Monday, February 8, 2016

Early Review: Riders by Veronica Rossi

by Veronica Rossi
Read: January 27 - 30, 2016
February 16, 2016 by Tor Teen

Source: Borrowed from Katie @LibrarianKatie_ 
Category: YA, angels/demons, male narrator 
Series: Book 1/2 

Book Depository: For eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake, nothing but death can keep him from achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does.

Recovering from the accident that most definitely killed him, Gideon finds himself with strange new powers and a bizarre cuff he can't remove. His death has brought to life his real destiny. He has become War, one of the legendary four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Over the coming weeks, he and the other horsemen--Conquest, Famine, and Death--are brought together by a beautiful but frustratingly secretive girl to help save humanity from an ancient evil on the emergence.

They fail.

Now--bound, bloodied, and drugged--Gideon is interrogated by the authorities about his role in a battle that has become an international incident. If he stands any chance of saving his friends and the girl he's fallen for--not to mention all of humankind--he needs to convince the skeptical government officials the world is in imminent danger.

But will anyone believe him?

I've always been obsessed with books featuring horses, and the moment I saw the cover of Riders, I was desperate to read it. I really, really wanted to love this book, and was quite sad and surprised find myself struggling with the story at the beginning. In fact, I almost gave up, until someone recommended I give Riders at least 150 pages. That was a good suggestion, because it picked up big time around 100 pages, and I was very invested for the rest of it. However, despite my investment, the ending was rough again (I'll get to that), so I felt rather in the middle with this one. 

My major problem is that the story was told largely in flashback, and the lack of forward momentum in a book is hard for me. (highlight for spoiler) That coupled with the fact that the MC Gideon is tied up the entire time, and drugged to get him talking freely, was really tough for me. I don't like feeling trapped and powerless for that much of a story. Thankfully, as the middle got going and Gideon's storytelling got more fluid, with less stops back in the present, I was able to forget that it was all flashbacks for a while. 

This book has a whole angel/demon + elements from the Book of Revelation in the Bible set-up, which I thought was a creative take on a theme we've seen a lot of. I've never read a book focused on The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and I loved the way their group came together. It was exciting to find out who each of them would be - their personalities and abilities. The demons certainly were frightening, each with their own abilities. Though it was stressful to watch the characters encounter them over and over again, before they'd had much of any training.

The hardest part of this book for me was the first 100 pages, because it was slow to start and took a while to get to where the characters come together. Information about what was happening to them and why they had these powers was also slow to come (all the world building). And I greatly question why Daryn thought she had to keep all the secrets she did. Or at least I don't know if the benefits outweighed the consequences on everything. Although she is in much of the book, I don't know how I feel about her, so I am glad that the second installment will be from her perspective. It was very hard for me to sympathize with her choices sometimes. And I need more from her to really get into the romance.

This story is narrated by one of the Horsemen, Gideon and I liked Gideon's voice a lot (I think it was my favorite element), which largely saved this for me. He has such anger inside of him and I loved watching those layers peel back as we got to know him better. Gideon has the ability to make other people feel anger too, and as an already emotional reader anyway, who was frustrated by the beginning of this book, I'm pretty sure he worked his mind magic on me, because I felt amped up while reading. So for that, this book is definitely a success. 

My second favorite element was following Gideon and Daryn as they start looking for the other 3 Horsemen. That was a lot of fun, as was watching them learn about their powers, weapons and meet their horses. I loved the horses. 

The ending of this book brings a lot of high intensity and action. I was definitely on the edge of my seat through all of it, and picked up my reading pace a lot. I also get now why the story was told in flashbacks. But for me, the benefits from the flashback element did not outweigh my struggle with that method of storytelling. But that is a lot of 'it's me, not you' so take that into account. 

The book ends with a cliffhanger and that was really stressful for me. I've sort of made my peace with cliffies since they're everywhere now (and I told someone recently, I'd much rather deal with a cliffhanger than a love triangle!). However, I think because I struggled so much with the beginning as well as the general lack of forward momentum in this book, I really needed a more solid ending to this installment to feel really good about it. But the ending had several elements, that while surprising and intense, set my nerves on edge further and stressed me out even more. 

I definitely plan on reading the sequel - unless it's told in flashbacks again - but this one was mixed for me overall. Some really strong engaging parts, and some parts that frustrated me. I think that if you're able to handle the flashback set-up with no trouble, you're going to be fine with this one.

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger scale: Based on my scale, Medium. But emotionally for me, High.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Banished by Kimberley Griffiths Little

By Kimberley Griffiths Little
Read: November 28 - December 6, 2015
February 2, 2016 by Harpercollins
Source: Gail @ Ticket to Anywhere (THANK YOU!)
Category: YA, historical fiction,  
Series: Book 2 of 3

She thought she’d lost everything . . .

