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My Friends Are Fiction

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Currently reading

Twinmaker
Sean Williams
Progress: 116/352 pages
Once We Were
Kat Zhang
Progress: 11 %
Inhuman
Kat Falls
Progress: 41 %

An electronic copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

 

 

My Thoughts:

When I requested Inhuman I was drawn to the dystopian nature of the summary and the world going feral. Inhuman provided both of these things though I wasn’t sold on the presentation. A virus has spread over society and the only way the people can save themselves is by migrating and constructing a huge wall to keep everything out of their sterile world. I really liked how Falls handled the idea of a virus overrunning our society and how we might try to survive contained.

 

After making it into the forbidden lands I began to worry about the direction the story was going. The animal-human mutations veered on silly at times with their dialog, descriptions and fact that they were referred to as manimals. I admit that the descriptions were fairly accurate to how I would expect a hybrid to appear, but for some reason it came off almost goofy. As I read, I imagined what would happen if this was turned into a movie and how horrible I’m sure they would look.

 

This book falls under many of the typical young adult dystopian tropes. You have a naïve yet loyal, strong willed girl thrown into a situation she couldn’t possibly have dreamed of. Of course, she encounters two men that are complete opposites though they attract her for those differences. One guy is tall handsome, put together, honorable and heroic. The other is rough around the edges, rude but mushy on the inside.

 

As you can see there is a touch of the dreaded love triangle but not too much focus was spent on this aspect and the main character seemed to realize she should be focusing on the task at hand rather than her next love interest.

 

The beginning showed potential and there was a section (roughly around 45%) where I was really enjoying where things were going and the dialog between characters. I started to have high hopes that though I felt the manimals were silly this book would turn out to be one I overall enjoyed. Sadly, soon after this point the story took a turn and it felt like the book had an identity crisis. I wished that I could have enjoyed more than the small portion of the story.

 

Final Thoughts:

I wish I could say I enjoyed this book more thoroughly. Inhuman felt very close to being good and I think with some reworking of the storyline it could have been much more successful. The author had some great dialog and her characters were very close to redeeming any problems with the story flow and issues of incongruent tone.

Source: http://www.myfriendsarefiction.com/review-of-inhuman-by-kat-falls
SPOILER ALERT!
Entangled - Amy Rose Capetta

A copy was provided  by the publisher in exchange for a honest review

 

The Story:

Entangled is fast paced, entertaining and an overall fun science fiction book. After rereading the summary I shouldn’t have been surprised like I was with the strong undertone of music–the cherry-red guitar should have tipped me off. I enjoyed this little bit thrown in and felt it was unique to Cade and her outlook.

 

As I read any science fiction novel I try to suspend disbelief and buy into the author’s explanations and world. Often, there are aspects that cause me to briefly pause and question, and there were a few in Entangled. I don’t have a science background so couldn’t say how plausible any of this book was but I was able to overlook any questionable parts (mostly her treatment of black holes) and let Capetta take me on her story.

 

The one aspect I had trouble getting over was the use of the character’s slang/curse word. I know that slang is a great way to build on a world and show the differences between theirs and ours. I wish I was the type of person that could overlook its use knowing that in the future our language will be much different. Sadly, I just couldn’t get over phrases like “don’t slug this up” or “what the slug are you talking about?” I think if it had been anything but ‘slug’ I could have gotten over it far easier. Every time that word popped up I was wrenched from the dialog. Since I read the arc I can only pray it changes in the final version.

 

You might have heard/seem comparisons to Firefly. This very thing drew me to this book and put it on my TBR list. I didn’t really see the similarities but it wasn’t so off I felt betrayed. There are a gang of ‘friends’ that rely on each other (to their dismay and annoyance at times) and they travel in space on a ship in the future. These things coincide with Firefly. Where if felt off was on the epic-ness and humor, don’t get me wrong, Entangled was fun and entertaining, but never funny or clever to the level of Whedon-ness.

 

The Characters:

I liked the characters Capetta created. Cade had the tough façade and delicate innards common to young adult heroines. She  was spunky and I love that she lost herself in her guitar and music. It was exciting to follow her journey into discovering her past and to decipher ‘the noise’ that haunted her.

The secondary characters were well thought out and detailed in their personalities and descriptions. I felt they each had unique traits and had an interesting dynamic with one another. I think my favorite character out of the entire book was Rennik, the mysterious, seemingly unfeeling alien who pilots their ship. I hope to see a lot more of him in the next book.

Minor Spoiler:

 

Another great feature was that the ship was a living, breathing entity which had opinions and a real presence throughout the book.

