The Merciless by Danielle Vega

 Title: The Merciless

Author: Danielle Vega

Published: June 12th, 2014

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Goodreads 

Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.

Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.

Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .

In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?

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Indelible by Dawn Metcalf

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Title: Indelible

Author: Dawn Metcalf

Published: June 30th, 2013

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Goodreads

Some things are permanent.

Indelible.

And they cannot be changed back.

Joy Malone learns this the night she sees a stranger with all-black eyes across a crowded room—right before the mystery boy tries to cut out her eye. Instead, the wound accidentally marks her as property of Indelible Ink, and this dangerous mistake thrusts Joy into an incomprehensible world—a world of monsters at the window, glowing girls on the doorstep, and a life that will never be the same.

Now, Joy must pretend to be Ink’s chosen one—his helper, his love, his something for the foreseeable future…and failure to be convincing means a painful death for them both. Swept into a world of monsters, illusion, immortal honor and revenge, Joy discovers that sometimes, there are no mistakes.

Somewhere between reality and myth lies…

THE TWIXT

Review

This book was originally on my ‘must-read’ list but I’m afraid it just fell a little short to me.

It’s incredibly hard to love a book if you don’t like its main character. Joy was immensely hard for me to like, I struggled to see where she was coming from time and time again. But her reliance on others and tendency to over react just got on my nerves. However I liked her “best friend,” Monica, even less. What kind of friend best or otherwise abandons you right after you’ve experienced a traumatic event? I hope none of my friends ever do that to me, I cant even begin to express how unfriendly I would feel towards them. It would be exceptable, I suppose, if they had a good reason for doing so. Let me just say that Monica had just about the worst reason ever, and Joy just brushed it off, like nothing was wrong.

Ink and Inq were the only reason I ended up enjoying reading this book. Their unique perspectives were intruiging. I especially liked Ink because he saw everything involving humans through fresh eyes. Unfortunetly his lack of experience with humans was probably what drove him to be interested in Joy who I imagine he would have been much better without. Inq I liked a little less than Ink because of some of her immensely strange behaviors that I didn’t particularly agree with. Overall I really enjoyed their opinions and ways of seeing things, but most of the other characters, including Ink and Inq at times, just plain got on my nerves.

The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

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Title: The Orphan Queen

Author: Jodi Meadows

Published: March 10, 2015

Rating: 5/5 stars (subject to change with full reading)

 Goodreads:

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.
She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

Review:

Although I may not have been aware that this was going to be an excerpt when I started it, I still ferociously enjoyed reading the twelve chapters offered. Wilhelmina was a perfect heroine for this story. Unlike so many before her, she has set her first priority to reclaiming her country instead of focusing on a boy. This is something I truly appreciate because although I enjoy reading romance, it sometimes has a bit too strong of a place in books defined firstly as fantasy. In “The Orphan Queen” everyone does a really good jog of remembering what their fighting for, and they have a tight knit group that helps to remin anyone who loses track. Among this group is Melanie, a particularly interesting character. Wil’s bestfriend, Melanie is either one of my favorites of the characters or the one I will end up liking the least. She’s very mysterious, kind and protective to Wil and the other orphans. So she comes off a bit like a mama bear at times, but it doesn’t seem like she’s entirely trustworthy at the point in the story at which my sample ended. (which of course just makes me more anxious to read the entire thing) The Black Knife is just the icing on the cake, but I won’t give away the little bit that I know about him. It’s more enjoyable to find that out for your self.

*A review copy of the first twelve chapters was provided on Edelweiss by Katherine Tegen Books.*

Scorched by Mari Mancusi

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Title: Scorched

Author: Mari Mancusi

Published: September 3rd, 2013

Rating: 3/5 stars

Goodreads:

Trinity
Don’t leave me here… It starts with a whisper. At first Trinity thinks she’s going crazy. It wouldn’t be a big surprise—her grandpa firmly believes there’s a genuine dragon egg in their dusty little West Texas town. But this voice is real, and it’s begging for her protection. Even if no one else can hear it…

Connor
He’s come from a future scorched by dragonfire. His mission: Find the girl. Destroy the egg. Save the world.

Caleb
He’s everything his twin brother Connor hates: cocky, undisciplined, and obsessed with saving dragons.

Trinity has no idea which brother to believe. All she has to go by is the voice in her head—a dragon that won’t be tamed.

Review:

With a crazy grandpa obsessed with mythical creatures and a crumbling Museum business, Trinity Foxx has a lot going on. Things only worsen when he brings a beautiful egg he believes belongs to the last of the dragons home. This leaves the two of them with next to no money and Trinity with quite a bit of anger.

This book just barely missed being four star worthy. A number of its aspects got on my nerves.

