Book Review: Death Sworn (Death Sworn #1) by Leah Cypess

Book Review: Death Sworn (Death Sworn #1) by Leah CypessDeath Sworn by Leah Cypess
Series: Death Sworn #1
Published by Greenwillow Books on March 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
1 Stars
When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.

Book Review:

Dear DEATH SWORN,

I wanted to love you. I really did. You have some of my favorite things, including assassins and mages. But when it took me a couple of tries to read the first chapter, and then sheer determination to keep reading the rest of you, I knew we weren’t going to work out.

DEATH SWORN, when it comes down to it, you were, well, boring.

I can’t remember very much about you, and it’s only been a few days since I finally finished you. I feel like you are set up for the rest of the series, but you didn’t even accomplish much set up. For example, I don’t know very much about the world Ileni lives in. I needed to know more about that world to understand why the assassins operate. Just telling me that the guys in power are evil isn’t good enough. I need good worldbuilding in my fantasy reading, and basically all I know is the assassins live in a gigantic cave system.

Ileni losing her powers was a neat twist. I’ll give you that. I also liked your magic system, DEATH SWORN, because it sounds like the magic took a lot of focus and study, not just snap your fingers or shake a wand.

But when Ileni started having feelings for Sorin, I lost any liking I had for her. I don’t really know why either of them liked each other. Sorin is an assassin who survived his first mission and is waiting eagerly for another chance to prove himself. He believes in the assassins’ purpose, where Ileni thinks killing for any reason is super bad. I could have understood a friendship, because they did seem to be heading that way, but kissing and looooove? Sorry DEATH SWORN, but I’m critical of relationships, and I didn’t get this one.

DEATH SWORN, you just didn’t live up to your potential. You didn’t grab my attention or captivate me enough for me to want to continue your series.

Socialize with the author:

Leah Cypess:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: The Herald (The Sundering #6) by Ed Greenwood

Book Review: The Herald (The Sundering #6) by Ed GreenwoodThe Herald by Ed Greenwood
Series: Forgotten Realms, The Sundering
Published by Wizards of the Coast on June 3, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
1 Stars
In the 6th and final book of the multi-author Sundering series launched by New York Times best-selling author R.A. Salvatore, Ed Greenwood, the creator of the Forgotten Realms®, further chronicles the exploits of Elminster as he fights for the future of Faerûn.

Chaos grips Faerûn as vainglory, prophecy, and ancient forces comingle in the shadows cast by war. Agents of the Shadovar lurk in the corners of Candlekeep in search of the arcane secrets that will power their war machine toward Myth Drannor. Gods and their Chosen run amok, all in a gambit to seize power. And a threat foretold by an ancient seer stirs.

At the heart of it all, Mystra, the great Goddess of Magic, has withdrawn from the world. Without her protection, Elminster, her greatest champion, fears for the nascent Weave, the fabric of magic Mystra wields to bind Faerûn. Will the Nightseer Shar, mistress of the great and fearsome Shadovar, seize the opportunity to blanket the world with her Shadow Weave?

With the help of Storm Silverhand and his protégé Amarune, Elminster works frantically to strengthen the Weave’s tethers and forestall what seems an inevitable reckoning. But other interests machinate for their own sinister ends.

As the Sundering draws nigh, Elminster and his heroic cohort must see the signs for what they are. The choice of worlds lies in the balance.

Book Review:

THE HERALD is the sixth and final book in The Sundering series. The books are very loosely connected, and follow heroes and Chosen as they navigate the effects of the Sundering upon their lives. I’ve enjoyed most of the books in the series, but unfortunately, THE HERALD just didn’t work for me as well as previous books did.

THE HERALD assumes familiarity with Ed Greenwood’s other novels in the Realms. This is the first time I’ve read one of his books, so I didn’t know who most of the characters were. Yes, I know there’s a lot of books about Elminster, and I’d heard of him. But I didn’t know many of the others that pop up in this book, including Mirt, Manshoon, and the Srinshee. I wish more background had been provided on all the characters, because I had to resort to Googling the ones I named and others to find out who they were and why they were important.