 

End Spoiler

 

Final Thoughts:

I enjoyed reading Entangled and I will be reading the next in the series to see where Capetta takes her characters next.

Source: http://www.myfriendsarefiction.com/review-of-entangled-by-amy-rose-capetta
Across a Star-Swept Sea - Diana Peterfreund

This and other reviews on my blog My Friends Are Fiction

 

An electronic copy was provided by the publisher for a honest review

 

The Story:

This was my second book from Diana Peterfreund, the first being For Darkness Shows the Stars, which was beautifully done. I was beyond excited to learn there would be a companion novel and jumped at the chance to read it. I will admit that Across a Star Swept Sea started off slowly for me. I had trouble getting back into the world and understanding all the intricacies. I think if I had reread For Darkness I might have had an easier time getting into this novel.

 

The writing is beautifully done though a tad on the slow side. The descriptions were vivid and I could easily picture the characters, clothes and setting. The majority of this story is based on secrecacy between the two main characters. As a reader, it gets frustrating knowing what the other doesn’t. Peterfreund did it very well but I still felt annoyed at times and wanted them to be honest with one another though their motivations with keeping silent were well spelled out and believable.

 

As the book neared the end I became much more wrapped up in the story and enjoyed how all the threads wove together. The sluggish start was more than made up for as the story arcs merged and the main obstacle overcome.

 

Across a Star Swept Sea is loosely based on The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I read and enjoyed in high school. Sadly, I couldn’t recall enough about the book to make any comparisons so can not say what inspirations Peterfreund found in the original book.

 

The Characters:

I loved the idea behind Persis being brilliant yet disguising her true motives and identity by playing up the ditzy socialite. I thought she was an amusing character and very strong willed. I enjoyed learning about her inner turmoil and inspirations. Peterfreund did a nice juxtaposition between her as a socialite and as the Wild Poppy, the most infamous spy.

 

Justen had a very interesting family history, being the grandson of Persistence Helo the woman responsible for creating the cure for the Reduced. I thought his goals at seeing through his grandmother’s dreams were admirable and enjoyed watching him struggle with his own discoveries.  I was happy to see a love interest with such depth and strength.

 

Although I felt like Justen and Persis were well developed individuals, I had trouble really feeling the chemistry between them. I can’t put my finger on why I wasn’t able to really get invested in their relationship but I struggled.

 

Final Thoughts:

Though Across a Star Swept Sea had descriptive writing and interesting characters something was lacking for me. I had trouble really immersing myself in the story and feeling the characters chemistry with one another.

Source: http://www.myfriendsarefiction.com/review-of-across-a-star-swept-sea-by-diana-peterfreund
Perfect Ruin - Lauren DeStefano

This and other reviews on my blog, My Friends Are Fiction

 

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for a honest review

 

The Story:

I haven’t read DeStefano’s Wither series so I can’t compare the pacing or story elements. Perfect Ruin had a slow (but not boring) pace that was easy to read. DeStefano took time to build her world and her main character, Morgan. I felt that Internment was beautifully described and I could visualize the buildings, people and feel of life on the floating island and the claustrophobia of spending your entire life in such a small space. I really enjoyed the writing and how the story flowed slowly though there was the underlining feel of intensity.

 

I was originally drawn to this book because of the cover but after reading about the city/island floating in the clouds I was hooked. I was intrigued with all the questions–why an island in the sky? How were the people chosen to live there? What is below? Why is looking over the edge forbidden? I will say that we aren’t given absolute clarification in Perfect Ruin. DeStefano edges around these answers only giving the reader the information that Morgan knows.

 

I feel like as the series progresses more of the questions will be addressed but some readers might be disappointed not to know these answers with the first installment. By the end of the book I had a greater understanding of Internment and its people though I left the book still wondering about many things. For me, this was enough. I didn’t feel disappointment at not getting clear cut answers.

 

The Characters:

I really enjoyed Morgan, her best friend, her brother and sister in law. I felt that all were well fleshed out and had much deeper stories that I hope to see in later books. As a main character, Morgan is typical of a young adult heroine. She is clever, loyal and curious to a fault. I did wonder why she was only seeking answers with the latest mystery and not after her brother’s experience with the edge.

 

I had the most difficult time really connecting with Basil. I couldn’t find much depth in his character (yet) and never felt real chemistry between him and Morgan. I liked his actions and what he stood for but I never felt anything deeper about him. He felt rather flat to me overall.

