Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Secret Identities. 
Extraordinary Powers. 
She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to the villains who have the power to end them both. – Goodreads

Let me start by saying … I loved The Lunar Chronicles and do enjoy Marissa Meyer’s writing. I was very excited for Renegades (even more excited that it was only $2.99 in the Kindle Store HOLLAHHH). I didn’t even read what Renegades was about, once I saw who authored the book.

I will now continue by saying…I did not enjoy Renegades very much. Perhaps I’m burnt out on the whole superheroes movement, but I simply did not get a sense of originality from the book. In fact, it just kind of reminded me of X-Men…except less exciting. Some concepts were new, but for the most part, it felt as if I’d seen it all before.

Prodegies are humans born with superhuman powers. Elemental manipulation, telekinesis, the ability to turn into a bunch of butterflies, the ability to control bees/wasps, the ability to make bombs with a though, etc. Nova can put people to sleep with a single touch and doesn’t need to sleep.

Nova is part of the Anarchists, a group of prodegies looking to wipe out the Renegades, who basically resemble law enforcement and are trying to govern the remains of a crumbled world. The Anarchists (back in the day) helped prodegies come out of hiding and give them rights. The Renegades took over. In the story, it reads as one big misunderstanding of who is good and who is evil, if there is such a thing as black and white good and evil.

Long story short, Nova becomes a Renegade to try and take down the Council.

There is little story arc or climax. It’s a constant stream of Nova and her patrol team conducting surveillance and Nova trying to find out secret intel on the Renegades. It’s very predictable, save for LITERALLY THE LAST PAGE. I’m trying to avoid giving out some details, because I’m not trying to summarize the book.

There’s a little bit of love, a little bit of fighty action. That’s about it. There’s a lot of weird emotions between Nova and how she feels about the Renegades — her family was murdered when she was young and the Renegades didn’t stop it in time — and I don’t know. It was messy and just…kind of boring.

Did not love, but will continue to read Meyer’s work.

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When It’s Real by Erin Watt

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley’s team decides it’s time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he’s settled down.

Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of “normal.” Under ordinary circumstances she’d never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn’t have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley’s team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley’s a shallow, self-centered jerk? It’s not like they’re going to fall for each other in real life…right? – Goodreads

You know how you’ll be reading a book, and it’s really good, and someone asks what you’re so absorbed in? So you lie, because the real answer is embarrassing? Because you don’t want to admit you’re a 27-year-old reading a chick lit about some regular girl who falls in love with a pop star? Yeah, that happened to me twice while reading this.

I’d rather admit that I like dragons than admit I was reading a book with the tagline of “a pop star, a regular girl, the world’s watching”. BUT, I actually really enjoyed this fluffy, light, unbelievable-but-whatever-I-needed-a-light-summer-read book.  It reads like a show from the Disney channel, complete with an orphan and some fairytale stuff.

Vaughn Bennett is seventeen, “normal”, poor and orphaned. Her slightly older sister takes care of Vaughn and her two younger twin brothers, which is no cheap feat after her parents die in a tragic accident. Somehow, they afford to live in Southern California. I let this slide.

Vaughn’s sister works for a publicist of the famous Oakley Ford, whom I pictured as Justin Bieber…like, pre-weird JBeebz. You know. “Girlfriend” JBeebz. My imagination, I do what I want.

Justin, er, Oakley, has a garbage reputation of being a player partyboy in Hollywood, when he just wants people to take his music seriously. So, his publicist hires Vaughn to be his fake girl-next-door girlfriend to repair his image. Vaughn gets a paycheck (don’t worry, there’s no creepy prostitution stuff here; it’s just an image thing) and they go on fake dates.

I actually liked the slow build of their friendship and eventual non-fake romance. I liked each character, and surprisingly, didn’t want to gag at Oakley’s disdain of the limelight. I liked Vaughn’s character; she was punchy and independent.

It was a nice, light read this summer. I finished it quickly and actually enjoyed it. The story was sweet and the characters were well done. If you’re in the mood for a very lighthearted romance, pick this one up. This does fall in the genre of new adult, so probably not appropriate for younger kiddos.

Power of Five by Alex Lidell

Four elite fae warriors. One mortal female. A magical bond they can’t allow—or resist. 

Orphaned and sold to a harsh master, Lera’s life is about mucking stalls, avoiding her master’s advances, and steering clear of the mystical forest separating the mortal and fae worlds. Only fools venture into the immortal realms, and only dark rumors come out… Until four powerful fae warriors appear at Lera’s barn.