The writing was somewhat difficult to get through. There was a lot of point of view switching — first Elminster, then Amarune, then a random Shade, then Elminster again, etc. I wish the narration had been more consistent, sticking with the same character whenever possible. The switches were also difficult to keep track of because the author constantly referred to characters without calling them by name. For example, Elminster was El, then the Old Mage, then the wizard, etc. Add in nicknames, and it was hard to remember who was who.

Lastly, I feel like things just didn’t come together. The Shadovar were trying to destroy the Weave at Shar’s direction, Elminster was trying to save it, but then there was a lich and other stuff … I’m just not sure all of what happened, to be honest. I had to force myself to keep reading, and I did because I wanted to know how the series would end, but it was a hard read. I wish there had been more about the Sundering, and an ending that didn’t leave me scratching my head wondering what the outcome was.

– leeanna

Book Review: The Sentinel (The Sundering #5) by Troy Denning

Book Review: The Sentinel (The Sundering #5) by Troy DenningThe Sentinel by Troy Denning
Series: Forgotten Realms, The Sundering
Published by Wizards of the Coast on April 1, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
1 Stars
In the fifth book of the multi-author Sundering series, New York Times best-selling author Troy Denning sends an embittered paladin, Kleef Kenric, on a quest to stop evil forces from taking advantage of the chaos rolling across the land of Faerûn and claiming dominion over the entirety of the Realms.

Stubbornly clinging to his family’s worship of a long-forgotten god, Kleef Kenric soon discovers that his god has blessed him with divine gifts, making him one of a new group of Chosen cropping up around the Realms. This divine gift makes him an excellent ally—and a target for those who wish corral his powers.

After battling his way out Marsember, a city besieged on all sides in the wake of the Sundering, he becomes swept up in the mission of a group of odd allies—a warrior noblewoman, an accomplished thief, and a mysterious short pudgy man exuding a faint odor of decay. With the forces of Shade tracking their every step, they travel to the Underdark to thwart the rise of the goddess of Death, but before long Kleef learns that his allies hide dangerous secrets—secrets that could destroy not only Kleef but the very fabric of the Forgotten Realms.

Book Review:

I’ve enjoyed the first four books of The Sundering series: THE COMPANIONS (R.A. Salvatore), THE GODBORN (Paul S. Kemp), THE ADVERSARY (Erin M. Evans), and THE REAVER (Richard Lee Byers). But number five, THE SENTINEL, just didn’t have the same shine for me as the previous books.

Kleef, a topsword in the Marsember Watch in Cormyr, rescues Joelle and Malik from the Shadovar. Joelle and Malik are Chosen, on a mission to save Toril from Shar by using the Eye of Gruumsh. Along with Arietta, a noble of Cormyr, they fight across Faerûn, on the run from the Shadovar and legions of orcs. Along the way, attempts to trust each other are stalled by back stabbing, and no one is sure of anyone’s true intentions.

I’m having a hard time reviewing THE SENTINEL because it’s hard to say much about it. It seemed like I was reading a D&D game put into book format rather than a book about the Sundering. I didn’t come to care about any of the characters, the action scenes were snooze fests, and the story as a whole? I’m not sure what I read, to be honest. The ending left me confused, and I wish I’d given up on this book when it took me four tries to start it.

