The Obsessive Bookseller’s Mini Book Review Blitz! [2]

Mini Book Review Blitz!

Naamah's Kiss by Jacqueline Carey

Book Info: Naamah’s Kiss [Moirin’s Trilogy #1] by Jacqueline Carey

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I have mixed feelings about this trilogy. You see, it’s really difficult for anything to follow Kushiel’s and Imriel’s stories and, since this one took place a few hundred years in the future, I found myself mourning the fact that we’ve moved on (kind of like when Avatar ended and they brought back Legend of Korra – it’s really good, but I miss the old characters). I also thought the story was a bit inconsistent – the first half was a solid 5-star “I was totally enamored” rating. The second half was a conservative 2.5-star rating because the story elements sort of “jumped the shark” when it came to feasibility. Overall, the parts of this story I liked, I did so with the same ferocity as those which came before. The parts I didn’t amounted to my least favorite experiences with this author so far. The verdict? Worth reading if you’ve read the other trilogies, but moderate your expectations (and take what I say with a grain of salt – I’ve met a few people who claim this as their favorite of Carey’s trilogies). I’ll also add that I really adored Moirin, so there’s no shortage of beautifully written characters.

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Book Info: A Gathering of Shadows  [A Darker Shade of Magic #2] by V.E. Schwab

Rating: 5/5 stars

I went into A Gathering of Shadows with extremely limited expectations, but was delighted to discover one of my favorite books of the year (so far). In contrast, my friend Petrik HATED it. And we usually line up with most of our reviews (you can check out his scathing review of this book on Goodreads). We’ve such a broad difference of opinion of the same book, which is really fascinating. I see most of his points, but had a very different reaction to them. Ultimately (I like that word today) I thought A Gathering of Shadows was a fantastic follow up to A Darker Shade of Magic. It had a lot more of the fun elements the first one was missing: an exploration of Red London, a magical dueling tournament, and some excellent insight into these already good characters. I especially loved Lila. It’s refreshing to read about a tough female character who actually backs up her bolstering with action. I can’t think of another female lead with such grit (cunning, bravery, and skill, maybe, but not grit). Overall, the trilogy is worth reading just for aGoS alone – I was completely engrossed from start to finish, and will probably add it to my List of All-Time Favorites (yeah, I liked it that much).

Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins

Book Info: Lady Renegades [Rebel Belle #3] by Rachel Hawkins

Rating: 1.5/5 stars

I’d been stalling on reading Lady Renegades because I was disappointed in Miss Mayhem – the second book in the trilogy (it had some good ideas, but didn’t live up to its potential). Ultimately, it was my memory of how much I loved her Hex Hall series that drew me back to finish this trilogy out of some odd sense of loyalty. Although it didn’t take me very long to get through, I can’t help but feel I wasted my time. I’m of the opinion that this story would’ve been better served as a duology. There just wasn’t enough substance to book 3, and it had a ton of repeating elements. It was essentially a drawn out segment that should’ve been the climax to Miss Mayhem and ended the story there. Usually in a YA trilogy, it’s the second book that feels like a filler novel, but in this case it was the third one. This might be harsh, but I’d say read the first two books, then skip to the final two chapters of Lady Renegades and call it a day. #harsh

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed my Mini Book Review Blitz. :)

by Niki Hawkes


Book Review: Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins

miss mayhemTitle: Miss Mayhem

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Series: Rebel Belle #2

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

The Overview: Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and her best friend, Bee, has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can focus on the important things in life: school, canoodling with David (her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie), and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant. Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him. The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her . . . or make her more powerful than ever.

The Review:

I want to start out by saying that I love Rachel Hawkins and think her writing is some of the most charming I’ve ever come across. Everything she writes is a lot of fun, and I can’t help but get a bunch of feel goods every time I read one of her books. That said, Miss Mayhem might be my least favorite thing I’ve read from her so far. I just didn’t think there was enough substance and plot advancement to really grab me. Perhaps if the trilogy were complete and I devoured it from start to finish I wouldn’t feel this way, but after waiting a full year for its release and looking at another full year before the conclusion, I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed.

Thing I love most about the first book was the developing love story, but this one just didn’t seem to have the same sweet, romantic flair. I’ve noticed a prevailing trend in YA that goes a little something like this: Book 1 – romance sparks and the characters fall for each other. Book 2 – they fight or break up because of situation “x” keeping them from being together. Book 3 – they figure out how to make it work anyway and live happily ever after. It’s so formulaic that it sucks all of the romantic tension out of a series. Sometimes it doesn’t bother me, but in this particular case it felt like the entire plot revolved around romantic struggles… I guess what I’m trying to say is, I was hoping for more.

