The Surface Breaks, Louise O’Neill

A 2*

“How could I have thrown it (my voice) away? The only time I was ever happy under the sea was when I was singing, and I sewed my mouth shut in the hopes that a boy I barely knew could kiss it open again.”

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

The Surface Breaks is sold as a feminist retelling of the Little Mermaid. And even if I consider myself a feminist, I didn’t like this book. I don’t think that all feminist ranting is good and fair.

The only thing that carried me throughout the book is the decent writing that laid down the story in an attractive fashion.

But on the other hand…

It is not feminist to say that everything bad is the man’s fault (white man, in most cases). The Sea King might be a strong supporter of patriarchy and giving no power to women, but Oliver, Ruppert, and Alexander were just weak men, each in their own fashion. Oliver, a spoiled brat, Ruppert, a rapist who should be behind bars and Alexander, an opportunist. But they never could undermine Eleanor, who was a smart woman.

For a feminist retelling, the only strong feminine figure in the book was Ceto. And I don’t think it is enough to make a point. Her story was weak and not developed.

The story was not engaging and the characters were not fully developed. Yes, Gaia comes to the understanding that she is much more than a quiet mermaid who needs to stay quiet and have a pretty face, but beyond that, there is nothing attractive in the narrative. For example, there was an enormous setting for a love intrigue between several characters. Zale (a pedophile in the least), Oliver (insta-love? Again?), Ruppert (misogynistic rapist) and George (the only normal guy in the whole story?)… And even though, George story line is discarded and forgotten, resolved in a line, that says “he isn’t here”.

And I must ask, even though there is no one to answer. What with all the parenthesis? It is a work of fiction, not a paper on the life of poor mermaid Gaia. After 2 chapters, I was on an eye roll phase of it all.

There are too many political opinions in this not-so-feminist ranting for a YA novel. I came here to enjoy a retelling of the Little Mermaid, but instead I got a boring version of a feminist’s angry cries to the world.

I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. But if you do read it, read it with caution.

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Blood of the Prophet, Kat Ross

A 4*

“The seeds of self-loathing had been planted when he was very young. It is not easy to change, even when our adult minds know better.”

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

I loved The Midnight Sea and I jumped to Blood of the Prophet right after finishing it. And I was mildly disappointed. Sadly, Kat Ross had the same thing happen to her series that happens to most writers. The second book in the series loses its charm and doesn’t have the same attractiveness as the first one.

Don’t get me wrong. I liked the book. The history setting entwined with mythical creatures and the link between the real characters and fantasized protagonists make the story gripping and exciting.

Kat Ross showed us in The Midnight Sea that she is not afraid of killing the characters that we came to know and love. And it happens again in Blood of the Prophet, but that what makes the story interesting and what makes the reader on the edge of the seat, wanting to know more.

We get to know the characters better, too. Their stories are deeper and Nazafareen herself gets to grow in front of our eyes, showing us what is not expected.

The story is deeper than in the first book, painting the world around us, but with a story full of twists. We don’t know what to expect in every chapter.

But… For the sake of showing more of the world, we get to see less action, less adventure and the pace of the book is slower than it was in The Midnight Sea.

Besides, we get to see other characters’ thoughts and reasons. And we come to understand why they do what they do. Except sometimes it makes the story too obvious when we see the same event happen through the eyes of different characters.

But the book keeps us attached with the romance scenes, that are not forced but shown as they should, with the struggle that Nazafareen and Darius keep having to not get engulfed in the sin.

I recommend this book for those of you who loved The Midnight Sea but beware that it won’t be the same type of story. Richer but slower. I hope the Queen of Chaos will rise to the challenge of being as good as the first book of the series was.

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The Midnight Sea, Kat Ross

A 5*

“I took a step back. I couldn’t help it. His daeva? I’m not sure what I expected. Horns and a forked tail, perhaps. A creature as ugly on the outside as it was on the inside. But they looked just like us.”

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

This book is a hidden gem. It is only 0.99 on amazon kindle store. But it is good, enticing and engaging. It is also not appreciated enough.

The story swipes you up and doesn’t let you down till the end. From the death of Nazafareen’s sister until meeting Alexander the Great. It is engaging and addictive. The world is well constructed and richly developed. It might help that it is based on the real-world and our myths but Kat Ross entwines it with not typical monsters (Druj that possess a body and are not so easy to kill), and lies and control by the King of kings.

Kat Ross lets you in a world and then swipes it from under your feet. By Nazafareen’s side, we discover that not every story perfect, not everything you told to believe is true, that even the person you trust the most can sentence you to death or wound you to the deepest of your soul.

I have to say that the enemy in this book was perfect. Kat Ross managed to construct a character who is not evil just for the kicks of it, but because of deep, profound grief. His reasoning is sick and twisted but not unheard of. It takes us by surprise, but it is well thought and incredibly powerful for one of the main characters to become evil and the enemy to become your friend.

The Midnight Sea is an incredible YA book. Because it is not perfect. Because it hurts. Because it engages with complicated subjects such as amputation and grief. Because it shows the unpredictable nature of humans when you don’t know who you should trust. And because it demonstrates the power of religion and following your orders without question.