– Trinity Foxx – The name Trinity gets on my nerves enough by itself, but Trinity Foxx sounds like some preppy girl who thinks she’s above everyone else. Her character was also a bit too dependent on others for my liking. Even though she kept the museum business alive and helped her grandpa with his financial problems she still let herself rely on Connor and Caleb throughout the majority of the novel. For someone depicted as so strong she should have been more willing to make her own decisions.

– The dialogue – These characters are supposed to me in their late teens and they go around thinking and saying things like “I’m the good guy,” he wanted to add. “The one they sent to save your world” and “There were men,” she said at last. “They barged into my house. I freaked out and ran here to hide before calling 911. I think one of them might still be in the house.” The dialogue also indicates that the author is a beginner and not the best author in the over use of “said bookisms.” There were way too many she demanded, he muttered, she hissed, and she joke type dialogue tags as opposed to just saying she/he said, a technique that would have made the book seem more professional. Instead it seems like the author thought the “said bookisms” were necessary and in turn it made the book less interesting, and the characters sounded even younger than they would have with just the more simple dialogue.

Despite its many faults Scorched had a number of characteristics that made up for it’s faults. The number one thing that made me like it was the dragons. I’m pretty much incapable of resisting dragons and these ones were cute (especially Trin’s dragon who we saw most of) and I enjoyed their playful mannerisms. Also Fred the female dragon amused me to no end.

Caleb and Connor also had me constantly entertained. Unlike Trinity they kept me guessing for the majority of the book – with Trin it was more of a fifty/fifty chance she’d follow what either one said – they interacted with the world with much more intuition than Trinity seemed capable of.

Between the dragons and the twins I mildly enjoyed this book. Though it was much too simple for my liking as I was hoping it would do better to mentally engage me in the story. But oh well. If you are in fact looking for a quick easy read with dragons and romance then you will more than likely enjoy this book.

Visit the Mari Mancusi on twitter @marimancusi or at her website here.

The Artful by Wilbert Stanton

22019704 Title: The Artful

 Author: Wilbert Stanton

 Published: May 26, 2014

 Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

Goodreads:

New York City, 2025: Everything is changed. The city that never sleeps is now a land of death and decay. A rampant virus has taken over and the survivors have become carriers, quarantined from the rest of the world.

Twist and Dodger grew up in the streets, the sewers and underground tunnels – their playground. They aren’t heroes. They just like attention; and stealing meds from the rich and giving them to the poor is their golden ticket.

On their latest raid, they unknowingly steal a cure that puts them square between the ailing Emperor of Manhattan and the war hungry Governor of Brooklyn and forces them on a quest into the darkest shadows of their putrefying world.

Review:

*Thanks to the publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, for the free review copy via Netgalley.*

Possible Spoilers of a Minor Nature

The Artful by Wilbert Stanton has become one of my favorite books of the year so far. It features as it’s main characters Twist and Dodger, two thieves who call themselves the ‘Gutter Punks’ and act like a post-apocalyptic version of Robin Hood. They take medicine from the privileged Tower Babies and give it to the poor, who are forced to live on the streets. Its set in Manhattan and Brooklyn in 2025, anyone who is still around is unable to tolerate the sun’s rays and burn much to easily without shelter and protection. The story picks up when the two boys rescue a girl named Gia and Dodger is injected with a lethal virus only their enemies have the cure to. They’ll have mere days to take back something their other friend stole before Dodger dies a painful death.

Twist was by far my favorite character. Unlike so many scores of YA main characters, he not only saw his flaws but also embraced them. He didn’t whine and moan about his imperfections and he didn’t over or under look them to any extreme. They were simply there and a fact of life.

He also really grew as a main character. In the beginning he resented the fact that everyone thought he was Dodger’s shadow, but it was sort of true, by the end he realized his own strength. He neither needed or wanted Dodger’s assistance because he had become his own person, Dodger’s illness really forced him to see his potential as it was.

One of the things I love about YA books with male main characters is the lack of drama. In particular girl type drama, evil in the clever disguise of words when it’s overused, so I also appreciated how there were no real frivolous type problems in the book. All of the issues the main characters faced were realistic and understandable. It was a lovable novel about the true pains of survival in a futuristic world that has been destroyed through something realistic. But some things still got on my nerves. Whenever Dodger and Twist were separated, Dodger would tell Twist what happened to him while he was gone. That doesn’t seem like a bad thing, but everything Dodger said during those times was a big block of text that told what happened just about word for word with no details omitted. Too many words were used at these times and it happened all at once, leaving the reader with no question as to what happened to Dodger during those times. It got to be quite annoying. Not to mention the whole mystery surrounding why Dodger was sick was too easily fixed, even though the characters had trouble reaching a conclusion it all seemed a bit too simplified by the end.

Although not everything about the book pleased me, The Artful was a pretty enjoyable read which I would recommend to dystopian lovers. In particular those who enjoyed Andrew Smith’s The Marbury Lens, some aspects of it really reminded me of that.