 

On Internment people are betrothed at a young age and are aware of their future mate. I don’t know if it was because Morgan and Basil were already accepting their futures together but I wasn’t really feeling their romance. Pen, Morgan’s best friend, was far more fun and I loved her dialog and her relationship with her betrothed. Honestly, I felt that all the secondary characters had more passionate relationships than Morgan and Basil.

 

Judas’ story brings about many of the mysteries and questions for Morgan. His character never felt flat to me and I was easily swept away in his life. I did fear that he would become a love interest creating the dreaded love triangle but so far it didn’t go in that direction.

 

Final Thoughts:

Perfect Ruin was an entertaining and easy read though many questions remained after finishing the book. I feel that the setup for the sequel will lead to a series that improves with each book.

Source: http://www.myfriendsarefiction.com/review-of-perfect-ruin-by-lauren-destefano
SPOILER ALERT!

ARC Review of 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

3:59 - Gretchen McNeil

The Story: I had pretty high hopes and expectations for 3:59 because of the synopsis and cover design. Overall, this was an entertaining read but I had some problems with it. The book starts with a good amount of high school drama- boyfriends cheating, best friend betrayals, etc- that sadly didn’t interest me.

Once we get into the science fiction aspects the scientific explanations were fairly heavy and wordy leading me to mostly skim over them. Honestly, they felt more like info dumps than anything else. I will say it appeared that McNeil had done a significant amount of research.

As for the twists they were fairly easy to spot early on though this really didn’t detract from the fast pacing (once the story really got going). There are a lot of action scenes and the idea behind the book is an interesting one. I loved that the parallel world was only visible at 3:59 so there was the expectation of that time every day and night. It created a really great sense of excitement and tension to the story having such a small window of time when both universes were connected.

The Characters: Here’s where this one really let me down, I never cared for a single character. I knew I was supposed to, but I couldn’t muster an ounce of caring for Josie, Nick, Penelope or any of them. I can’t say why none of them resonated with me, perhaps it was my mood or the writing style? I just found myself a casual observer of what I read.

Mild Spoiler:

The romance was laughable at certain points–if you’ve read other reviews you might have seen that there was an awkward make-out scene. After one of the many action scenes our couple finally have their long awaited kiss and it gets fairly passionate. This would have been a great scene if there hadn’t been a dead body next to them the entire time. Yes, they were kissing next to a dead body, which they conveniently forgot about (it was dark in the room) until Jo accidently touches it. The entire time I was reading I kept thinking, ‘there’s a body next to you!’ So unrealistic (I hope) and disturbing. Needless to say I wasn’t feeling it at all.

End spoiler

Final Thoughts: I had some issues with 3:59 mostly due to the characters and info dumping but overall it was an entertaining book due to fast pacing and lots of action. I think this book will appeal to many people and if you love the synopsis you should give it a go and see if it’s for you.

Review of Shadows by Paula Weston

Shadows  - Paula Weston

The Story: Unlike many readers I actually get excited when I see a book is about angels, the Fall or Fallen. I love the topic of the Nephalim and am so interested in learning different people’s take on the subject. Sadly, I’m often disappointed by the majority of young adult novels featuring one of my favorite topics. Thankfully, Shadows was very well done, the characters intriguing and the subject matter well researched (you can read about Paula Weston’s research in my interview with her).

Shadows focused less on the Fall and more on what affect it would have on the children of the Fallen and what it would look like in present day. This is a wonderful backdrop for the story Weston has created. Her main character has been deprived of some of her memories and is thrown into a world that seems out of her imagination. Memory loss stories can go wrong fast but Weston is selective with what Gaby doesn’t remember and how she uncovers these memories.

The story is well paced with just enough action interspersed to keep you engaged as you uncover the mystery of what happened to Gaby and why. Really, the beginning is all building up for a really wonderful ending that left me desperate to get my hands on the second book, Haze.

The Characters: Weston excelled with her dialog and interactions between the characters. Rafa and Gaby had a wonderful chemistry. Their relationship is made even more interesting because of Gaby’s memory loss. Since her relationship with him was lost with her memories she is having to relearn who he is and how she feels and many of her emotions are in stark contrast what she’s been told she felt. It’s an interesting concept to consider- how would you feel about the people in your life if you couldn’t remember them?

For me, the characters in Shadows were the strongest aspect of the book. Even Weston’s secondary characters are well crafted and each have detailed histories that I can’t wait to learn more about.

Final Thoughts: Shadows by Paula Weston has set up a wonderful beginning to her four part series. I can’t wait to see where she’ll take her story and characters.

The Winner's Curse

The Winner's Curse - Marie Rutkoski Such a wonderful book. Review closer to release date.

