Monday, May 09, 2022

Only a Monster by Vanessa Len

Title:
Only a Monster
Author: Vanessa Len
Genre: Young Adult Sci-Fi Fantasy
Series: Only a Monster # 1
Hardcover, 416 pages 
Publication: February 22, 2022 by Harperteen
Source: I received a review copy in exchange for honest review.
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It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother’s eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place.

But she soon learns the truth. Her family aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers. And Nick isn’t just a cute boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to bring them down.

As she battles Nick, Joan is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. She’ll have to embrace her own monstrousness if she is to save herself, and her family. Because in this story . . . . . . she is not the hero.

 

MY THOUGHTS

 

Only a Monster was my most highly anticipated novel of 2022. Monsters and time-travel, yes please! It had one of the best taglines I’ve heard in a long time. Yet it pains me to say this but it didn’t live up to my expectations.

The world was very much like ours except monsters were in the closet. And the term ‘Monster’ was used differently than what most people would equate with the word. In the novel, Monsters were people with unique powers inherent to their family house and they had the ability to steal time from humans. For example x- amount of minutes, hours or years stolen from humans equals the same amount of time a monster can use to travel into the past or future. Depending on which family a monster is from, they also had the ability to retrieve/hide objects in time, remember all times, freeze time, strength, or had an animal familiar, etc …some of these made sense to the world, some didn’t. And like most monster novels, there’s always an opposing side…monster hunters. The magic system wasn't anything spectacular or interesting, and the plot felt all a bit cliché.

The characters were alright, I didn’t like them but I didn’t hate them either  which made it hard to be invested into the story. Joan was oblivious to the fact that she was surrounded by monsters and that she was a monster herself. For the majority of the book Joan was in denial of what was occurring around her and when she had help from a boy of a rival monster family, she still kept finding excuses to feed her denial. I found it vexing and distracting. I also didn’t like the male love interests. Joan fancied Nick before she found out she was a monster and he a hunter. Despite threatening to destroy one another across timelines they still clung to the idea of star-crossed lovers. It was poorly executed and I never felt the chemistry between the two nor understood the supposed heartfelt confession towards the end of the story. As for Oliver, the rival family member, he had a crush on Joan which I believe was never reciprocated. Both male leads had absolutely no memorable attributes. I felt like they were just there but didn’t really add value to the story. 

had such high hopes for Only a Monster, but sadly it didn’t deliver on any level. The magic system/world building, characters and plot were all subpar. The ending tied up quickly and conveniently and yet I already forgot the overall arc/main goal of the series since this is an opener to a trilogy. With that said, I think I’m going to past on the sequel.

 


 

 

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

So This is Ever After by F.T. Lukens

Title: So This is Ever After
Author: F.T. Lukens
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: N/A
Hardcover, 352 pages 
Publication: March 29, 2022 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: I received a review copy in exchange for a honest review.
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Arek hadn’t thought much about what would happen after he completed the prophecy that said he was destined to save the Kingdom of Ere from its evil ruler. So now that he’s finally managed to (somewhat clumsily) behead the evil king (turns out magical swords yanked from bogs don’t come pre-sharpened), he and his rag-tag group of quest companions are at a bit of a loss for what to do next.

As a temporary safeguard, Arek’s best friend and mage, Matt, convinces him to assume the throne until the true heir can be rescued from her tower. Except that she’s dead. Now Arek is stuck as king, a role that comes with a magical catch: choose a spouse by your eighteenth birthday, or wither away into nothing.

With his eighteenth birthday only three months away, and only Matt in on the secret, Arek embarks on a desperate bid to find a spouse to save his life—starting with his quest companions. But his attempts at wooing his friends go painfully and hilariously wrong…until he discovers that love might have been in front of him all along.

 

MY THOUGHTS

I love the traditional Hero’s Journey. You know,  the one where the hero and his trusted group of friends go on a mission to defeat the villain or fulfill a prophecy. But like most Hero’s Journeys’, after the hero defeats the villain and/or fulfills a prophecy they go home and that’s the last we see of them. Have you ever wonder what happens next to your favorite characters? I sure do. In Luken’s So This is Ever After she answers that precise question.

So This is Ever After is a light-hearted, fun rom-com spin on the traditional Hero’s Journey. Arek and his band of misfits just defeated The Vile One and is now the King of Chickpea (yes, that’s really the name of the Kingdom lol). But within hours of donning on the crown, Arek finds out that there’s a blessing-curse connected to the throne. In order to stay the king, Arek must wed by his 18th birthday or he’ll fade away.

