Friday, 3 July 2015

Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

Witch Hunter
by Virginia Boecker


Summary: Sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Grey doesn't look dangerous. A tiny, blonde, wisp of a girl shouldn't know how to poison a wizard and make it look like an accident. Or take out ten necromancers with a single sword and a bag of salt. Or kill a man using only her thumb. But things are not always as they appear. Elizabeth is one of the best witch hunters in Anglia and a member of the king's elite guard, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and bringing those who practice it to justice. And in Anglia, the price of justice is high: death by burning.

When Elizabeth is accused of being a witch herself, she's arrested and thrown in prison. The king declares her a traitor and her life is all but forfeit. With just hours before she's to die at the stake, Elizabeth gets a visitor - Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful wizard in Anglia. He offers her a deal: he will free her from prison and save her from execution if she will track down the wizard who laid a deadly curse on him.

As Elizabeth uncovers the horrifying facts about Nicholas's curse and the unwitting role she played in its creation, she is forced to redefine the differences between right and wrong, friends and enemies, love and hate... and life and death.
I have kind of mixed feelings about the book. I went into it expecting it to be great but I didn't love this book quite as much as I thought I was going to, but in the end I did enjoy it.

It started off well -- I loved the writing, the world, the characters but then about 6 chapters in it started to go downhill.

It started with the main character, I liked her a lot in the beginning but then she got really annoying, she was ridiculously naive and ignorant (which was understandable to a certain extend but also irritating to read about) and by the time she started to grow on me again I just felt this disconnect from her and her relationships to the other characters. Like I was entertained by the story but not really emotionally invested in it.

I wasn't really a fan of the pacing, and the plot -- the plot was enjoyable enough but it didn't really bring anything new to the table, it was all just shades of things I've seen before in other books in this genre. The only thing I really hated was something that happens near the beginning, it mentions something happening to her but it's just used as a plot device to get her put in prison then it's barely mentioned again -- I wish it had been handled better than it was.

The side characters were my favourite part really, they pretty much stole the show in any scenes they were in, especially in the second half of the book -- they are the main thing that kept me reading and the biggest reason I'm looking forward to the sequel.

Basically, I liked the book, it just didn't quite live up to expectations. I'd rate it 3 stars out of 5.

Later.

The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Fixer
Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Bloomsbury Children's
[July 7, 2015]
ARC via publicist

When sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick is sent to live with her older sister, Ivy, she has no idea that the infamous Ivy Kendrick is Washington D.C.'s #1 “fixer,” known for making politicians' scandals go away for a price. No sooner does Tess enroll at Hardwicke Academy than she unwittingly follows in her sister's footsteps and becomes D.C.'s premier high school fixer, solving problems for elite teens.

Secrets pile up as each sister lives a double life. . . . until their worlds come crashing together and Tess finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy with one of her classmates and a client of Ivy's. Suddenly, there is much more on the line than good grades, money, or politics, and the price for this fix might be more than Tess is willing to pay.

Perfect for fans of Pretty Little Liars and Heist Society, readers will be clamoring for more in this exciting new series.

Okay, ignore that last line, because really this book is Scandal meets Veronica Mars and it's so perfect. It's suspenseful and exciting and fun and I really couldn't figure out what was going on.

I loved Tess. She was angry and she just let herself be angry. She was honest with herself and how she felt and expressing that. I liked that she wasn't likable all the time and frankly, that made her more likable to me. She really popped from the page as she made mistakes and I loved her so much. And man, IVY. So many feelings about Ivy.

The plot was incredibly twisty and totally drew me in. I couldn't put it down because it was so engrossing and such a great mystery. It got very complicated as a mix of the usual high school drama and the more high stakes world of international and political drama combined and it made it impossible to see where the story would go next or to solve the mysteries on my own. There were some things at the end that I definitely could not have predicted at the start of the story.

Honestly, I just don't want to spoil anything for you since the summary is perfectly vague enough to intrigue without giving anything away and I don't want to give anything MORE away, but this is one of the best books I've read for the year. It was incredible, fun, fast paced, and hard to put down. I highly, HIGHLY recommend picking this one up when it releases next week.

--Julie

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Bully by Penelope Douglas

Bully
by Penelope Douglas


Summary:  My name is Tate. He doesn't call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all. No, he'll barely even speak to me.

But he still won't leave me alone.

We were best friends once. Then he turned on me and made it his mission to ruin my life. I've been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to stay out of his way. I even went to France for a year, just to avoid him.

But I'm done hiding from him now, and there's no way in hell I'll allow him to ruin my senior year. He might not have changed, but I have. It's time to fight back.

I'm not going to let him bully me anymore.
I have very conflicted feelings about this book. But before I get to that, I want to explain why I picked it up in the first place.

A few days ago, a post resurfaced on my tumblr dash about guys who bully girls. The way people would explain it away as "he's just doing it because he likes you" and how messed up it is to teach girls that it's okay for a guy to be abusive towards her if he's too scared to admit he likes her, and how it shouldn't justify it and it isn't okay... The post was more articulate about it, but that's the gist of it.

And then this book showed up on my goodreads (a friend read it) and it was titled Bully and had lots of glowing reviews and... I don't know. I was interested to see if it would be a story where a bully successfully redeems himself and if the author could turn him into a good love interest.

...So that's why I read it. And it was pretty disappointing as far as that goes.

I will say, on a positive note, that the book was entertaining and I read it in one sitting so it must've done something right. It's like one of those TV shows that you know is bad and all kinds of problematic and yet you keep watching anyway because there's something mindlessly addictive about it.

As for the bad stuff...well, Tate bugged me a lot of the time. The way she was so down on other girls and slut shamed the ones who slept with Jared was just - no. Not cool at all. I don't like that sort of catty, high-and-mighty attitude in a main character. And it didn't help that even her relationship with her best friend was terrible -- they barely talked about anything except for guys, they stabbed each other in the back over a guy, her friend defended the guy who tormented her best friend for years just because he was attractive...it was more like a friendship of convenience rather than one that was genuine (which is fair enough, those friendships exist, but in a book where it had all the other anti-feminist attitudes, it irritated me more).

The bully stuff had its moments. At times, it showed really well the emotional trauma it can cause but then at other times it felt like she was too forgiving of the stuff he had done because she was attracted to him. As for Jared's redemption -- it was pretty poorly done. His reasons for behaving the way he did weren't even close to good enough and it was frustrating how easily he was forgiven.

Basically, the book was problematic in a lot of ways that will likely infuriate a lot of people who read it (you'll know if you're one of those people). But it's entertaining -- if you know you can overlook its flaws, it's a quick read that delivers a predictable hate-turns-to-love romance.

I will probably read the sequel, although I'll go into it cautiously with low expectations (I think the love interest in the sequel is the character in this who helps bully Tate and sexually harasses her on multiple occasions -- I'm not sure how that can be redeemed, but it'll be interesting to see the author try).

I'd rate the book 2.5 stars out of 5 -- it gets points for entertainment value.

Later.

p.s. Silly thing, but it also had one of my bookish pet peeves... Band name drops. It irritates me unless it's actually relevant to the story and in this case it wasn't (it even mentions a specific song that plays during a sex scene which just made me cringe so much -- I like that song, but just...no).

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