ARC REVIEW: Heartborn – by Terry Maggert

Title: Heartborn
Author: Terry Maggert

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: September 1st 2016
Finished reading: May 28th 2017
Pages: 238

“Sometimes, she thought books had been the only thing other than the love her parents that kept her from quitting. They were old friends who never left, and always took her by the hand to go someplace her broken body could not.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I haven’t read all that many books about angels before and I was intrigued by both the cover and blurb when I first heard about Heartborn. What I didn’t realize until later is that this is actually the first book of a series… And that’s probably why I was kind of surprised when I reached the last page of this story. Heartborn definitely ends right when things are starting to make more sense and the story was becoming more interesting. This was one of the main things I was struggling with as I was reading this story: the credibility of it all and the lack of worldbuilding/descriptions of the word the angels live in. I liked that Heartborn is a story that is a mix of the ‘real’ world and the fantasy, linked together through the characters, and it definitely made the story more interesting. But even though I liked Livvy’s character (‘real’ world) in general, I had serious doubts about her reactions to everything. I mean, she somehow takes the news of a completely foreign world being out there somewhere without even a complaint or thinking twice? And she just accepts and gobbles up everything Keiron and the others say without completely freaking out? Not credible at all. And then I’m not even talking about the insta-love happening somewhere in the middle.  Also, I can’t go into details without spoilers, but let’s just say that I felt there was a lack of balance in the plot; some parts felt rushed and lacked explaining, while others started to drag. The ‘angel’ chapters were interesting enough, but I would have liked to see more details and worldbuilding to properly enjoy them. This fantasy world has a lot of promise, but didn’t reach its full potential for me. All in all not as good as I would have hoped it would be.

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Livvy Foster was born with only half a heart, and has somehow completely surprised everyone and survived to reach her seventeenth birthday. Life hasn’t been easy on her and she bears the scars to prove it; forced to live slow as to not damage further her already weak heart. She has only just started working in the library when she meets Keiron. What she doesn’t know is that there is a whole lot more about him than just another library visitor… Because he has come from a place far away, a guardian angel pushed from high above with a mission to save her. What will happen to the two?

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Now I’ve read Heartborn I can’t deny there is a lot of potential in this story, and it’s a shame the fantasy world has been described only so briefly. An extra 100 pages or so would have helped develop their world better and that would probably help enjoying this story a lot better. I also had problems with the credibility of it all, mostly due to Livvy’s reactions to so many (for her) shocking details. The final part of the story also felt a bit rushed and the ending abrupt. All in all a lot of potential, but in the end it just didn’t work for me.


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BOOK REVIEW: Daughter Of Smoke & Bone – by Laini Taylor

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Title: Daughter Of Smoke & Bone
(Daughter Of Smoke & Bone #1)
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: September 27th 2011
Finished reading: May 8th 2016
Pages: 418
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“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”

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Warning: unpopular opinion ahead. I think I have lost count of the times this series has been recommended to me ever since I first started my blog. I’ve had a copy of Daughter Of Smoke & Bone on my TBR pile for a long time, and the main reason I finally decided to pick it up was that it came out as the winner of the which series should I read next? poll. One of the things of starting such a popular series is that it can both ways; and I kind of have an ‘unpopular opinion’ reputation when it comes to hyped books in the first place. And guess what? Daughter Of Smoke & Bone turned out to be one of them. And trust me, I feel I have been nice with the rating, because I had a STRONG dislike for the second half of this book and even thought about just DNFing it. Why? First of all, let me make it clear that I loved the first part of the story. The worldbuilding is great and I simply loved Laini Taylor‘s prose and descriptions of both the different cities and the magical elements. Karou starts out like such an interesting character as well; it’s so easy to connect to her and really made the first part into something special. But then Akiva showed up… And just as I already was afraid of, he turned out to be one of those typical pretty boy male love interests. Insta-love, forbidden love similar to Romeo & Juliet, sappy romance scenes and dialogue, a strong female character falling in love with the pretty boy and completely loses her original charm… What a way to ruin a story with so much potential! I already have a copy of the sequel, but I’m really worried about actually reading it now… Because (the second part of) Daughter Of Smoke & Bone definitely wasn’t for me.

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Karou seems to be just another young art student living in Prague, but there is more to her than what meets the eye. People believe the monsters in her sketchbooks are a figment of her imagination, but is that really true? And what about the fact that she is able to speak multiple languages perfectly, disappears often on mysterous errands and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that way? Karou has seen things most humans haven’t, growing up in a hidden shop where the chimaera Brimstone collects teeth of all sizes he uses for who knows what afterwards. He never seems to want to answer questions about her past, but it seems like she won’t be waiting much longer before she finds out the truth… Mysterious winged strangers mark the different doorways to Brimstone’s world with black hand prints; marking the beginning of the end… And Karou soon has to fight to stay alife. She crosses paths with the beautiful haunted Akiva, who seems to be just as curious to find out what Karou really is. He should and could have killed her, but something makes him decide otherwise… What will happen to them?