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Boys #2)

The Dream Thieves - Maggie Stiefvater Another wonderful book. Review soon

These Broken Stars

These Broken Stars - Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner Possibly 4.5Review to come

What's Left of Me (Hybrid Chronicles Series #1)

What's Left of Me (Hybrid Chronicles Series #1) - Read this and other reviews on my blog My Friends Are FictionActual rating 3.5My Thoughts: Zhang created a very unique idea in this novel, having two souls sharing one body. The implications of living like that and how everyday situations would be different was intriguing. Where I couldn’t follow was that questions I had were never answered. I needed to know why people were born this way and why after time the souls ‘settled’ leaving only one soul where two had been.I felt that the pacing was slow but not dull. We followed Addie and Eva through their normal life and the stresses of being different yet having to hide it from everyone, even those you love. Zhang did an excellent job giving each a voice that was uniquely theirs and desires and needs that varied. I was never confused whom I was following or what their motivation was. I found the dialog between the two very intriguing and overall it kept my interest.Near the middle, the pacing picked up yet slowed again for the last third. This section was too slow for my liking and I was eager for the story to wrap up and for some conclusion to be made. Zhang succeeded in creating an antagonist I disliked. She gave them all the bad but I never understood their motivations for what they were doing so I didn’t feel they were very well rounded.Though I wanted more world building I believe that many of my lingering questions will be addressed in the next book, Once We Were.

The Waking Dark

The Waking Dark - Robin Wasserman Right now I'm DNFing. This is actually too dark for me--when there is baby death I just can't handle it. The writing is well done, detailed and very graphic. The premise seems to be very interesting but I just can't read it right now. I'm not sure if I would like it if I continued.

More Than This

More Than This - Patrick Ness This review and others on my blog, My Friends Are FictionMy Thoughts:More Than This was the first book by Patrick Ness I have read though I’ve heard wonderful things about his writing and ability to tell a story. I wasn’t let down, he is a wonderful writer and More Than This was a very thought provoking and deep story.The story takes place with the main character, Seth, waking up after drowning in the violent ocean. He wakes up believing he has died and that he is now in his after-life, though it is nothing like what one might imagine hell, purgatory or heaven to be like. Seth wakes wrapped in bandages, completely alone and at a place that looks mysteriously like his home in England from his childhood. He is obviously in a state of confusion and seeking answers to where he is and what is happening (sort of had the feel of Maze Runner to me). We follow his journey and exploration of this deserted place trying to find the answers as he does. Not only is he haunted with loneliness and confusion, when he slept he experienced vivid flash backs to some of his most meaningful and painful life experiences.To be completely honest, I didn’t care for a large part of Seth’s back-story. It was very depressing and touched on a very sensitive topic to me (about one of my greatest fears concerning children). This subject matter made me uncomfortable and wasn’t what I wanted in my reading experience. I love for the books I read to have heart and they can be dark, but when they discuss issues that are only to real in our society (especially regarding a child–one about my own child’s age) I don’t particularly care for them.With that being said, I loved the mystery surrounding this world Seth woke in and the journey to figure out why. Ness also created characters full of depth that felt incredibly realistic and heart-felt. None of them felt like caricatures or in any way stereo-typical. Their interactions were heartfelt and gripping.Final Thoughts: I am giving this a high rating because though I was disturbed by some of it I couldn’t stop reading to find out where Seth was and why. I think that Ness did a very good job of keeping the reader’s interest and creating an intriguing, though often depressing story. I have no doubt about his writing ability and did enjoy the style very much. I hope to try another of his books at some point. I recommend this to anyone that is a fan of dark stories with a dash of hope, coming of age and Patrick Ness’ writing.

