The Hunger Games #1 Review

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

I read the Hunger Games Trilogy once many years ago, but I don’t really remember any of it. In fact, I don’t remember what happened in Mockingjay at all, just bits and pieces of what I read online, even though I know for a fact that I finished the novel. So, I decided to start from the beginning and reread the entire trilogy, and I noticed quite a few things that I didn’t notice before.

For starters, wow, I don’t like Katniss’ mom. I didn’t think she was that bad from the little I remember of her in the movie, but she made me want to scream in this one. Katniss barely ever spoke back to her mother, even though her mother went into a depressive episode and left an eleven-year-old to take care of an adult and a seven-year-old for almost an entire winter. It wasn’t her mom’s fault, but Katniss suffered for those months trying to feed her family until her mother would come back mentally. Katniss finally breaks down and yells at her when she is about to leave for the Hunger Games, begging her not to leave mentally again. Instead of apologizing for not being there all those years ago, she makes an excuse like “well I have my medicine now and if I had had my medicine back then I wouldn’t have left.” Your daughter was hurting because she had to become a mother at only 11, and your only comeback to her asking you not to do that again is “well if I had my pills.” This may be realistic, parents who have depressive episodes never really apologizing or understanding how much strain they put on their children, but boy it was so frustrating to read. The mother clearly prefers Prim, even though that daughter hasn’t been doing much (besides her goat milk business) to support the family, and just treats Katniss like she is the breadwinner for the family because she can hunt. Nevertheless, I felt that this truly gave Katniss more character than she would have had otherwise. It was interesting to see that she didn’t come from a perfect family with a perfect life. Therefore, it actually improved the story for me, in a way.

I really liked how the Capitol’s greediness was compared with the poverty of some of the districts. One of my favorite parts of the book was when Katniss got upset FOR the kids who Effie shamed in the previous year for eating like “animals.” Katniss remembers that these children had come from some of the poorest families in the District, so of course they would have eaten as if they were never going to see food again with such a rich meal being placed in front of them. District 12 is one of the poorest if not the poorest districts in the nation, so Katniss and Peeta have never seen such opulence before they got to the games. The scenes with the stylists were also very well written, and I was happy that they weren’t disrespected like other tributes.

I have to say that I hate love triangles, so I just didn’t appreciate the romance in this book. I understand that they did it because of a plan, but it just didn’t sit well with me. This book would have been perfect without the romance for me, but I am going to take a star off for that. Like what if they had teamed up to be partners, killed everyone, then decide to kill each other so that no one would win the games? I think that could have made for a more powerful book than this one was.

Overall, this book was better than I remember it being, but I still didn’t like the romance. For someone who is interesting in the worldbuilding and the fighting action of the game, this is the perfect book! If you are here for the romance…I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it completely. Onto the rest of the trilogy!

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 books.

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The Wanderer #2: Smoke In Her Eyes Review

Smoke in her Eyes (The Wanderer Book #2)

I was looking forward to finishing the Wanderer series so much, but then I was hit with so much disappointment. I couldn’t believe how childish Jason and Helle acted in this novel, and it totally took me out of the story. I felt like I was watching two teenagers in an “on again off again” relationship, and they were supposed to be literal soulmates.

Jason is visiting his aunt Juliet who was hurt by Sam in a car accident and burnt all over her body. He is distraught by seeing his aunt in so much agony for months, and moves with Helle closer to her hospital so that he can spend all day sitting with her. Helle is ok with this at first, but then she starts to get jealous as he spends more time with her and won’t even give her a second glance when he comes home. Helle knows Juliet is in love with Jason, but Jason thinks that Helle is being selfish. He couldn’t think of being intimate with Helle after seeing Juliet’s mangled body in the hospital day after day, but he can’t figure out the words to explain this to Helle.

Honestly, they were both in the wrong a lot for some parts of this book, but Helle was definitely pretty annoying. She barely even tried to understand what Jason was going through after having to see how bad Juliet really was hurt, and simply acted as if he was cheating on her. So, she decides to go hang out with some other guy to get Jason back. Even if Jason’s aunt is weirdly infatuated with him, hanging out with your dying aunt all day is not the same as hanging out with some random guy all day. She wanted to act as if she was so lonely, so bored in this new town, but she never made the effort to go and see Juliet. She didn’t even join any sort of women’s groups to fill the time in her day, she just sits at the house sulking all day and then sulks more when Jason doesn’t come home ready to jump in bed with her. Now, Jason isn’t completely off the hook. At some points in the book Helle really was insecure about their relationship and needed Jason’s reassurance, but he didn’t even try to give it to her. He was just pushing her away all the time, never explaining his feelings, just “knowing” that she would always stay around for him no matter what. Then when she isn’t there waiting for him anymore, he is shocked.

