Friday, August 31, 2012

Review: Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy, #1), by Jennifer Estep

Title: Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy, #1)
Author: Jennifer Estep
Format: ebook
Source: I bought it myself

From Goodreads: "My name is Gwen Frost, and I go to Mythos Academy; a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody's head with a sword and Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest. But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos. First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities. Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War. You know, death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things. Freaky stuff like this goes on all the time at Mythos, but I'm determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why; especially since I should have been the one who died..."

My Opinion:  Have you ever bought a book that sounded SO good and that everyone was totally loving on but for some reason didn't get around to reading it right away, and then when you finally did you can't figure out why you waited so long because you absolutely LOVED it? (Does that make any sense?) Well that's what happened with Touch of Frost! I have no idea why I haven't read it before now because I've been really psyched about it since I read the first promo for it - mythology, magic, and monsters? I was hooked from the beginning, but I kept getting books I had to read for review and as I'm sure you reviewers out there know, the books you want to read just for you can get pushed to the back of the bus. I finally just made myself take the time to read it and you know what? It only took me a day and a half because I couldn't put it down!! I loved it, loved it, loved it! Jennifer Estep is a goddess herself to me because of her ability to write in such a way that you fly through the book without realizing that you've totally lost a day or so in your life, and you don't mind at all because the book was totally worth it!

Gwen Frost loses her mother and her normal life at the same time. Her mother is killed by a drunk driver and she is taken out of her routine and plopped down in Mythos Academy, a place where the students and teachers actually believe that the gods and goddesses in the myths are real, and that the God of Chaos, Loki, is trying to escape from his prison to wreak havoc on the world that we live in. Nuts, no? Sure, Gwen has a gift, but it's a Gypsy gift, psychometry, which Gwen describes as the ability to touch an object and immediately know, see and feel its history, but in a school that is filled with Spartans, Valkyries and Amazons, she doesn't really stand out at all. Nor does she fit in at all. She has no friends because all the other students are rich, beautiful, powerful and pretty much full of themselves. They've also been trained to be warriors their whole lives, and Gwen can't figure out what the heck she's even doing there. No one will give her any answers either, they just keep telling her it will become clear in time. Extremely frustrating for a teenager!

One of my favorite things about this book is the world building. I've always loved mythology and reading about the gods and goddesses and such, and Jennifer Estep puts such a fun twist on it all. She really brings it to life for you, the reader, so much so that I really, really want to go to school there myself! The characters, other than Gwen, start out kind of two dimensional but are quickly fleshed out and come into their own personalities. There is definite character growth through the course of the book, especially with regard to Gwen, but some of the secondary characters really change a lot too. The pacing is excellent and the book is very easy to read. As noted above, I finished it in a day and a half, and with a hyperactive 6 year old at home who wants all of my attention, that's really saying something! I was constantly trying to find things for him to do just so I could pick up the book and read a few more pages! That hasn't happened to me with a book in a while, and I've really missed it! That NEED to read a book, because you've been so drawn into the story that you HAVE to find out what is going to happen next! I already have a copy of book 2 on my shelf waiting for me, and I'm going to start it as soon as I finish typing this - and spending some time with my poor, neglected son of course:)

I give this book a very enthusiastic 5 stars and since I've heard that book 2 is even better than book 1, I can't wait to get reading! I highly recommend this to all fans of YA fantasy, especially mythology related fantasy :D

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Review: Lies Beneath (Lies Beneath #1), by Anne Greenwood Brown

Title: Lies Beneath (Lies Beneath #1)
Author: Anne Greenwood Brown
Format: eGalley
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "The lore of mermaids and mermen is real! As Gretchen McNeil, author of Possess, says, "Riveting! A cold-blooded tale of secrets, revenge, and forbidden love that will leave you terrified to go in the water."

Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans and absorb their positive energy. Usually, they select their victims at random, but this time around, the underwater clan chooses its target for a reason: revenge. They want to kill Jason Hancock, the man they blame for their mother's death.

It's going to take a concerted effort to lure the aquaphobic Hancock onto the water. Calder's job is to gain Hancock's trust by getting close to his family. Relying on his irresistible good looks and charm, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter Lily. Easy enough, but Calder screws everything up by falling in love--just as Lily starts to suspect there's more to the monster-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined, and just as the mermaids threaten to take matters into their own hands, forcing Calder to choose between them and the girl he loves.

One thing's for sure: whatever Calder decides, the outcome won't be pretty."

My Opinion: Awesome! That's really all I can say about this book - Awesome! Unfortunately, that's not really enough words to write a review so I'll try to expand on that a little bit. First off, I LOVE stories about mermaids! Most of them are about nice, friendly, beautiful mermaids who go out of their way to help humans, but this one sets itself apart from the others from the get go. As Calder (the male narrator, which I also loved) explains it, "She seriously did not get this at all. She obviously had some Disney version of mermaids in her head. I wondered how she'd respond when I told her the truth. That we were murderers, monsters, fiends. That I'd lured her out here to kill her. That I was doing everything within my power to fight against nature."

Merpeople can't produce their own emotions apparently, so to prevent them from going into a deep depression, they "steal" the good emotions from humans, killing them in the process so they can "wring out" every last drop of happiness! I really love that the author took a much darker look at merpeople and made them predators. It really worked for this story and I was hooked almost from the beginning. 

I have to admit that Calder and his three sisters, Maris, Pavati and Tallulah, weren't really likable at the start of the book, but that made Calder's transformation and growth stand out even more. There was definite character development there! I also thought the pacing was great, and there were just the right number of action scenes vs. emotional ones. 

In summary, I really enjoyed this book and find it very hard to believe that this is a debut novel, but it is! I will definitely be reading more from Anne Greenwood Brown in the future, and can't wait to read Lies Beneath #2 to find out what happens with Lily and Calder :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review: Pure (Pure #1), by Julianna Baggott

Title: Pure (Pure #1)
Author: Julianna Baggott
Format: eGalley
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again."

My Opinion: Wow! That's my impression in a nutshell! This novel was so much more than I expected it to be! The world was a very dark and scary place to even imagine - easily the scariest dystopian world I've read of to date. I think it was mostly because of the people who were left after the detonations that scarred the world in Pure. People weren't just scarred from the heat or the radiation following the detonation of the bombs. They were actually fused to whatever had been near them at that moment in time - a dolls head fused to a girl's fist, a boy who had live birds fused to his back, which still lived for years after that and fluttered under his shirt, or a man who was near a fan and fused to it, causing him to breathe in and out through the fan that fused into his neck. The author went to some very ugly places to write this, but there were also moments of beauty and compassion to bring you back from the brink when you felt that you couldn't read any more about this desolate place.

Now compare that world to the world in the Dome - the people who live in the Dome were safe when the bombs went off, but that doesn't mean their lives are perfect now. The kids are being genetically modified to  be faster and stronger than normal teens, and only the strongest and fittest are allowed to survive.

Into these two worlds Pressia and Partridge are born - Pressia to the darkness of the real world, and Partridge to the Dome. You may wonder how they could possibly meet since no one is ever allowed to enter or leave the Dome, but when Partridge finds out that his mother may not have died like he's always thought, and may in fact be alive in the world outside of the Dome, he finds a way to do just that, and during his travels he crosses paths with Pressia.

I thought this book was very well written - the plot was strong and the characters were amazing, but the best thing about the book was the world building. I can't even begin to imagine how Julianna Baggott thought this up, but my hat is off to her! I highly recommend this book to all lovers of dark dystopians, and I can't wait to read the next installment!!!