Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Shorter Review Roundup

Twist by Karen Akins

Series: Loop #2
Genre: YA dystopia/time travel
Pages: 336
Publication Date: March 31st, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Goodreads Description (contains spoilers of book one): 
The unbelievably thrilling sequel to the time-travel YA novel Loop.

Bree Bennis finally has it all—a non-comatose mother, an uber-hot (albeit anachronistic) boyfriend named Finn, and a newfound mission to protect the timeline from those who would skew it for their own gain. But when she leans over one day to smooch said boyfriend, her lips meet those of her arch-nemesis Wyck instead. The timeline has been altered, and Bree is caught in the crosshairs. But when she goes back to repair the damage, she is stopped by none other than her Future Self, who delivers an urgent message: Someone is kidnapping Shifters from the distant past. It’s up to Bree to stop them. But first, she has to figure out who…and why.

To follow the trail of chronocrumbs, Bree reluctantly accepts her new undercover gig as Wyck’s girlfriend. Everything goes spiffy until Finn shows up in the 23rd century on the eager arm of a gorgeous fellow Shifter. Blark. Even as Bree struggles with jealousy, she battles the nagging dread that Finn might be better off with someone less chronologically complicated. Her worst fear is confirmed when Finn becomes the kidnapper’s next victim. As Bree zeroes in on the culprit, they unravel her life one timeline-change at a time. She realizes that she alone has the power to save herself and everyone she loves. But to do that, she may lose Finn forever. 
Source: I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I was a little disappointed in Twist, but it wasn't a bad sequel. Twist didn't have that special, fun feel to it that Loop had. I loved that book! Finn wasn't as present in the sequel, which was probably a big reason why I didn't get as into reading this book. It felt like there was something missing to the story when Finn wasn't there. 

The parts that made me still like reading Twist were things I liked about the series as a whole: Finn and Bree's chemistry and and the twistiness of the time travel. However, I didn't like the time travel as much as in the first book. I was impressed with how complicated everything became. I was also confused. Keeping everything straight was hard! It twisted with my mind, which was sometimes not a great thing. Things were easier to keep track of in Loop. As for the the end of the book . . . I don't know. I liked what happened, but I was pretty disconnected by the time I got to the climax and conclusion. I was ready to be done reading by then. Also, there were a lot of names from Loop that I just could NOT remember, which was part of why I was so confused. That's my fault, not Twist's, though.

Overall, Twist was a bit of a letdown for me because I couldn't get into it nearly as much as I got into book one. It wasn't as fun. It didn't have as much of Finn, which just made me less interested in what was going on. This series is great, but more of the greatness was contained in its first half.

2015 challenges this book counts towards:
105 Challenge
Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge

Tangled Webs by Lee Bross

Genre: YA historical fiction
Pages: 304
Publication Date: June 23rd, 2015
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Goodreads Description: 
London, 1725. Everybody has a secret. Lady A will keep yours—for a price. This sumptuous, scandalous YA novel is wickedly addictive.

Lady A is the most notorious blackmailer in the city. With just a mask and a gown to disguise her, she sweeps into lavish balls and exclusive events collecting the most valuable currency in 1725 London—secrets.

But leading a double life isn't easy. By day Lady A is just a sixteen-year-old girl named Arista who lives in fear of her abusive master, Bones, and passes herself off as a boy to move safely through the squalor of London's slums. When Bones attempts to dispose of his pawn forever, Arista is rescued by the last person she expects: Jonathan Wild, an infamous thief who moves seamlessly between the city's criminal underworld and its most elite circles. Arista partners with Wild on her own terms in the hopes of saving enough money to buy passage out of London.

Everything changes when she meets Grae Sinclair, the son of a wealthy merchant. Grae has traveled the world, seen the exotic lands Arista has longed to escape to her whole life, and he loves Arista for who she is—not for what she can do for him. Being with Grae gives something Arista something precious that she swore off long ago: hope. He has promised to help Arista escape the life of crime that has claimed her since she was a child. But can you ever truly escape the past?
Source:  Thank you to Nori for lending an ARC of this book to me!