– leeanna

Book Review: Bracelet of Bones (Viking Sagas #1) by Kevin Crossley-Holland

Book Review: Bracelet of Bones (Viking Sagas #1) by Kevin Crossley-HollandBracelet of Bones by Kevin Crossley-Holland
Series: Viking Sagas #1
Published by Quercus Books on March 11, 2014
Genres: Adventure, Historical Fiction, Middle Grade
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
1 Stars
It is 1036. Halfdan is a Viking mercenary who is determined to travel to Constantinople and become one of the Viking Guard serving Empress Zoe. He promises to take his daughter, but one morning Solveig wakes up to find him gone. Setting off in her own tiny boat, she is determined to make the journey from Norway to the breathtaking city. Her boat is washed up, but Solveig is undeterred. What awaits Solveig as she continues on her summer journey across the world? She finds passage with Viking traders, witnesses the immolation of a young slave girl and learns to fight. She sees the clashes between those who praise her Norse Gods and the new Christians. In this perilous and exciting world, a young girl alone could be quickly endangered or made a slave. Will Solveig live to see her father again, and if she survives, will she remain free? A glittering novel that explores friendship and betrayal, the father-daughter relationship, the clash of religions and the journey from childhood to adulthood.

Book Review:

From the summary, BRACELET OF BONES sounds awesome. After being left behind by her father, fourteen-year-old Solveig travels from Norway to Miklagard (Constantinople) by herself. For a girl who has never gone to the local market by herself, the prospect of such a journey is overwhelming, but Solveig loves her father and wants to be with him.

The author takes something that should be super exciting — Solveig’s journey — and makes it super boring. BRACELET OF BONES is for grades 5 and up, but I can’t see younger readers sticking with this book because there’s just not a lot happening! My younger self might have finished it, but that’s only because I’ve always had a thing about finishing books.

This book is the start of a series, which wasn’t something I realized until I finished it and saw the preview for book two. So BRACELET OF BONES is the story of Solveig’s journey from Norway to Miklagard, and only that journey. It’s somewhat repetitive, and I just feel like nothing happened. Solveig took a boat ride. Solveig took another boat ride. Solveig took a third boat ride.

I think some of my apathy for the book was due to the writing style and Solveig herself. The writing is pretty simple, which is okay because it’s a middle grade book and aimed towards younger readers. But I lost count of the “Solveig thought this” or “Solveig thought that” type of sentences, or the times she exclaimed or whispered or cried … she never just said anything. Call me overly picky, but that sort of writing pulls me out of a story. And Solveig … I never connected with her. I felt like I was watching the events of the book rather than being with her on her journey.

I wanted to like BRACELET OF BONES. I mean, Vikings? A Viking girl going on a grand adventure? That should be right up my alley. Unfortunately, this book just wasn’t for me.

Socialize with the author:

Kevin Crossley-Holland:
Website

– leeanna

Book Review: Branded (Sinners #1) by Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki

Book Review: Branded (Sinners #1) by Abi Ketner & Missy KalicickiBranded by Abi Ketner, Missy Kalicicki
Series: Sinners #1
Published by Self-Published on June 28, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 252
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
1 Stars
Fifty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best.

Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home.

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain.

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me.

I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter.

My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.

Book Review:

BRANDED has an interesting premise, but poor execution. I was excited to start it, but once I got a few chapters into the book, I had to make myself keep reading. I was hoping the book would pick up near the end, but overall, it just didn’t work for me.

In Lexi’s world, people can be accused of one of the seven deadly sins. Just the accusation is enough — there are no trials or chances to proclaim your innocence. Then you’re branded with the color of your sin (blue in Lexi’s case, for lust), and sent to the Hole. Once in the Hole, your life is basically over: you’re stuck there, in a dirty, stinking, guarded town, and forced to work until you’re too old to be useful.

Cole is assigned to guard Lexi and escort her to and from the hospital where she’ll work. Relationships between guards and sinners are strictly forbidden, and in her first days in the Hole, Lexi sees a sinner and guard punished and executed for committing that crime.

But of course, Lexi and Cole fall in love, and that’s the big problem I had with BRANDED. I just did not believe in their relationship. It happened way too fast, and the authors told me they in love instead of showing me. Okay, I have to admit that I can see Lexi coming to care for Cole, because he goes out of his way to protect and keep her alive. But I do not see WHY Cole risked his life for her when he barely knew her. I learned almost nothing about Cole, other than that he’s a pushover when it comes to Lexi. For a guard, he was pretty wimpy.