River, Coal, Tye, and Shade have waited a decade for their new fifth to be chosen, the wounds from their quint brother’s loss still raw. But the magic has played a cruel trick, bonding the four immortal warriors to… a female. A mortal female.

Distractingly beautiful and dangerously frail, Lera can only be one thing—a mistake. Yet as the males bring Lera back to the fae lands to sever the bond, they discover that she holds more power over their souls than is safe for anyone… especially for Lera herself.

Power of Five is a full-length reverse-harem fantasy novel.  – Goodreads

I did not know what a reverse-harem fantasy novel was. I also did not expect to love this novel as much as I did…or it’s sequel (I don’t typically review sequels, so consider it part of this one).

BUUUUUT I loved it. For a typically-not-a-big-lover-of-the-Fae person, damn damn damn damn. Ever have books you wish you could reread for the first time? This would be on my list. It’s magical, fast-paced, steamy, ahhh. Love it. Let me simmer down and explain.

The writing style is fabulous and the plot moves quickly. I had a super difficult time putting this one down. I read it in a day, and the second one the day following.

Lera is a great female lead. Though a “weak” mortal by Fae standards, she’s strong and hilarious in spirit. She was witty and sassy, and I really enjoyed reading her POVs. I also loved each of the male Fae’s POVs and personalities.

Honestly, if you’re looking for a light fantasy read, pick this one up; it’s worth it.

Pestilence by Laura Thalassa

They came to earth—Pestilence, War, Famine, Death—four horsemen riding their screaming steeds, racing to the corners of the world. Four horsemen with the power to destroy all of humanity. They came to earth, and they came to end us all. 

When Pestilence comes for Sara Burn’s town, one thing is certain: everyone she knows and loves is marked for death. Unless, of course, the angelic-looking horseman is stopped, which is exactly what Sara has in mind when she shoots the unholy beast off his steed.

Too bad no one told her Pestilence can’t be killed.

Now the horseman, very much alive and very pissed off, has taken her prisoner, and he’s eager to make her suffer. Only, the longer she’s with him, the more uncertain she is about his true feelings towards her … and hers towards him.

And now, well, Sara might still be able to save the world, but in order to do so, she’ll have to sacrifice her heart in the process. – Goodreads

I probably would have enjoyed this more if an invisible voice wasn’t whispering “Stockholm Syndrome!” in my head the whole time. Okay, so the invisible voice was me…but still.

Let me address what I liked, first. For one, I actually liked Laura Thalassa’s writing style and flow. Though the plot itself was slow (see below), her writing style was funny and interesting. I also liked the originality of the plot using the four horsemen in an apocalyptic end-of-the-world scenario during modern times.

Sara was also a strong female lead; she’s a firefighter, and she sacrifices herself to attempt to assassinate Pestilence in the most gruesome way (fire) possible to save Earth. Too bad Pestilence can’t be killed…instead he kidnaps her and tortures her by tying her hands and making her run — RUN — behind his steed as he gallops across the world, leaving death and sickness in his wake. You know, because he’s Pestilence.

That’s when it lost me — at the romance. See, Sara sees something in Pestilence and begins to fall in love with her captor. Yes, the the same dude who tortured the crap out of her. Wait, what? SEE? I told you. STOCKHOLM SYNDROME, HARCORE. Sara, girl, COME ON.

The plot is literally them riding from house to house around the country, again, leaving death and destruction in their wake (and sometimes bustin’ into someone’s OCCUPIED house to make sure Sara gets food and stuff and then those people die).

So, though the writing style was fun and the concept cool, the whole romance part was awkward and unbelievable for me. I finished it, but I didn’t LOVE it. It was an interested trial of the new adult genre (which, by the way, has more sex scenes than young adult fiction), but this one was not for me. I rated it a 2/5 on Goodreads.

