Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Looking Ahead: 2017 Mini Reviews

Look who’s alive! I’ve gone back and forth recently about whether or not I should keep blogging. I still haven’t made up my mind but since I’m still paying to host my blog, I figured I should use it.  I’m also still reading a lot and still getting books for review so I figure it’s only fair.  If you want to stay more up to date with me though, follow me over on my Instagram. I post multiple times a day and have been reviewing over there every now and then.

As I said, I’m still getting books for review and since I don’t feel such an obligation to stick to a schedule, I’ve been able to read whatever I feel like.  Since I’ve already started in on my 2017 ARCs, I figured I’d share some of my thoughts so you guys can decide whether or not these should be on your TBR.

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The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
Rating: 4 Stars
Release date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Razorbill Books
Preorder here

Lost to history, the story of the female gladiator has never been told. Until now.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king and the younger sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha. When Fallon was just a child, Sorcha was killed while defending their home from the armies of Julius Caesar.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in her father’s war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured by ruthless brigands who sell her to an elite training school for female gladiators owned by none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon s family might be her only hope of survival.
Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, deadly fights in and out of the arena, and perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier and her sworn enemy.

A richly imagined fantasy for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Cinda Williams Chima, “The Valiant” recounts Fallon s gripping journey from fierce Celtic princess to legendary gladiator and darling of the Roman empire.”

I knew I wasn’t going to be waiting on this one as soon as I got an ARC.  I’m a huge fan of historical fiction so this one was always at the top of my TBR.  Obviously this one is more fiction than history but it’s still amazing.  The historical aspects add just enough to it that it’s a little more than your typical YA novel.  While the history parts can be a little weighty at times, it’s definitely necessary to the story.  It ended up being one of my favorite things about The Valiant.

I also couldn’t help but love all the girls.  Fallon is a fierce young woman who has been trained her whole life to join her father’s war band.  She knows that fighting is her future and she is excited about it.  When she’s kidnapped and sold as a slave, her future changes but the fighting aspect stays the same.  As a gladiatrix, Fallon isn’t part of the war band but she may just be part of something bigger.  Every woman that Fallon interacted with was crazy fierce and Fallon was no exception. She only got better as the book went on.

The romance (both of them) were a little far-fetched and moved far too quickly.  The whole plot with someone trying to get rid of Fallon was pretty predictable.  None of the relationships were really fleshed out and I found myself not really caring all that much about any of them.  The Valiant reads much like a first book in a series and I really hope it’s not the end of Fallon’s story.

Fireworks by Katie Cotugno
Rating: 3 Stars
Release date: April 18, 2017
Publisher: Harper Teen
Preorder here

From Katie Cotugno, bestselling author of 99 Days, comes Fireworks—about a girl who is competing with her best friend to become the new pop star of the moment—and all the drama and romance that comes with it—set in Orlando during the late-’90s boy-and-girl-band craze.

It was always meant to be Olivia. She was the talented one, the one who had been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, was the level-headed one, always on the sidelines, cheering her best friend along.

But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing.

It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through.

Set in evocative 1990s Orlando, New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno’s Fireworks brings to life the complexity of friendship, the excitement of first love, and the feeling of being on the verge of greatness.

I’ve been very torn about Katie Cotugno. I loved How To Love, did not care for 99 Days, and had really high hopes for Fireworks.  I found Fireworks to fall right in the middle for me and I’m still not sure if I’ll keep going with Katie Cotugno’s books.

Fireworks held such promise! Best friends both get picked to join a singing group and they are off to spend the summer of their lives together.  Add in the other two members of the group and some very fun, attractive boys and things don’t go quite according to plan.  Not to mention that the actual singing group requires a ton of work.  Dana and Olivia are slowly being torn apart and their friendship may not be as strong as they think.

I loved Dana and Olivia, at first.  Their friendship was amazing.  They were always there for each other and they wanted what was best for the other one, no matter what it meant for them.  Dana was so selfless, always looking out for Olivia.  It was pretty easy to see from the start that Olivia didn’t care quite so much about looking out for Dana.  I could see the end coming from a mile away but I just kept hoping for the best.  I loved Dana and I wanted to see her happy.  Her relationship with Alex was the start to that happiness and I loved them together.  They were adorable and Alex may have seemed a little too perfect but I liked him.  He made Dana think about the future and he really brought out a better side of her.

The ending is what really made me want to throw this book at a wall.  I obviously won’t spoil anything but holy crap, I totally saw it coming and yet I couldn’t stop reading.  I was so mad when I finished this book.  It’s a fun read but it will definitely bring out some emotions.

A Lie for a Lie by Robin Merrow McCready
Rating: 2 Stars
Release date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Preorder here

A gripping YA mystery about seventeen-year-old Kendra, an amateur photographer who discovers her father is leading a double life.

Kendra Sullivan loves taking pictures. But when a photograph reveals that her father is leading a double life, she sets out to investigate the situation. Before long, Kendra discovers her father’s second family, which he has hidden for years. Kendra’s knowledge soon turns into power; she is torn between exposing her father and destroying her family as she’s known it, or looking deeper for the truth and suffering that outcome. This emotionally charged mystery pushes the boundaries between truth and deception, and the consequences one faces when dealing with life-changing information.

I’m going to keep this one short because otherwise I will just go off on a tear.  A Lie for a Lie held so much potential but I knew from the start that it wasn’t going to live up to it.  The main character, Kendra, was so immature and oblivious.  She only cared about herself.  She could not put two and two together to see what was right in front of her face.  It got old real fast.  It didn’t help that the story was super predictable and the writing didn’t add anything to it.  It was very stilted and all over the place.  The only thing going for this one is that it was short and pretty quick.  You guys know I have a problem with DNFing books so I stuck with this one even though I knew it wasn’t going to get better.  This is one that I really wouldn’t recommend.

 

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8 Comments

  1. Rolf Graudejus

    Though I assume that all those female heroes(heroines) are more Fantasy than History, I’ll try to get a read of it here in G-Land. Hope for a good thing. Bye 🙂

  2. Morgan @ Gone with the Words

    Yikes! Fireworks sounds intense but I can’t resist that premise. And I’m glad you enjoyed The Valiant because it’s one of my most anticipated debuts!! I love historical fiction and particularly love Ancient Rome. It sounds so awesome, even with the flimsy relationship building.

  3. Jack Heslop

    I hope you do continue blogging, Katie, seeing as I’ve only just discovered this blog and I like it! You’re mini reviews were well-written and interesting. Fireworks seems to be in the kind of chick-lit-y realm I normally avoid, but I’ve always been fascinated by cultural history, and 90s music is cultural history!

    Also, is it just me, or are YA mysteries rarely much cop, so to speak? Those I’ve read have been poorly structured and thought through, as though the author wants to tackle high suspense and serious issues, but doesn’t have the stylistic resources to pull it off.

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