Carnival of Secrets – Melissa Marr

Carnival of Secrets (Untamed City #1) – Melissa Marr

(Formally Carnival of Souls)

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Goodreads

Kaleb, Zevi and Aya live in The City, a city of daimons. Once in a generation, The City holds a deadly fighting competition. If you win the competition you get to be a part of the ruling class. If you don’t win, you die.

Mallory lives in the human world, with her witch step-father. Mallory’s step-father has told her that one day the daimons will come for both of them, so she trains to fight them every day. Mallory knows very little about The City, but some inhabitants of The City know about her.

Sounds good right?

It could have been great, had it not turned into paranormal love story. This book goes from deadly fight matches into:

“I love you.”

“But you just met me.”

“I will do anything to protect you.”

“You know you felt the connection instantly.”

I’m really not a huge fan of young adult paranormal love stories. Some Paranormal YA books have a love story written so well into the story because it doesn’t take away from the actual story. Some, like Carnival of Souls, have an amazing story starting, and turn this beautiful setting into nothing but cheesy romance.

I only really liked Aya and Zevi. Aya is strong and powerful and she has secrets of her own. She’s a strong fighter in the competition and it’s so fun to read about a strong female character fighting (and being good at it.) Zevi isn’t in the story as much as Aya, Kaleb, and Mallory; but he made the most impact as a character for me. He’s dedicated and he cares more than any of them do. He seems to care out of friendship not romance, which was a welcome break from the cheesiness.

“You are my whole pack. My entire life is based on you…your choices, your whims, your schemes. For years, I’ve trusted you, but I can’t keep doing that if you keep trying to get killed.” – Zevi, pg.279

However, the Carnival of Souls and The City were really interesting. Had the story stuck to the daimons and witches and fights to the death I think this book could have been great.

If you really enjoy paranormal romance I actually think you’ll enjoy this book, if you’re looking for more story building and character building, you might wanna look elsewhere.

 

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The Second Chance Dog – Jon Katz

The Second Chance Dog – Jon Katz

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Goodreads

“Maria loved Disney World because I loved Disney World, the same way I was coming to love secondhand clothing stores, Indian music, and brussel sprouts. We loved what the other loved, with an open heart and soul. Over time, I can to see, we loved almost everything we did together, because we were doing it together. This kind of selflessness, was new to me, and I was grateful to learn it and live it. What, I asked myself, is love, really? I thought about that on that ride, and as we dried ourselves off and looked for popcorn. It is about the other, I decided, not the self.”

I am much more of a fantasy-type reader over anything else. However, I have a huge love for animals and I’ve been trying to branch out a little more. In comes Jon Katz. I’ve read many reviews saying that this book isn’t the best he’s written, more about himself than Frieda, the dog. While I believe that most of those statements are true and that maybe I should have started with a different book, I really enjoyed this one.

There is so much love, and real life in this book, that’s why I kept reading. My favorite parts were of course, the parts about Frieda and the frustration Katz felt trying to train her, love her and make her part of the family.

Training a dog like Frieda would never be an easy thing, I have never had a dog like Frieda, but we definitely had dogs growing up that caused trouble. From Dodge, the gigantic lab, who was way to big and strong for us kids to handle. To Stanley, the Greyhound/Jack Russell Terrier mix who did nothing but run away and listen to only my dad, but only when he felt like it. However, over the years you learn, we had those dogs when I was young. Now, we have the most wonderful dogs, Slapshot, the fuzzy Mini-American Eskimo who is a little sensitive but loves his family and is so bonded to my brother; and Sophie, the little Pomeranian mix who never ceases to love you when you walk in the door. Every dog is different, and in that sense every training tactic is a little different too.

That’s the best part of this book Katz wrote, understand that training Frieda was never going to be the same and training any of the other dogs he had. She was different, and came from a different place and that meant he had to go at her from a new angle.