The middle of BRANDED was boring. There were literally paragraphs like this: “Monday. Paint my room. Miss Cole. Tuesday: Train. Miss Cole.” Things like that should have been replaced by scenes of training or painting, etc. The end is packed with action, but again, I just couldn’t believe it. There’s a big reveal about who the villain is, and I cannot believe Lexi didn’t know who he was. Or that anyone else didn’t know who he was.

Lastly, although the world the authors created was interesting to me, I had so many unanswered questions. Why did Lexi get special treatment (Cole as a guard)? How are the denizens of the Hole getting access to weapons and bombs? Why is there even a hospital if it’s obvious no one cares what happens to the sinners? Etc.

Zeus, Cole’s dog, was the one bright point for me. He was probably the character I liked the most, because he was consistent. He didn’t undergo a massive change from one page to the next, like Lexi and Cole’s “relationship.”

About the authors:

branded authorsAbi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure.
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Abi Ketner Goodreads | Missy Kalicicki Goodreads | Tumblr | Pinterest

– leeanna

Book Review: Arclight (Arclight #1) by Josin L. McQuein

Book Review: Arclight (Arclight #1) by Josin L. McQueinArclight by Josin L. McQuein
Series: Arclight #1
Published by Greenwillow Books on April 23, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
1 Stars
No one crosses the wall of light . . . except for one girl who doesn’t remember who she is, where she came from, or how she survived. A harrowing, powerful debut thriller about finding yourself and protecting your future—no matter how short and uncertain it may be.

The Arclight is the last defense. The Fade can’t get in. Outside the Arclight’s border of high-powered beams is the Dark. And between the Light and the Dark is the Grey, a narrow, barren no-man’s-land. That’s where the rescue team finds Marina, a lone teenage girl with no memory of the horrors she faced or the family she lost. Marina is the only person who has ever survived an encounter with the Fade. She’s the first hope humanity has had in generations, but she could also be the catalyst for their final destruction. Because the Fade will stop at nothing to get her back. Marina knows it. Tobin, who’s determined to take his revenge on the Fade, knows it. Anne-Marie, who just wishes it were all over, knows it.

When one of the Fade infiltrates the Arclight and Marina recognizes it, she will begin to unlock secrets she didn’t even know she had. Who will Marina become? Who can she never be again?

Book Review:

The first time I tried to read ARCLIGHT, I got about 100 pages in before setting it down for a month. The second time I managed to finish ARCLIGHT, but I had to make myself keep reading. I wanted to like the book. I really did. But when I kept getting distracted by bad reality TV instead of getting sucked into the book, it wasn’t a good sign.

ARCLIGHT is based off a cool idea. Humans have nearly been eradicated, wiped out by the Fade. The only safe place left is the Arclight, where the remnants of civilization live, protected by massive lights that create a barrier against the Fade and the Dark. Light is the only thing that can hurt the Fade. Found outside, Marina is the first evidence that there are humans left, other than the ones in the Arclight. But Marina doesn’t remember *anything* about where she came from, her past, or even who she is.

I’ll admit it: I was confused the majority of the time while reading ARCLIGHT. I had no idea why the Fade were so scary, or even a good mental picture of what they looked like. The book is from Marina’s point of view, which added to my confusion because Marina spends a lot of time lost and confused. I ended up skimming whole pages because there was nothing but her thoughts. And then there just didn’t seem to be much of a story.

I also didn’t have any sense of urgency or danger while reading. When the Fade breach the Arclight, I never felt like the characters were in danger of being attacked or really harmed. There’s a scene where Marina BURNS Fade poison from a guy’s back, but it was like reading a grocery list. I had that feeling about Marina in general. I never connected with or cared about her. Because ARCLIGHT is driven by Marina’s discoveries about who she is, finding her so dull just made the book even more boring for me.

As I said above, I did push through to the end of ARCLIGHT on my second attempt reading it. Sometimes an ending can redeem an otherwise meh book, but in this case, it didn’t. The big reveals were pretty easy to guess, and I kept putting the book down when I had only pages left.