And even the plot elements that were there weren’t developed as well as I thought they could’ve been. For example, at some point Harper had to go through several trials to prove she was a worthy Paladin. The trouble is, the trials did not come across in any sort of official capacity, but were almost incidental. I’m not really sure why she passed/failed because the rules were never established. What a wasted opportunity! I feel like if I had read about an epic, well-conceived testing of Harper’s skills, all of my other objections would have gone by the wayside in a heartbeat. Instead I’m left wondering what could’ve been…

One last thing I didn’t enjoy was the questionable decision-making within this book. Some of Harper’s choices just did not make any sense to me. Her decisions were irrational, erratic, and didn’t follow any sort of logical pattern… Frankly, her actions felt more like they were implemented to advance plot points, rather than because that’s what the character would actually do. I’m not saying the characters always have to make smart decisions, what I’m saying is I’d better be able to at least see the logic of those decisions over other options. Harper is a smart girl, but I don’t feel like her actions were consistent with her character in this book.

Sheesh, I feel like I’m really beating up on this book, which isn’t totally fair because it was not a bad book by any means – Hawkins has just set such a high standard up to this point that I’m really judging it against what I know she’s capable of. If you want to know all the things I really love about the series, check out my review of the first book, Rebel Belle. Overall, I wouldn’t necessarily dissuade anyone from picking up the series – the first one was good enough in my opinion to allow for forgiveness of the second one… I would just recommend waiting a little bit until the release date for the third one gets closer. I will definitely be finishing out the trilogy, so that’s gotta count for something, right?

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by Niki Hawkes


Book Review: Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

Rebel BelleTitle: Rebel Belle

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Series: Rebel Belle #1

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts. Just when life can’t get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper’s least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him–and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth. With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y’all beg for more.

Rebel Belle 2

 The Review:

Having read (and loved) Hawkins’ Hex Hall series, I was already more than willing to try any book she decided to publish. I picked this one up without even reading the overview, and therefore had no idea what a wild ride I was in for! Just looking at the cover, I was expecting an angsty “I need to break all the rules to find myself” type of story. What I got instead was a delightful mix of paranormal magic, humor, and action – it was stellar!  I can safely say I’ve never read anything quite like it. Rebel Belle is one of those books I wish had been a book club nomination because I’m so antsy to talk about it!

Hawkins has a unique voice, which is part of the reason I thought the Hex Hall books were so much fun. The writing, more specifically the ways she handled inner dialogue, provided a different light to the characters all on its own. It was cheeky without being immature, and she strikes that balance in Rebel Belle better than I’ve seen anywhere else. The amazing thing is, I’ve seen her do it well twice – Hex Hall’s Sophie had a charming sarcastic voice, while Harper has this delightful bluntness. I find them both equally fabulous and funny.

Which brings me to my next point – this book was hilarious. Everything from the way Harper thought about things to the way she reacted to the not so perfect situations had me laughing out loud. It’s not funny in a punchy trying-to-hard kind of way, but funny in a situational way (which I vastly prefer). Not only did it make for one highly entertaining book, but also made me love the characters even more.

And oh, the characters! I loved them all, especially the heroine. This is weird because I didn’t particularly relates to Harper’s background, high school experience, or love life, but I found her incredibly endearing nonetheless. Everything she did was just so earnest and, privileged social status aside, you could tell she was just trying her best to cope as one weird thing after another was sent her way. Her personal growth throughout the story is definitely one of its best elements. And David… Don’t even get me started on how much I loved David. There’s just something about that unfaltering intelligence, strong sense of self, and all-around compassion that had me hooked from the moment we met him. All I’m saying is I think I just found my next book boyfriend…

The only thing keeping this book from a solid 5 star review was the bad guys. Throughout the story, I just never bought in to their motivations or tactics. Hopefully, that will be cleared up in book 2 (which I am grabbing the moment it comes out… whenever that may be).

Overall, this was a fun book filled with mystery, humor, and love – it’s definitely one I plan to reread one day. This is a major yes for fans of Rachel Hawkins and an equally big yes for people trying her out for the first time. Rebel Belle contained everything I expect from a good teen novel, and just might make my favorites list this year. :-)

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by nikihawkes