I wouldn’t have been as mad if the drama had ended there, but it seemed like another 50-100 pages of back and forth. Literally most of the book was just filled with the “perfect lovers” arguing over things that could have been eased if not solved by simple communication. Of course, Sam made an appearance every now and then, but they were too busy arguing to really deal with him. I feel like Sam could have easily had someone sweep up Helle while Jason was at the hospital, but nope, everything was drawn out.

The thing that really saved this book for me was I think the end of the novel. I’m not sure which event was the most exciting for me, but I just remember being on the edge of my seat once the random relationship drama was over. The “final battle” was definitely exciting to read, nothing to complain about there!

Overall, I wouldn’t really recommend or warn against this book. I suppose if you LOVE the first book in this series and have to figure out what happens to the characters in the end that you might enjoy this one.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 books.

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The Mage-Born Anthology Review

The Mage-Born Anthology

The Mage-born Anthology is full of short stories discussing the lives of Reshi’s siblings before and after they received their powers. Some of his siblings lived together while others lived on their own, not knowing that they had any siblings. They were all raised in different locations across the country, they all have different personalities, and they all develop very different powers. I’m not going to be able to review all the stories without including major spoilers, so I am just going to focus on my favorite story and the story that surprised me the most.

My favorite story was Velyn’s backstory. He was also raised in an orphanage like Reshi, but when he aged out of the orphanage, he was placed in a halfway house with his best friend Tawni. They both want to be fishermen and Velyn as a wind-mage would guarantee that they would be successful. All they have to do is save enough from the money they make off the catch of rented boats to buy their own and start their own business. Even though Velyn is pretty evil in the main series, he seemed genuinely sweet to his friend and an honest worker in this book. Now I need to know what happened between this short story and the beginning of the Mage-born Chronicles to make him into the man he was!

The story that surprised me the most was Eagan’s backstory. I knew that one person would have had to be just genuinely bad, and I guess Eagan was that person. I almost cried while reading the end of this story, and then that was it! I don’t need to read more of his character, but it would be interesting to see how he reacted to meeting the rest of his siblings.

Overall, one or two of the short stories were a bit disappointing, but they were all good for the most part. I just hope that there is more to come from this universe, as I love this lore and these characters so much! The novellas were also written in chronological order, from the time the oldest child got her powers to the point that the mage hunters started hunting the 7 siblings. Through these stories you are able to see to see how the world slowly became more and more hostile towards mages over time, and how the younger siblings were raised in worse conditions than their older siblings. I would not recommend reading this before the other two books in the Mage-born Chronicles, but I would recommend reading it after for a bit more backstory.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for the novellas to the Mage-born Chronicles, a fantasy series with LGBT+ characters.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 books

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The Mage-Born Chronicles #2: Mistress Mage Review

Mistress Mage  (The Mage-Born Chronicles #2)

After the battle, Reshi realized that he loved Kestral, and he left. Loving someone was too much like being owned by that person for him to accept, and so he ran. Six months have passed and Reshi has started to woo some royals in order to live in the castle and get close to his step-brother, the king’s “legitimate” child Niko. He is also in contact with his exiled mother, and is avidly trying to avoid his murderous brother Velyn. Kestral stayed with Kila and has been hunting for Reshi for the past six months as well. He is desperately in love with him and would do literally anything to have him back, but Reshi keeps avoiding him. Whenever he manages to get close to Reshi, he shapeshifts into a creature that he can’t keep track of and runs away again. Kestral has to find some way to get Reshi to trust him so that they can finish off Velyn and finally be safe, but Kestral has to get Reshi to stay in one place long enough to explain himself first.

I have to say that even though the chase may get annoying for some readers, I truly enjoyed Kestral chasing after Reshi in this book. All Reshi does is usually run away from a situation when it becomes to difficult or too dangerous for him to face, and it has worked for him in his life so far. Now, there is finally a person begging Reshi to stay in one place. Their personalities are complete opposites, but now they are becoming more one alike one another. Kestral used to be the quiet one who avoided Reshi’s advances, now Reshi is forced to be quiet to stay in hiding away from Kestral.  They are also struggling with being apart from one another, even though Reshi would never admit it. I loved this couple from the beginning of the first book to the end of this book. They had their hiccups, but no couple is perfect. I still believed that they were a perfect match by the time I finished this novel.