Thin Space

Thin Space - Jody Casella I loved this book...biggest surprise of 2013 for me. Full review soon.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea - This review and others on my blog My Friends Are FictionThe Story: I knew I had to read Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea immediately upon seeing the cover. I didn’t bother to look at the summary so went into reading with no idea what I was getting myself into. I have not read a lot from this genre so many of the gothic elements were refreshingly new to me. Tucholke infused the entire story with slow yet anxiety filled pacing, beautiful scenic descriptions and unforgettable characters. I was completely immersed into her story and setting- watching everything happen but unable to do anything as the story unfolded.The most accurate word to describe BtDatDBS is atmospheric. I loved the town of Echo and the creepy, old house, named Citizen Kane, that Violet and her twin brother Jack lived in. The seaside estate was such a major aspect of this story I loved that I had a very vivid and precise image of it as I read.The Characters:Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea introduced some very unique and complex characters. I really enjoyed reading from Violet’s perspective and especially enjoyed her memories of her grandmother Freddie. I felt every ounce of her loneliness and pain of being so isolated by her own family. Her nonchalance regarding life and apathy towards the people in her town, prior to River, felt very real. I understood her emptiness and empathized with her.Jack handled his sadness much differently but also very realistically. His outward façade was horribly unattractive to me but I always sensed that there was something deeper, at least I hoped there was. Violet’s neighbor and pseudo friend, Sunshine, wasn’t a character I connected to either but she had a real presence and was remarkably realistic. Her highly sexualized self image and boredom with her day to day life seemed very accurate for a small seaside town with not a lot going on.River was a perfect blend of mystery and unease. Violet’s uncontrollable urge to be near this stranger, though he most likely posed a threat to her and her town, was incredibly done. Though Violet was immediately drawn to River, her infatuation with his dark nature and newness was palpable.Final Thoughts:Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea stood out to me because of Tucholke’s eloquent, rich descriptions and atmospheric writing. I loved the slow as molasses pacing and the ominous feeling that something horrible was going to happen on the next page. I will be waiting, impatiently, for the next book.

Delia's Shadow

Delia's Shadow - Jaime Lee Moyer This and other reviews on my blog My Friends Are FictionActual rating 3.5The Story: Half crime drama and half paranormal Delia’s Shadow pulls from both genres melding them extremely well. Moyer successfully creates an eerie aura with enough anxiety to keep the reader’s interest. I adored the Victorian setting and felt that the book stuck well to the times and location it was representing.This was the first book I’ve read, in memory, that alternated between first person (Delia’s point of view) and third person (Gabe’s story). I felt that this created an awkward mix in the beginning, feeling like two books rather than one. As I continued to read I acclimated and didn’t feel pulled out of the story when the shift happened.My biggest issue with this novel was the lack of depth and detail put into the serial killer’s personality and character. I felt that when the big reveal finally happened it was a bit of a let down because there didn’t feel to me to be any major plot twists. Moyer had a few things twist and turn through-out the novel but none of them took my breath away.The Characters: I felt that Moyer did an exceptional job giving Delia a well rounded personality and showing the reader how life was for her being haunted and constantly at a ghost’s whim. I felt that the secondary characters were well done and felt very unique, Isadora being an easy favorite. There was a slight romantic aspect threaded through but was never the main focus of the story.Though the point of view shifts were awkward, I found I enjoyed seeing things from both Delia and Gabe’s eyes. I think that alternating did give me a better look into the overall story arc but wished the switch could have been smoother.Final Thoughts: Overall Delia’s Shadow was an intriguing read though it dragged in places and could have used more details about the serial killer to help give the reader a legitimate fear of him.

Not a Drop to Drink

Not a Drop to Drink - This and other reviews on my blog My Friends Are FictionThe Story: For this being targeted at young adults I was impressed with the gritty nature of Not a Drop to Drink. McGinnis doesn’t hold back in creating a world full of violence, desperation and the need to survive at any cost. The writing flowed smoothly and the descriptions were vivid enough to really transport the reader. Throughout my entire reading experience I felt gripped by anxiety and fully immersed in Lynn’s life and struggles.The prospect of a world deprived of our most needed necessity, water, was haunting and eerily possible. Isolation and survival in the face of misfortune were major themes yet as the story progressed the tone changed to encompass hope and love. I was blown away with how smooth the transition took place before my eyes; no aspect of this book felt choppy or unplanned. From the beginning to end I felt complete faith in McGinnis’ storytelling and her ability to complete Lynn’s journey.The Characters:Not a Drop to Drink was one of the most impressive character driven novels I have read. I can’t recall the last book that had as seamless growth of the main character as this book had. Lynn starts out completely influenced by her mother and her alone. Her world is totally reliant and shaped by her home, their lake and her mother’s rules. McGinnis shapes and molds Lynn to adapt to her situations and the people she encounters. Her character’s growth is fueled by her experiences and is incredibly realistic and expertly done.The secondary characters were not forgotten, McGinnis gave them all backstories and unique world views. I felt that I knew each of them and became attached fearing for their safety and outcome. I found it fascinating to think about how different personalities and situations would shape a person to handle a world so far removed, yet completely plausible, to our own.Final Thoughts:Not a Drop to Drink would be considered a dystopian or survival tale but this novel stands apart from the rest because of it’s incredible characters and unique atmosphere similar to an old western. This mix created something entirely new for me and absolutely addictive. I believe this is a stand-alone, which I am happy with, but I do want more from Mindy McGinnis’ mind.