Sunday, January 24, 2016

Mardan's Mark by Kathrese McKee book review

Mardan's Mark (Mardan's Mark, #1)

Mardan's Mark (Mardan's Mark #1)

Death is not their deepest fear.

Abducted by pirates and taken behind enemy lines across the Great Gulf, Princess Srilani is determined to save her sisters and younger brother, the crown prince, from captivity.

She convinces their caretaker, Aldan, and his brother slaves to share the perilous journey home. This ragtag group of unlikely heroes sets out on a quest — pursued by cutthroat pirates, merciless priests, and marauding soldiers — to return the heir to his kingdom before war breaks out.

In this epic adventure fantasy, Srilani and Aldan risk everything to save a prince and a nation, discovering along the way that death is not their deepest fear.

Mardan’s Mark is the award-winning first book in the Mardan’s Mark series.

My Review: 7.5/10

This book was great. It was recommended to me by the author's assistant based on other books I'd enjoyed (namely, Patrick Carr's novels) and I'm so glad!

This is an epic fantasy story with strong religious themes modeled after Christianity.

I liked that obstacles were met with almost immediately. Enemies were not built up as larger than life, looming like an oppressive evil presence hunting them to the ends of the earth, like some other books. This was good for keeping my stress levels down without killing off the suspense; their goals were larger than individual threats and I felt like that was more realistic.

Bearing in mind that this is fantasy, the way Christianity and God were portrayed didn't bother me. I didn't feel like anything was too off the mark. And I feel like some of the situations in the book are good for discussion.

The relationships were obvious from the get go, but I'm okay with that. And some of the surprise plot points were clear from the beginning as well, but that's alright too. I don't need to be taken by surprise to enjoy a story.

The things I didn't like were minor. I didn't think the royal children were as wise as they were built up to be. For example, choosing fake names from the get-go was a great idea. They should have kept up that pretense for the entire novel, if you ask me. They should have guarded their secrets, their identities, their skills a lot more carefully. I felt like they were way too trusting, almost begging to confide in others. And some of their problems were resolved too easily for me to find it entirely believeable.

On the whole, though, this was a great read. I highly recommend it, especially to those who like epic adventure stories about a lost heir fighting to reclaim their throne and unite warring kingdoms.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Inhuman (Fetch #1) by Kat Falls book review

Inhuman (Fetch, #1)

Inhuman (Fetch #1)

In a world ravaged by mutation, a teenage girl must travel into the forbidden Savage Zone to recover lost artifacts or her father’s life is forfeit.

America has been ravaged by a war that has left the eastern half of the country riddled with mutation. Many of the people there exhibit varying degrees of animal traits. Even the plantlife has gone feral.

Crossing from west to east is supposed to be forbidden, but sometimes it’s necessary. Some enter the Savage Zone to provide humanitarian relief. Sixteen-year-old Lane’s father goes there to retrieve lost artifacts—he is a Fetch. It’s a dangerous life, but rewarding—until he’s caught.

Desperate to save her father, Lane agrees to complete his latest job. That means leaving behind her life of comfort and risking life and limb—and her very DNA—in the Savage Zone. But she’s not alone. In order to complete her objective, Lane strikes a deal with handsome, roguish Rafe. In exchange for his help as a guide, Lane is supposed to sneak him back west. But though Rafe doesn’t exhibit any signs of “manimal” mutation, he’s hardly civilized . . . and he may not be trustworthy.

My Review: 4/10

This was a poor man's Hunger Games with heavy influences from Divergent, but not really worthy to be mentioned in the same sentence of either.

This book is seriously twisted (bestiality casually referenced for example) and gruesome. What's worse is that it's told from the perspective of a hormone-overloaded, immature, gullible 16 year old girl with a self-righteous God complex who, of course, is so gorgeous that she immediately finds herself at the center of a love triangle. Ugh, if I had to read her stamping her foot and retorting, "I am not!" one more time... I might have gone 'feral' myself. Anything Lane succeeds at is purely by accident.

The plot and it's twists were so predictable, they could be seen from miles away- every last one of them.

It is a bit of a page turner, after a while. It seriously took me years to move past the first couple of chapters because they just didn't draw me in. And Lane was already annoying and naive to me. But after that, I couldn't put it down until about half way through, when it abruptly got a lot more violent and a lot more trite and I had trouble slogging through it again, until about the last 20% when I gave up and skimmed.

I gave it two stars because it was a fairly original idea for a dystopian, as far as I know. But I can't honestly say I'd recommend it to anyone.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Hearts Made Whole (Beacons of Hope #2) book review

Hearts Made Whole (Beacons of Hope, #2)

Hearts Made Whole (Beacons of Hope #2)

After her father’s death, Caroline Taylor has grown confident running the Windmill Point Lighthouse. But in 1865 Michigan, women aren’t supposed to have such roles, so it’s only a matter of time before the lighthouse inspector appoints a new keeper–even though Caroline has nowhere else to go and no other job available to her.

Ryan Chambers is a Civil War veteran still haunted by the horrors of battle. He’s secured the position of lighthouse keeper mostly for the isolation--the chance to hide from his past is appealing. He’s not expecting the current keeper to be a feisty and beautiful woman who’s angry with him for taking her job and for his inability to properly run the light. When his failings endanger others, he and Caroline realize he’s in no shape to run the lighthouse, but he's unwilling to let anyone close enough to help. Caroline feels drawn to this wounded soul, but with both of them relying on that single position, can they look past their loss to a future filled with hope…and possibly love?

My Review: 6/10

I had mixed feelings about this book: disliked about 90% of in increasing amounts and then really loved the last 10%. Or maybe just the epilogue. Usually that would not be enough to sway a 6 star out of me, but that's how strong it was. And it was a message that I felt really needed to be told.

It seemed to me that marriage would be such an easy and obvious solution, that they were going against nature for it to not occur to them and then for them to protest against it. I didn't buy it.

I was annoyed that once again, the characters were "too pretty" and "strikingly handsome despite being dirty." Please.

*slight spoilers*

The drama with Arnie was obvious from the get go, thanks to some not-so-subtle mentions of flashes of anger in his eyes and other things. And even if that weren't the case, why would you EVER consider yoking yourself to that family, knowing what his father was? It just didn't make any sense.

But more than anything, I was disgusted by Tessa. I hated the cattiness and the blatant fighting over a man (stranger). I didn't grow up with a sister, so maybe that kind of thing was actually common, but it just seemed like such a waste, especially when they were now the adults, the parents, to their younger siblings. Desperate times should have solidified their partnership. And how Tessa didn't see the flaw in her own plan was beyond me. The only thing that will make me feel any better is if her story is told next and we get to see her change.

I didn't like the violence/extreme circumstances, which were just too melodramatic for my tastes.

But the redeeming part was the end. I won't give it away, but as much as I didn't like this book, it's worth reading, I think, for the message on priorities, God's power, and relationship with Him.