My favorite part of this book was watching Reshi bond with his brother Niko. I wasn’t expecting them to get along as well as they did, given that Reshi lived a stressful and impoverished life while Niko got to live a privileged life, but Reshi was able to see through Niko that life as a royal was not amazing either. Niko had been sick all his life and had barely been allowed out of the castle many days. He struggled with being alone and having no friends because of this, and he never got to experience many of the luxuries of being the prince because of his sicknesses. Reshi originally was jealous of his brother, but then he began to befriend and even pity him to some extent. Only thing I was worried about was that Niko was accidentally going to develop a serious crush on his brother before they were properly introduced, but that was avoided completely. I would love more stories of just the two of them learning how to be true brothers to one another!

The action of this story was intense as a lot of “final battles” occur. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that I was happy with the ending. All the twists and turns leading up to that ending went perfectly, and I was happy with how all the characters ended up. If things had been any different, I don’t think I would have been as satisfied. I’m especially glad that Kila didn’t get any sort of random lovers. She loved the military, and that shone through her character entirely. She did not have time for extra dalliances, and I respected her for that.

Overall, this was one of my favorite fantasy duologies, and I can’t wait to read more by this author. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a new fantasy novel to enjoy, or a new romance novel with LGBT+ characters.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books

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Queen of the Sea Blog Tour Plus Review

Age Range: 10 – 14 years
Grade Level: 5 – 9
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Walker Books US (June 25, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1536204986
ISBN-13: 978-1536204988



Praise for QUEEN OF THE SEA

The art, reminiscent of Raina Telgemeier’s style, creates levity during perilous situations. The book is dense with dialogue, often feeling more like a work of prose than a graphic novel. As a result, this complex work will be more accessible to those familiar with graphic novels…Certain to charm sophisticated graphic novel devotees. —School Library Journal (starred review)

Meconis offers an atmospheric alternate history inspired by the childhood and succession of Queen Elizabeth I in this quietly ambitious graphic novel…Art in soft, earthy colors brings this singular story to life in styles ranging from simple line drawings to elaborately styled text illuminations. The island world is richly developed, both in its physical particulars and its close-knit community (fascinating digressions into topics such as convent time, hand gestures used at table, and chess and embroidery flesh out daily life), and Margaret proves herself an endearing heroine with a strong voice full of humor and wonder. Her perspective transforms a storm-wracked rock into a vibrant world of hidden treasures. —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Meconis’ humor and storytelling gifts here wed seamlessly with her evocative pen-and-ink and gouache illustrations, which are rendered in warm earth and sea tones and brim with movement, expressively capturing even Margaret’s interior monologues. With its compelling, complex characters and intrigue-laden plot, this will have readers hoping it’s only the first of many adventures for Meconis’ savvy heroine. —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Weaving faith, love, statecraft, and self-discovery into a tale of palace intrigue relocated to the halls of a convent on a remote island at sea, Dylan Meconis uses the trappings of the history we know to create a high-stakes adventure in an alternate past that feels so detailed and so familiar, you’ll find yourself wondering why you never read about it in school. This beautiful book swept me away from the first page.” —Kate Milford, author of the Greenglass House series

“Dylan Meconis is at the absolute top of her game. A gorgeously rendered, lovingly realized alternate history, full of personal revelations in the midst of political intrigue. A tale of growing up, and of understanding that the world is larger and stranger than it once seemed. (Plus it has a Terrible Recipe for Terrible Gruel.)” —Ben Hatke, author-illustrator of the Zita the Spacegirl series

“This is the book I was always trying to get my hands on in high school that never seemed to materialize. An adventure to lose yourself in, with an attention to historical detail to please the nerdiest among us. I fell easily and completely into this world and its characters, knowing I was safe in Dylan Meconis’s hands, and I’m really excited for more people to find out what I’ve known for a long time—that she is one of a kind.” —Kate Beaton, author-illustrator of Hark! A Vagrant

Cult graphic novelist Dylan Meconis offers a rich reimagining of history in this hybrid novel loosely based on the exile of Queen Elizabeth I by her sister, Queen Mary.

When her sister seizes the throne, Queen Eleanor of Albion is banished to a tiny island off the coast of her kingdom, where the nuns of the convent spend their days peacefully praying, sewing, and gardening. But the island is also home to Margaret, a mysterious young orphan girl whose life is upturned when the cold, regal stranger arrives. As Margaret grows closer to Eleanor, she grapples with the revelation of the island’s sinister true purpose as well as the truth of her own past. When Eleanor’s life is threatened, Margaret is faced with a perilous choice between helping Eleanor and protecting herself.