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Like I said, I loved the first part of Daughter Of Smoke & Bone and the story was well on its way to being added to my list of all time favorites. Then Akiva appeared and the story was turned into a Romeo and Juliet spin off… And I lost my interest completely. I know it’s almost impossible to avoid romance in a YA fantasy series nowadays, but after such a promising start I was really REALLY disappointed with the road this story took. I was browsing my kindle quotes for this review, and the sheer amount of sappy love quotes made me want to vomit… I know just about everybody seems to love this series and I’m glad, but unfortunately I’m not one of them.

BOOK REVIEW: End Of Days – by Susan Ee

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Title: End Of Days
(Penryn & The End Of Days #3)
Author: Susan Ee
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopia
First published: May 12th 2015 
Finished reading:  September 7th 2015
Pages: 344
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“Come on. Say it, Raffe.” I give him a half smile. “I love it when you say Pooky Bear. It’s just so perfect when it comes out of your mouth.”
“She might kill you in your sleep one of these days just so she can get rid of that name.”

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I still can’t believe I’ve waited this long to actually finish this series! I really enjoyed the first two books of the Penryn & The End Of Days trilogy, although Angelfall still is my favorite. I’m not saying I didn’t like the last two, but I did have a feeling the story has lost its original touch in the sequels. End Of Days just isn’t up to the same level of the first book and the first part was way too focused on the romance scenes. I’m not saying I wasn’t keeping my fingers crossed for Penryn and Raffe, but one of the things I liked of Angelfall was the fact that it wasn’t all about their ‘relationship’. The prose was as good as ever with some pretty funny quotes (boy do I love Pooky Bear and the twins!). The second part of End Of Days does have a lot more action than the first part and with its fast pace I was able to finish this one quickly. The ending is quite fitting as well, although in a way I’m sad it’s over… This series by Susan Ee is definitely recommended if you enjoy YA fantasy/dystopian series with angels.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first two books yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Penryn and Raffe only barely managed to escape the angels and are now on the run. They are desperate to find a doctor that can help Raffe and Penryn’s sister back to their original state. Things are not that easy though… Raffe’s past seems to be back to threaten them all. Part of the angels are getting ready to unleash an apocalyptic nightmare onto the world, and Raffe and Penryn seem to be the only ones able to stop them and prevent a civil war. But will the war be enough reason to make unlikely alliances and strategies work? Will they be able to save both themselves and the rest of the world?

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I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy End Of Days, because then I would be lying. Still, I was disappointed by the emphasis on Raffe and Penryn’s relationship in the begining of the story. It’s not that I don’t like the idea of them together, but I didn’t exaclty sign up for a romance novel. The second part has a lot more action in it though and makes up for it. I love the twins and their crazy ideas! Susan Ee was able to write a very enjoyable series and I honestly hope she will write more novels in the future.

BOOK REVIEW: City Of Ashes – by Cassandra Clare

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Title: City Of Ashes
(The Mortal Instruments #2)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: March 25th 2008
Finished reading: May 22nd 2015
Pages: 453
Rating 3

“I don’t want to be a man,” said Jace. “I want to be an angst-ridden teenager who can’t confront his own inner demons and takes it out verbally on other people instead.”
“Well,” said Luke, “you’re doing a fantastic job.”

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While I was reading City Of Ashes I couldn’t stop asking myself: how many love triangles does a story need? Seriously, there are so many different love triangles in this second book of The Mortal Instruments series that it’s becoming ridiculous. And I’m not even talking about what is going on between Jace and Clary… THAT is just seriously messed up.. Sure, the story has a fast pace and Cassandra Clare is using a prose that is easy to read and even funny at times. But I’m having serious difficulties with some of the characters and their behavior. I won’t be going into details to avoid spoilers, but those who’ve read this sequel already will probably understand what I’m talking about. There are quite a few plot twists and while some are quite interesting, others are plain cheesy. I already have a copy of the next two books on my TBR shelf, but I’m not so sure I will actually continue this series any time soon…

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read City Of Bones yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

After all that happened, Clary just wants her normal life back. But that is not as easy as it seems, because the Shadowhunter world doesn’t seem to be done with her. With her mother in the hospital with a coma, Luke being a werewolf and her newfound brother Jace being a Shadowhunter, things are just not that easy. Besides, Valentine is still out there planning something evil and he isn’t going to stop until he finished whatever he is trying to do. It’s up to the Shadowhunters to stop him before it’s too late… And they are trying to solve the Downworlder children murders as well. Who can they really trust and will they be able to win the fight against Valentine?