Socialize with the author:

Josin L. McQuein:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Wasteland by Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan

wastelandInfo:
Title: Wasteland
Author: Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Amazon Vine
Series? Wasteland Trilogy #1
Genre: YA, Post-Apocalyptic
Page Count: 352
Rating: [1/5 stars]

Summary:

Welcome to the Wasteland. Where all the adults are long gone, and now no one lives past the age of nineteen. Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan’s post-apocalyptic debut is the first of a trilogy in which everyone is forced to live under the looming threat of rampant disease and brutal attacks by the Variants —- hermaphroditic outcasts that live on the outskirts of Prin. Esther thinks there’s more to life than toiling at harvesting, gleaning, and excavating, day after day under the relentless sun, just hoping to make it to the next day. But then Caleb, a mysterious stranger, arrives in town, and Esther begins to question who she can trust. As shady pasts unravel into the present and new romances develop, Caleb and Esther realize that they must team together to fight for their lives and for the freedom of Prin. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
I don’t like to start a review out by being negative, but I just don’t have very many good things to say about WASTELAND. If I hadn’t been reading it to review, I probably would not have finished the book. Well, there is one plus — WASTELAND is a fast read.

WASTELANDis supposed to be a post-apocalyptic thrill ride. And I thought the idea was very cool and appropriately dark: A world where no one over 19 lives. A world where there are hermaphroditic “variants” who pick what sex they want to be. A world where kids scavenge for supplies amongst the wreckage of … something.

Yeah, something. There was almost no world-building in WASTELAND, which is probably my biggest complaint with the book. When an author creates a world where basic survival is a struggle, they need to explain, or at least give some clues as to what happened to create that world. I had a long list of questions by the end of the book; one other reason I kept reading was to see if any of them would be answered. Nope.

Some of my questions:
–What caused the harsh living conditions (extreme heat, no safe water sources, etc.)?
–Why does everyone die at the age of 19? A mysterious plague is mentioned, but there are no other details.
–Who taught Sarah to read? If it was her and Esther’s parents, what happened to them?
–What was the point of making the variants hermaphrodites? Their origin wasn’t explained, so it felt more like a gimmick than anything serious.
–If kids mate at 14-15, have their own kids at a year or two later, and then die at 19, who takes care of the children?

And so on.

Esther, the main character, was so-so. I finished the book a few days ago and honestly don’t remember much about her. She doesn’t fit in with the rest of the denizens of Prin. Instead of doing her assigned job, she prefers to buck the rules and play with her variant friend on the outskirts of town. She’s irresponsible and doesn’t know how to take care of herself, not even how to make the simple flatbread that people live on. I did like that she realized she couldn’t take care of herself.

She grows a little over the course of the book, most notably when Caleb comes to town. Inevitably, a romance springs up between them, one I had an impossible time believing. Days after meeting, they’re ready to mate. I do have to give the authors credit for trying to include some sex in a YA book, since so often that’s glossed over or ignored, but … the descriptions of it were so clinical, without any real passion. The descriptions of kissing were just as bad.

One more thing. WASTELAND is written in third person point of view, but has a serious case of head-jumping. Sometimes I wasn’t sure which character’s perspective I was reading, which didn’t make for an easy flowing book. There was even a scene from a character that didn’t have a name, just “the boy.”

WASTELAND is the first book in a trilogy. One last good point for the book is that it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger. The story is resolved, and I’m not sure where the authors would take it in two more books. I doubt I will be back to find out, because of how disappointed I was with my read of WASTELAND. There are much better post-apocalyptic thrillers out there.

– leeanna

Book Review: The Enchanted Truth by Kym Petrie

the enchanted truthInfo:
Title: The Enchanted Truth
Author: Kym Petrie
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group
Source: Greenleaf Book Group/NetGalley
Series? No
Genre: Fantasy, Short Story
Page Count: 40
Rating: [1/5 stars]

Summary:

In this humorous and insightful tale, a modern day princess finds herself single and asking for magical intervention to change her sorry love life. Rather than casting a spell to bring Prince Charming to her rescue, a savvy fairy godmother gives the tenderhearted damsel an unexpected gift. By entrusting her true thoughts and desires to an unlikely confidant, the young royal soon discovers that the person who could make her life everything she dreamed it would be has been with her all along.