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Margaret has lived on an island with nuns and servants her entire life. The nuns are of the Elysian order, and their job is to pray for the sailors that sail on the waters near their island. They also take in those that need shelter who come to the island, and help those who are washed ashore from a shipwreck. Margaret knows that she couldn’t have been born on the island, but none of the nuns are willing to tell her where she came from. She was also the only kid on the island, at least until William came. This book tells the story of her adventures on this island as she learns about her family, true family, and friendship.

I love graphic novels, but I have never read a historical fiction graphic novel. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but this book completely blew me away. Margaret was such a lively character, she reminded me of the girls that I grew up reading in the classic novels at the library like Pippi Longstocking and A Little Princess. She was full of life and lit up the rooms she was in, even on an island full of nuns and servants. She was imaginative, but she wanted to grow up to be a nun so she could help people. She never even thought of life off the island until more people from the mainland started coming to the island, but then she couldn’t stop thinking about it. Even when she thought about mainland life, she didn’t start to rebel against the people who had raised her. Which I took as a breath of fresh air. Not all preteen/teenaged girls are crazy and rebellious, some really enjoy their lives like Margaret did. You can be imaginative without trying to run away every 2 seconds.

This had to be one of the most fun yet even still historically accurate graphic novels I’ve read yet. I learned small things about living on an island full of nuns in the 16th century as I read about Margaret’s life there as an outsider. There were traditions that these nuns upheld, stories that these nuns told, that I had never even heard about as a non-Catholic Christian. Even so, the book wasn’t so forcibly religious that a non-Christian person would feel uncomfortable reading it. The historic religious events were woven in with brilliant storytelling and beautiful pictures.

I read this entire book in about 2-3 hours, while on buses and trains commuting to and from NYC. This book was so addictive that it took me out of that uncomfortable and annoying commute and made me think about a completely new world while I was reading it. I can say that I definitely have not had that experience while reading a graphic novel before.

I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a new historical fiction book or a new graphic novel to enjoy. I cannot wait to read more by this author!

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books.

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Photo Content from Dylan Meconis

I’ve been writing and illustrating my own stories since the first grade, and I’ve been making comic books since middle school (no, really! Seventh grade was a tough year for me socially, so I had a lot of time to draw). I started my first book-length comic (graphic novel) in high school.

Unlike a lot of people who become professional artists and authors, I didn’t go to art school or a creative writing program in college. Instead, I mostly studied history, literature, philosophy, and French in the College of Letters at Wesleyan University. This means I have a brain full of weird facts, old books, strange art, and the extremely useful ability to read The Tales of Canterbury in the original Middle English. Except for the Middle English bit, it’s all come in very handy for writing and drawing historical fiction and fantasy.

I first started to get paid for making comics when I was still in college, when my first graphic novel was published online. After college, I worked as a graphic designer and visual communications consultant (which means “person who helps teach adults complicated stuff in cool new ways using pictures”). I’ve worked with Fortune 500 companies, global charities, technology companies, libraries, and a lot of other interesting organizations. I’ve made illustrations, animations, information graphics and cool presentations, explaining everything from how microchips work to the ways that clean drinking water can help communities in the third world.

For the last ten years, though, I mostly work as a writer, comic book creator and illustrator! Sometimes I make books totally by myself, and sometimes I get to team up with other writers or artists. It can be lots of fun, but it can also be very hard work. Luckily, I never get tired of making new stories.

 
       
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JUNE 24th MONDAY JeanBookNerd INTERVIEW
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Kill or Cure #1 Review

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Kill or Cure

Alyx lives in a town of survivors with her brother Tommy, her guardian Joe, and her best friend Will. The Infected come from time to time, but they know how to protect themselves. When Tommy is infected, they know that they will have to leave. Without the protection of their walls, they are in danger when any traveler or Infected comes near to them. They have to protect Tommy, find new shelter, and avoid the Infected while they are at it.

I started off this novel truly invested in the story. I liked the characters, loved the setting, and I was looking forward to seeing how they would grow as the novel went on. By the time I reached the end of this book, my dreams were dashed. I still enjoyed the action scenes and I enjoyed most of the plot, but the romance ruined it for me.

