[ARC Review] Defy by Sara B. Larson

Defy
(Defy #1)
Author: Sara B. Larson
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: January 7th, 2014
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
Genre: YA – High-Fantasy, Romance

A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and heart-racing romance.
Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.
The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect?
Thank you Netgalley and Scholastic for the review copy! This doesn’t affect my opinion or review at all.
 

Review

When I first read the blurb, I thought Defy was going to be a kickass fantasy with awesome protagonist despite of the love triangle. But as the book progresses, sorry to say that I am very disappointed with this.

“I’d been doing it for so long, I didn’t even have to think about it anymore. Trying to sound like a boy was natural to me now.”

The concept is actually something that I’d never heard of in YA: a girl disguising be a boy to save her life. And when I started the book, I was so in love with it I was like “OMG this is going to be a favorite!<3” However, after Alexa’s brother death in the first 50 pages, Defy quickly went downhill.

I already knew from the blurb that there would be a love triangle – and unfortunately a predictable one at that. The love interests are Prince Damian (a lazy prince with – wait for it – secrets whom Alexa initially hates but the more she gets to know him, the more she realizes that he is far more than that) and Rylan (the loyal type of guy who has befriended Alexa and her brother since the very beginning). You can guess which one will win, it’s very obvious.

Moreover, I don’t like the fact that in page 100+, it’s revealed both love interests have known that Alex is a girl. Too convenient. I assume it’s made that way so that the love interests can get started to, you know, basically get closer to the girl without having to pretend that she is a guy and the girl doesn’t have to keep disguising as a guy anymore and just. Do. What. Hormones. Say.

My main issue with Defy is how the romance takes over the plot. In the middle part until the last page, Alexa spends her time being confused and going back and forth between two guys, resulting in very little actual plot development. PUH-LEASE. Also, I was irritated how in one moment Alexa gets mad at the prince for keeping secrets and next second she already forgives him. (That happens quite a lot.)

The prince is obviously the more dominant one in the love triangle and the romance between him and the protagonist is a bit of insta-love. However, I feel like Rylan is just thrown here. . .I think he’s barely in the story and I must admit that I like him better. When I was reading, sometimes I felt bad for him because it seems like everything he does can never please the MC. For example when Rylan offers Alexa help and she goes like “dude, I need no help I am strong enough!” but when there is Prince Damian she just throws herself at him and I was like. . .

In the later part of the book, something other than the romance FINALLY happens and there this baffling explanation about politics, lies and other stuff I didn’t quite understand. But at that point I was too bored and too fed-up with the romance, thus everything fell flat for me.

There is a huge potential in the concept but too bad the execution is dissatisfying. Apart from the infuriating romance, almost non-existent plot and inconsistent protagonist, the only things I like in Defy is the ending and a couple of characters (Marcel and Rylan). I do appreciate the ending – it is unlike what I had expected. The ending portrays a realistic consequence of wars and I suppose it is accurate enough.

Although I was either frustrated or disinterested most of the time, I will still give Defy 2 stars considering how much I enjoyed reading the beginning.

*Lol, look, my thoughts on the romance takes over my review! xD

 

[ARC Review] Waterfell by Amalie Howard

Guys I just created a tumblr! Well, I actually already had one but I deleted it because I didn’t like my old account. Anyways, you can follow me here. I will mostly reblog PJO/HoO and TID stuff 😛 ***BEWARE OF HOH OR TID SPOILERS THOUGH!!!***

 

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Waterfell

(The Aquarathi #1)
Author: Amalie Howard
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Publication Date: October 29th, 2013
Pages: 360
Genre: YA – Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance
THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE QUEEN
Nerissa Marin hides among teens in her human form, waiting for the day she can claim her birthright—the undersea kingdom stolen from her the day her father was murdered. Blending in is her best weapon—until her father’s betrayer confronts Nerissa and challenges her to a battle to the death on Nerissa’s upcoming birthday—the day she comes of age.
Amid danger and the heartbreak of her missing mother, falling for a human boy is the last thing Nerissa should do. But Lo Seavon breaches her defenses and somehow becomes the only person she can count on to help her desperate search for her mother, a prisoner of Nerissa’s mortal enemy. Is Lo the linchpin that might win Nerissa back her crown? Or will this mortal boy become the weakness that destroys her?
 
 
Thank you Harlequin TEEN and Netgalley for the review copy! This doesn’t affect my review or opinions at all.

Review

BEFORE READING:
Oh yay, it’s a book about mermaids! I love those creatures <3

AFTER READING:
I expected mermaids, yet what I got were… Bleh, and the romance turned me off.

***

I must admit that I was particularly interested in this book because of mermaids and it’s been such a long time since I read a good mermaid book. Well, Waterfell definitely didn’t fall to that category in my opinion.

So I actually liked the sci-fi element, it was slightly interesting and would have been easier to understand if it hadn’t been too info-dumpy. I mean, I get that it will sound more logical if there are scientific explanations behind all that but to be honest, I felt really confused reading THAT part. I don’t understand why the heroine explains how this “mermaid” works complicatedly…

Talking about the heroine, I didn’t like her at all. She is too selfish and too dramatic. Also, she keeps going back and forth in the beginning about the love interest. One second, she cannot stand the love interest, the next second he is giving her butterflies and then she’s annoyed with him again. Yes, she is really inconsistent. The transition between her feelings/emotions was not smooth enough, I think. In one page she is annoyed, in the next page she feels guilty and then she feels like a coward. Nerissa didn’t sound realistic or likable at all. It seems like she has serious stomach and emotion-control issues. I also didn’t like the way she treats her best friend. So Nerissa breaks down and her best friend – Jenna – is visiting to cheer her up or something but you know what Nerissa does? She bluntly tells Jenna to go away. I get that she’s angry but no need to act so harsh to your best friend who literally keeps your biggest secrets.

In addition, the plot was predictable, starting from the drop-dead gorgeous love interest, typical guy best friend and the infamous love triangle. Honestly, there’s supposed to be this big twist at the end of the book but alas, it didn’t catch me by surprise at all since I had already seen it coming miles away. This book was just too obvious.

Another point I’d like to make is how weird and unusual their names are. If they want to go in disguise in the human world, why stick to your strange original names like Echlios, Soren and Speio. Plus, the love interest’s full name is TOO obvious.

Overall, Waterfell was a disappointment. I thought it would be a cool and light mermaid book. Instead, there were info-dumpy worldbuilding, unlikable characters, predictable plotline and bad romance. The only characters I truly liked in this book are Jenna and Sawyer – but even those two aren’t enough to redeem this book.

[DNF: In Bullet Points] Hidden Wings by Cameo Renae

Hidden Wings

(Hidden Wings #1)

Author: Cameo Renae

Publisher Crushing Hearts & Black Butterfly Publishing
Publication Date: January 16th, 2013
Pages: 204 (Kindle)
Genre: YA – Paranormal, Romance
Seventeen is a life changing age for Emma Wise.
As her family’s sole survivor in a car crash, she is left with a broken arm and a few scrapes and bruises. But these are only outward marks; inside, her heart is broken and the pieces scattered.
Whisked away to Alaska, to an aunt she’s never met, Emma starts over. Secrets unveil themselves and now…she doesn’t even know who or what she is.
A centuries old prophecy places Emma in the heart of danger. Creatures of horrifying and evil proportions are after her, and it will take Emma, her aunt, and six, gorgeously captivating Guardians to keep her safe. But, if she can survive until her eighteenth birthday… things will change.

Thank you Netgalley and Crushing Hearts & Black Butterfly Publishing for the review copy! This doesn’t affect my opinions or review at all.

 

Review

Guys, please don’t be fooled by the beautiful cover.

I’m not sure I can form a coherent paragraph right now cause I am too annoyed so let me just list what I didn’t like in bullet points.

  • I didn’t like the MC. Her sadness came across as fake to me and from her voice I felt that she’s a shallow person.
  • The writing and the dialogue are too cheesy and sloppy and just…amateurish. There are also too many unnecessary caps-locked words. For example:

…and I did NOT want him to think I was immature.” – page 20

Malachi did NOT look happy and glared in our direction.” – page 26

I mean – HELLO! I only met the guy a few ours ago and, but there was something there… something that happened when we touched… something that wasn’t natural… something that seemed to pull me towards him whenever he was near.” – page 31

Which brings to the next issue:

  • Flawlessly perfect boy who turns the MC literally into a puddle at first sight and she’s already saying stuff like he’s the-only-one-who-could-pull-her-out-of-her-sadness crap.

His powerful smile seemed to pull my sinking heart from the unknown depths of sadness, and place it somewhere a little safer.” – page 21

His touch did something to me. It warmed me and made me feel like everything was going to be alright. But as we neared Malachi, he let go, and I was suddenly hit with a with an overwhelming feeling of sadness and emptiness.” – page 25

He gently brushed my arms with his fingers, which melted a bit of my sadness.” – page 29

He stole my breath for a moment, and then he smiled; making my heart flutter. How was that possible? I never thought I’d be able to pull myself out of this eternal sadness.” – page 29

I just couldn’t see any light at the end of this pitch-black tunnel… except for the small glimmer that was sitting in the seat next to me. Kade.” – page 29

Ughhh seriously, girl??

One last quote:

’Well, the only thing keeping me from falling apart right now is you,’ I said glancing into his big, bright eyes.” – page 34

Okay, that’s it I’m outta here.

DNF

[ARC Review] The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Naturals
(The Naturals #1)
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: November 5th, 2013
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
Genre: YA – Crime/Mystery, Paranormal

Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.
What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides— especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own.
Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.
Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Disney Hyperion for the review copy! This doesn’t affect my opinions or review in any ways. 

 

Review

After seeing a negative review for it, I was a bit hesitant, but luckily I decided to try it with an open mind and I ended up falling in love completely with this book. The Naturals was definitely one of the best mystery books I’ve ever read!

“We saw things that other people didn’t – things that people our age should never have to see.”

The first few chapters were hard to get into. Since the main character is a Natural profiler (which basically means she can figure out what kind of person someone is by paying attention to their his/her behaviors ), there are lots of detailed descriptions and the character’s thoughts about other people’s behaviors and personalities. Although a bit tedious and rather confusing at first, when I hit page 50 something, The Naturals became much more thrilling and heart-pounding. Gathering clues through their observations, solving a tough serial murder, I couldn’t put The Naturals down once I was completely engrossed with the story! The mystery was unpredictable and the plot was sooooo addictive, full of twists! THIS is how you write an awesome mystery book!

Even if I didn’t connect with the main character, I loved reading the story from her POV. Cassie has motivation and determination to uncover her mother’s mysterious death. She didn’t come across as whiny for me, not even once. On top of the likable protagonist, The Naturals also has awesome side characters like Michael, Lia, Dean and Sloane. I loved reading their interactions – they’re different from one another but these people can work together when needed! Sloane is my favorite! Her awkwardness…I could understand that haha!

The only thing that disappointed me is the love triangle. Although the romance isn’t dominant, the love triangle just seems too out-of-the-blue for me and I personally think this book would be even EVEN better without it! Not that the romance was horrible – it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t mind-blowing either. It just sounded odd to me to have a love triangle in a mystery book. However, I do really appreciate the lack of romance in this book. It isn’t dominating the main plot and occupying the MC’s thoughts the whole time. This subtle kind of romance (except the love triangle) suits the tone of the book well.

The Naturals is the kind of book that isn’t easy to figure out and will keep you awake until you reach the last page. With the lack of romance, cool concept plus unpredictable and highly addictive plot, The Naturals was a gripping mystery book that kept me turning the pages. It’s so sad that the next book won’t be out till next year! :’(

Note: The quote is taken from eARC edition so no guarantee that it won’t be altered or removed from the finished copy.

[ARC Review] Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles

Hey guys!! I’m back 😉 My midterm exams are over now but I still have a few assignments I need to do by the end of the week (and some tests on Wednesday and Thursday) so probably I won’t be too active these days. Well, at least I’m not on a hiatus anymore! Next week is my midterm break so I’m really excited to tackle my TBR pile! For now, here’s a review of Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles:

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Wild Cards
(Wild Cards #1)
Author: Simone Elkeles
Publisher: Walker BFYR
Publication Date: October 1st, 2013
Pages: 342 (Hardcover)
Genre: YA – Contemporary, Romance

After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek’s counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else’s family drama.
Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain–people you care about leave without a backward glance. A football scholarship would finally give her the chance to leave. So she pours everything into winning a state championship, until her boyfriend and star quarterback betrays them all by joining their rival team. Ashtyn needs a new game plan, but it requires trusting Derek—someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to put her heart on the line to try and win it all?
Thank you Netgalley and Bloomsbury UK & ANZ for the review copy! This doesn’t affect my opinions or review in any ways.

Review

Despite highly enjoying Wild Cards, I can’t overlook the fact that there were some cliches in the book that probably wouldn’t appeal to some readers out there. But on the bright side, Wild Cards has hilarious banters that had me chuckling and giggling!

“This is not happening. I hope I’m living in some kind of realistic nightmare and I’ll wake up any minute.”

Derek Fitzpatrick gets expelled from school after pulling off a prank and caught by the principal. He ends up moving to Chicago with his step-aunt and step-brother and spends his summer there. Little does he know that his step-mom has a sister who happens to be a tomboy and bossy football player. Our Derek over here is just like other bad boys out there: sarcastic and good-looking with tragic past. And EVERYONE/EVERY GIRL just falls in love with him. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with the lack of originality here. His character did gradually grow on me a bit throughout the book, but I admit that I wanted to pull my hair out a few times due to his stupid actions.

But fortunately, the one that makes this book a bit different from other cliched tales out there is the “good girl” who is actually a tough football player! Yeah, that’s Ashtyn Parker! She may be a tough football player and is used to hanging out with boys but deep inside, she’s STILL a girl. She isn’t those kinds of girls who constantly want to be saved when facing difficulty. Despite the tough image she always tries to display, her innocence just irked me at times. And I was like ughhh girl, just get over it! To make matters worse, both characters seem to be magnet for their opposite gender. I mean, every boy seems to be hitting on Ashtyn cause she happens to have a nice body while the girls are all over Derek touching him whenever they can and both of them are also jealous whenever they see the other one being flirted with.

“I don’t have much, and I don’t ask for much. You’re my last hope.”

The plot was honestly a bit predictable but OMG… The romance… <3 Now, if you’re wondering why I am swooning over the romance which could be classified as “bad boy meets good tough girl” and the insta-attraction (well, not insta-love please put this in mind!) might not appeal to some readers but oh well, the chemistry CHEMISTRY PEOPLE. Simone Elkeles definitely knows how to write a sizzling romance! I didn’t like the relationship at first since I found it too awkward (duhh… Derek is Ashtyn’s step-nephew) but eventually, I was like awww they’re so good together!

Wild Cards was hilarious and highly enjoyable, I ended up rooting for the main characters to get together already! Some negative points just can’t be overlooked, so in the end, I think Wild Cards can either be a hit or miss. But it was definitely a perfect entertainment for me.

Note: Quotes are taken from eARC edition so no guarantee that they won’t be altered or removed from the finished copy.