The romance in this book is slow-building and almost absent but it allows us to fall in love with the characters as they are with their faults and imperfect nature.

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The Journal of Blake, Adrienne Woods and Lea Cherry

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

The Journal of Blake Leaf is a recollection of Blake’s poems and his thoughts, one of the main characters of The Dragonian series. It is what it says in its title, a journal.

Even though it is marked as a prequel, it should be read after finishing The Dragonian series, if not it will spoil the second and the third book of the series. For those who get too tired of Elena by the end of the first book and just want to know the ending, should read this installment and then jump to the end of the fifth book.

The journal gives too much information, compared to the rest of the series in a fast-paced tempo. Even though, it does not cover much of the fourth and fifth books and doesn’t go till the end of the series which is sad. The last book might be the most interesting one. It would allow us to see the story from Blake’s point of view, his internal change and struggle.

The conflict between Blake’s consciousness and his dark side was something A.Woods showed during the series and we get glimpses of it in this journal, but there is little new insight on Blake’s character. Nothing new is added to the story.

It is confusing, but every person’s journal is. It has good poems and L.Cherry did a great job showing Blake’s character in them.

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Starlight, Adrienne Woods

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

“When it feels as if the darkness will descend, a united team will rise and defend. The power to see their destiny through, lies within the hearts of an unlikely two. Their strength, power and love as one, liberty brought by The Courageous and the Prodigal Son.”

Yes!!! I finally have finished this series. It was getting too long and too tiresome. So this is as much a review of this book, as of the whole series in general.

Most books of the series got a 3* rating because of the rich world created by A.Woods, with dragons and their riders, in a hidden country that is more advanced than the rest of the world, as dragons can create more advanced technology (weirdly, all the scientists Elena has met are just normal humans… not dragons). They did not get that rating because of the rich storyline or developed characters.

But this book was too long without a real reason for it. It turned around Elena, who created too much drama in her life. There was no action, no real adventure that we were prepared for, for the last four novels and two novelettes.

Etan is finally going to be freed in this last installment and the prophecy is going to be fulfilled, something we hoped for far too long. As the reward for all the waiting and four books of constant drama between Elena and her boyfriends, we get a 600-page book with only the last 100 pages of real action. And on top of that, while the final battle happens between dragons with their riders and wyverns with the magic wielders (who are just pure evil, because why not), A.Woods only shows us Elena in the castle with a confusing narrative of the events and no view on the epic battle happening outside. Enormous dragons fighting with devious wyverns outside. Legendary war, exquisite story… Talk about missed opportunities.

There ARE good things about this book. Paul is back and Blake is no longer dark. It certainly brings closure to many opened subjects in the last books. And there is a happy ending, not for everyone as there are characters who died useless deaths, but it is an ending.

But in general all the drama is too shallow, Elena is too superficial for all the series. The constant push and pull between Elena and Blake gets too old really fast. We were teased about their relationship on the first pages of the first book and it happens in the second half of the last book and it is not as attractive that it needed four books to develop. Only because I managed to sit throughout all the other books did I master some courage to finish this one too.

As with all the other books, there was this constant repetition of phrases, grammatical errors and confusing paragraphs. The characters’ reactions were not always within the normal attitude of the constructed persona and the same passages showed over and over again.

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Moonbreeze, Adrienne Woods

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

“The brave aren’t called the brave because they weren’t scared, Elena, neither the courageous, nor the heroes. All of those people written in history have one thing in common: fear, and plenty of it, but that is when true courage shows itself.”

Here I am, the 6th book I read in The Dragonian series, counting the novelettes, and the 4th one of the main series. I must tell, the characters evolution and the well-built world the story happens in hooked me from the first book.

After a bit of a disappointment with Frostbite, I wasn’t sure if to keep reading was worth it. I even took a pause when I was around 25% and read the novelettes.

When I first wrote a review, I gave it a 3*, but I changed it to a 2* shortly after that.

The plot is better built in this book than in the previous three. There was suspense, hope, and intrigue. Even though it was still too predictable as to who Annie was and where did Elena disappear after that kiss with Blake.

But, there was no point to this book in the general advance of the story. There was a lot of drama, self-loathing by Elena and even more drama. But it didn’t add anything interesting to the development of the series.

There is, also, the rape thing that happened to her. And yes, it is a YA genre, but it happens to girls of all ages and I actually like that A. Woods brought it up. I just don’t think it showed all the tragic part of it, and it didn’t add more layers to the main characters. Only a way to cover some plot-holes in the next book.

I want to take a moment here and talk about the romance in Moonbreeze. I don’t find it good. I find it shallow and too simple. The love/hate relationship Elena has with Blake, I found a bit annoying from the beginning. And now that Blake is good, with no evil trying to claim him, I understand Elena.

What I don’t understand why should we hear the main character say the same thought over and over. I get it, Elena doesn’t trust Blake, but I don’t need to be reminded of it every time Blake says something. Or what Blake himself thinks something, for A.Woods gives us the privilege to hear what Blake has to say about it. The split in the narration does allow the pause from Elena’s constant babbling but it just shifts into Blake’s babbling.

