Sunday, June 1, 2014

Books of Note: Spring Reads Part 1

While winter was such a busy time for me, I got so little time to read, I finally picked up the pace a little this Spring, and I have read, especially in the last couple months, so many really awesome books. So many that I have to split my review posts in two. Part 2 will be up soon, but here's some of my first favorite reads this Spring from March to now.

A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world. 

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end? 

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.'


Thoughts on the Overall Book: I adore good villain stories, and good revenge stories. This one had all the aweseomess of The Count of Monte Cristo but with an added flair of awesome super villains, who weren't your typical super villains. It was dark,vicious and definitely a page turner.

Cover--Yea or Nay: I love the cover, I think it gives a good feel for the book, and also is kind of reminiscent of a comic book style, kind of vintage and almost noir.

Characters: In part this is the kind of book you don't really read with the expectation of liking any of the characters, that being said, I really found I became rather attached to Victor. I liked his older self more than his younger self, but in either case, I think that for the most part, while he did have rather sociopathic tendencies (and that doesn't necessarily make one a villain) he really could have been a lot worse than he was. He only did bad things for the sake of finding and ending Eli. With the power he had, I think he had a lot of self control. I really felt rather bad for what happened to him, and really wanted to see him get his revenge.

Eli on the other hand, I thought was just scary and creepy. There is nothing worse than a villain who does bad things because he thinks he actually justified in them. And Eli thinks it's his duty and God-given right to hunt down the EOs and end them. His coolness made me shiver, and to be honest the kind of person he is, I think he needed a nemesis like Victor who is not afraid to use nefarious means to end someone.

I did really genuinely like Mitch and Sydney. I felt really sorry for Mitch and all he went though, I also loved the idea of a hacker who looks like a hitter ;) Sydney was cool, I liked how she was a strong, smart young girl, and her dog Dol was awesome too. Sarena I thought was really scary. With the kind of power she had, you have really got to watch yourself around her. Even if she really didn't have a lot of control over her power, I wasn't willing to sympathize with her. Anyone willing to allow someone to kill their little sister even if they believed it was merciful is not anyone I can like.

The Romance: There's not really any romance apart from what ever you would call the relationship between Eli and Sarena.

Writing Style: I love Victoria Scwab's writing style, though this one was written in third person past tense instead of first person present like her other books are. Seeing as she's one of the only people who can make present tense sound good, I was a little disappointed, but I think the voice really is best for this story with all the jumping around from time to time. And there is a lot of jumping around from the past to the present and between characters, but it really isn't hard to follow and it makes the story even more awesome, so that you only slowly get all the pieces of the puzzle. It makes you want to read another chapter and another and another. The suspense in this book was awesome and kept me up so late at night reading. I just didn't know what was going to happen next.

Accuracy/ Believability: Not really applicable when talking about a book involving super powers, but I loved how this one really went into it as a science. It was actually believable, the way the EOs (ExtraOrdinries) came to be. It wasn't your typical fall into a vat of radiation thing, and so for that reason alone, I appreciated it. It was a really cool and unique idea. The only thing I could mark about it was the fact that it seemed to happen to everyone who had a near death experience. Like there just seemed to be a lot of EOs around. But that's only a personal quibble. Nothing that even made me stop reading.

Problems/What bothered me: Apart from a little bit of strong language, I didn't have anything to complain about. This is the kind of book you just have to go with the flow.

Conclusion: 5 stars. Really loved it, one of the most unique books I have read in a long time. The ending was surprisingly satisfying, and while I don't think this book needs a sequel, I like that fact about it. I'm good with how it ended, and I really would rather keep it that way.

Recommended Audience: Girl or Guy read, older teens (18 and up) and adults. I know this is supposed to be an adult book, but I thought it read like a YA. There's really only some darker themes and violence to consider apart from the language that was even less than a lot of YA books has. It kind of comes down to whether this is your kind of read or not.

(Also read my friend Mara's review at The Reading Hedgehog)

Love, power, and magic collide with war in the second book of the Falling Kingdoms series

Auranos has fallen and the three kingdoms—Auranos, Limeros, and Paelsia—are now united as one country called Mytica. But still, magic beckons, and with it the chance to rule not just Mytica, but the world...

When the evil King Gaius announces that a road is to be built into the Forbidden Mountains, formally linking all of Mytica together, he sets off a chain of events that will forever change the face of this land, forcing Cleo the dethroned princess, Magnus the reluctant heir, Lucia the haunted sorceress, and Jonas the desperate rebel to take steps they never could have imagined.


Thoughts on the Overall Book: I'm really loving this series. The first book was great and exciting, and just what I love in a good high fantasy novel, but this one actually I thought was even better, and gave me some more insights into characters I wasn't entirely sure what to feel about in the last one.

Cover--Yea or Nay: I love the covers for this series. They are just gorgeous. It's the kind of cover that I would notice across a bookstore.

Characters: What I love about this series is that the characters are very dynamic. And I think the more you read about them, the more you see into their inner characters and how your first impressions might not be entirely correct. I still really liked Cleo, she's one of my favorite characters. She continues to be strong and not stupid. Her hands are tied, and she does all she can with the resources she has. I actually ended up liking Jonas more in this one for some reason. In the first book he seemed a little stiff, and I can understand that because of his quest for revenge, but in this one he seemed to have a little more character and I was able to relate to him better. I loved Brion just as much as I did in the first one. He's your typical best friend character. I was really afraid when I met Lysandra, because she started off seeming like a potentially super annoying female character and almost reminded me of Kate from series three of BBC's Robin Hood who I HATE with a passion, but she actually got a little better after a while. I don't think she'll ever be a favorite, but she's tolerable. In the first book, I wasn't really sure about how I felt about Magnus, I didn't really care for him, but in this one, I really began to like him a lot, and I think I will continue to do so as the series progresses, especially if his character curve goes the way I think it will. Lucia, honestly I don't know. I think I'm going to have to read the rest of the series to really say how I feel about her. I do feel sorry for her, but she's not really a character I sympathize with. I don't know, she's just kind of not really exciting to me, but I do appreciate where her character is going. King Giaus just gets more evil in this one. He makes a really awesome villain I think. he's just so cold and wicked and I love that in a fantasy villain. And I liked how Magnus is starting to see that he really doesn't like what he father does and that he doesn't want to end up like him. Aron was just as annoying as usual, he's just nasty, and I loved how Magnus hated him too.

The Romance: There wasn't a lot focusing on the romance in this story, but there is a lot of crushes and infatuations everywhere, that are kind of messy. Obviously you still have the Magnus/Lucia strain but only from his point of view. Lucia is now infatuated with one of the Watchers, Alexius which happened really fast. Then you have Brion who liked to flirt with Lysandra but she doesn't like him and develops feelings for Jonas. Jonas crushes on Cleo and she in turn crushes on him which was way too fast and just kind of pointless, even though I did see it coming eventually. Maybe it will even come back, I don't know. I'm also not sure whether I saw a Magnus/Cleo relationship in the future. It's possible, but I don't really care either way.

Writing Style: The writing style is really good, as it was in the first book. I like how everything is described in a non-messy easy to understand way that flows which sometimes is a luxury in fantasy. I like how we get to see the story from different characters points of view since this is just as much a character driven story as a plot driven story and it helps to get into each of their heads and get to know them better.

Accuracy/ Believability: Not really applicable.

Problems/What bothered me: There were a few things I have to address. First off, I really do appreciate an author who has the guts to kill of characters. I respect that, but this book seemed to have almost too many sudden deaths. Some were necessary, I grant, and properly shocking, some were just jarring and made me go, okay, what was the point of that? Like I see the people who had to die to further along showing King Giaus' evilness. But then there were others (view spoiler)

The only other thing I had to complain about was: what the heck was with the creepy prince guy and Nic? I have no fathomable understanding of where that scene is going to go.

Conclusion: 4 stars. I continue to enjoy this series and I am really looking forward to the next book. I liked the set up of this one and how we are beginning to see the future quest of finding the Kindred and the lost crystals and how Cleo's ring fits into it all. Can't wait to see where this series goes next!

Recommended Audience: If you liked the first one, definitely read this one. Anyone who enjoys classic high fantasy would appreciate this book. Girl or guy read 16 and up.