Ehhh. That sums up how I feel about Tangled Webs. I don't have much to say about it because not much stood out to me. My biggest issue with the book was Lady A. She didn't seem developed enough. She was supposedly the "most notorious blackmailer" (according to the description)--which sounds awesome--but she . . . didn't do much. There was not much to her. I also don't quite grasp her role in the dealings. I guess I was just expecting it to be more interesting. Arista, on the other had, felt more fleshed out as herself. I still didn't love her character, but that side of her was better than the Lady A one. The romance was a bit of an issue for me, too. It was definitely there and I liked the hints of it in the beginning. There was an insta-love-y feel to it later on, which is where I started disliking it. It did go with the book, though. The book had that sweeping romance vibe. I tend to dislike books when they feel like that, so looking back, I'm not surprised the romance turned south for me.

Overall, Tangled Webs wasn't bad. It was just not impressive to me. It was also not for me. Historical fiction can be a hit or miss for me. Since this one didn't have much that stood out to me, it was a miss.
2015 challenges this book counts towards:
2015 Debut Author Challenge

Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly

Genre: YA paranormal
Pages: 208
Publication Date: May 5th, 2015
Publisher: Tor Teen
Goodreads description:
The only thing worse than being a witch is living with one.

Camellia’s adopted mother wants Cam to grow up to be just like her. Problem is, Mom’s a seriously wicked witch.

Cam’s used to stopping the witch’s crazy schemes for world domination. But when the witch summons a demon, he gets loose—and into Devon, the cute new boy at school.

Now Cam’s suddenly got bigger problems than passing Algebra. Her friends are getting zombiefied. Their dragon is tired of hiding in the RV garage. For being a shy boy-band boy, Devon is sure kissing a bunch of girls. And a phoenix hidden in the school is going to explode on the night of the Halloween Dance.

To stop the demon before he destroys Devon’s soul, Cam might have to try a spell of her own. But if she’s willing to work spells like the witch...will that mean she’s wicked too?
Source: I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Seriously Wicked was a fun, odd book. The story was pretty light. The heroine tried to stop a witch from taking over the city and prevent a cute guy from becoming corrupted by the demon inside him, all the while trying to decipher a spell and figure out Algebra. While I wasn't that impressed with this story--it didn't stand out--there were some decent parts. I liked how Cam had to balance so many things. I liked her bit of character growth. The magical components were also nice. There was a female dragon that was nearly invisible. There was a cute werewolf pup. Unicorns were not what we usually think of them as. Some pixies showed up too. Besides the magic, I liked the teensy bit of romance that popped up.

There were quite a few twists, but the scenes in the climax were slightly confusing. A lot was happening, but I didn't completely follow it. (Part of this may have had to do with my e-arc, though. The formatting was wonky on my Kindle screen.) I don't have much to say on the characters. They didn't stand out much. They didn't feel special. (Sarmine did come close since she was such an oddball. She entertained me.)

Overall, Seriously Wicked turned out to be easily forgettable. It was fun at the time that I read it, but the book didn't leave the impression of being great. If you're looking for a cute, quick paranormal read, then this may be for you. If you want a little MORE out of a fun story, I'm not sure if this is for you.

2015 challenges this book counts towards:
105 Challenge
Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge

Out of the Dragon's Mouth by Joyce Burns Zeiss

Genre: YA historical fiction
Pages: 264
Publication Date: March 8th, 2015
Publisher: Flux
Goodreads Description: 
An authentic portrayal of life in a refugee camp

After the fall of South Vietnam, fourteen-year-old Mai, a young Vietnamese girl of Chinese descent, is torn from a life of privilege and protection and forced to flee in the hold of a fishing trawler across the South China Sea. Mai finds tenuous safety in a refugee camp on an island off the coast of Malaysia, where she is taken in by Small Auntie, a greedy relative who demands payment for her hospitality. With her father's words, "You must survive," echoing in her ears, Mai endures the hardships of the camp, tempered only by dreams of being sponsored by her uncle in Philadelphia for entry into America.

When an accident forces Mai to flee from the safety of her temporary family, she meets a half-American boy named Kien who might be the only person who can keep her alive until she's sent to the US. 
Source: I received an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Quickly after starting this one, I knew it wasn't for me. My writing didn't work for me. It made the story tough for me to follow, which then made me very disconnected from what was going on. With this type of read, connection is key for me. Unfortunately, I was just not feeling it. It's going into the DNF pile.

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