May 2015 Wrap-Up

This month I read six books. Many of the books I read this month were some of my favorite books of the year so far. I also read the longest book I had read so far in 2015 (The Well of Ascension).

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny HanShort Synopsis: A girl writes love letters to all the boys she has ever loved and hides them in her room until one day they are sent in the mail.

Thoughts: This book was fun to read. It was lighthearted and had an intriguing plot with well developed characters. However, it was my least favorite book of the month not because there is anything wrong with it, but because some of the other books I’ve read this month will probably become some of my favorite books of all time.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

Challenger Deep by Neal ShustermanShort Synopsis: Caden descends into the depths of the Marianas Trench and his own mind.

Thoughts: This is a hard book to get into as it has a unique writing style of very short chapter alternating between two purposefully confusing story lines. After adjusting this book is unique and thought provoking.

Rating: 

4.5 blue jays

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. MaasShort Synopsis: When the wolf Fayre killed in the woods turns out to have been a faerie in disguise she must chose between paying with her life and a lifetime trapped in a faerie’s house.

Thoughts: Though there were some elements at the end that confused me, I really liked this book. For my full thoughts see my review.

Rating: 

4.5 blue jays

End of Days by Susan EeShort Synopsis: Third book in the Angelfall Trilogy in which angels invade the Earth.

Thoughts: Although I enjoyed this book, particularly the first three fourths, I felt the ending was rushed and left the story feeling incomplete. For my full thoughts see my series review.

Rating:

 4 blue jays

The Final Empire by Brandon SandersonShort Synopsis: A group of thieves with magical abilities gained through consuming metals plot to overthrow an immortal dictator.

Thoughts: This was a great read. The “overthrowing dictator” plot has been done a lot in fantasy, but Sanderson makes it feel original and fresh. For my full thoughts see my review.

Rating: 

five blue jays

68429Short Synopsis: Sequel to Mistborn: The Final Empire. This shows the aftermath of the heist in book one.

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book, and liked that I could hardly ever predict what would happen next. However, the story just didn’t feel as complete to me as book one which I preferred over the sequel.

Rating: 

4.5 blue jays

Currently Reading:

The Hero of Ages (Mistborn, #3)Invaded (Alienated, #2)18243700

Note: I’m probably going to stop reading Invaded and The Assassin’s Blade for a while. It’s not that either is a bad book (neither is). It’s just that I had to return one to the library, and as for the other, I’m just distracted by everything else I want to read and not in the mood for a human-alien romance story.

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Series Review: Penryn and the End of Days

158638321784911218500665Titles: Angelfall, World After, End of Days (Penryn and the End of Days Trilogy)

*Note: I have posted a separate review of the first book, Angelfall. To view my review of book one click here.*

Author: Susan Ee

Publication dates: 2011-2015

Genre: Young Adult Post-Apocalyptic Urban Fantasy

Synopsis: When angels come to Earth the people in the World Before thought it meant something to celebrate.

They were wrong.

The angels brought with them the apocalypse, and they still haven’t told the world what they want or why they’re here.

Penryn is a human teenager trapped in the middle of this chaos. All she wants is to keep her family safe and together. This proves complicated when her sister, Paige, is kidnapped by angels.

Penryn is left with only a wounded angel named Raffe to help her find Paige. Penryn keeps telling herself her goal is simply to keep her family together, but she has the potential to accomplish so much more.

Review: As mentioned in my review of book one, this series is extremely addicting. I read End of Days during my final exams because I just couldn’t wait any longer. It was practically painful to pry myself away from the book and remind myself I needed to get to bed at a decent hour. Book one remains my favorite in the series.

In World After Penryn and Raffe spend too much time apart. As much as I love Penryn, who is a strong character on her own, it’s really her relationship with Raffe that brings this series to a whole other level from any paranormal romance novels I’ve read. This is not to say this book is a paranormal romance novel. While this argument could be made there is so much more to the Angelfall trilogy than the romance.

Throughout the series the two main characters, Penryn in particular, is constantly reminded of the fact that she and Raffe are on different sides of what she sees as a war between their species. I appreciated that Penryn never forgot Raffe was an angel which shows the difference between her and many young adult heroines who would drop anything, including their allegiance to humanity, for their love interests. (I don’t think this has happened yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised. If anyone can think of a YA heroine who abandoned humanity for her boyfriend I’d love to hear about it in the comments.)

While my favorite part of World After was the thrilling last several chapters, my favorite part of End of Days was the first two thirds. The ending of the series, while still good, felt rushed. This is especially true of where the story finally ended up. These are relatively short books, and I felt that with a few more chapters or maybe even one more chapter the author could have left me feeling satisfied. Instead everything at the end happened extremely quickly, and I never felt closer for certain events I never heard the end of that seem like plot holes to me.