 

 

Venators: Magic Unleashed by Devri Walls

The dark unknown beckons.
Rune Jenkins has a long-standing infatuation for anything from the supernatural world, and she’s trying to hide it. If she doesn’t, her reckless twin brother Ryker storms in fits of rage, and she starts feeling like her own sanity is slipping. But the closer she gets to Grey Malteer – an old friend who waves his fascination with fantasy like a flag – the harder it becomes to stifle her own interest. When supernatural creatures from another world suddenly come hunting for the three college students, they are forced to see the hidden truth as fantasy twists with reality. With help from a mysterious savior, Rune and Grey escape, but Ryker does not. They must follow Ryker’s abductors into an alternate dimension, Eon, where they discover their true identities. They are Venators, descendants of genetically enhanced humans designed long ago to protect the inhabitants of Eon from themselves, and to keep them far away from Earth. After generations of separation, the ruling Council of Eon has decided to bring about the return of the Venators for their own benefit. In this new world of fae, vampires, werewolves, and wizards, power is abundant and always in flux. Rune’s brother is missing, and she and Grey are being set up as pawns in a very dangerous game. Rune, Ryker and Grey must now find their way through and out of Eon, before it consumes them.
 – Goodreads

First of all, thank you Devri Walls for yanking me out of my reading slump. I was initially cautious to read this, simply because I know Devri’s husband “in real life”. I’d met Devri once before, but I’ve always been worried about reading the work of friends or acquaintances because a) what if I hated it and b) what if I read the narrative IN THEIR VOICE?

I did notice that it occasionally took me a few minutes to “get into” the story and stop overthinking the fact that the author was indeed a “real person” and not some mysterious author behind the novel. So dumb, but true.

Once I got over it, though, I sincerely enjoyed the story and premise of the storyline. The worldbuilding was good and I enjoyed the overall writing style of the book. I like the main characters (more on them in a moment) and the supporting characters. I appreciated the mix of magical creatures and the introduction of new ideas and concepts (a Venator, for example).

Rune is a strong female lead. For some reason, the only thing that bugged me about Rune was her name — if her parents are such stand-up, normal people…why the hell are they naming their kid Rune? Ryker makes sense, Rune does not. Rune is the type of name your hippie Wiccan mother names you…not Sally Soccermom who wants you to make the Dean’s List. Stereotypical of me, yes…but something I was hung up on nontheless.

Grey is a strong male lead, though it took me quite a few chapters to stop picturing him wearing his (in my mind, creepy af) trenchcoat. The trenchcoat thing is explained later on, so don’t let that turn you away or think Grey is creepy…he’s not.

Overall, if you’re looking for a breathe of fresh air in the new adult fantasy genre, check this one out. It won’t disappoint!

 

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Daughter of immortals.

Princess Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mortal. Diana will soon learn that she has rescued no ordinary girl, and that with this single brave act, she may have doomed the world.

Daughter of death.

Alia Keralis just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted by people who think her very existence could spark a world war. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together.

Two girls will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. Tested beyond the bounds of their abilities, Diana and Alia must find a way to unleash hidden strengths and forge an unlikely alliance. Because if they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war. – Goodreads

If you’re expecting the book to be like the movie, let me spoil it for you: it’s nothing like the movie.

I was pretty excited to read this because I enjoy Leigh Bardugo’s work and was curious as to how a comic book series would translate into a narrative.

I’ll be honest, this book took me forever to finish. Yes, I’m in a slump; but also…this book was incredibly boring. How can you have a superpowered beautiful (because we were constantly reminded while reading) Amazon princess who kicks ass and takes names but be boring? I’m not sure. Much of the book was a drag, with a few exciting parts thrown in.

The plot was also insanely easy to predict. The twist could be seen from the beginning of the story.

On the pros side, I liked having two strong female leads and a strong female supporting character who was also a lesbian. The book was not focused on romance, but instead at the mission at hand: take the Warbringer to the magical spring.

Overall, I enjoyed the new spin on an old classic. I still liked the book more than I liked the movie, however, I won’t be rushing to recommend either to anyone. I rated the book a 2/5 on Goodreads.

 

Real Talk: Reading Slump

I don’t know what my deal has been, but I have been in the biggest reading slump of my life. And honestly? It’s kind of sad.

I grew up in a household where we made twice weekly trips to the Library. The rule was this: if you can carry it, you can check it out. I became very strong and excellent at balancing books, sometimes stacked all the way to my chin.

Over the last year, my motivation and passion for reading has waned. It’s not that I don’t have time; I have plenty of time to binge watch television, after all. I haven’t found a book that makes it difficult to not put down. I miss that feeling of being sucked into a world and being frustrated at the drudgery of adult responsibilities, spending every free moment soaking up words and disappearing into a story, only to be devastated when it’s done.

Three years ago, my goal was to read 150 books in a year, which I nearly hit. This year, my goal was to read 52, which I’m 24 books behind on. I know it’s just a number, but it’s still frustrating.

So: here’s to finding some books I can’t put down and purposely dedicated daily time to reading. ❤