As author Kym Petrie herself realized, every woman needs a froggy friend and a secret journal—and enough adventures with the girls to keep her heart pounding and her mind racing. Life is meant to be about happy beginnings . . . you can never have enough of them. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
THE ENCHANTED TRUTH is a very short modern day fairy tale, aimed at teaching young women that they don’t need a man to be happy. The message behind the book is good, if heavy-handed.

The story is pretty basic: instead of the fairy godmother producing a handsome prince, the princess has to think about what she wants in a man. In the process, she discovers who she is as a person. It’s short, sweet, and simple.

However, the writing made it difficult for me to enjoy THE ENCHANTED TRUTH. The writing is so overdone and overly descriptive. Here’s an example: “I’ve brought you a gift, my dear,” the bedazzled tutor said again, patting the maiden’s arm softly. “A magical gift.” (p. 6). It reminded me of one of those assignments in grade school where you’re not allowed to use the same word over again in a paragraph or page. But in real writing, it keeps the reader in the story to refer to the princess as the princess, instead of “the ingenue” or “the novice regal,” and so on.

A cute story, but not for me.

– leeanna

Book Review: The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir

the life of elizabeth IInfo:
Title: The Life of Elizabeth I
Author: Alison Weir
Release Date: October 5, 1999
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Source: Own
Series? No
Genre: Biography
Page Count: 560

Summary:

Perhaps the most influential sovereign England has ever known, Queen Elizabeth I remained an extremely private person throughout her reign, keeping her own counsel and sharing secrets with no one–not even her closest, most trusted advisers. Now, in this brilliantly researched, fascinating new book, acclaimed biographer Alison Weir shares provocative new interpretations and fresh insights on this enigmatic figure.

Against a lavish backdrop of pageantry and passion, intrigue and war, Weir dispels the myths surrounding Elizabeth I and examines the contradictions of her character. Elizabeth I loved the Earl of Leicester, but did she conspire to murder his wife? She called herself the Virgin Queen, but how chaste was she through dozens of liaisons? She never married–was her choice to remain single tied to the chilling fate of her mother, Anne Boleyn? An enthralling epic that is also an amazingly intimate portrait, The Life of Elizabeth I is a mesmerizing, stunning reading experience. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
I’ve read a lot of Alison Weir’s books on the Tudors (five in the past few weeks), and The Life of Elizabeth I is the worst I’ve ever read. Instead of a biography, I feel like I was reading a soap opera, or an episode of the Bachelorette. A gigantic chunk of the book was taken up by Elizabeth’s betrothals, and while I understand that those were a part of her attempts to keep England in good diplomatic relationships, it just wasn’t well done.

I had a ton of confusion while reading, for a few reasons. Anytime a person gained a new title, such as when Robert Dudley became the Earl of Leicester, he was referred to as Leicester after. It was hard to remember who was who, and who had what title. The passage of time was another big headache. The biography is poorly organized. I had no sense of the chronology of Elizabeth’s reign, nor how old she was when many of the events occurred.

The Life of Elizabeth I isn’t about her life. It’s about the lives of everyone around her, and all their petty dramas. I learned virtually nothing, and as someone that has enjoyed Alison Weir’s other books, I was shocked by the poor quality of this one.

Rating: 1 owl

Socialize with the author:
Alison Weir:
Website

– leeanna

Book Review: Broken by A.E. Rought

brokenInfo:
Title: Broken
Author: A.E. Rought
Release Date: January 8, 2013
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Series? No
Genre: YA, Romance, Horror, Gothic, Retelling
Page Count: 384

Summary:

Imagine a modern spin on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein where a young couple’s undying love and the grief of a father pushed beyond sanity could spell the destruction of them all.

