Friday, March 28, 2014

Bronze Gods by A.A. Aguirre

Title: Bronze Gods
Author: A.A. Aguirre
Genre: Steampunk, Fantasy
Series: Apparatus Infernum #1

Mass Market Paperback, 322 pages
Publication: April 30, 2014 by ACE

Source: Purchased myself

Buy|Amazon|Book Depo|

Hy Breasil is grimmer than it used to be.

Before the Architect closed the door, there were regular crossings, and a great war decimated both humans and Ferishers. The native fae who refused to treat with the invaders faded; their bodies withered and died, stranding them as hungry, angry spirits that haunt the countryside.

That means there’s always trouble brewing in Dorstaad.

Janus Mikani and Celeste Ritsuko work for the Criminal Investigation Department, keeping citizens safe from things that go bump in the night. He’s a hardboiled cynic with an uncanny sixth sense; she’s determined to justify her promotion as the first female detective in her division. Together, they’re trying to keep a black tide from drowning the city.

But when the second body surfaces, murdered with the same type of infernal device, the entire CID must face the truth. There’s a madman on the loose, twining magic and blood… and only Mikani and Ritsuko can unravel the intricate, lethal conspiracy before the Royale killer completes his macabre plan, unleashing old, forbidden magic on an unsuspecting populace. If the maniac succeeds, it could mean the end of everything…

I bought Bronze Gods for primarily two reasons; the cover and because it is half written by Ann Aguirre. I have only read one of Ann’s series (Corine Solomon series, the first book) but it was enough to know that I’ll probably like everything else she writes. You’re probably wondering if I even read the synopsis…I probably did but truthfully I don’t even remember it because when I started Bronze Gods my initial reaction was there’s fae in this book?! But I am so glad I bought this book because it exceeded my expectations yet I am kicking myself for reading it a year after I bought it. What was I thinking? 

The world building was done beautifully. The authors created such a vivid world, with realistic characters that you can’t help but emotionally empathize and connect with. The writing was superb, there were no detail too small to describe; from a description of a small loose button to the dark and grim atmosphere of Dorstaad. I was fully immersed into this wonderful new word that Ann and Andres created. I never once found myself questioning the make-up of the world/or its foundation. There were times I was a bit confused as to what was what because there were flashback/dreams sprinkled throughout the book (the time before the gates were closed to the faes)­­­­­­­  but I was able to make sense of things as the book progressed. And more so when the book concluded with most of my questions explained.

While the world building was incredible, the best part is actually the two leads. Bronze Gods is centered around two CID: Criminal Investigation Department inspectors, Ritsuko and Mikani who are working on a murder case. Someone or something is going around murdering daughters from prominent/Ferishers houses. I was a little worried that our two lead characters would be bland and boring…the whole stereotypical idea of two detectives with the label ‘one is the brain, the other the brawn of the operation’ is used synonymously when it comes to the Steampunk genre (most of the time, when it has the crime noir element). However, a couple of chapters in; I was assured that Mikani and Ritsuko are nothing of the sorts. Stereotypical that is. Both characters have so much depth, with rich history/background that made them come alive on paper. I like that they weren’t perfect either. Ritsuko is clever, organized, always poised while Mikani is the complete opposite. It was interesting to see two completely different type of people counterbalance one another perfectly. I love how the two worked together, their friendship and overall admiration for one another. They always had each other’s back no matter the situation; they were even willing to die for each other. It went beyond just partners, it was more…It was sweet. As you can guess, their work/friendship-relationship evolves over the course of the book into something more, a slow burning sexual tension between the two. Both Ritsuko and Mikani feel something but are too scared to risk the special bond they already have.  I mean something is definitely there, they feel it and the readers feel it…it just a matter of if or when will they act on these new feelings. Ritsuko and Mikani’s work/friendship-relationship had me thinking of Hank and Charlie (Charlie Madigan series by Kelly Gay, an awesome UF series I love). I LOVE Hank and Charlie, they are one of my all-time favorite lead couple/duo and Ritsuko and Mikani are very reminiscent of them…so it comes as no surprise that Ritsuko and Mikani just landed a spot on my favorites list. They are definitely characters readers will fall in love with and will root for…I already am.

Overall Bronze Gods was an excellent debut by wife and husband team, Ann and Andres Aguirre. It is everything a Steampunk should be; excellent world building, characters, and mystery plot and a dash of romance. The ending wrapped up nicely answering questions to the current problem (for the most part) but also leaves an opening for the next book, SILVER MIRRORS which comes out next month! I am super excited and can’t wait to see what happens next with Mikani and Ritsuko! I loved this book way more than I expected, and would highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys Steampunk, PNR and UF…not a series to be missed. Read it, you won’t regret it!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Series: Divergent #1

Hardcover, 487 pages
Publication: April 25, 2011 by Katherine Tegen Books 

Source: From personal library, for my own reading.  


