The Queen of the Tearling series by Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling series

I have something to get off my chest…these are not YA books. They’re classified all over the place as YA, but they truly are not. They’ve got a completely different tone (you can just tell they’re meant for older audiences) and the content would not be appropriate for most teenagers. Now that that’s been said, I only read the first two books in this trilogy and I really had to drag myself through them. I felt that the first book had a promising beginning, but then we start to learn more about the world and its history and the main character herself…basically everything just starts to get SUPER confusing.

The plot moves very slowly and the second book has a ton of flashbacks which just serves to make the plot even slower and things in general to become more confusing. I’m sure everything starts to make more sense in the third book, but I just can’t do it. Getting through the first two books was hard enough and I just can’t do a third one.

I felt like the characters were complex and, for the most part, interesting. The only problem was that there were so many of them. There are a lot of names being tossed around and I had a hard time keeping track of anyone who wasn’t Kelsea, Mace, or Pen. I don’t know, maybe my problem is just the genre in general. Maybe I’m just not meant to read fantasy (or would this be classified as high fantasy?)

This is what I’ll say about them. The second book leaves you with this massive cliffhanger, but I have no desire to find out how the story ends. I just don’t care enough to force myself to read the last book.

The Queen of the Tearling/The Invasion of the Tearling
Overall Ratings: 3/3
Language: Heavy/Heavy
Violence: Extreme/Extreme
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate/Moderate
Sexual Content: Moderate/Heavy (the second book deals a lot with a physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually abusive relationship)

Thieves Attempt to Overthrow an Evil Government | Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

V51e2b7v-pdyl-_sy344_bo1204203200_in is lucky to be part of a crew instead of in one of the whore houses–even if her crew mates are abusive at times. Her whole life is changed when Kelsier walks through the door. Kelsier is Mistborn and claims that Vin is too. The Mistborn have a special ability to burn metals which give them special powers. Vin immediately takes to these powers, which are called Allomancy, and Kelsier asks her to join his crew on a very special job–to overthrow the Lord Ruler along with his Obligators and Inquisitors. Vin doesn’t believe this can be done, but she’s eager to learn more about Allomancy and wants to see how Kelsier’s plan will play out.

This book has been on my radar for a while now, but it took a book club to get me to actually read it. The size itself is pretty daunting (the book is 600+ pages) and as I started reading the book I felt a distinct lack of enthusiasm. I liked the story fine, but I just felt like a fish out of water–I don’t really read much heavy fantasy, I try to stick to YA. I felt overwhelmed at first by this new world and the magic and keeping the metals straight and all of the different characters. That being said, 600 pages later I still have trouble remembering what each of the metals do, but I have the characters down and feel like I have a better understanding of the world and Allomancy in general. I do want to read the next two books…but it might be a little while. These books are LONG and take some commitment.

Getting into the plot itself, I thought the pacing could have been a little quicker, but it wasn’t bad. I appreciated that the entire “job” is supposed to be completed over the course of a year. A lot of times I feel like authors rush the timeline, but I thought Sanderson did a really great job of having a reasonable timeline while keeping the story moving. The world was interesting, but I admit to not really getting it. The world itself doesn’t play that big of a role in this book, but I feel like it’ll play a bigger role in the next two. Allomancy is a really interesting concept to me and I really liked the scenes where we see how it’s used from Vin or Kelsier’s eyes. However, I don’t really understand the “burning” of metals in one’s stomach–that just seems so weird to me. I also don’t get why it’s an “either you can burn one metal or you can burn them all” kind of thing. That part just seems a little forced to match what the author wants to do with the story. Lastly, I wasn’t very happy when Sanderson introduced a second type of magic into the story. Yeah, I understand why it was necessary for the overall plotline, but I still don’t like it. Let’s just have ONE type of magic in a world at a time, okay?

The characters themselves were interesting. I really liked the cast of secondary characters and I wish that we had gotten to know them a bit deeper–maybe in the next books. Kelsier’s motives were a little hard to understand at times, but in the end I really liked him. Vin, on the other hand, was harder for me to like. I just felt like she kept making these dumb, stubborn decisions. I understand that she’s been raised to expect betrayal and to not trust anyone, but still… I guess her actions may have been consistent with the character that Sanderson was trying to develop, but I had a hard time connecting with her as a reader.