After spending months traveling the harsh, unforgiving Mesopotamian desert, Jayden reunites with a broken, injured Kadesh. Although everyone was convinced the violent and unpredictable Horeb, Jayden’s betrothed, killed the handsome prince, Jayden knew in her heart that her love was alive and safe. But their reunion is short-lived, as they learn Horeb is on their trail and determined to take back the girl he has claimed. Soon, the two star-crossed lovers are on the run toward Sariba, Kadesh’s homeland, where, as heir to the Kingdom, he plans to make Jayden his princess.

But the trek to Sariba is fraught with heartache and danger. After narrowly escaping being stoned to death for a crime she didn’t commit, and learning that her sister has disappeared, Jayden’s only solace is her love for Kadesh. But even he is keeping secrets from her . . . secrets that will change everything.

This gorgeous and enchanting sequel to Forbidden, is full of love, danger, and heated passion that will leave readers breathless.

Banished is the second book in the Forbidden trilogy. After a cliffhanger at the end of Forbidden, I was eager to get back to Jayden's world and find out what she was doing - and hopefully quickly reunite with Kadesh. Thankfully, the action starts up right away, and it isn't long before exciting things - and reunions are happening :). 

I'm always wary that second books in trilogies will catch the dreaded middle book syndrome. Thankfully, Banished manages to stay love triangle free, while also continuing to build Jayden and Kadesh's relationship. They are even together most of the book, which is contrary to most middle series books books without love triangles (usually it's love triangle or a huge separation). For succeeding to avoid both those elements, I give this book major bonus points. However, while Banished manages to avoid many second book traps, it also falls into some of them. 

First, the good - In Banished, Jayden continues to prove her strength and will as she travels across the sands to find Kadesh and then through a harsh journey with him to his homeland. This is a society where women do not often have a lot of power, but Jayden does not let that stop her when she is determined. I admire her a great deal in this book, especially as she stands firm and perseveres and is true to herself even when she's out of her depth in a new land and culture. The trip to Sariba and further look at this historical time period is another part of this story that I loved. This series continues to bring this ancient desert setting and culture to life in sensory detail. I especially enjoyed learning more about Kadesh's home, because I'd heard very little before about frankincense before. And it bears repeating that this book doesn't have any love triangles. YAY!

Then the not so good - Although this book has no love triangle, another boy named Asher is introduced, and his addition bugged me a lot through the first half of the story. Asher is assigned as Jayden's bodyguard and is present almost constantly. In name and action it least, he took the place of a pseudo second love interest, although it felt a too contrived to me. What I mean by pseudo love interest, is that Jayden and Asher were set up for a lot of one on one scenes, where they were put in situations you'd expect her to find Jayden in with a love interest, and it all felt a bit unnecessary. For example, Asher being assigned as Jayden's body guard and spending a lot of time with her, as well as (Highlight for SPOILERSAsher saving Jayden by physically shielding her with his body, putting them in very close proximity; Asher finding Jayden dancing alone and bathing alone in different scenes. Asher also falls for Jayden, though she is always clear that she doesn't reciprocate (thank goodness for that at least!) Jayden naively brushes all these moments off, but I wish she'd talked to Kadesh about it sooner. 

Second, I did not care for the fact that Kadesh kept some secrets about his life in Sariba from Jayden for as long as he did. Although I think he's a great love interest overall, that definitely affected how I saw him in this story. I thought his excuses for why he kept so much quiet, were pretty thin and I wanted to smack him for how Jayden was blindside by some information. But he does redeem himself well in the end. 

Overall Banished is a good follow up to Forbidden. It succeeds in avoiding a lot of middle book issues, but also adds several that I thought were unnecessary.
The story ends right at a very critical moment, and I'm eager to find out what happens in the conclusion.

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Medium/High.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Love That Split the World Blog Tour: Would You Rather
Featuring Author Emily Henry + Characters Natalie & Beau

Blog Tour Organized by Penguin Teen
See below for the full schedule

The Love that Split the World
by Emily Henry
Published: January 26, 2016 by Razorbil

Book Description: Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves. 

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start... until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

Check HERE for my thoughts on this beautifully written book. 

Would You Rather with 
Author Emily Henry & her characters Natalie and Beau

1) If everything that came out of your mouth for the rest of your life either had to be sung OR spoken in rhyme, which would you rather? 

Emily Henry – Sing. You don’t have to think about it as much. Plus I already sing about forty-percent of what I say in a Jean-Ralphio voice, so it’d be less of an adjustment.

Natalie – Rhyme; she’d rather think carefully about everything she said and be a little less embarrassed.

Beau – Rhyme. He’d probably just never speak again if he had to choose between those two things, but in an emergency, I bet he’d rhyme.

2) Would you rather never play OR play but always lose?

Emily – My natural inclination is that I’d never play--I’m really bad about making myself try new things or do things I’m bad at--but if I were actually making an intentional decision, I’d choose to play but always lose. I’d definitely regret never playing.

Natalie – Never play. Nat’s been known to shut down, and to quit entirely when she feels like something’s not going her way.

