Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: The Brighter the Stars

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

I haven’t done an eARC review in a little bit, and it was nice to see this one pop up after I’d forgotten about requesting it. It was a quick read for me, but although there was clearly a lot of care put into the worldbuilding, much of The Brighter the Stars fell flat for me.

Enjoy this eARC review!

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The Brighter the Stars–Bryan K. Prosek

At only twelve, Jake Saunders witnessed the murder of his uncle by Romalor, the tyrant of a distant world. His death shaped him for years, eventually leading him to the Legion, the intergalactic military. For years, he has sought revenge, but only now does he have the chance to avenge his uncle. But when Diane, an ambassador to Earth and a close friend to Jake, is captured, he must find a way to rescue her–and right the wrongs of the murderous Romalor.

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TW/CW: violence, loss of a loved one

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and CamCat Publishing for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Wait, so we’ve got a protagonist who witnessed the murder of his Uncle Ben in his formative years? Wait a minute…[PETER PARKER INTENSIFIES]

(Kidding, kidding…)

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I always feel pretty bad giving more indie books low ratings. It’s hard to put yourself out there, and especially since this one has hardly any reviews or ratings on Goodreads as of now, it did pain me a little bit to give The Brighter the Stars a lower rating. But hey, I’m supposed to give an honest review here, and to be honest, this novel really wasn’t my cup of tea, even though I’m a huge fan of sci-fi.

Let’s start off with the positives. What stood out most to me about The Brighter the Stars was the worldbuilding; the author clearly put a lot of work into making a fleshed-out, intricate world, and for the most part, he succeeded. Although there were several instances where I felt like the information was being info-dumped, the futuristic world that Prosek crafted was one that felt very lived-in.

I also liked the dynamic between Jake, Cal and Diane. They had great chemistry together as a trio, and even though Jake’s and Cal’s personalities/voices were almost indistinguishable, I liked Diane’s character.

What bothered me most about The Brighter the Stars was the writing. It was often very choppy, with long clumps of sentences that were almost the exact same length. Within at least half of the paragraphs, most of the sentences seemed to start with the same word(s); this, combined with the lack of variation for the sentence length, made for a novel that didn’t really flow. I can usually just scan the pages if the sentences have differing lengths, but even the action sequences failed to flow. Additionally, the descriptions leaned quite a lot on telling instead of showing–there’s a whole lot of “was,” “[they] felt,” “[they] knew,” etc., which also contributed to the lack of fluidity throughout the story.

There’s an interesting combination as far as genres go; The Brighter the Stars is pretty hardcore sci-fi, but there’s some clear Western influences on it. (I really don’t know much about Westerns, so take this all with a grain of salt. I guess The Mandalorian was pretty Western-inspired, soooo…) There were quite a few nods to the latter throughout, and I did kind of like the desert/saloon planet, but plot-wise, it still felt quite flat. It was fast-paced, but everything felt far too easy for Jake (ex. beating the supposedly “unbeatable” fighter in the arena, another plot point that I won’t spoil). Now, I’m all for good triumphing over evil in the end, but there seemed to be little to no struggle for Jake to get over the obstacles in his path. He was definitely more of a Gary Stu-type protagonist, which…mmm, nope.

Overall, a sci-fi that clearly took time to create a fleshed-out world, but suffered from dry, choppy writing and unrealistically skilled protagonist. 2 stars.

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Release date: November 10, 2020

Today’s song:

That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: Lyrics and Curses

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

Music references. I’ve grown up in a family of music nerds, and it’s been a passion of mine for almost my whole life–almost as fervent as my love of books. So you can imagine my joy to find a paranormal romance eARC that promised lots of them. But though I liked that aspect of the novel, most of it didn’t click with me.

Enjoy this eARC review!

Lyrics & Curses (Cursed Hearts, #1) by Candace Robinson

Lyrics and Curses (Cursed Hearts, #1)–Candace Robinson

1985. Lark Espinoza longs for an escape–from her stepmother, her popular sister, and her town where nothing seems to happen. But when a mysterious, cloaked stranger appears in her workplace, she knows something’s amiss–but even more so when she realizes that no one else can seem to see him.