In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

I’ve jumped on the bandwagon, and finally read Divergent. To be honest, I wasn’t planning to. I remember when the book first came out and heard all the hype surrounding this book...I didn’t want to read it. I even thought, man another book trying to be like The Hunger Games. No thank you. I know I shouldn’t be comparing books, but sometimes it’s hard not to. All the dystopians out right now are all reminiscent of one another; in my opinion at least. But I shouldn’t have compared it to the Hunger Games before I’ve read it because after reading it…they aren’t similar. I initially read Divergent because I saw how awesome the movie trailer was, and like all bookies…I had to read the book before seeing the movie. I’m so glad I gave this book a chance; it was way better than I expect…even better than The Hunger Games (yes, I said it).

I really love Roth’s futuristic Chicago and the idea of having the society split up into five different factions (depending on which quality/trait you posse more of). Once a person turns sixteen they are required to take an aptitude test to determine which faction they will permanently be part of. Beatrice/Tris (later on) our main heroine is from the Abnegation (selfless) Faction but after an inconclusive testing showing she’s divergent (meaning she posses a trait from more than one faction) she joins Dauntless (brave). Things get interesting once Tris starts her initiation, where she and the others initiates are tested physically, emotionally and mentally. The stakes are extremely high because Tris not only has to hide the fact that she’s divergent but she has to successfully pass the test to secure a permanent spot as a Dauntless since there are only 10 available spots. If a person fails their trials they become faction-less; which is like being homeless with jobs such as a truck driver or janitor. For the majority of the book, readers are alongside Tris learning the ins and outs of Dauntless; which I didn’t mind because I got the impression that Dauntless is the most exciting faction of the five.

Tris takes on a major transformation over the course of the book. I love seeing her character grow albeit a bit quick given the book spans, what a couple of weeks? But it still felt realistic given she already carried some of the traits while in Abnegation unconsciously, instead we see her break out of her shy shell. Tris being divergent carried both Abnegation and Dauntless traits and it is these traits that pushed her to be brave and strong. I like Tris, she isn’t like other usual dystopian female leads I’ve read; she wasn’t already strong or skilled from the start instead she learned to develop her strength and skill after practicing and observing others. Tris was beaten up and made fun of constantly and yet she never once backed down or cowered. She took all that anger and put it into beating the other initiates when it came to the trials. I also enjoyed seeing Tris and Four’s relationship development. It was sweet and realistic as it gradually grew. It wasn’t till the end of the book that they were official a couple.

Amazing world building, great characters, and unique plot; what’s not to love about Divergent? I now understand why so many people love this book/series and why this series out sold The Hunger Games. Roth’s did an amazing job in creating such a rich and multifaceted world and I can’t wait to dive into book 2 and 3! The writing and pacing was perfect. I finished this book in less than 2 days which hasn’t happened in a verrrryy long time for any books! I highly recommend this series to everyone. If you haven’t already read it (but again, who am I kidding everyone read it) you definitely won’t regret it.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Review: ACID by Emma Pass

Title: Acid
Author: Emma Pass
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian

Series: N/A Standalone

Hardcover, 384 pages

Publication: March 11, 2014 by Delacorte Press

Source: I received a review copy (arc) from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|Book Depo

The year is 2113. In Jenna Strong's world, ACID—the most brutal controlling police force in history—rule supreme. No throwaway comment or whispered dissent goes unnoticed—or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a horrendous crime she struggles to remember. But Jenna's violent prison time has taught her how to survive by any means necessary.

When a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed, and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID, and try to uncover the truth about what really happened on that terrible night two years ago. They have taken her life, her freedom, and her true memories away from her. How can she reclaim anything when she doesn't know who to trust?

Even though the Dystopian genre is so over saturated, with every other book becoming similar or identical…I still find myself picking one up anyways. Two things are guaranteed when you read a Young Adult Dystopian; there will be a kick butt protagonist and loads of action. Not surprising I picked up Acid. The cover alone promises what I just said! But what really caught my attention with this book was the synopsis…a seventeen year old girl in an all male prison. What?! I immediately requested this book from the publisher, and was happily obliged when it showed up in the mail.

Acid started off with a bang as readers are introduced to Jenna Strong, a seventeen-year-old, who was charged with the murder of her parents. I love a kick butt heroine as much as the next reader, and was excited to see Jenna take down nasty and perverted inmates 2-3 times her size. She even had all these crazy wicked moves that can drop a person on their butt before they know what hit them! I was pretty impressed but at the same time not totally convince. While I read it in the synopsis and even when I started reading Acid, I had a hard time picturing a girl in an all male prison. It wasn’t believable, because realistically that would never happen. But plausibility aside, it didn’t matter much as Jenna gets broken out of jail a couple chapters in.

