Saturday, April 26, 2014

Review: Hidden Wings by Cameo Renae

Title: Hidden Wings
Author: Cameo Renae

Genre: YA Paranormal
Publisher: Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing

Length: 204 pages
Original Publishing Date: January 16th, 2013
Series: Hidden Wings #1
Where I got it: NetGalley

Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Seventeen is a life changing age for Emma Wise.
As her family's sole survivor in a car crash, she is left with a broken arm and a few scrapes and bruises. But these are only outward marks; inside, her heart is broken and the pieces scattered.

Whisked away to Alaska, to an aunt she’s never met, Emma starts over. Secrets unveil themselves and now…she doesn't even know who or what she is.

A centuries old prophecy places Emma in the heart of danger. Creatures of horrifying and evil proportions are after her, and it will take Emma, her aunt, and six, gorgeously captivating Guardians to keep her safe. But, if she can survive until her eighteenth birthday... things will change.

Main characters: 2/5

Emma was helpless most of the time and didn't make a lot of her own decisions. When a thirteen-year-old is making decisions for you, you know you don't have your own personality. There were a few moments of Emma's stubbornness winning through and her putting her foot down, which were a relief. Emma did have some witty narrative points; her thoughts about her situation were often funny and seemed like something that would be running through my head.

Secondary characters: 1.5/5

The instalove was over the top. One of the worst instances I've seen yet. But you know, for all the instalove and lacking character development, I did really feel the chemistry between Kade and Emma by the end. The Guardians back and forth banter was pretty entertaining. I loved how they joked while doing their job and gave each other a hard time. However, the blanket statement for all the secondary characters was that they were flat, underdeveloped, bland and boring. Further, and perhaps worse, they all fell into tropes that I'd seen a hundred times.

Writing style: 3/5

The beginning was completely rushed. She just wakes up, can't remember anything, is told her parents are dead and she has to go live with an aunt she's never met? Emma had a moment of sobbing and then it's business as usual. Emma's interactions with Jeremy and Lia were very forced and changed directions so quickly. The dialogue was overdone in what I think is an attempt to make them seem witty. There were some minor editing issues and a couple fact check things that I noticed. While pretty minor, they can definitely draw your attention. On the overall writing style, I went back and forth. At some points, the writing was contrived and stereotypical. I think my biggest problem was Renae's descriptions of feelings. They were very in-your-face, for example "I watched Kade's expression and saw a glint of sadness" or "overwhelming warmth and tingles that seemed to emanate throughout me". However, there were flashes of brilliance in Renae's writing. Every once in a while Renae really got into a flow and the writing moved well and with elegance. The last third of the novel really started to move along and the pacing was excellent. I was finally dragged into the story and could start to feel the tension.

Plot: 2/5
In terms of actual plot, I was disappointed in Hidden Wings. To be fair, I'm not so much into the subject matter of this type of paranormal. I find it less interesting and overdone. But even the way that the plot unfolded seemed to follow the strict formula that Twilight truly brought to life. You know the one: girl meets boy after trauma in her life, instalove ensues, he protects her, one of them turns out to be some freaky paranormal creature. Further, the plot itself was weak. The entire second half of the novel was one large conflict scene, which still failed to pull me in.

Ending: 1/5

Hmmm... that was definitely a cliffhanger. I was liking where the ending was leading and then suddenly... that. I was not a happy camper after that ending.

Best scene: Probably the climax scene

Reminded Me Of: Hush, Hush / Fallen

Positives: Some pretty sections of writing prose, Emma's wittiness and stubbornnes

Negatives: The cliffhanger ending, instalove, stereotypical plot and characters, rushed beginning, writing that spoonfed the reader (we were told, not shown)

Cover: Seriously well done cover. The juxtaposition of light and dark and the font are two of my favorite parts. I really like everything about this cover.

Verdict: Another paranormal romance that hit too many stereotypes and felt contrived.

Rating: 3.8/10 (2 stars)

Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

Title: The Selection
Author: Kiera Cass

Genre: YA Dystopian
Publisher: HarperTeen

Length: 327 pages
Original Publishing Date: April 24th, 2012
Series: The Selection #1
Where I got it: E-book from the Library

Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads:

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Main characters: 2/5
Okay, let's just ignore America's name because that's too ridiculous to even mention. The main problem I had with America is that she was bland and unmemorable. There were a couple moments where I thought she had some witty words and funny parts, but overall I was unimpressed with the characterization and development.

Secondary characters: 2.5/5

Both America and Maxon are pretty bland. However, Maxon definitely grew on me. He was blissfully naive about things, like talking to girls or comforting them when they cry and that endeared him to me. And America was his first kiss! Stop. Really. Too cute. This was also unique; I feel like we don't see a lot of male love interests who are less experienced than the female. One thing I didn't like? That love triangle! I won't comment on who I preferred except to say that Aspen's reason for breaking it off with America is ridiculous. Other secondary characters were underwhelming. They tended to fall under "the good guys" or "the bad guys" and I couldn't find much depth beyond that.

Writing style: 2/5
The writing moved quickly and I was fascinated by this world. The negatives included a lot of telling and not showing and not enough dialogue. For instance: "Marlee spotted me and we walked together". How? What did she say? What did they talk about? But then imagine the whole book like this. It was nearly impossible to picture most of what was happening in my head.

Plot: 4/5
Truly The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games. I liked the mystery introduced although I wish we had learned a bit more. I liked the caste system and thought it was a unique dystopian premise. Some of the back history was difficult to understand or believe, which diminished its sense of realism. In general, I actually didn't mind the plot. Okay, it seemed a little contrived at time but as a fan of the TV show The Bachelor, I was all in on this plot. It just needed a little more oomph in terms of plot points and details. 

Ending: 2/5

The ending was at a weird place. It kept me hooked if only because it felt like that spot should have been a chapter break not the end of the book. Like if it was the bachelor that was the end of an episode, not the season.

Best scene: The interview that America does

Reminded Me Of: The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor

Positives: A romantic interest whose lack of experience is charming, fast paced writing, an intriguing premise and world

Negatives: Bland main character, underdeveloped secondary characters, poor writing style, not enough plot details, ending. 

Cover: Wow, this cover is fantastic! The dress is stunning, the font is perfect, and the the colors are beautiful.

Verdict: Despite all the controversy and conflict, I enjoyed reading this dystopian novel, although I wouldn't call it a work of literary genius by any means. 

Rating: 5.0/10 (3 stars)

Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!