Thursday, March 27, 2014

Book Review: The Enchanter Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

Title: The Enchanter Heir
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: Disney Book Group
Pages: 458
Genre: Magic, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Rating: 3.5/5
Source: Netgalley

For those of you who haven’t read any of Ms. Chima’s books, this is the 4th book in The Heir Chronicles and is a spinoff from the original trilogy.

The Thorn Hill Massacre killed thousands of Weir [magical people] and only a few hundred children lived. The survivors, also known as the savants, each had a magical trait that made them unique. Jonah Kinlock, a  savant, also had such a magical trait: the ability to kill by touch.

Emma Claire Greenwood always thought she was a normal, everyday girl. But when she realizes she is a savant, everything changes. Now the Weir are restless over killings occurring in Trinity, Ohio, leaving only one explanation: the murderers of Thorn Hill were killing the Weir in Trinity. Only Jonah and Emma have the power to save the Weir, but doing that might be suicidal.

Jonah and Emma are both intriguing characters to read about. Jonah is kind and careful. He knows that one wrong touch, and someone he loves will die.  Emma is practically the opposite - brash and headstrong. I have to say that Jonah is the better character because it is easier to see how he reacts to the new alterations in his life. Emma is also an entertaining character, but her life and emotions seem artificial when compared to Jonah’s.

Honestly speaking, I can’t really say this book met the expectations that I had. The characters were good, but while I was reading, I didn’t really get what the point of this book was. It seemed as if there was no real focus, a problem that continues throughout the story.

But on the other hand, it was fun reading the romantic plot. You have Emma, who is undeniably attracted to Jonah. And then you have Jonah who likes Emma but is too afraid of his own body – literally- to do anything. It was amusing to read how the two characters were going to solve that dilemma. Also the feelings between the hero and the heroine were well expressed. Additionally, the romance continued to  build up throughout the whole book, which I enjoyed.

My favorite part of this whole story would be how the author builds up a whole different world from the one introduced in the previous three books. It was fascinating to read about how the characters of this book interacted with the characters from the past books.

In general, ‘The Enchanter Heir’ was a magical read that I found interesting. I recommend this book to people ages 12+ because there was a bit of violence. If you like books that have to do with magic, then this is one that you will want to try out. The previous three books in this series are ‘The Warrior Heir’, ‘The Wizard Heir’ and ‘The Dragon Heir’ respectively. Reading the series in order would help the flow of ideas and would make the books easier to understand.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Book Review: Falling Hard by Megan Sparks

Title: Falling Hard
Author: Megan Sparks
Publisher: Capstone Young Readers
Pages: 255
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 3.5/5
Source: Netgalley

Annie R. Key is in for a huge change – she’s moving to the States. After living in London her whole life, this 14 year old is moving to a whole other continent with her father. But fitting in with the crazy, high-school students in her new hometown is harder than Annie had ever thought it would be. Between making an enemy of the most popular girl in school, and falling for the cutest guy ever, things are off to a hectic start. It’s only her newfound love for roller derby that can tide her through all this American craziness. Annie’s going to have to figure out the secret to fitting into high school – but she’s going to need all of her new friends to help her do it.

My favorite character in this book would be Annie. At the beginning, she was shy and not very confident, but as the story progressed, her character developed; she essentially grew a back bone and became more outgoing. One thing I liked about Annie’s character as the book progressed was her smart-alecky attitude. The following quote describes her snarky thoughts when yet another person remarks on Annie’s English accent. This leads Annie to think about asking her friend Lexie, who has an abundance of buttons, to help her out with this problem:

“Maybe Lexie could get her a button that said, ‘I’ve got an English accent. Get over it’.”

I enjoyed phrases such as this one because they were hilarious to read, and they provided some insight on what Annie truly felt.

Overall, this book is very cute. The characters and how they interacted were like a fairytale; everything ended out working well and everybody’s happy. It’s a feel-good book.

