Wednesday, 28 August 2013

[REVIEW] Escaping Reality Lisa Renee Jones

Escaping Reality by Lisa Renee Jones
Published: July 2013
Age Group: New Adult
Series: The Secret Life of Amy Benson #1
ARC courtesy of Julie Patra Publishing, provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you very much!

This is a spoiler free review.

Escaping Reality is, if you can't tell by the series name, the secret life of Amy Benson - if that is actually her name.

The story starts out with a "Mission Impossible" feel. I was immediately captivated by the quick moving actions and the panic the character was feeling that I had completely forgotten about the romance/erotica aspect of this book, until there is mention of a hot male who happens to catches the main character's attention. There goes my thoughts and I start reading about this whirl wind romance that takes place throughout the rest of the story.

I greatly enjoyed the story. Readers aren't given very much information on who the character Amy actually is.  We're given the chance to read about flashbacks of her past life when she experiences them but I feel that under no means are these meant to be taken as the absolute truth. Why should we as the readers believe everything when she herself doesn't know what's true or not. Perhaps I'm just being paranoid. I blame the initial feelings of being in a spy movie. Like I said Amy's past is not shared, which makes her a very interesting character to read about. I kept wondering what is it that she's running from? And who was she at first?

Along with the mystery is the steamy romance between the two main characters, Amy and hot-as-can-be Liam Stone, who is a billionaire, "recluse", architect.  Their romance takes off and usually I don't question these fast paced romances but maybe the nature of this story leaves me skeptical that this guy ONLY loves her and isn't getting close to her for ulterior motives. They just got together too fast! Also he has a goatee... I'm not a fan of goatees... and so maybe it's just personal taste but there's something off about this guy. He's your typical alpha, dominating male who wants to protect his girl and expects you to listen to him. What I noticed from him that was different from other alpha males is that he has a sort of compassion to him. He doesn't question Amy's past, even though it's obvious there's more to it than Amy is telling him, and he doesn't push her to tell him. A guy who doesn't pressure a lady to tell him about herself is a plus in my books. Liam also makes Amy feel wanted. Who doesn't want to feel wanted? Especially if it's a hot guy who wants you! But Amy is a different story, she's been alone on the run and has never truly felt a belonging to anyone until Liam. I find their romance to be a template of what most women want in a relationship and it tells a very endearing tale of two people who just want to be together and love one another.

Overall the story was quite lovely. Amazingly written. I like fast paced books that keep me engaged and attached to the storyline and this did just that. Add a very surprising cliffhanger and you have yourself a wonderful book that I think you definitely try. I haven't read any of Lisa Renee Jones' other books but I think I'll definitely give them a try after Escaping Reality. I ensure you that once you're done reading this book, you'll be on the edge of your seat waiting for the sequel to be released, like I am right now.

P.S. I love math and very much appreciated the pi tattoo Liam has. Thank you very much Lisa Renee Jones ♥

Infinite Possibilities (The Secret Life of Amy Benson #2) is expected to be released October 2013.

[REVIEW] Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
Published: January 2012
Age Group: Young Adult
Series: Unearthly #2
Second time's the charm for me and this book! After re-reading Unearthly, [REVIEW HERE], I found myself absorbed in the series again and proceeded to start Hallowed from the beginning and give it another try. Honestly I'm not sure why I even stopped last time since I was already more than half way through the book but I did and completely forgot about it. And so I read it again and enjoyed it much more then the first time.

Once again it's the love triangle between Clara, Tucker and Christian. I feel like Cynthia Hand is giving each boy their deserved amount of pages because I found Hallowed to focus more on Christian than Tucker. I guess that's fair since Tucker got the most of Unearthly.

Also, once again, we have these visions that the characters have. Although I'm not really sure if they can even be called visions anymore...more like glimpses into the future. I'm slightly confused about the premise of this evolving idea because at first I was like "cool. nephilim children get visions when they're older that is basically their sole purpose of being on Earth. that's cool" and now it just doesn't seem like that. Before the visions came at certain specific moments when part of the vision was coming together. And now they just come sporadically and it's not really a purpose. Does that make sense? Cause if it doesn't don't worry, I'm kind of confused too...