I knew that Will and Alyx were going to be a couple from the start of the novel. I had hoped it would just be the two of them, but of course, no YA novel can go without a gold old-fashioned love triangle. I truly hated when Colt came into the picture, there was really no need for him to be there. Alyx fell for him because he “protected” her, but Will had literally been protecting her for years before that. They grew up together. Her lame excuse for wanting Colt over Will just didn’t add up, but she continued to ignore everyone that told her Will had a crush on her. This love triangle was painful to read as both boys started pining after Alyx, and the rest of the storyline seemed to die along with it.

Everything picked up again at the end of the story when the more important characters were added back in, like the deaf girl Winter that they found on their journey and a few other people they picked up. It is these characters who are making me really want to read book 2. Now that everyone is back into the story, I think the love triangle will be put to the side for more exciting story and action.

I wouldn’t recommend or discredit this book, as I think things might change in the next novel, so read it if you enjoy dystopian novels but don’t mind extremely annoying teenaged love triangles.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 books.

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Shadow Eyes #3: Sacrificial Souls Review

Sacrificial Souls (Shadow Eyes Series, #3) #bookblogger #bookreview @dustycrabtree
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Iris has been given a leadership role by Gregory, and Gregory is starting to leave everything up to her guidance and her team in missions. Iris doesn’t think that she can do everything on her own, and begins to resent Gregory for putting them in danger. Donovan keeps showing up, and now she has to try to fight him by herself. Him, on top of all the other shadows that Iris and her friends have to fight. She is glad to have a team behind her, but it would still be nice to have some guidance from her mentor.

I have loved the Shadow Eyes series from start to finish, and I am sad to see it end. This wasn’t the absolute best ending in my personal opinion, but it was the only one that made sense given the circumstances. I didn’t understand why Gregory was pushing Iris so hard, but by the end of the book I guess I kind of understood. I just felt like this was very out of character for him, which made it hard for me to connect with his character under these circumstances.

What I did enjoy was that all the ends seemed to be tied up with this story. I understood the shadows, I understood what Iris’ job was as a light warrior, and I think that Iris did too. It seemed like a very final conclusion to what had been a very long adventure with Iris and her friends. I was happy to see that the drama had mostly disappeared with Iris’ relationship with Patrick and they were able to just enjoy being together. One of my favorite parts of the book was watching Iris help her mother and her mother’s boyfriend plan for their wedding. The simple domestic things that allowed me to see how these characters were transitioning into a new stage of their lives made me enjoy this book even more.

The story flowed well, there were no dead moments that bothered me as I was reading it. The author perfectly balances the action with the main narrative, and I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t see any plot holes that distracted me from enjoying the book. There were no grammar errors or formatting errors as I read the ebook version of this novel. Everything except for the out of character Gregory made this a perfect ending to the series for me!

I would recommend this series to anyone looking for new YA fantasy novels to enjoy.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 books.

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Flowers and Keyboards #1: Her Elysium Review

Her Elysium (Flowers and Keyboards 1)
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Her Elysium is a romance novel by Emmy Engberts about two girls who find each other by playing an MMORPG. Fleur thinks that the tank of the guild is a cute guy named Alex, and she starts to fall for him before even getting the chance to meet him. To her surprise, Alex is a pretty girl who has been crushing on the talented healer who recently joined the guild. Fleur has never had a girlfriend before, but she can’t seem to stop thinking about Alex. She fell for Alex the person; does it matter if Alex is a boy or a girl? Alex knows that she and Fleur could work well together, but she wants to make sure that Fleur is ready for a relationship first.

I randomly stumbled upon this book, and I am so glad that I did! Not only is a LitRPG book where the author actually knows a lot about games, it is a really sweet YA romance novel! When I heard that Fleur was going to be a healer, I was bracing for the typical “gamer girl” stereotypes to come out. The healer can’t do anything, and so girls choose to be healers so they can rely on the guys in the game to do everything. Some girls might do this, but I personally don’t know any who have. Instead, Fleur is a really talented healer! Good healers have to make sure that they stay out of harm’s way while keeping the whole team alive. Fleur had to know the battles by heart in order to learn the boss’ patterns and be a better healer for the team. This is what real healers and people who play these sorts of games would do, and I was happy to see this represented in this book!

Back to the romance. I like that the author didn’t make this an ultra-sexual romance novel simply because the two characters were both female. In fact, she went on to discuss in the novel how people unfortunately believe that LGBT+ couples are more sexual than straight couples. Alex and Fleur were just two normal high school aged girls who liked each other and were happy going out with one another. They became close friends first because of the game, and then they continued to play as they fell for each other.

