Saturday, March 22, 2014

Double Book Review: The End of a Trilogy

So I'm catching up on my reviews and decided to combine a post on the two books I read in a trilogy. I love this trilogy with a passion. I'm very picky when it comes to indie authors and Nenia is one of my favorites. Yes, I'm friends with Nenia, but this in no way affects my love for her books. I think she's a great person, but an amazing writer. If you are interested in my review for the first book in the series, Fearscape, you can read here.
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Horrorscape by Nenia Campbell

Second in the Horrorscape Trilogy

5 stars

Val barely got away with her life last time and it looks like she’ll have to fight again if she wants to survive. Val receives another card very similar to the ones her stalker used to send. Is he back or is it all in her head? Val’s friends have been invited to a party and this party is all about games. Games that kids play with a deadly twist and the game host seems all too familiar to Val. The games are beginning and who will lose their life? This book was captivating and horrifying and intense. Horrorscape will keep you on the edge of your seat and turning every single page in hopes of what happens next. The games that Gavin plays are much higher in this book and the story is a lot darker. The atmosphere was dark and depressing and completely horrifying. I’ve never had such fun reading about a game before. The Hunger Games are fun and scary, but the games in Horrorscape are much more real and you never know what crazies lurk around the corner with the mind of Gavin.


The main female character is Val. I really like Val. She’s a damaged character and she can be na├»ve and stupid but it’s because she’s been traumatized.
"It’s very strange. You fall for my traps over and over, and never seem to learn from your mistakes.”
I’m not going to lie sometimes Val was like a dumb character in a horror movie who falls right into the serial killer’s trap and she did fall into each one. She also found ways to get out.
I really liked her quick resourcefulness out of fear. I like how Campbell shows that when people are scared they do things to protect themselves in hopes of survival without even realizing (i.e. the lamp scene).


Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 8

The main male character is Gavin.
"Power was a valuable commodity precisely because it was so difficult to obtain, and even more difficult to use- effectively, that is.”
He is truly scary. I’ve never been so scared of a character before and even though he scares me I love his POV and his insane games.
"Don’t play with things you don’t understand. They might play back, perhaps far better than you.”
I looked forward to the scenes he is present and he always present even when he’s not there in this book.


Swoon Worthy Scale: NO!

Villain Scale: 10


There are a lot more characters in this novel. There’s Val’s longtime friend, Lisa, her current boyfriend, James, James’s friend, Blake, Jason, Charlie, and some other kid who I don’t remember. Lisa has always been there for Val and she seemed like a good friend, but as the book progressed Lisa became more of a spiteful friend. She didn’t really seem to be as there for Val as it seemed and by the end of the book I didn’t like her as much as I used to because of her actions. James annoyed me even in his brief appearances in Fearscape and now I just really didn’t like him. He was a jerk and I didn’t like him at all. Blake was my favorite of Val’s friends. He was a good guy and he was genuine. Charlie and Jason were just crazy and Gavin probably picked them up at the Crazy Psychos Club.


Character Scale: 8

"You won the battle last time, my dear, but ultimately you lost the war. This time, you win nothing. I’ll make sure of it.”
The creepiness was much more amped up in this novel. There’s people talking to corpses, weird rooms, crazy people, and Gavin (can’t get much scarier than him). Everything was in this novel was just as good as or better than Fearscape. This is one series and author you won’t want to miss. Campbell knows how to evoke fear and make a captivating story that is sure to satisfy fans of thrillers, horror, and anyone looking for something different.


Cover Thoughts: I really like the covers for this trilogy. Particularly this one.

  
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Terrorscape by Nenia Campbell
Third in the Horrorscape Trilogy

5 stars

Val has tried to put the past behind her. She has a new name and is starting at a new college. She’s trying to move on with her life, but she knows that one day Gavin will come back for her. She knows he won’t let her go this time. I hate finishing great series. I really do. The Horrorscape Trilogy is one of my favorite series and I’m glad I’ve been able to experience such absolute horror but love every second of it. Terrorscape is hands down my favorite of the trilogy. It’s darker and not as faced paced as the previous novel, but everything is much more chilling.