Clara and the other nephilim adolescents get introduced to the angel world formerly in this book in the form of a camping trip. They get introduced to many more adult angels and get told a shocking secret (which I think is a spoiler and to keep this spoiler free I won't be saying anything. Go read the books!) The nephilim adolescents (i.e. Clara, Christian, Jeffrey and Angela) come together and create this lovely Angel's Club which I find to be completely useless when it comes to the story plot but I guess they had to get together somehow. Clara also gets a blackwing stalker (I wasn't that surprised) that kind of becomes her friend (Not really a friend but kind of...and a kind-of friend sounds better than stalker). Also did I mention that Christian and Clara are apparently (a big APPARENTLY) "soul mates"? Why you ask? Oh they just share this special bond and all these visions. That definitely makes people soul mates. Imagine someone said this to you: "Hey, not to scare you or anything but, I saw you in a vision and I get weird feelings around you. I think we're soul mates." Doesn't that sound strange? Oh well, soul mates are meant to be together. Right? I hope I'm right.

I found the story lacking in the development in any other character but Clara and Christian. There are just pivotal scenes in the story that came at a surprise for me, mainly because I didn't understand the character well enough to understand why they would say this or act like that. I understand the need for his love triangle to play out but it's getting a bit too much, and this is coming from someone who's a die hard romantic and LIVES for these angsty romances.

Overall the story wasn't that great. Did I hate it, no. Did I love it, no. Clara became much more annoying in this instalment and the story in general lost it's novelty and attraction that lead me to love Unearthly and rave about it. I don't think this lived up to my expectations (even the second time around) and I'm dreading reading the finale just because I don't want this series to end on a cliché note. I want the two characters that I like to get together. But knowing my luck it won't happen.

BUT even after everything I said, this was still a lovely read and I was very excited to know what happened to everyone after the fire and everyone's relationships. It was interesting to read the turmoil and somewhat internal conflicts between the few, but important,  characters in the story.

Monday, 19 August 2013

[COMING SOON TO THE SMALL SCREEN] Bitten by Kelley Armstrong (Women of the Otherworld)

If you didn't know, Kelley Armstrong is one of FAVourite authors (and she's Canadian! Added plus) My favourite series by her is definitely the Women of the Otherworld. I practically live off those books and adore the story so much, in fact I remember doing a school project on her. It was definitely fun to analyze her writing.

Anyway back to the post, I just realized that the Women of the Otherworld series is coming to the small screen. Yes fans out there who are squealing and jumping up and down like me, that means we're getting a television show!!! SAY WUT??? That's right, a television show. The first season will premiere early 2014 and will consist of 13 episodes. The overall series is called "Bitten" but I'm sure that's an overall name, say like "The Vampire Diaries" or "Pretty Little Liars", because although Bitten is amazing, there isn't enough information to last it 13 episodes.

It's a show under SPACE (which I'm not sure which channel that is so...can't help you there.)

The IMDB link with the cast and plot synopsis: click here

It looks like the majority of the cast is Canadian so this seems to be an all Canadian production, which I completely support! We need more good shows in Canada.

Also I was looking through the casting and noticed some names there that seems strange, mainly a character named "Joey" which I recall made an appearance in the 10th novel Frostbitten (which is one of my favs in the series) so either they're going to do some flashback episodes of their childhood lives or they're mixing up the whole series together. Or it may just focus on the werewolf aspect of the story and the other stories are sub plots. Regardless, it'll be fun to watch!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

[REVIEW] Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling by Kristen Cashore
Published: October 2008
Age Group: Young Adult
Series: Graceling Realm #1
It has taken me many years and many tries to finally finish this novel. Long ago when this novel was first released I had given it a try and didn't get past the first couple of chapters. And so Graceling fell into my pile of books I didn't like. Then years passed and my friends read it and implored me to give it another shot but I'm a stubborn person and I don't like giving books another shot if I tried reading them already. So last year I was gifted  a copy of Graceling on my birthday with a sole condition: that I tried reading it again (and a gift receipt was included in case I really really didn't like it). And so there the book sat, gift receipt inside it, on my piles of books. Did I consider returning it? Yes. But did I? No. After finishing another wonderful hyped up book, I decided it was finally time to give Graceling another try, and I'm happy to say that  because of my friend's persistence I have finally read this wonderful story.

