, it sat on my desk for two weeks before I finally opened it up. And as they say, the rest is history.

So now I’d like to rediscover that chapter of my childhood. I never once stopped loving Harry Potter, or watching the movies or geeking out over Slytherin swag. But I want to read them all, in order cover to cover again. I hope you’ll all join me on this journey as I blog about the process.  And because I love Harry Potter, after all this time. Always.