This part of the review is annoying because it will be the same thing I say from the first book in The Dragonian series. But seriously what with all the mistakes, missing words, and unrelated sentences? I just can’t repeat it anymore in every review I post, but I guess I will because the writers need to know what is the problem with their books.

Poison, Adrienne Woods

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

“When it feels as if the darkness will descend, a united team will rise and defend. The power to see their destiny through, lies within the hearts of an unlikely two. Their strength, power and love as one, liberty brought by The Courageous and the Prodigal Son.”

As well as Venom, Poison is a novelette in The Dragonian series. And as well as with Venom the review will much shorter than with a traditional novel. There are just not as many things to say.

At around 1/5th of the book I was more invested in the story than with the other novelette in the series, Venom. The story was not as shallow and much more attractive, but it was still a repetitive story about Elena’s feelings, doubts, and hopes.

The book carried in it the mistakes from the previous novel Frostbite, which was grammatical mistakes and no relationship between different sentences or paragraphs. But I won’t take much time discussing it. I feel like I will do it anyways in the next posts.

The only plus was the half love story that appeared between Elena and Emmanuel (even though it lasted for half a page) and her struggle with Blake. Thanks to this novelette, the transition between Frostbite and Moonbreeze is easier, but it was not a necessary addition to the series.

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Blood Born, Renee Lake

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions included in this review are my own and are in no way affected by the exchange.

I have a big problem with this book.

I wanted to read something in a horror genre and, even though it was stated that it is for teens and YA, I didn’t mind if it would be milder than a horror book for a more grown-up population.

What I did mind was that it had simple writing wrapping a childish story with shallow characters that didn’t have any background or a major development in the story. But in midst of all this, there are scenes of sex, murder, and violence, far from appropriate in a book for teens and YA.

I think this book was labeled badly in its genre, and it should be more of paranormal or erotica. The thing though, that even then, the characters would be too dull, the story too simple and predictable. There was no real love-story, only a new try at this phenomenon in modern literature known as instalove and, on top of it, with the older one in the couple treating the younger one as property.

If you can close your eyes on all this for a moment, or more like the whole book, there is an interesting world hidden, with another dive into vampire culture. Some of the things are old and known from classics like Dracula, others are new and surprising.

I love when the author is not scared to kill a character or a few, even if it is a teen & YA novel. But for a horror genre, there was not enough of any kind of scary thing happening to install the feeling of fear or horror.

All in all, it is a new look on already known world, that is charming, addicting, but hard to see through all the bad writing and the world that is not developed enough.

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Venom, Adrienne Woods

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

“I guess even in a world of magic we are all slaves to cell phone towers.”

I guess you could guess the quality of the book only by the quote I chose for it. But here it goes.

This is a very short book, a novelette so the review is gonna be shorter than usual.

I searched for the definition of a novelette and, for my information and of all of you: Novelette is a short novel, typically one that is light and romantic or sentimental in character.

It was light but it was not romantic or sentimental.

I was at around 50 % when I asked myself the following question, “What does this book add to the story?”. And the answer was that it didn’t add anything new at all.

The only thing that was of any interest is the part where Blake and Elena have their first almost kiss. But even though to write 100 pages for it, it seemed a little bit too much.

There is no story, it is boring and too long for nothing. So if you wonder if you can skip it and go on with the rest of the series, then the answer is a clear “Yes, you can”. It is better to skip it than to force yourself to read it.

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Dawn of Dreams, Bronwyn Leroux

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

“Jaden stumbled, dimly aware that although he had never heard the sound before, it was as if he had spent his entire life waiting to hear it. Fear snaked down his spine.”

I got a copy of this book from netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Dawn of Dreams is the book that hits you on the first page and takes you on an adventure until the last page is turned. Except for the fact that you need to survive entire paragraphs of needless actions and descriptions.

Yes, the opening was exciting. But when I was at around 1/3rd of the book, there was still nothing new that happened, except for an apparition of a strange monster and a medallion, which I must say was a wrapped in a tedious description itself. But it was only half of the book when the first really intriguing thing happens. There is just too much description in this book and a useless one at that.

We get to know what the protagonists do at all the times and with too much unnecessary detail, we get to see characters that appear for a chapter and we never see them again. It might be needed to construct a world, but it is tiresome if it lasts for the whole book.

The same goes for the protagonists themselves. They are deep, well-developed characters, but with too much detail given about them, their each and every thought, each and every action. And at the same time, they are too perfect. Kind, pretty and popular, with no defect to them that would make us easy to associate with them.

All in all, underneath this too detailed world, there is an outstanding plot, with a unique adventure and, of course, a unique monster. One that is scary and awful and makes for a perfect antagonist, even though it might not be the evilest creature in the series. A few hints are dropped but only the next books will tell.

This book could be shorter, by half, but, even though, it ends with a cliff-hanger with enough of intrigue to start the next one as soon as finishing the previous one.

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