The main female character is, once again, Val. Val is at the darkest point a person can go. She’s a truly broken person. She’s experienced death and danced with a killer. She can’t catch a break. Val is a character I’ve enjoyed reading about. It’s sad to see Val go from the happy teen who loved animals to a broken girl who feels like death is the easiest way out, but doesn’t want to die. Her character growth has been haunting, but also enjoyable. I think Nenia does a great job with capturing the beauty of a damaged person.


Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 8
The main male character is Gavin. Gavin is crazier than he’s ever been. There were those few brief moments were I loved Gavin, but he always says something and it just reminds me of how crazy he is. Gavin is a character who will stay with me forever. He’s a true psycho. He’s sadistic, calculating, cold, and empty. I loved every second of it! Maybe that makes me crazy but I loved his craziness.

Swoon Worthy Scale: No, thanks.

Villain Scale: 10

There were a few characters in this novel. Val’s roommate, her potential boyfriend, and a copycat of Gavin. I liked what all of them brought into the novel. Did I love them? No, but I liked what they brought to Val’s world and their characters interaction with her.

Character Scale: 7.5
That ending… I still can’t get over it. I’m so shocked and just I don’t know what to do. I want to say so much more, but I don’t want to give anything away. I adore this trilogy! It was brilliant and don’t miss the chance to read it. Sadly, Terrorscape was pulled off of Amazon but you can buy it on Smashwords. On the bright side, Nenia is writing an epilogue of sorts to the trilogy and I can’t wait to read it!


Bonus: Nenia was amazing to include two short stories and a short essay in the novel. The first short story is about Gavin’s parents and I think that Gavin gets most of his psychosis from his mother. The second was about Gavin’s sister and him. Incest… gross. Plus Gavin’s sister is just plain disgusting. Gavin’s essay that was mentioned in Fearscape is featured. It’s quite brief and disturbing.

Cover Thoughts: I love the cover. It’s scary and if that’s what I pictured Gavin to look like. His eyes are horrifying.
Thank you Nenia for providing me with a copy of this book! I’m so glad I won your giveaway and I feel honored to have won it. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

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The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

5 billion stars!

First in The Winner’s Trilogy

Kestrel is the general’s daughter. She is Valorian. Valorians thrive on war and they enslave whatever they conquer. The Herrani are the enslaved. Kestrel wonders into a slave auction and finds a slave who refuses to slave. He sparks her interest and she buys him. Arin is not all what he seems and as Kestrel becomes ensnared with feelings she isn’t sure of she feels the sting of betrayal and the approaching war.




I LOVE The Winner’s Curse. I was lucky enough to win an ARC from Summer (Thank you!) and I was so excited to start it. I was also a little hesitant. The reviews for this book are glowing and I’ve been wanting this book since I read Steph’s review. I’m glad to say that I wasn’t disappointed! I’m not a reader of fantasy. I don’t get along with fantasy very well and I usually trudge through them. This is one fantasy novel that made me fall in love with brutal aspects of the people, country, politics, and life the people faced. I enjoyed this tale so very much. It’s been a while since I gobbled up a book like I did The Winner’s Curse. I read over 180 pages in a day. I haven’t done that in a while because I’m always so busy, but I started reading this book when I was a little ways in and then I couldn’t put it down. After I read everything so quickly I eased up because I didn’t want this book to end! It’s perfect and beautiful. My breath was literally taken away by some of the scenes. I haven’t had that happen in a while. I mean, yes, I read books in series that I love that take my breath away. I mean a new series to love that has captivated me in a way that trilogies always set out to do and ultimately fail or thrive.


The main female character is Kestrel. Kestrel is badass. I love her. She is brave, cunning, and flawed. She knows she does horrible things but she does them because she has to. I love her. If I had to choose to be a character in a book I would want to be Kestrel. I have also never appreciated music written a book so much. The way Kestrel was dedicated to music and her piano made me love this book. She has a hobby, a talent that she can’t live without. Her piano is just as much a part of her as her heart is. And I loved that. I also loved her romance with Arin (more on that in the next paragraph).


Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 10

The main male character is Arin. Arin is perfect. He does horrible things but I understand why. He’s Herrani and he’s tired of being considered the savages ones even though the Valorians were once the savage. He wants freedom. I understand that. I love him all the more for it. He still did all what he did knowing that it could make Kestrel hate him and I think that’s true love. Arin’s love for Kestrel was real and when he said, “My soul is yours. You know it is.” I lost it. He is a truly swoon worthy character. He is the man that authors should try to write about. He does things because he has to not because he wants to. He is just as brave as Kestrel. He is also a singer. He understands Kestrel’s love for music. I love Arin and he is the kind of “prince” I would want to meet. (Arin isn’t a prince, but I’m using prince in the romantic sense not literal.)


Swoon Worthy Scale: 
 
My scale is broken...


The Villain- Who really is the villain in this novel? That’s what I love about The Winner’s Curse. There is no specific villain. It all depends whether you’re a Valorian or Herrani who you see as the villain and I love that. It was a true war and it was done beautifully.


Villain Scale: 10


I love all the characters in this book even the ones I grew to hate. *cough cough* Cheat *cough cough* I loved Kestrel’s friendship with Jess. It was real and beautiful and true. I loved Kestrel’s relationship with Enai. It was one of my favorites in this book. It was very complex but also simple. I enjoyed every character presented even the ones I hated.


Character Scale: 10
I’ve never been so blown away by a fantasy novel and I don’t know if I will be again, but The Winner’s Curse was beautiful and I recommend this to everyone! It has love, passion, friendship, fighting, bravery, betrayal, dancing, music, and everything you want in a book. I can’t wait for the sequels. I NEED THEM!

Cover Thoughts: This is one of my favorite covers ever! I adore the dress and the Valorian knife. I even love the braids in her hair that I’m going to pretend were done by Arin.
 


Sunday, March 16, 2014

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

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And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

DNF- 2 stars

Emily Beam’s boyfriend walked into the school library with a stolen gun. After he threatened Emily he took his own life. Emily is shipped off to Amherst, Massachusetts and discovers the life of Emily Dickinson. Emily Beam’s poems give her a connection to Emily Dickinson and her poems. I’m still not sure why I read this book. It didn’t sound like it would be a bad book and it sounded interesting enough. The ads for this book were plastered all over GR and Amazon and I had an ARC copy I was meaning to get to a finally decided to pick it up. I was really hoping to be emotionally grabbed by this story. It’s an intense plot, but it lacks in what it tried to do. This book is slightly reminiscent of Hate List in the prospect of dating someone who brings a gun to school. The plots are different because in Hate List the boyfriend was a school shooter and Emily’s boyfriend only kills himself (and I think he injured someone but I’m not sure). I struggled for a good portion of the novel debating whether to DNF or not. As I started reading today from around 32% to45% I decided that I wasn’t going to waste any more time on Emily Beam and her moping poetic prose. And We Stay is also told in third person narrative. I don’t mind third person and I’ve read a few excellent third person perspectives, but it just doesn’t work for this book.


The main character is Emily Beam. Emily is already a highly unattached person and her being narrated in third person gives off an even colder and more distant feeling. She is an incredibly annoying teenager. She calls the library the lieberry because of the incident that occurred in the library. It just seems very childish. We also find out early on in the book that Emily had been pregnant, which came completely out of left field.


Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 2

I’m sure that there may have been a romance, but I didn’t get to it. In all honesty I could care less if Emily was to end up with somebody because she is too detached it seems to form human relationships.


I did like K.T., Emily’s roommate. I thought she was really funny. She tried to be friends with Emily and I don’t know if they ever become friends (it seems like they will from where I left off).


