This book doesn't fall in any of my "usual" genres, but the description definitely intrigued me.
Jumping right in - I liked the characters, especially Jake, who seems like a good guy and a generous tipper. His friends seem decent enough. They were well conceived and realistic. There were many humorous moments, which was a nice break from the terrible circumstances/situations these guys found themselves in. The author also paints a very vivid and, what I think is quite realistic, picture of what would happen in a real zombie apocalypse. Ranging from the lack of resources (food, water) and constant paranoia to the different groups of people that handle the situation is very diverse ways (also exhibiting greed and intolerance or generosity and tolerance). I also liked that the characters made mistakes and had to suffer for them. Their inexperience with a lot of situations they found themselves in was also very realistic and I found myself liking them more and more as the story journal progressed.
There are definitely some "oh shit" moments and I found myself checking the page numbers to make sure there was still more book left. The journey isn't easy or fluid and, I know this is getting repetitive, but it really made things believable (seriously, what other book mentions farting and pooping so often?)
My problems with this book mostly stem from editing problems. Now I know that the book opens by saying that this is a journal and was rushed to print so little to no editing was done, but there were problems even with the editor's notes. Here is a short list of the things I found (though this probably doesn't include everything): pg 5 one/on, our/out, p33, p125, p147, p154 my/his, the/they, p175 to/too, p185 road/rode p191, p202 he/the p204 nervosa/nervous? p216. Mistakes ranged from capitalization, missing commas/semicolons, and typos. I do suppose that some of these are excusable as many people make these mistakes (homonyms can be confusing), but I feel like some of those aren't correct even given that it is a journal. I.E. I think mixing up one/on or our/out is more of a TYPO versus a handwritten mistake.
Anyway - I definitely would recommend this book, as it was interesting, funny, and believable (really creeped me out at moments). Again, my only concern being the editing (or lack of).
Two last notes: YES - stupid new Star Wars that shouldn't have been made...F George Lucas! And one of the truest and simplest quotes ever, that for some reason really resonated with me: "A friend, is both an asset and a burden."
08/16/12 - UPDATED
Less than 24 hours after my review, the author contacted me. Based on my list, he has edited and updated the errors. With that, I now upgrade my review to 5 stars (previously 4).
So what is in this book? Centaurs, magic, romance, all the characters you know and love (or hate *coughZandracough*), new characters, gods/goddesses, an entire history of Centaurs, Centaur politics, a bit of mystery, betrayal, and so much more. I only found one editing error (maybe) and because I was so engrossed with the book, I refused to stop to write it down...whoops.
Although I didn't have any problems with it, in the last book others complained that it was confusing when the POV changed. Ms. Straight has definitely listened and has fixed that problem by clearly labeling who was narrating and even where this character was. Beyond making it clear who was talking, it really helps the reader as there are multiple locations worldwide that the characters travel to. The scope of this book has definitely grown, and that exactly what I wanted to see happen. You also get to hear the story from other perspectives this time, and minor characters from the first book become more important. I hope this trend continues as the story lines get added and the web gets more complicated because I do love the entire Strayer family. My biggest concern with this book was that all the narration sounds very similar. I would (and still) think that depending on the background of each character, their vocabulary, tone, etc would be different (this pertains mainly to Zandra).
I honestly couldn't help myself; after downloading the book I started reading it right away and finished it that night. No matter what I did to distract myself, I kept thinking of what was happening with Cami, Drake, Beau, and all the other characters. Unfortunately that means I have even longer to wait between this book and the next, yet to-be-named, 3rd book in the series. Oh well, it is definitely worth it!
This book goes by fast! The main character, Gemma, is likeable, understandable, and relatable. The chemistry between her and Russ is intense and intriguing - and you're left just as winded by it as they are. The backstory is both sad and interesting; I definitely felt for Gemma and give her props for her loyalty to her father, regardless of what was going on around them.