After Jenna’s prison break she goes on and gets three different identities. I liked Jenna for the most part, she definitely the epitome of a dystopian female lead and with each new identity she never once lost that strong-dangerous vibe (well maybe except when she was Jess briefly). The only thing that bothered me was Jenna’s recklessness in the last few chapters. She pulled a YA trope. She put not only her life in danger over a single boy who she barely knows (also apparently loves); but also the FREE (A group of activists that want to bring down the corruption and its Acid leader Harvey) team and the hundreds of prisoners. For someone who is so smart, especially when she was able to evade Acid countless of times; she sure isn’t thinking clearly when it comes to Max. The other secondary characters like Max, Jon, Mel, or even Jacob all had about equal amount of page time but I never got a feel for their characters. They weren’t fully developed and were nothing but a back drop to Jenna’s story. They definitely helped move the story along but never made much of an impression.

The world building is the weakest part of the book. Like the secondary characters, I didn’t think the world was fully realized or developed. Things were told but never fully explained, which made the futuristic U.K. and the Acid totalitarian government society far-fetched. For example, people are Life Partnered at a young age (arranged marriages), and are assigned a place to live, a job and whether or not they’re allowed to have a baby or not. There was never a reason given why this is so (well if there was a reason, I definitely don’t recall reading it). The author also never went into detail as to how Acid came into power and how they overthrew IRB (Independent Republic of Britain). Even the NAR terrorists group didn’t make sense. We meet them midway during the book and are told of one of their plans to attack Acid but again no details except they hate Acid and want to overthrow them (just like FREE, but violent).

Overall Acid was a good book, but because of the underdeveloped world building it fell short of becoming what it could have been; an incredible dystopian. The pacing of the novel could have also used some work, the book started out strong but quickly lost momentum midway; picking up sporadically till the end. I mentioned the poor world building, but it isn’t to say that Ms. Pass can’t write because she definitely can. I thought the book was well written and am looking forward to seeing more of her work. This is the author’s first book, so I know everything isn’t going to be perfect. If you enjoy reading Dystopains, and aren’t too burned out I’d say give this book a try…you might like it more than me.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

[Blog Tour] Guest Post by Amy Talkington

I'd like to welcome Amy Talkington, author of LIV, FOREVER to Short & Sweet Reviews Blog! On today's LIV, FOREVER blog tour stop Amy is sharing her top ten favorite classic, teen and indie movies!

Don't forget to check out my 5 stars review of Liv, Forever here

PUBLICATION: March 11, 2014 by Soho Teen
When Liv Bloom lands an art scholarship at Wickham Hall, it’s her ticket out of the foster system. Liv isn’t sure what to make of the school’s weird traditions and rituals, but she couldn’t be happier. For the first time ever, she has her own studio, her own supply of paints. Everything she could want.

Then she meets Malcolm Astor, a legacy student, a fellow artist, and the one person who’s ever been able to melt her defenses. Liv’s only friend at Wickham, fellow scholarship kid Gabe Nichols, warns her not to get involved, but life is finally going Liv’s way, and all she wants to do is enjoy the ride.

But Liv’s bliss is doomed. Weeks after arriving, she is viciously murdered and, in death, she discovers that she’s the latest victim of a dark conspiracy that has claimed many lives. Cursed with the ability to see the many ghosts on Wickham’s campus, Gabe is now Liv’s only link to the world of the living. To Malcolm.

Together, Liv, Gabe, and Malcolm fight to expose the terrible truth that haunts the halls of Wickham. But Liv must fight alone to come to grips with the ultimate star-crossed love
Buy the book  |AMAZON|BOOK DEPO|

I’m a screenwriter and filmmaker so I cannot possibly just limit this to ten movies! So, how about three lists?

My 10 favorite all-time favorite classics
*Poster images via IMDB.Com
La Dolce Vita, Network, The Graduate, Chinatown, Tootsie, The Royal Tenenbaums, Lost in Translation, Being There, Trainspotting, and Sunset Boulevard
My 10 all-time favorite teen movies
 *Poster images via IMDB.Com
Mean Girls, Little Darlings, Romeo & Juliet (Baz Luhrmann’s version), Valley Girl, Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Pretty In Pink, Easy A and (not exactly a teen movie but I can’t leave it out!) Almost Famous

Plus, a few of my favorite recent indies
  *Poster images via IMDB.Com
Beasts of the Southern Wild, Afternoon Delight, Her, Mud, Fruitvale Station, and of course I have to mention my own feature film: The Night of the White Pants!

Amy Talkington is an award-winning screenwriter and director living in Los Angeles. Before all that she wrote about music for magazines like Spin, Ray Gun, Interview, and Seventeen (mostly just as a way to get to hang out with rock stars). As a teenager in Dallas, Texas, Amy painted lots of angsty self-portraits, listened to The Velvet Underground and was difficult enough that her parents finally let her go to boarding school on the East Coast. Liv, Forever is her first novel.

If you want to know all the latest on Liv, Forever or more about the author follow Amy on Twitter & Tumblr