I thought this was a cute and fun quick read. After reading a few sentences I immediately understood the tone of the novel. It’s like a mesh-mash of sci-fi fantasy and gamer lingo with a heavy dose of satires and parodies. I love that despite the dire situation that the character found themselves they were still having fun and always joking around with each other.

This book was pitched with hints of Arthurian legend and D&D vibes but there was nothing Arthurian about it and the D&D reference only got as far as the characters’ naming. And surprisingly there was very little plot and romance, which was a bit disappointing. The entire plot or lack thereof hinged on Arek having a conversation with his best friend Matt. If he simply told Matt how he felt there would be no story. So basically the plot/story is one extremely long miscommunication. In my opinion not a good thing.

Overall So This is Ever After was a fun read. If you’re in the mood for something entertaining and light…pretty much brain candy than this is the perfect book for you. The synopsis made this book sound like it was right up my alley but unfortunately I wanted a little more plot and character development. While it wasn’t my cup of tea, I think there’s still a lot to like about this book and other reader would enjoy it. As always I recommend checking out a snippet or chapter sample.
 

 

Friday, March 25, 2022

Demon in White by Christopher Ruocchio

Title:
Demon in White
Author: Christopher Ruocchio
Genre: Science Fiction Fantasy
Series: The Sun Eater #3
Hardcover, 784 pages 
Publication: July 28, 2020 by DAW
Source: Personal Library
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Hadrian has been serving the Empire in military engagements against the Cielcin, the vicious alien civilization bent on humanity's destruction. After Hadrian and his Red Company achieve a great victory, a cult-like fervor builds around him. However, pressures within the Imperial government scared of his rise to prominence result in an assassination attempt, luckily thwarted.

With the Empire too dangerous to stay, Hadrian and his crew leave for a massive library on a distant world. There, he finds the next key to unlocking the secrets of the Quiet: a set of coordinates for their origin planet, unnamed and now lifeless. Hadrian's true purpose in serving in the military was to aid his search of a rumored connection between the first Emperor and the Quiet, the ancient, seemingly long-dead race linked to so many of Hadrian's extraordinary experiences.

Will this mysterious lost planet have the answers?

 

MY THOUGHTS

Hadrian Marlowe has had many battles; such as family expectations, living on the streets, as a gladiator in the Colosseum on Emesh and on the front line as a soldier against the Cielcin. But in the latest installment, Demon in White, Hadrian is confronted with a new battle, politics. Within the Sollan Empire amongst Caesar’s court Hadrian is thrown head first in invested waters. He must learn to navigate court maneuverings and decipher who is a friend or foe.

Like all books in The Sun Eater series, the story is narrated by Hadrian as he recounts his journey across the galaxy. I’ve mentioned in previous reviews how I love this style of writing. It’s an intimate panache of storytelling. Readers are truly able to peek behind the proverbial curtains to see and feel what the writer is expressing. Before Hadrian became the infamous Halfmortal, Emperor Reborn, Demon in White he wanted to be a scholiast. And it hit me while reading, that he actually achieved it (Since the book started at the end as Hadrian narrates his rise and fall). A Scholiast is a commentator on ancient and classical literature. That’s precisely what Hadrian is doing and we’re reading his commentary! Ruocchio is absolutely brilliant!

The first two novels were well plotted and written and Demon in White is no exception. Just when I thought the series couldn’t get any better and more complex; Ruocchio peels back another layer of the world expanding on the systems, beliefs and characters. While I love everything about this series. What makes this series stand out from other Sci-Fi novels and memorable are the characters. This series is extremely character driven. The characters are a great representation of the world that Ruocchio has created. They are multifaceted, rich, realistic, flawed yet redeemable. I’m sure many readers feel the same way when I say that we’ve been with Hadrian and the gang since the beginning that we know them like we know ourselves.

Demon in White was another incredible addition to the series. As I said before these books are well written and the crème de la crème of its genre. I don’t know why but with this third installment I can see and just instinctively feel like Ruocchio has hit his rhythm with Demon in White. Or maybe as a reader, this is one of those big turning moment for Hadrian as friends and enemies from the beginning seem to fall away and the core main players are now defined.

I highly recommend reading this series if you haven’t read it yet. It’s pretty damn near perfection as a series goes. And as always, start at the beginning with Empire of Silence, Book 1 because you can’t miss anything, everything is crucial! I can easily say this is one of my all-time favorite series. I cannot describe my love for this series nor how it makes me feel. No words can do it justice…but if it must be said/read please check out my previous reviews of the first two books :D. I’m excited to start the next book and ecstatic to learn that this is no longer a quartet; book 5 arrives at the end of 2022.