(You can read this review with spoilers on Goodreads)

(Also read my friend Mara's review on The Reading Hedgehog)

What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?

Jasper "Jazz" Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal's point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?


Thoughts on the Overall Book: This is one of those books I feel I shouldn't have liked as much as I did and yet, ironically, I think that's why I liked it so much. It takes a lot to make me feel uncomfortable when reading a book, but this one did that in spades. On top of that, I really loved the characters and actually cared about them a lot, so that's a plus plus!

Cover--Yea or Nay: Not necessarily a cover that jumps out at me, the title is what caught my eye originally. I love it, it's just the kind of title that would make me pick up a book. I can't believe it took me so long to get around to reading this one since I've wanted to for a long time. A little blood spatter is always good too ;)

Characters: Jazz was kind of hard for me to figure out. I liked him immediately, but I wasn't honestly sure why. In parts I felt really bad for him, and in other parts I was honestly afraid of him, but I loved that. And you do always know as a reader, that even though he might have some really (really) dark places he is still strong enough to push that away and the fact that he worries about what he might actually do is comforting as well. Would I actually like to meet him in real life? I don't know. Over all, I really did like Jazz. I also loved his girlfriend Connie. Can I just say that she might actually be the most awesome girlfriend a book hero has ever had? She was just the kind of girl he needed. She was supportive and kept him in his place without being condescending and having an attitude. She genuinely cares about him and where he goes in life, and is the kind of anchor a somewhat unstable person like Jazz needs. Likewise Howie was an awesome bestie. He was always a great friend, and I loved how Jazz treats him like a brother, and dear Jazz is afraid he doesn't care for anyone! And can I just say that Billy Dent is, like, seriously, one of the most creepy evil people I have ever read about? Oh my gosh, I just wanted to strangle him and set him on fire. *Shudder*. Again, it takes a lot to creep me out, and Billy Dent is the best creepiest baddie I have come across since Magnusson from Sherlock Season 3.

The Romance: As I already said, I love Jazz and Connie, but there's not really a lot of romance. A few kisses and stuff, moderately "graphic" but nothing more than that, and it wasn't annoying in any way.

Writing Style: This was essentially what made the book work. Barry Lyga is a master of this genre. It seriously frightened me how well he portrayed the psyche of a sociopathic serial killer. My word, my skin was crawling through most of this book. I don't even know what else to say about it, except that, author to author, I have to give Mr. Lyga a huge congratulations on pulling this off. I don't even want to know the kind of research he had to go through to write this book.

Accuracy/ Believability: Frighteningly accurate and believable in every aspect. From the psychological aspect of a serial killer to the forensics and police work.

Problems/What bothered me: This isn't really the kind of book you can have problems with because it is what it is, and frankly, that's one thing I liked so much about it. It's the kind of book that if you can't take it and you don't like it, then don't read it. I however, love a good dark story every once in a while, and this is definitely one of the darker books I have probably ever read.

As a warning to people who don't know what they're getting into though, I will say this: there's definitely a lot of gore, graphic descriptions of violence and from both cops and the nasty baddies, so there's some sick twisted stuff. There's also mentions of sexual violence but nothing is ever seen. Like I said, this book is brutally honest, it's written the way things actually are, and it's horrible, but stuff like that really happens.

Conclusion: 5 stars. As much as this book creeped me out and went a good way to even horrifying me at times, I loved it. And I'm totally going to read the rest, because hello mean cliff hanger at the end!

Recommended Audience: Good guy read, but girls with strong constitutions who don't mind this kind of book would enjoy too, of course. Recommended for people who enjoy dark fiction ages 18 and up.


  1. Lots of lovely spring reads!! :) I can't wait for the third FALLING KINGDOMS book! So excited!

    1. I know, me too! Yeah, I really have read a bunch of great books. Both new and ones that I just hadn't gotten to before. I'm hoping summer will be as good :)

    2. This year just seems like it's been better in terms of books - not just new releases, but what I pick up. Last year was awful. Or maybe I'm becoming immune to bad books? Hope not. ;)

  2. No, last year really was awful. Apart from the few series books I read, I really didn't find all that many super good new releases.