Kristen Otte

Finding Love and Laughter through Story

May 2014 Book Reviews

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May was back to a normal variety of books, and I can honestly say I enjoyed every one. I read some fantasy, urban fantasy, contemporary YA, and historical fiction.  With the start of summer, I look forward to reading more and more in my lounge chair next to the pool. Happy Reading Friends!

Broken by CJ Lyons – Broken is my first book by author CJ Lyons. Lyons writes “thrillers with heart,” and Broken is her first foray into YA fiction. Broken is the story of a fifteen year old girl Scarlett with a life threatening heart condition. Despite her condition, she wants to live a normal life and enrolls in high school. In a week’s span, she encounters her first friends, her first crush, classes, and bullies. When I first starting reading this book, I thought it would be similar to “The Fault in Our Stars.” I was wrong. The story shifts into one of mystery and intrigue. I don’t want to give anything away, so that’s all I will share. I enjoyed the book and will read more from hybrid author CJ Lyons. 5 stars.

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas – Wow. What a ride. Crown of Midnight is the second in the series about Celaena Sardothien, a kick-ass female assassin in a fantasy world. The first in the series, Throne of Glass, was a fun and enjoyable book, but predictable with its plot and characters. Crown of Midnight went nowhere I expected, and I loved it. We saw Celaena’s dark side in this novel, and learned more about how she became this killer. The love triangle between Celaena, Dorian, and Chaol faded away (yay). My only complaint was the plot structure. The first half of the novel felt a bit disjointed from the second half. Maas wrapped it up well in the last few chapters, so it made more sense, but I thought the continuity wasn’t great. Overall, this was a stellar sequel because the storyline grew from Celaena fighting for her life to Celaena fighting to save the kingdom. 6 stars.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – When I started reading this book, I had high expectations. I read and heard great things about this YA book. Plus, as a history major, WWII was one of my favorite subjects to study, so I love reading both nonfiction and fiction set during WWII. The book had a rocky start–it jumps right into the middle of the story, and I needed a few chapters to get into the book. But once I did, I loved it. The story of these two women and how they aided the Allied war effort is truly great. The author wrote that all though this is fiction, it is based in truth. Women could have served in the roles that Maggie and Julie did. The characters embody courage and truth. This is a book worth picking up even if you don’t normally read YA. 6 stars

The Element of Death by Becca Andre – The Element of Death is a novella which takes place between novels 1 & 2 in the Final Formula Series.  I picked this up in preparation to read The Blood Alchemist. The story is definitely spooky, but not enough to creep me out. I liked getting inside James’ head in this book and his character development, along with the interaction with Rowan. 5 stars

The Blood Alchemist by Becca Andre – The Blood Alchemist is the follow up to The Final Formula, and just like the first in the series, this book is very enjoyable. The book is packed with explosions, magic, and murders. Addie, an alchemist, works with her Element friends to solve the seemingly random murder of magical people using bullets designed by Addie. Throughout the mystery and action, the character relationships continue to develop and evolve, and I really enjoy the snappy dialogue between the characters. If you are fan of urban fantasy, I recommend you pick up this fun read–I couldn’t put it down. 6 stars. 

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King – I picked up this book as a recommendation from a fellow writer. The book is not revolutionary, and I’ve heard most of the information and tips in other books or writing classes. But, it is a handy reference book to have around and skim through in preparation for revisions. The exercises are also helpful. I’d recommend this to any new writer. 5 stars.

 

Rating System Guide

7 stars = Phenomenal book – one of the  best book’s I’ve read

6 stars = Great book – worth your time to read

5 stars = Solid book, if you like the genre pick it up

4 stars = Okay book, maybe lacking something in the way of language, character development, story

3 stars = I probably should have stopped reading this book.

1 or 2 stars = Serious issues with plot, structure, language, or not a book for me.

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