A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry’s boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell mechanically moving through her days. She and Daniel had been made for each other, complete only when they were together. Now she restlessly wanders the town in the late Fall gloom, haunting the cemetery and its white-marbled tombs, feeling Daniel everywhere, his spectre in the moonlight and the fog.

When she encounters newcomer Alex Franks, only son of a renowned widowed surgeon, she’s intrigued despite herself. He’s an enigma, melting into shadows, preferring to keep to himself. But he is as drawn to her as she is to him. He is strangely… familiar. From the way he knows how to open her locker when it sticks, to the nickname she shared only with Daniel, even his hazel eyes with brown flecks are just like Daniel’s.

The closer they become, though, the more something inside her screams there’s something very wrong with Alex Franks. And when Emma stumbles across a grotesque and terrifying menagerie of mangled but living animals within the walls of the Franks’ estate, creatures she surely knows must have died from their injuries, she knows. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
I was really excited to read Broken. First, the cover is gorgeous! I especially liked the heart in the “O” of the archway and the red background. Second, it’s billed as a “modern spin on Frankenstein,” which is one of my favorite classics.

Unfortunately, my excitement didn’t last long. But before I get into the bad, let me talk about what I did like about Broken.

Emma. I liked some aspects of her personality. Many of the other girls at Shelley High are catty and cruel, like clique-y teenage girls can be. When Emma spends the first part of the school year mourning her dead boyfriend, she’s “emo.” But when she moves on to Alex, she’s “a slut.” Emma doesn’t let the mean girls get to her, which is what I liked. She has somewhat of an “I don’t give a f*ck” personality in that regard.

The other good thing about Broken? We see Emma’s parents! All too often in YA books, parents either aren’t around or are bad parents. It’s the exact opposite in this book. Emma’s parents are both present and both care about their daughter. Her mom is super over-protective, with the typical “no guy is good enough for my daughter” attitude. Her dad is pretty cool too, and having both parents in Broken allows for some parent-daughter conversations you don’t always get in YA books.

Moving on.

I almost gave up on Broken within the first few chapters. Not much happened, except Emma moping over her dead boyfriend and giving every single detail about her day from what she ate for breakfast to the clothes she wore. And when she met Alex, the new guy at school, I knew I wasn’t going to like Broken very much. Hello, insta-love! The summary for the book really spoils things in that regard, but Emma gives it away, too, with her repeated comparisons of Daniel and Alex.

I kept flicking the pages, though, somehow getting through the boring middle. Not a lot happens, at least not a lot that I can remember. Just lots of descriptions of typical teenage life, with Emma going back and forth about Alex. The “I shouldn’t feel this way about him, I barely know him, but I can’t live without him” variety. In Broken’s defense, there actually is a reason for the insta-love, but it still wasn’t something I enjoyed.

The ending of Broken finally brought the action I had been hoping. But by that point, it was too much, too fast, and too late. I didn’t get the mad scientist vibe for Dr. Franks, couldn’t understand Josh’s motivation, and I wasn’t creeped out at all, even by the half-dead animals on the Franks estate. I think this was partly due to the writing — the author has some creative and different ways of describing things, but she did it for everything.

Some examples of how Emma’s cellphone is described:
—”My cell comes to life, the vibrate setting making the pink thing look like it has legs.” (est. p9)
—”My cell phone comes alive in my locker, a swarm in a metal can.” (est. p21)
—”My cell phone buzzes, sounding like bees and chicken bones as it rattles against the pencils in the front pocket of my backpack.” (est. p121)
[page numbers are estimates, from the page counter on Aldiko]

So by the time I got to the animals that were half alive and half metal, I was numb from that type of writing. If it had been used more sparingly, I might have been more horrified by Dr. Franks and his experiments.

To conclude, Broken just wasn’t the book for me. Too much romance and too little action.

Rating:

Socialize with the author:
A.E. Rought:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna