Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Contact change

I've changed the blog contact from an email form to an actual address.  If you'd like to request a review or anything else, you can send it to joana(at) now!  It's also on the "contact" page now.

Book review: Passionaries (The Blessed #2) by Tonya Hurley

Agnes, Cecelia, and Lucy watched as Sebastian sacrificed himself for what he believed in. Will the girls trust that their destiny as saints and martyrs and perform the miracles as Sebastian instructed? Or lose faith in themselves and each other in his absence? Time is running out for them to make a decision, and the fate of the world lies in the balance.

Passionaries is the sequel to The Blessed, a book I read last year and reviewed rather… unfavorably.  However I did say I’d see it out since I saw potential in it.  I kind of regret it, to be honest.

Passionaries continues the story of Lucy, Agnes and Cecelia a few months after their experiences at the Church of the Precious Blood.  Despite that they should have been keeping in touch and getting through things together, they haven’t so much as texted each other since the investigation into the events and Sebastian’s death.  That was the first problem I had with it; the fact that I didn’t really sympathize with what had happened to them and then they just abandon each other made me really not believe when they talked about how close they are.

A problem I had with the last book was one that a lot of people seemed to have: the fact that it was hard to tell whether they really were reincarnated saints, or if Sebastian was as mentally ill as suggested and he was just influencing them to believe they were because he had the delusion himself and they happened to share the right names.  There’s plenty of proof that there’s something supernatural going on here, but I still found myself doubting who they actually were.  For instance, Cecelia actually shreds two men with some kind of whip sword.  No mercy.  It’s actually really gory.  Am I really supposed to believe she’s a saint when she’s so willing to commit gross atrocities like that?  Honestly.

The one thing that I liked about the first book was the sequences with Dr. Frey.  They were the only thing that I felt was grounded in any sort of reality.  I was hoping it would continue in this book so that there would still be something redeeming about it, if nothing else improved.  I thought that this series had nowhere to go but up.  Unfortunately I was wrong.  Dr. Frey goes from a psychiatrist who’s genuinely worried about Sebastian and the girls to a cardboard-cutout villain who has an evil entourage.  We even get some backstory for him, but it doesn’t help.  All we know is that he used to be a priest, and he defected from religion until he joined the hospital.  There’s honestly no reason why anyone’s doing anything they do in the book.  Yes, saints are supposed to be disbelieved and persecuted, but this goes way too far.

Pretty much all this book does is prove that it could, in fact, get worse.  The exact same bad points from the first book are there, and more are piled on.  I really wish Hurley had improved.  And clearly there are people who enjoyed it.  But I just don’t get why.  Not one I’d recommend.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Book review: The Second Sign by Elizabeth Arroyo

Bred to believe in the war between angels and demons, Gabby has come to the conclusion that love is responsible for war, jealousy, and all the other deadly sins she can think of. So when she’s exiled to the middle of nowhere for getting kicked out of her fifth school for fighting, she doesn't expect to meet Jake. Much less fall in love. But Jake is quickly drawn to the eerie beauty of her violet eyes while Gabby is unsettled by their undeniable connection.

When a demon guardian comes to collect her soul, she refuses to give it up. She’s not a demon. She can’t be. Her father and twin brother are angels. The demon gives Gabby twenty-four hours to decide her allegiance, and then starts killing her short list of friends, leaving a message behind: She is the Second Sign.

As Gabby and Jake begin to unravel the mystery behind the Second Sign, she learns Jake may be the key to saving her soul. But it means a sacrifice has to be made that will change their lives forever.

This book was given to me for free in return for an honest review.

Well, it seems the next few books I’m reviewing will be Christian mythos ones; I have the sequel to The Blessed after this, and the sequel to this book after that.  Is basing books around Christian mythology becoming more popular in the last few years?  I mean I’ve seen it before with the Hush, Hush series and its angels, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me.  And it is a welcome change from all the vampires.

I had mixed feelings about The Second Sign.  On the one hand, for most of the book, it’s pretty well-written, and I didn’t find myself annoyed with the main characters, which is always a plus.  The deeper you get, the more complex the plot gets, and you realize just how intricately the author has worked on weaving this together so that nothing is pointless and everyone has a role to play.  It also doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to violence, which can be seen as a plus for people who are tired of things always getting solved in a fade-to-black or in an easier way.  For God’s sake, a girl gets her limbs pulled off her body one-by-one.  I couldn’t help but wince at that.

There are a few things that bugged me about the story, though.  Sometimes the fight scenes got so convoluted that I had no idea what was going on anymore.  There are times when things don’t add up or the plot doesn’t quite fit, such as how Jake and Jenna got all the way from California to Maine in so little time when all they had was a truck.  Traveling at all seems to be glossed over considering the book runs into the same problem with their father when he goes to see them; if he was in California, how’d he get to coastal Maine in just a few hours?  And there’s the problem that the book has the tendency to use words that are very similar to what should actually be used but aren’t that word, which throws things off.  Considering how often it happens, I’d have to say the editing job wasn’t quite up to par.

All-in-all an okay book.  It gets points for taking place in Maine, since so few books do.  Despite its flaws I’d say it’s worth a read.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Review tour: Draw Me In by Megan Squires

He’s a young, up and coming businessman with the keys to his family’s Italian wine enterprise.

I’m a fine arts student, navigating life in the Big Apple, my pencil and sketchpad in hand.

We meet. We fall in love.

But it’s not that story.

Sometimes, by a rare gift of fate, two lives cross paths. And hey, if that happens to occur when staring at Michelangelo’s naked masterpiece, even better. We can tell our future children how a seventeen-foot tall marble guy named David brought us together.

But there’s always more to a relationship than its beginning and ever after. In life, there’s a whole lot of backstory. There are ex-fiancĂ©s and hot roommates and family members whose advice continues, even beyond the grave.

When you say you love someone, it’s never just that one person you’re saying it to. And it’s never just that one moment that sets everything in motion.

There is always more that draws you in.

A free e-book copy was given to me for the Draw Me In review tour.

It’s not often I can say  I’ve read a book I could truly say I enjoyed all the way through.  So many authors seem to fall flat at one point or another in the book, either in plot points, in weaving things together, or the characters.  While Draw Me In wasn’t completely perfect, it was about as close as you can get from a book.  Every now and then there were things that threw it off, such as points I felt like it was unfinished or the editing hadn’t caught a plot point that Squires had added in later and needed to connect earlier in the book, but it came nowhere near to overshadowing the good parts of the book.

I loved Julie.  I often find myself getting irritated with characters who are centered around how clumsy they are, but even though it was such a big part of the book, there was so much more to her than that, making her a well-rounded character and person.  She’s witty sometimes and doesn’t know what to say other times.  At one point she finds Leo’s best friend in her bed, having a dream-induced Western adventure, and she goes right along with it.  She’s articulate without sounding like she belongs in a Shakespearean play, although she has her moments when she sounds like every other girl her age.  When Leo calls her special, it doesn’t make me roll my eyes.

The background characters are great too, from Julie’s roommate Ian to Leo’s ex-fiancĂ© Sofia.  It was a breath of fresh air, as far as I was concerned, that Sofia wasn’t cast as an antagonist.  She didn’t try to steal Leo from Julie, or rub it in her face that they were together for six years.  She’s not a complete angel, but she had a place in the story that propelled it forward without making her into the mean girl that so many ex-girlfriends in books are.

The last few chapters made me cry.  I say that with no shame at all.  There was just so much to them in so few words that I found myself teary-eyed as I continued on.  This is a book I’d be more than happy to recommend to anyone.  So, happy reading!

To purchase the book, you find it at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.