Overall, I thought this book was really intriguing and I’m glad that I read it. Like I said earlier, I plan to get to the other two books…but maybe not right away.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Mild
Violence: Extreme
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Moderate

 

The Opening Bell by J.B. Garner

Leilani Ito has wrestling in her blood. As a rookie she’s not expecting to win all of her fights, but she is willing to work hard and do her time to get to the top. What Leilani doesn’t realize is that there is more than just wrestling in her family history. There is also a curse that could end her wrestling career–maybe even her life–forever.

the-opening-bell-final-cover

First of all, I just want to say that I know NOTHING about wrestling. I think if you have any sort of background or knowledge about wrestling that this book would instantly become more enjoyable. That being said, I thought this book was pretty good though it did have some flaws. I thought the overall plot was interesting. There was a lot of conflict and interesting relationships developed between characters. There are fights in the ring as well as fights out of it and that creates an unusual dynamic that I think really contributed to the overall story.

One thing that was hard for me was that sometimes the wrestling scenes got kind of technical. A wrestling move would be described and I could only guess at what was going on. That just made it a little hard to follow the story in those particular scenes. Another thing that made the story hard to follow was that there were a lot of characters and basically all of the characters went by several different names (first name, last name, wrestling name/nickname, and any combination). I had a hard time remembering who was who at times.¬†Lastly, I think that the narration (especially during fight scenes) shouldn’t have come from one perspective. There are several moments when we’re following Leilani’s perspective but she’s also on the verge of blacking out so we have no idea where her opponent is. I think the fight scenes would have benefited from the reader being able to see the whole picture as if they were watching the fight on TV.

Overall, I think if you’re a fan of wrestling, you might enjoy this book. If not, the book is still enjoyable, but you may feel lost at times.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Heavy. A lot of moderate language.
Violence: Extreme
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: None

Note: I received this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Alive by Scott Sigler [ARC]

M. Savage¬†wakes up in a coffin. She can’t actually remember her name, but that’s the name on the nameplate at her feet. She’s wearing clothes that are about three sizes too small and there are no adults in sight. As other kids start to wake up around her, Em takes charge and quickly becomes the leader. With no water and no food, their situation quickly becomes desperate. What Em and the others don’t know, is that finding food and water is the least of their problems.

So this book was basically a combination of The Maze Runner 51Bkct71hkL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_and Lord of the Flies. The reader is confused for virtually the whole book, but then again, so are the characters. We don’t know what’s going on, we don’t know who these kids are, we don’t know where these kids are. That kind of thing might work for some people, but it rarely works for me. I just don’t like feeling confused! I¬†can’t concentrate¬†on enjoying the characters, the writing, and the story when I’m just trying to figure out what the heck is going on with the plot. I thought the idea of people who emotionally and mentally are twelve-years-old in older (late teen to early twenties?) bodies was kind of weird…it just seemed like a strange premise. I felt like it didn’t really add much to the story. The author would have been better off choosing an age group instead of trying to use¬†two at¬†the same time.

The beginning was very slow to grab me. I didn’t find myself connecting with the children or really caring if they survived or not and there were a few too many “main” characters for me to keep track of. There wasn’t a lot of character development. I think this is mostly because the characters themselves have no memory, so the reader can’t connect with any of their past experiences. They all just felt flat and very one-note to me.

Overall, this book was just alright. It lacked world-building, which, again was probably caused by the lack of character memories. I thought the book would have been better if it had been written in the third person. Then it could have incorporated flashbacks of the characters pre-whatevertheheckisgoingon as well as scenes from the perspective of¬†characters that we meet later in the book. I think that way the characters could still have been confused, but the reader wouldn’t have been. After finishing this first book, I feel no¬†interest in reading a second.

Overall Rating: 2
Language: None
Violence: Extreme. A lot of fighting, a lot of gore
Sexual Content: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: None

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.