I liked the plot of ‘Falling Hard’. Towards the beginning, the pacing was just right. The plot wasn’t going too fast, or too slow; it was going at a speed that made it easy for me to acquaint myself with Annie and her life. As the book progresses, the plot begins to speed up, becoming more interesting. And towards the very end, the whole book is thrumming with energy.

But on the flip side of things, I felt that the word choice that Megan Sparks used was overly simple, especially towards the beginning. While everything moving slowly in the beginning is a good thing, the vocabulary used makes this book seem very basic. The sentence structure is no help either. The phrases Sparks uses just don’t carry much emotion; it’s as if Annie didn’t have any strong feelings as the book begins. All the nervousness and excitement that a girl should be feeling on her first day of school are muted. But, as the book progressed, the words and sentences became more energetic and the increase in emotion made the book come alive.

Then, there is the romance plot, which I absolutely abhorred. Throughout the book, the romance plot grows, and grows, and grows some more. And I usually like it when the romance in a book is kept fresh. But, in a book where the main idea is for Annie to fit in a new environment, I most certainly did not want to read about some character she found handsome. That completely takes away from the main point of this book!

But, on the whole, ‘Falling Hard’ is an engaging book about a girl learning to fit in with others. I enjoyed the overall plot and recommend this book to people ages 10+ because of the exceedingly simple language. If you like reading novels about fitting in, this is definitely one you would want to check out. Don’t miss out on the second book in this series, ‘Hell’s Belles’.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Book Review: Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta

Title: Entangled
Author: Amy Rose Capetta
Publisher: Houghton Miffin Harcourt Books for Young Readers
Pages: 336
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult, Romance
Rating: 3/5
Source: Netgalley

Seventeen-year-old Cade has been alone for years. Aliens had invaded her planet long ago, changing everything. Now she lives apart from the other humans and aliens, having nothing to do with them for her own safety. The only thing she holds true to her heart is her cherry red guitar. But her thoughts of life change when she realizes that she isn’t as alone as she thought. Now hunting for the truth that was hidden from her for her whole life, Cade has no choice but to venture to other planets in search of one person: Xan, a boy from her past, whom she loves.

I enjoyed reading about Cade. She’s interesting, stubborn and determined. With her eye on the prize she’ll stop at nothing to succeed, which is one of the reasons I like her so much. But while Cade is a great heroine, at times I felt that she wasn’t described as much as I really wanted; it was hard to see clearly into her thoughts, which created a barrier in between the two of us.

This was definitely an interesting book. First of all, the futuristic theme of the book, extra terrestrial beings living together, was really fun and engaging to read about. There were a lot of creative details that described how Cade lived her life, which made it easy to compare her life to mine.

But, while the details were great to read about in some parts, in others it just made the book drag. Going to extremes was the biggest problem in the book; ‘Entangled’ is chock-filled with intricate ideas – which I won’t list here - but Capetta emphasizes each one to the point where the main plot is lost beneath a sea of details.

Now, the romance plot between Cade and Xan was probably the worst part of the book. In the beginning I didn’t think there was going to be any romance in this book, but then Xan’s character was introduced and that idea died. As the book progressed, the romance was built up to its height; it was good. It wasn’t embellished to the point that I was sick of it, yet it wasn’t completely dropped. I could definitely see how anxious Cade was to finally meet Xan and how he felt about her. And as the book proceeds, the tension between the two of them built to the point where I was bouncing up and down waiting for them to finally meet.

But somewhere over the second half of the book, the feelings between Cade and Xan faded – the romance was practically dropped. You could still see how Cade felt for Xan and vice versa, but in the end it was as if Cade’s feelings were shut off and instead there was this mindless needing. Just lust, no love. At that point it was hard to see what Cade was really thinking.

Essentially, it was as if a wall was put between the reader and Cade. And this isn’t for just the romance. Throughout the last quarter of the book, Cade was being described less and less, and it was as if she had no more heart-felt feelings.

Overall, this is a pretty interesting, but average book, mainly because of how Cade wasn’t described as much as I would have liked and the romance plot. If you like science-fiction or romance, this is a book you’ll want to read.

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