Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Threats of Sky and Sea by Jennifer Ellison

Book: Threats of Sky and Sea by Jennifer Ellison
Rating: 4/5 stars
Bookdictive Categorization: Good ol' YA-FantaSea with no death triangles of lurve. 

But then I feel abashed at giving ToSaS 4 out of 5 stars. 

A 4 from me isn't a bad thing. It means I really enjoyed the book, and will immediately become a fan on GR and go out of my way to send the author a 'thank you for taking the time to write this!' sort of thing. It means I'll add the next book to my TBR, and shelve it as "can you please be published already." But it doesn't mean that I am willing to overlook all flaws within. Ergo me reading this: 

First chapter: "I don't know about you yet..."
Third chapter: "Okay, I can get with this!"
Upon completion: Well, that's where I'm at right now. I just finished it, but I know why my rating dropped a star like one falling from the sky.
And let me tell you, there aren't many. Flaws, I mean. I GAVE IT 4 STARS AND FINISHED IT IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS. That's a good thing! Even 3 stars isn't bad, but this book is NOT 3 star status.

So what went wrong?? 
It's a pacing thing. That's all it is. 
The book went so smoothly for 80% of it. I admit, parts were a little rushed, like when the MC Bree and her dad are taken captive and forced to travel over two weeks ON FOOT to the Egrian Kingdom. There's also this gnarly description of what they eat that makes me gag even now. *shudder* But the book kept its pacing up until the end. The entire book is from Bree's perspective, and because the book is mostly her internal musings and not dialogue, the pretense of suspense is kept up. I like voices like this! I wish there was just a little more description, but I'll get to that in a second.
Anyway, here's the long story short: There's these people called Elementals, who posses elemental magic. There's an corrupt king who forces Elementals to swear fealty to him so he can use them for his armies. Bree has lived a quiet life as a barmaid with her dad for 16 years, and then
***insert montage***

--she's in the king's castle watching her dad get thrown in the dungeons for being a deserter to his childhood bff, the king. Oh yeah, and she finds out that her dad is a duke and has lied to Bree for her entire life.
Here's where the book really becomes interesting. Most of the book is around Bree struggling to survive without her father near her side. She befriends the handsome prince, and slowly befriends the bitchy betrothed princess (I LOVE WHEN BITCHY SIDE CHARACTERS REVEAL THEIR WEAKNESSES AND YOU DISCOVER THEY'RE THE GOOD GUYS!)

Up until the last chapter, this book packs an exciting and fast punch. This being YA fantasy, Bree of course has hidden magical abilities. She has to keep trying to unravel the mysteries surrounding her father to truly find out who/what she is.

So, this ending. I was not impressed. You know that fast pace I talked about before? The ending is fast, but not in a good way. The climactic conclusion with its obligatory cliffhanger ending falls a bit flat. There's no long battle, and the henchwoman to the evil king DOES NOT GET AWAY. You're not supposed to kill off one of the main bad guys in the first book!!!!!! SUCH FRUSTRATION. With the lukewarm battle scene, my fingers are crossed that the next book will spend a lot more time on Bree and Company training/fighting/describing hardships/hopefully going through deserts because we all know I love a good desert-trekking scene/romance/friendships. And that, my dear readers, is why I give this four stars. Because even with the mehhhhhh ending, there's a lot to look forward to. When you feel attachment to a book, you want to read the next one because the first one leaves you wanting more. And my darling bookdictives, I. WANT. MORE.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Honey Queen by Christina Mercer

Book: Honey Queen by Christina Mercer
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Bookdictive Categorization: I'm honestly not even sure.

FUN FACT: I have a huge folder of gifs that I save for my blog. However, since my review this week is for Honey Queen, I had neither honey nor bee themed gifs. Time for my Handy Dandy Google Image Search Engine!
It would appear that Honey Queen is a character in MarioKart 7 AND One Piece [though two separate characters]. 

It's like playing a messed up Hot or Not game. 

Moving on!
This book. It's not going to be added to my 2014 Bookdictive Beach Reads list.
I didn't hate it. I didn't banish it to Hiatus Hawaii. There were parts I liked. I promise!
And sure, maybe I found the cover moderately disturbing, but I can appreciate how it sort of relates to the book (the crying part, not the crying honey part. Can you imagine? Ew, I'd hate to have honey coming out of my eyes).

But...there's this one theme that gets thrown in your face. Then it repeatedly gets thrown in your face, until bees stop being the focus of the book and something else takes control. It prevents me from giving this book more than 2.5 stars. Please refer to #1 in the list below.

Spoiler-iffic Comprehensive Honey Queen List of WTF
Be advised that you should avert your eyes, lest they be filled with honey spoilers.
1) Sex plays a HUGE role in this. 

There's a curse, and since this is YA, that's actually the norm. The curse part. Not the sex part. Want to label this as NA? NOPE, SORRY, because she's 16 when the book starts, and even though her 17th birthday happens at some point in the book, she still falls under the YA category. NA, if I recall correctly, features adults of the 18-29 range in adult situations. The main character is 16/17, SO FORGIVE ME FOR NOT EXPECTING SEX TO BE MENTIONED.
deeeeeeep breath 
Be not deceived: She's not actually doing the deed; but part of the curse requires her to get it on just so she can conceive a daughter. Still, the second I learned this, I was disturbed. 
 1a) Even more disturbing were the choice quotes like, "His tongue teases mine until the lower half of my body is a river rushing out of control." 
WHAT THE ACTUAL BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING NIGHTMARE IS THIS?!?!! WHO WRITES THAT?? I'm not a prude. I read NA, romance, etc. But that reads like bad fanfiction. Bad, gross fanfiction. It's so ewwwwww that I almost want to laugh. That has to be one of THE worst quotes I've ever pulled from a book I'm reviewing. 

2) The curse itself is just weird. 
I actually thought the mythology was kind of cool since creating mythology is just plain hard to do, but there are plot holes: If the curse was so easy to break, why was she the first one to bother looking for a reason? She may be the Honey Queen, but it's been centuries. CENTURIES. Someone else had to have looked into this, right?? I also can't really grasp why her mom went bee-crazy and offed herself. Why didn't her grandma go bee-crazy like her mom? 
3) Her grandma pressures the hell out of her to get it on with a terminally ill guy named Boyd. While this is kind of ingenious (since the father of the conceived daughter dies when said daughter is born), it's also pretty twisted. But I don't think it's done with the intent of being morbid-twistosity. I think it was more of a way to support an unbelievable curse side effect. Anyway, spoiler alert, turns out the sick guy is GAY and the CURSE DOESN'T WORK ON HIM.
4) I applaud gay characters not being written in the "oh snap boo! Girlfriend go get yo man!" kind of style that YA authors tend to stick to. So Boyd, the sidekick or whatever he is, didn't bother me in that sense. What bothered me was how he was still totally willing to sleep with her and, if the curse doesn't seduce him to her, how was he going to get it up???? He isn't buying what she's selling! He's just so nonchalant accepting of all this.
 4a) I also HATE how he becomes healthy but has to rely on magic honey for the rest of his life. Doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of being free? Plot hole, maybe, but Boyd gets his own section.

I really can't rationalize this one out. I can't even launch into how much Sam, the love interest, bothered me. This wasn't DNF, and I wasn't filled with disgust (except for that awful quote earlier) after reading it. But this wasn't one of the better ones out there. The writing wasn't sophomoric, but it was also not what I was expecting. In the end, I'd be willing to try another book by this author--perhaps this was a sting and a miss? Ugh, that was a pretty bad one. ;)

***this book was delivered graciously to me by the publisher through NetGalley, and in no way influences my review***

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