My only hesitation about this book is the fact that almost everything happens at the climax of the book. Other than that I definitely recommend this book to YA fans - it has a bit of romance, mystery, supernatural powers, and as a bonus, character growth. On a side note, this book uses UK English, which threw me off only once (the term over there is "drink driving" versus American English's "drunk driving").
This book is an easy read - the author is clear and concise about everything, minus the parts you aren't suppose to know about. The narration alternates between Adele and Tristin, though their voices sound pretty much the same (apparently there's not diction difference between the different Dwellers. The main character is decent, though I think the author could have delved into her psyche a bit more to make her more understandable. As it is, her motivation to become friends with Tawni and Cole is fairly vague.
Overall I liked the balance the author strike between everything (POVs, happy/sad moments, mystery/knowledge, etc). The plot also moves quickly, which was nice. I definitely enjoyed the world Mr. Estes has thought-out and look forward to seeing where this story goes next!
Even though I was in the middle of TWO other books, once I heard about this one, I couldn't get it out of my head. I'm very happy to say that it did not disappoint. I especially like that the book's description is accurate, so read above for a summary! Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
The pacing was spot on: fast or slow when appropriate, with a great climax. Characters, in general, were intriguing and captivated me (some more than others, *wink*). I found Spencer very realistic, especially in regards to her emotional state. Honestly, I was a wreck after breaking up with my boyfriend of 3+ years; actually having your boyfriend/bestfriend die? And then being the only one that can see him? geez! Okay, moving on...I thought Spencer's other best friends, Quinn and Syd, were fun, relatable, and for the most part very realistic. I especially liked Quinn, so I hope there's more of her in the rest of the series ;D.
The underlying message of this story is actually very powerful and I think Spencer grows a lot. Is that the end-all-be-all? Not by any means, but I think it shows that this book is a gem, hidden in a YA/Teen paranormal romance genre. I can definitely appreciate her journey through loss, love, and recovery as an adult and I think people of all ages can relate.
As for the editing, I think this book is almost flawless. I was too engrossed in the story to stop and take notes, so other readers may find something I didn't.
So what does this book have? Romance? Check. Mystery? Check. Humor? Check. Suspense? Check. Reaper(s)? Check. God of Death? Check. Alright, I think I'll stop there, but seriously this book has so much to offer! Definitely recommend! Cannot wait for #2!
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Writing: 3 stars
Editing: 4 stars
How much I liked this book: 2 stars
Starting from the outside in: I knew the cover looked familiar! Not trying to pump that book, but I do enjoy that series. Okay, beyond it being familiar, not exactly sure that it matches this book. The heroine of this book, Alyssa, is a kick-butt kind of girl who dislikes wearing dresses. I don't think she ever ends up in a white dress, either.
Now for the actual content of the book: Alyssa is awesome. She copes amazingly well for a woman who has no idea who she is or where she is. I also liked all the other (good-guy) characters. They provided a nice mix of humor, muscle, and magic.
The plot moves quickly. Alyssa and her team are pretty much constantly on the move or in battle. The action scenes are pretty good; not too blood or gory while still being descriptive and interesting.
I really enjoyed the basic premise of this book: girl with no memories has to gain back her memories by slaying evil, powerful beings. I liked reading the flashbacks...and that the ending leaves things a little bit mysterious :).
So why not more stars? Well I just couldn't wrap my head around how things could be so darn similar to our non-magical-Earth. The language is exactly the same EVERYWHERE: no differences in continents, no slang by region...nothing. But okay, I can forgive that since in magical-Earth Babel doesn't happen and people don't develop different languages, but that still doesn't account for why everyone sounds/speaks the same. There should still be regional differences, especially given that these far flung communities rarely communicate with each other.
I also thought things were just too easy for Alyssa. Between her and her friends, things just worked out in their favor. Granted, they are a talented group, it just felt like this could have been more complicated.
I would definitely recommend this to YA paranormal/sci-fi fans, with the caution that there is sex mentioned multiple times (not erotica at all, but it is mentioned).