Beau – Play but always lose. Beau’s not goal oriented. I’m sure he’d hate losing, but the point for him is more the joy playing than the end result.

3) Would you rather live in a house made entirely of glass you couldn’t cover OR a house that had no windows at all.

Emily – In a perfect world, I live in an all glass house in a remote and beautiful forested mountain. In this world, I can imagine few things more depressing than a house with no windows or scarier than a house that’s entirely windows. How thick is the glass? Am I safe in this house of windows? If so, I choose that one. It’d be hard to write without windows.

Natalie – Similar reasoning as above. At this stage of life, she’d veer toward no windows, but when she’s older and more self assured, I think she’d go all glass.

Beau – BEAU, why are you so easy to please? He would do either of these, no problem. In a way, he’s private but I don’t think he’d feel intruded upon having the whole world see him at all times, because he would just ignore them. But I also don’t think he’d find it morbidly depressing to live in a house with no windows. In fact, his bedroom has no windows, so I really don’t know. Glass, probably.

4) Would you rather give out bad advice OR receive bad advice?

Emily – Receive bad advice. Let’s be real, who actually takes advice? Just kidding, that’s terrible! I hope a lot of people do, BUT I think a lot of times when we’re asking for advice, we’re really just looking for a) confirmation that we’re right about how to handle something or b) for someone to tell us we don’t have to do a hard thing we’re pretty sure we need to do. And I think bad advice, a lot of times, is just how someone else would handle something, but not necessarily what’s best for you, and I like to think you can feel the difference, so getting bad advice every once in awhile shouldn’t be a huge deal.

Natalie – Receive bad advice. She’s going to do what she wants to do anyway, and she doesn’t want to be responsible for someone else’s happiness. Plus it’s so important to her to figure things out on her own and I suspect she’d rather do something wrong on her own than right by following someone else’s lead. Plus she just really trusts her intuition, so it’s not uncommon for her to do things that really surprise other people or make no sense to them.

Beau – Receive bad advice. I don’t think Beau asks for advice, though, and few people would think to ask him for advice, although he’s actually got some good stuff to say.

5) Would you rather always have to say everything on your mind OR never speak again?

Emily – UGHHHAAAHHHHHH. My heart and brain tore in half just now. I would be so terrified to have to always speak my mind. I can’t imagine any relationship surviving that because sometimes our brains are just jerks! Selfish jerks, who want to blame other people for their own grumpiness. I can’t imagine if I actually said it aloud every time I convinced myself I do all the dishes (I absolutely don’t; I’m actually 97% sure my husband does most of the dishes, but sometimes you’re just feeling like a BRAT, and no one should have to be subjected to that!). Then again, it’s way harder to build relationships if you can’t speak. Does writing things down count as speaking in this scenario? Okay, fine, I choose “always speaking my mind,” but then sequestering myself so I’m only among people who already know and love me, and will forgive me when I’m terrible.

Natalie – Have to say everything on your mind. I’m not saying she’d be thrilled about it, but she would feel so trapped by not being able to speak her mind.

Beau – Never speak again. He’s like, totally cool with this. He could pretty much live in the wilderness and be okay.

6) Would you rather wear the same outfit every day for the rest of your life OR eat the same meal?

Emily – THIS IS SO HARD. UGHHH. I have to go with same outfit, which is pretty crazy because I love clothes, but I already tend to get obsessed with one food and eat it until I absolutely hate it, so life would be more sad/nauseating if I had to eat the same meal everyday, whereas life in one outfit would just force me to focus my creativity and identity elsewhere.

Natalie – At this stage of life, she’s really concerned with discovering and codifying her identity, so I think she’d go with “same food,”  but of the three of us, she’s definitely the most conflicted on this one.

Beau – I kind of doubt either of these options sound bad to Beau. He’s not far off from either of these lifestyles, but he’d probably choose wearing the same outfit everyday.

This post made me love Emily and her characters even more! If you haven't met Natalie and Beau for yourself, don't miss their story. 


About the Author

Emily Henry is full-time writer, proofreader, and donut connoisseur. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the New York Center for Art & Media Studies, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it. She tweets @EmilyHenryWrite.

Find Emily: @EmilyHenryWrite | Goodreads


Tour Schedule

The Young Folks
1/18 - Interview
Reading Teen
1/19 - Guest post 1
It Starts at Midnight
1/20 - Top 10 list
The Hollow Cupboards
1/21 - Book soundtrack
Owl Always Be Reading
1/22 - Review & giveaway
Fiction Fare
1/25 - Guest post 2
1/26 - Interview
The Hardcover Lover
1/27 - 25 Random Things About Me
Effortlessly Reading
1/28 - Interview
A Midsummer Night's Read
1/29 - Review & giveaway
The Forest of Words and Pages
2/1 – Character playlist
Love is not a triangle
2/2 - Would You Rather?
The Book Addict's Guide
2/3 - Character playlist 2
Once Upon a Twilight
2/4 - Dreamcasting post
2/5 - Review & giveaway
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...