It turns out she isn’t the only one. Auden Ellis, the boy Lark shares notes filled with song lyrics with, has also had an unexplainable experience–out of nowhere, he sees a stranger playing a flute that nobody can see–except for him and Lark. Auden and Lark sense that there’s a link between these unexplainable events–but would could they possibly mean?

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Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Filles Vertes Publishing for giving me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

For a while, I was teetering between a 3 star and a 2 star rating. The second half of the book pushed it towards the 2 star end, sadly. The Goodreads blurb pegs it as Pretty in Pink meets Stranger Things–both of which I love–but Lyrics and Curses felt weak in most respects. (Also, I…really don’t see the Pretty in Pink part? Maybe that’s just me, but…)

Let’s start off with what I liked. I loved Auden and Lark’s friendship/almost relationship, even though the latter felt forced and rushed towards the end of the novel. Their shared bonding over music was something I related to, and plus, they (I mean, I guess I should be saying Candace Robinson) had great taste. Jumping off of that, I LOVED the music references–David Bowie, Talking Heads, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Depeche Mode, Queen, all the good stuff. There’s a clear love of all things 80’s, and it really shines through in Lyrics and Curses.

Legion Review: 9 Moments from the Premiere to Admire, Recap + ...

But that’s where the good aspects ended for me. Speaking of said music references…I loved them, but most of the time, much of the 80’s references felt more like namedropping, like the author was just sprinkling them in to say “OH, and DID I MENTION that this is the 80’S?!? Would you look at THAT!!! 80’S!!!!!!1!!!” The more that were piled on, the more tired and forced the setting of the novel felt. Don’t get me wrong–I’m a big fan of most 80’s content as well, but some of the references only ended up dragging the novel down, and making the historic setting less genuine.

Aside from that, the plot generally felt weak. The paranormal aspect was barely touched on until the second half of the book, and even then, it felt like there weren’t any high stakes for the characters–at least until…maybe the last 90% of the book? I wasn’t invested in Lark and Auden’s journey, and the paranormal aspect was only mildly gripping. As a result, the last half of the book felt incredibly rushed, and I ended up skimming the last 75% or so. After Lark and Auden realize the source of these paranormal occurrences, the book got *slightly* more interesting, but by that time, the book was nearly over, and there wasn’t too much time to touch on it further. I suppose that’s what a sequel is for, but I still felt that most of the beginning could have been cut out, and the paranormal aspects of the plot been expanded upon more.

All in all, a novel that showcases a nostalgic love of music and the 1980’s, but fails to deliver on most other aspects. 2 stars.

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Me 50% of the way through trying to decide if I’d give this 3 or 2 stars

Expected release date: November 10, 2020

Since I’ve already posted once today, check out today’s Goodreads Monday for today’s song. (Not 80’s, sorry…)

That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (3/24/20)–Crown of Coral and Pearl

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Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I’ve talked briefly about this novel on Goodreads Monday and Everything That I’ve Managed to Cross Off of Goodreads Monday or Down the TBR Hole (Part I of ?),but I wanted to take the time to write an entire review for this one just to get out some…feelings. My addled brain thought this book had mermaids, and I was desperately wrong; that disappointment may have skewed my feelings on the rest of the novel, but even beyond that, Crown of Coral and Pearl was a fairly forgettable novel, though it did have a few bright spots.

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Enjoy this week’s review!

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Crown of Coral and Pearl (Crown of Coral and Pearl, #1)

For centuries, the mountain kingdom of Ilara has demanded tribute from the lesser coastline village of Valeria–once the Ilaran Crown Prince has come of age, a Valerian bride must be sent to become the queen of Ilara. What emerged in Valeria was a morbid beauty pageant among the eligible girls; only the most beautiful and unblemished girl could be considered to be sent to the Crown Prince.

For her whole life, Nor has known that her twin sister, Zadie, would be sent to live in Ilara; a scar on her face ruined her own chances of being eligible. Zadie is chosen, but on the night before being sent to Ilara, she retains a near-fatal injury, and Nor is sent as her replacement. Undercover as her twin sister in the Ilaran palace, she meets Prince Ceren, her groom-to-be, who may be harboring a secret that may spell the end of life as the Valerians know it. Will her secret be discovered–and will she be able to save her home from Ceren’s wrath?

 

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All kinds of meh…

I’m not sure what genre to put Crown in, and for once, that…really isn’t a good thing. It’s been most often shelved as fantasy on Goodreads, but other than the fact that there are a few magical creatures and a bit of mythic lore, there’s nothing that would peg it as fantasy. Same with science fiction, too, but the closest I could say is that it was fantasy.

Crown of Coral and Pearl, for all intents and purposes, was a mass regurgitation of the same plot that’s been plaguing YA for the past decade or so–forced arranged marriages that lead to the toppling of the royal family/government/society. Not to say that it can’t be well-executed from time to time, but it’s just been done innumerable times before, and it’s been stale for far too long. Not the most original of books.

I…sort of liked the characters. Though most of them were pressed from the mold of said arranged marriage plots (the determined heroine who is Not Like Other Girls, scheming prince, royal love interest, etc.), they were decently written. I did sort of have a liking for Talin, Ceren’s brother, even though the romantic subplot between him and Nor could be seen a mile away. Nor had some moments of being wonderfully butt-kicking, and her twin relationship with Zadie was very well-executed and genuine. The dialogue was very forced, but overall, characters seemed to be something of a stronger point here.

Overall, Crown of Coral and Pearl had the beginnings of good characters and writing, but ultimately fell prey to many of the overused tropes that run rampant in the YA genre. Two and a half stars for me. 

 

Crown of Coral and Pearl is the first in a duology. The final book, Kingdom of Sea and Stone, comes out this October.

 

Today’s song:

[zoom in on my last brain cell dancing with a giant grin on its face]

 

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Stay tuned for more content later in the week! Have a wonderful day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (1/21/20)-Half Bad

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Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

 

After reading what’s been released of Green’s Smoke Thieves trilogy, I figured I’d delve farther into her works: namely, the Half Bad series, which I’ve seen get a lot of praise over the years. However, I personally found it a bit of a slog to get through. Green’s signature world-building and attention to detail was still present, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to save the book.

God, I sound like a Chopped judge…

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Sheesh, I haven’t watched this show in ages…

Enjoy this week’s review!

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Half Bad (The Half Bad trilogy, #1)

In a modern, magical London, witches rule the streets. White witches watch over the populace, delivering justice with their healing magic, while the dark Black witches cause chaos.

For as long as he can remember, Nathan has been divided between two worlds. Born of a White witch mother and a Black witch father–and a notorious serial killer, at that–he is on the run from both sides, hunted for his divided identity. Perpetually on the run, he must grapple with his half-and-half identity–and stay alive.

Let’s start with the pros. As always, Green excels with her world-building, creating an intricate society and culture of Witches. The history was thoughtfully explained without much info-dumping. Unfortunately, that’s the one aspect of this novel that I truly liked, other than the descriptive (perhaps a bit too descriptive?) writing.

The plot was largely character-driven. While that isn’t always a negative thing, I wasn’t very attached to Nathan as he grew older. Sure, I felt a great deal of sympathy for the brutal abuse he suffers throughout the novel (that’s what I meant by “too descriptive”), but he didn’t have much of a personality, and I didn’t quite “feel” for him, and I didn’t feel for any of the characters. The side characters, speaking of which, were overtly expendable; they seemed to pass by in a blur, and you only saw them in groups for a good 100 pages or so before they disappeared completely.

But hey. Half Bad is Green’s debut novel. Everyone makes mistakes. Good thing is, she’s come so much closer to mastering her craft since then, producing such gems as the Smoke Thieves trilogy. All in all, I’d give Half Bad two stars. (DNF at about 76%.)

Half Bad is part of a trilogy, followed by Half Wild and Half Lost. There’s also two prequel spin-offs in the Half Bad universe, Half Lies and Half Truths. 

 

Today’s song:

I couldn’t care less about this movie, but I must say, there’s some great stuff on this soundtrack! This, Soccer Mommy (“Feed”), and The Aubreys (“Getting Better [otherwise]”, Finn Wolfhard’s new band)…[happy indie rock noises]

 

That just about wraps up this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a great rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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