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I actually liked the prequel trilogy The Infernal Devices way better and I don’t think I will continue The Mortal Instruments series any time soon. I found the characters and their actions really annoying and I don’t think I can take any more love triangles for now. I’m not saying this is a bad read and it’s actually quite well written and funny at points, but I think there are way better YA fantasy series out there that I would prefer reading instead. This one turned out to be too much of a cheesy romance novel for my taste…

BOOK REVIEW: World After – by Susan Ee

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Title: World After
(Penryn & The End Of Days #2)
Author: Susan Ee
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopia
First published: November 19th 2013
Finished reading: May 15th 2015
Pages: 320
Rating 4,5

“I look up to say something but he puts his finger to my lips and whispers, “Don’t talk. You’ll just spoil my fantasy of rescuing an innocent damsel in distress as soon as you open your mouth.”

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I have to say I actually liked Angelfall better than the sequel. BUT: World After is still full of awesomeness. I cannot help but fangirl all over this series and Susan Ee made it straight to my favorite authors list. The worldbuilding, characters and prose; everything works just brilliantly together. The fact that this is one of the few YA fantasy series without a love triangle is a huge bonus as well. I would have liked to see more of Raffe as Penryn can become annoying at times, but I still loved reading this sequel. Action, horror and romance are mixed with a humor and dialogue between Penryn and Raffe that will probably make you laugh out loud at some points. Those who have already read World After will understand it when I say: Pooky Bear! Susan Ee was able to write down some great lines with that one. Now I can continue to ramble and fangirl all over the place, or simply conclude that this series is definitely worth your time if you enjoy YA fantasy. I know there is a huge hype around this series, but in this case it’s absolutely worth it.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read Angelfall yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

People are still trying to survive after the angel apocalypse, but things are not getting easier. Penryn’s sister Paige was able to escape the angels, but when a group of humans captures her thinking she is a monster things become messy. Paige disappears and Penryn has no other choice than to try and find her sister. Again. That is not as easy as she originally thinks it is, because she has no idea where Paige or the angels went in the first place… And Raffe doesn’t seem around to help her this time. Raffe is still busy trying to get his wings and respect among the angels back, but will he really ignore Penryn when her life is in danger? And what about the secret plan the angels are working on to finally claim the earth as their own?

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Susan Ee writes in a way that makes you just want to keep on reading and I’m not sure how long I will resist the temptation of buying the recently published third books of the Penryn & The End Of Days series. Both Angelfall and World After have been brilliant, so if End Of Days has anywhere close to the same quality of setting, character development and prose I’m sure I will love it. Question is: do I really want this story to be over? I’m not sure if I can say goodbye to Penryn and Raffe just yet…

BOOK REVIEW: Angelfall – by Susan Ee

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Title: Angelfall
(Penryn & The End Of Days #1)
Author: Susan Ee
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopia
First published: 2011
Finished reading: May 11th 2015
Pages: 326
Rating 5

“My friends call me Wrath,” says Raffe. “My enemies call me Please Have Mercy. What’s your name, soldier boy?”

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This series has been on my TBR for a few months now, and with all the hype around the third book I thought it was about time to finally start reading it. Angelfall didn’t disappoint. Actually, I almost slapped myself in the face for not getting to this series earlier! This first book of the Penryn & The End Of Days series is simply awesome and almost left me without words… Or more precisely said: fangirling all over the place. The worldbuilding, characters, prose… Everything works just perfectly together and Penryn and Raffe will go straight to the list of my all-time favorite main characters. A dystopian world where angels are actually the bad guys; one being different from the rest after his wings are cut? Check. A kickass female heroine who is not afraid to say what she thinks and has great survival skills? Check. Two different missions that will lead both characters to the same destination and will force them to work together? Check. All ingredients that makes this novel by Susan Ee full of awesomeness and definitely recommended to fans of the YA fantasy genre. Ok, I promise to stop fangirling now. 😀

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Six weeks ago, the angels destroyed the world as people knew it… The human race is now struggling to survive in this apocalyptic world full of chaos. Violent street gangs, savage angels, lack of food… Things sure aren’t easy. Penryn has a hard time taking care of her crazy mother and handicapped sister, but is determined to keep them safe at all cost. When angels end up flying away with her helpless sister, Penryn will do anything to get her back… Even if that means helping a wounded angel in the progress.

Penryn is able to save the angel who just got his wings cut off by another angel during battle. She is trying to use him to find out where they took her sister, but the angel (Raffe) is not really cooperative. Somehow, they end up together anyway as they need each other to get what they want. Raffe is looking for revenge and wants his wings back, while Penryn wants to save her sister before it’s too late… But will they able to reach their destination on time and get what they want?

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Angelfall was so good that I just had to read the sequel World After straight after I finished it. I first tried to stick to my read-a-thon TBR, but I just couldn’t help myself in the end. I fell in love with the world Susan Ee created with this series and I can say the same for the main characters Raffe And Penryn. Another bonus: no love triangle! Add a brilliant prose and fast pace and you have the mix for a perfect YA fantasy novel… And a series I will probably end up rereading in the future.