Now onto the review. Graceling takes place in the world of Seven Kingdoms (I thought it to be similar to Cinda William Chima's Seven Realms) where people may be born with a 'Grace'. Think of a 'Grace' as a superpower. There are some people that are Graced in swimming, climbing trees, and cooking. While there are some Graced with more dangerous abilities like sword skills and archery. And then there are people with Graces that are mind powers such as mind reading or telling the weather.  Every Grace is identified with eyes that are two different colours. The colours appearing when their Grace shows itself. It's a very peculiar concept, one that I find direct similarities to another book but that's for another review.

Graceling follows the main character Katsa, a blue and green eyed girl gifted with the Grace of killing, and Po, the golden and silver eyed 7th prince of the kingdom of Lienid, who is Graced with the ability of hand to hand combat. The story starts out with Katsa running a secret mission because she has decided to make use of her Grace and do secret missions around the Seven Kingdoms and help those that aren't being helped or correct wrongdoings that have happened. Practically everyone knows who she is and what she is Graced with. Her uncle uses her skills for his own ambitions and although she absolutely detests it, she doesn't fight it. Well I guess her secret missions is her secret revolt against her uncle, who is king of the kingdom she is from, but lets be honest I just think she does them to feel some control.

So Po comes into her life and the story takes off with their growing friendship and eventual love life.

It's a lovely story filled with action and drama, although not that much romance scenes because it is YA after all. I didn't question the direction the story took, albeit I was confused sometimes but I just continued reading and moved on. Eventually the story straightened out for me.

I enjoyed reading the book immensely, up to one point in the story. I would call it the pivot point because that's when the story went slightly down hill for me.
[SPOILER ALERT] Shortly after Katsa and Po admit their feelings of love towards one another Katsa realizes that NO she is not Graced with killing but rather with survival. When I read this I was flabbergasted, not with happy surprise but at the sudden revelation and of how odd and strange it was.  Sort of like the author was trying to explain Katsa's amazing outdoors skills and her inability to get sick and thought 'Hmm...what do those have in common? Survival! Okay her Grace is now survival' Well okay I can accept survival for some aspects of the story but how does that explain all the things she did for her king. How can she break someone's finger under the guise of survival? Okay one can argue that perhaps she had to for her own survival because the king would kill her is she didn't but seriously, does that make sense? I'm scared for my own life because the king can kill me, a girl Graced (at the time) with killing...doesn't that sound strange to you? So, the story took off after that and I found it oddly convenient that Katsa was graced with survival, because otherwise how would Po, Katsa, and soon Bitterblue survive the outdoors? How would Katsa get Bitterblue to safety? Seems to well thought out. Almost forced. And I hate forced plot. [END SPOILERS]

Although Po and Katsa are amazing together, I think the best part of the story was when Katsa is with Bitterblue and they're trying to escape the evil king through the mountains. There's a sense of raw emotions and panic in a way. I could fully feel Katsa's determination and her constant attempts at ensuring that both if not Bitterblue survives this travel.

The main "battle" scene was, although rushed in my opinion, a great build up. You see Katsa surprised with who she finds and then the evil king talks and talks and talks and you get the sense of nervousness and anxiety building up inside Katsa until she lets go and that's it.

I'm not a fan of the ending. I mean it's an open ending. You don't really know what happens for Katsa and Po. Do they stay together? Does Po return back to his castle? What about everyone else in the story? The ending doesn't tie up every loose end, and I'm not sure if the author purposely did that so there was room for sequels (or companion novels)

This was a wonderful read and although delayed, I'm still happy I had a chance to read it and fully appreciate this beauty.