Overall, this has been one of the best F/F YA romance novels that I have ever read. I would definitely recommend it, and I am definitely going to read more books by Mrs. Engberts!

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books

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My Best Friend Runs Venus Review

My Best Friend Runs Venus
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My Best Friend Runs Venus by Katrina S. Forest is a story about a pair of friends named Kade and Tamika who are members of a group of children who live in robot bodies on planets across the solar system. Kade is tech-savvy and uses that to his advantage against the adults who only come to the planets for hours at a time to teach the kids. Tamika’s only friend is Kade as many people think that she is just like her mother, a criminal.

This book had an interesting premise, but I believe that it got lost along the way. At first, I thought the story was going to mostly be about Tamika finding out the truth about her mother, but it was mostly about just Kade and Tamika running around different planets and meeting different people. This wouldn’t have been a bad thing if the story was more coherent. The story was too short for me to really understand who was who. I couldn’t remember the important things about each character, which meant that big “reveals” had me more confused than anything.

If you read the synopsis of this book you read that Tamika is a princess. Now, even though she is a princess, I did not get the feeling that she “ran Venus” at all in the story. At best she was a princess in hiding, and that wasn’t even the main focus of the novel. The only person even protecting her was her best friend, some random kid named Kade. It was more interesting learning about the other kids who seemed to be somewhat rich and have somewhat positions of power, even if they weren’t using them for good, than to learn about Kade and Tamika in this story.

The one thing that I did like in this story was the premise of a world with minimal interference from adults. Since the adults couldn’t physically stand to be in their bodies for too long, the children basically ran around on the planets by themselves. It seemed a bit unrealistic that adults could only do it for a few hours at a time but Kade and Tamika could literally spend months outside of their physical bodies, but it made for an interesting story arc. I wish that the whole “adult-free world” idea had been expanded upon more. Like what sort of crazy things would these children build on these planets without adult supervision for hours at a time. Their imaginations could literally go wild, but they seemed to be bound by technology in this book.

Overall, I wouldn’t really recommend this book. It had an interesting premise, but the overall story seemed as if too many things were going on at once for me to keep track of everything.  

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 books

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Vampires of Shadow Hills #1: Flesh and Blood Review

Flesh and Blood (The Vampires of Shadow Hills #1)
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Flesh and Blood by Willow Rose is the start of a YA vampire series. Robyn’s parents always favor her older brother, and the favoritism has been getting worse as her brother is about to go away to college. She just wants to be able to spend time with her best friend Jayden, but her mom is threatening to take her out of her school if they are caught hanging out together again. Soon, her older brother Adrian starts to display some strange behaviors, and people start to get hurt around the town. Robyn’s parents don’t see anything wrong with what Adrian is doing, but Robyn knows something is wrong, and she is determined to get to the bottom of it with Jayden’s help.

I was really looking forward to a good YA vampire novel, like the ones from the early 2000s, but this one was just disappointing. For starters, these characters acted far below their ages. I had to constantly remind myself that Robyn was supposed to be 16 years old, most of the time she read like she was 13 or even maybe younger than that. She wasn’t even smart about half of the stuff she does! At one point, even though her mother had told her not to have Jayden around, she had him sneak into her room? That’s like….literally the easiest way to get caught. There were so many things they could have done to avoid getting caught together, but it’s like they didn’t even know how to do basic things. If you can’t text the person, use a messaging app on your computer or something. If your mom only sends you to school and home, you could just meet up secretly at school. So many opportunities wasted, and I was just shocked that they couldn’t think of a single good idea of how to meet up. And their little “arguments” made me so mad, like they bickered like 8-year-olds in the middle of an important investigation that involved both of their brothers. It was honestly just so funny that I couldn’t take the story seriously.

Getting back to the brothers, I couldn’t understand the parents at all. They want to keep their daughter locked up, but they literally don’t care about the other kid getting hurt, caught, or possibly doing something to hurt someone else. I will get more in-depth with this in my review of book 2, but I couldn’t skip over how ridiculous the situation was. If their parents really had a secret to hide, why wouldn’t they hide one kid and then not even take precautions for the other. That’s putting a lot of trust in the other kid, which doesn’t make sense given how off the kid had been acting most of the time in the book.

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this book. I am halfway through book 2 as I am writing this review, so I am going to finish the trilogy, and my opinion hasn’t improved any. Definitely skip this trilogy!

Overall Rating: 1 out of 5 books

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