Character Scale: 3

The prose was very annoying. Here’s an example:
“She leaves them in the earth, her eyes hot with tears, a new poem burning itself all the way down her feet.”
I just couldn’t trudge on anymore. I had enough. I can’t deal with thick prose, the terrible third person narrative, or a character who is as unattached to humanity as Emily Beam. She spends all her time studying or in the library or drinking coffee or smoking cigarettes or writing poems and frankly it’s the most boring simple things to ever read about. I just don’t care what Emily does to find comfort or push herself away from people. She’s been threw a traumatic experience, but I honestly can’t bring myself to care. I can’t do it. Emily’s poems were also not very great. Some of them are good, but a good bit of don’t make any sense. This book is too slow and too much nothingness. DNF and I don’t regret it.


Cover Thoughts: I love the cover. It’s gorgeous. It’s the reason I requested the book. At least one thing about this book is gorgeous.

Thank you, Netgalley and Delacorte Press for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher

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The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher

4 stars

Emily’s dad is a war veteran with PTSD and when he brings a dead body home after a night in the woods, he is accused for murder. Emily knows her father didn’t do it, but it seems like no one believes her. Damon Hillary was Ashlee Parker’s boyfriend and he can’t remember what happened the night Ashlee died. The games he and his friends played in the woods are not the only games he starts playing when he starts talking to Emily. I consider myself to be a huge Christopher fan. I love her book, Stolen, to bits and pieces and I think it’s one of the most poetic books I’ve ever read. Christopher had a way with words of invoking different images as well as feelings. Her words captivated me in a way that I still remember being absorbed in to this day (I read Stolen a few years ago). I was so excited to see that she was releasing a new book. A book about murders and games, no less. It sounded perfect and in some ways it was. There were times when I was reading The Killing Woods where I felt like I was trapped in a dangerous psychological game and I felt like a deer running through the woods. I was constantly coming to dead ends and beginning to question every single character’s sanity. It was like reading about characters that would be featured on the Bates Motel. I was horrified, thrilled, and captivated. Which is all great and this book was great, but I could also be easily sucked away from the book because while I could become captivated I could just as easily turn away. It was all a bit confusing and I still don’t know how I feel exactly about this book in terms of the emotions it evoked. It was a great book though. There isn’t a lot for me to complain about but something just felt incomplete.


The main female character is Emily. I can’t decide if I like Emily or not. The more I’ve thought about her, the more I dislike her. Sometimes she was an enjoyable character to read about and she has a great back story and I got to know Emily, but I never felt like I fully knew her. There are some characters that it just seems like their soul is being bared for the reader to see, but Emily always felt closed off slightly distant. She was there in presence, but not much in personality.


Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 7.5

The main male character is Damon. Sometimes I liked Damon and sometimes I didn’t. He’s nothing but a big raging monster truck. He could be quite scary and I feared about his obvious mental instability. I personally think he’s a lot crazier than Christopher made him out to be. There were times when he was boarding on psychopathic tendencies. These tendencies were just brushed aside after a while and ignored until they would randomly pop up again. Damon was a ticking time bomb and he almost exploded several times.


Swoon Worthy Scale: 3

The Villain- I did kind of see that coming. I wasn’t all that surprised, but at the same time I loved the motive. Accidental asphyxiation. Oh, boy!  It was something new and I liked it.


Villain Scale: 8

I don’t really have much to say about the other characters because they were all there but then they weren’t. I did like Joe or is it Joey. I think it’s probably Joey. He had potential, but he was just swept under the rug.


Character Scale: 7

I was very put off by the Game at first, but as the book progressed I started to like the direction it took. I think maybe what I was missing from The Killing Woods were characters. I adore Gemma and especially, Ty in Stolen and I think that the fact that the characters didn’t make me feel what I felt for some of the writer’s other brilliant characters made this book less captivating. I still really enjoyed The Killing Woods. It’s a great angsty, psychological read and I recommend it. Just don’t go into hoping for characters like Ty and Gemma because you won’t get them.



Cover Thoughts: I really like the cover. There’s something about it that is just spooky and it’s very eye-catching.

I received this book from Goodreads Firstreads.