He also talks about the fact that he’s human and he made mistakes while training her. He yelled at her a couple of times, something he wouldn’t normally do but says he was panicked for Frieda. He gets real, and he isn’t afraid to admit that sometimes it’s hard and frustrating and sometimes you make mistakes. But, in the end, it’s all worth it.

I really did enjoy this book, the only reason that it didn’t get a higher rating was because I would have loved to read about Frieda more, even thought I think he told her story really well. I recommend this to anyone who loves animals, especially dogs. It might just tug at your heart a little.

Half Wild – Sally Green

Half Wild (The Half Bad Trilogy #2) – Sally Green

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I wanted so badly to love this book as much as I did the first, but I didn’t. There was only one problem for me in this book, Annalise. She is just awful. Her character is empty, and she made me want to throw the book against the wall. I don’t like throwing books, books are not meant to be thrown. It has been a long time since I have wanted to throw one. Mostly this book was about saving her, but I think this story could have been so brilliant if we hadn’t been focused on her.

However, I am totally 110% invested in Gabriel. He is just so wonderful, and by far my favorite character. He just makes me happy.

“I can’t walk ten paces away from you without it hurting me. I treasure every second with you. Every second, More than you know.”

*Gush* Okay, but really, I just fall in love with Gabriel a thousand times over this whole book. The relationship between Gabriel and Nathan is what keeps me going through the whole book. Just their friendship makes me want to read the book, I can’t remember the last time I wanted two characters to be together so badly.

“As for me I’ll always love you. Even when I’m buried deep in one of those.” He nods to the grave. “I’ll still love you. Forever.”

This book could have gone a million ways, had Green left out the horrible Annalise. We focused 80% on saving the idiot girl and 20% on what the story was actually based on, the White and Black witches. Flip that around and make this story about the Black’s and the White’s, about helping Black Witches be recognized as equals. Lets focus on keeping them alive, rallying them together again the White Witch Counsel, building the rebel alliance. That would have made this novel an easy five stars. There are many shining moments where you think Green is going to forget about Annalise and focus on witches but then we go back to me wanting to throw the book.

Nathan and Gabriel however are characters with depth and emotion. I connected with both of them, I root for them the whole time. The ending of this book was wonderful, I’d say the last one hundred pages or more are what gave me hope again,  Green just reels you right back in with a fast paced, twist filled story. And for that, and Gabriel, I love her and this book dearly.

I do recommend this series for everyone, it is truly a page turner. (Even if all you wanna do is see if Annalise dies on the next page.)

Pawn – Aimee Carter

Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion #1) – Aimee Carter

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“But if you’re careful, if you keep your eyes open and pay attention to what your opponent is doing, if you protect your pawns and they reach the other side of the board, do you know what happens then?”

I shook my head, and she smiled.

“Your pawn becomes a queen.”

This book is an easy, well paced read, I’ll give it that. I wanted to continue reading, especially through the last half. I just never knew what was gonna be around the next corner.

However I feel like the only character that had any life is Knox. He seemed like he had a purpose, like he was a character who had made mistakes and just wanted to come out on the other side of them. He really does seem like a genuinely good person.

Kitty and Benjy? For starters, the name Kitty drove me insane the whole time. What a terrible name for your main character. She’s just not likable to me either, I was never really rooting for her. Benjy just fell flat for me, he was just thrown into the story. I feel like he had no reason to be in the story other than to be Kitty’s boyfriend.

I think I expect more depth from a main character and the ship that there seems to be the most focus on.

The other thing that bothered me was that I never understood how the world they came to live in, came to be. How one family found a way to rule, and how the ranking systems they have in place became what they are.

The idea was there, it was just missing some back story. I love learning about the history of dystopian worlds, I think that is why we read them. We want to know how it happened and what went wrong. That was the biggest thing missing for me. I can quickly get over semi-boring characters, its’s harder to get past a story without a history.

All in all, it sounds like I’m mostly being negative about this book, and I’m not trying to be. I actually did enjoy it. I am excited to pick up the next books and see what Carter does with the story.

“Never forget the potential one solitary pawn has to change the entire game.”