What Readers Should Know: This series is set in a post-apocalyptic version of our world. As a result, government structure has collapsed and human behaviors that would not be acceptable to modern society have become the norm.

This series features some gory death scenes. (How graphic depends on how imaginative you are.) Cannibalism plays a rather predominate role. Although neither of the main characters partake, some of the aftermath is described in detail.

Rating: This is a great series overall, and I would recommend it to others. It was engaging with great character dynamics. Angelfall gets a 5/5 while World After, and End of Days both get 4/5. That gives the series a 4.5/5 overall.

4.5 blue jays

Angelfall (Penryn and the End of Days, 1) by Susan Ee Book Review

Title: Angelfall (Penryn and the End of Days book 1)

Author: Susan Ee

Genre(s): Young Adult, Paranormal, Apocalyptic

Release Date: May 21, 2011

Synopsis: Six weeks ago the world ended. Those cute little angel mosaics and statues? Turns out they’re about as far from the truth as it is possible to imagine. The apocalypse was not from an alien invasion or scientific invention. The world was destroyed by angels.

17-year-old Penryn Young doesn’t care about saving the world. She just wants to have her sister back, and there’s only one person who can help her. The only problem is that he’s not exactly human.

He’s a wingless angel named Raffe, and angels are the enemy.

If Penryn is to find her sister and Raffe is to get his wings back these two must make a temporarily alliance. Their only hope is to reach San Francisco where the angels have gathered in number, but there is no guarantee that arriving in San Francisco will give either of them what they want.

Review:  When I told my friends I had read this book in one night they thought I was crazy. When I reached the “100%” mark on my e-reader in one sitting I was not at all surprised. I enjoyed this novel that much. Angelfall is the suspense grabbing, action-packed type of novel that leaves readers wondering “what happens next?”

I must admit that I came into this book with some doubts. To put it simply, I had a prejudice against self-published authors. But, this book has helped change that. If I hadn’t known before I started reading that this book had been self-published I never would have guessed.

One of the main reason this books works is our main character, Penryn. Unlike most of the heroine’s I’ve read lately Penryn is a very strong female lead who never forgets what’s at stake and is determined to find her sister no matter what the cost. Penryn isn’t about to let anyone push her around– not even Raffe.

Raffe knows this about Penryn. He lets Penryn fight her own battles and acknowledges her strengths. Some readers might be expecting some Penryn and Raffe insta-love thanks to all the paranormal romances in existence, but this was not the case. This book does contain a touch of romance, but it is mostly found in the last ten percent. Perhaps one of my favorite elements of this book was the absence of the “love triangle” cliche that plagues paranormal novels.

The usage of angels in this book was fairly well done. The author was trying to write an angel book that appeals to the general audience. I know that a lot of people are hesitant to read books containing angels because they either a) don’t read books that are preachy or b) don’t read books that are the opposite of preachy. As this book takes a neutral stance, neither audience is likely to have a problem with it on this regard.

Raffe is not your stereotypical angel from modern YA novels either– none of the angels in this novel are. Most novelists either decide to have the focus of their angel novel be on fallen angels or  morally perfect beings who can do no wrong but Mrs. Ee has decided for her angels to be more like the angels of the Old Testament. Meaning that there is destruction to the point that the world can say goodbye to most of its major cities.

The world building was another strong point. This novel is set only a few weeks after the start of the apocalypses which results in characters who still remember their lives before and most modern infrastructure is still around but useless. I liked the way the author intermixed the highly popular Apocalyptic and Paranormal genres. I often see the two apart but almost never written into the same book, and I found the combination of angels and the end of the world to be a refreshing twist.

One of the only element that I didn’t enjoy was the cannibalism. I give a detailed analysis of my reasoning without giving away major spoilers so all I can say is I felt it was unnecessary.

This book was one of the best apocalyptic novels I’ve read in a while.

Disclaimers: If this book were a movie I’d rate it towards the more gruesome end of the PG-13 spectrum. This novel contains references to cannibalism and potentially disturbing depictions of dead bodies.

Rating/Recommendations: I recommend this book for people who enjoy strong heroines and are looking for a fast paced read. I would recommend reading this book when you have time set aside to read through it quickly.

I give this book 4.5/5 because I adored Penryn, liked that the romance remained a subplot, and found the world Susan Ee created facinating. The .5 is only taken off because I didn’t enjoy the way cannibalism is used in the story-line.

4.5 blue jays