Because I am an epic procrastinator, I have many reviews left unwritten. I keep telling myself I'll write a review, I try (if I even get that far), then I don't. Because after a few months, you've forgotten pretty much everything and all the stuff you have left to say are only enough content for mini-reviews, right? Right. Here are those mini-reviews. They won't be like my regular reviews, or very thorough, but you'll get the basic idea and it diminishes some of my guilt; one I recommend, the other I don't.
Natalya knows a secret.
A magical Faberge egg glows within the walls of Russia's Winter Palace.
It holds a power rooted in the land and stolen from the mystics.
A power that promises a life of love for her and Alexei Romanov.
Power, that, in the right hands, can save her way of life.
But it's not in the right hands.
Rating: 4 stars
There seem to be many Russian-y books releasing this year, and I can say that Tsarina is one of the really good ones. Typically, I'm not as drawn to Russia as most people seem to be--or many foreign-country-books, for that matter, but J. Nelle Patrick (née Jackson Pearce) has created an interesting alternate-history Russia in Tsarina. Some factual changes may bother quite a few hardcore russophiles, but my knowledge of Russia pretty much extends to seeing Anastasia, so I just went with it.
As a whole, I thought how Patrick incorporated magic into Russian history and provided a different perspective on Rasputin was really well done. I could have used a little more magic, but it was good. Also, Patrick/Pearce's writing style flows really well, and her descriptions of Russia were at times truly exquisite; I was a definite fan of her writing style, and an even bigger fan of her characterization. Natalya is a really strong and determined character, and although I don't remember too much about her, I certainly remember that much. I also really liked her best friend, who was not of the backstabbing variety, and their captor (for lack of better word, but still, it's accurate), Leo. Each character was well written and had their own motives, which were believable and relatable.
The only thing I really disliked about this was the ending, which I of course can't discuss in any great amount of depth, but I thought it was...lazy? It all just kind of screams deus ex machina, really; and another thing regarding the progression of a relationship really bothered me, because there was very little foundation for anything. Reading a few reviews, some disagree. Different strokes, but aside from the little mishaps towards the end, I would definitely be able to recommend Tsarina. Especially to hardcore Russia lovers.
Review it with a GIF:
(à la A Reader of Fictions)
|It's really not. Shit gets dark.|
Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can't determine what's wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She's lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she's helpless to change anything.
Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It's an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother's illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there's no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.
The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can't trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?
Rating: 2 stars
Guys, I hate to be that person, but this book is The Hunger Games. But then also add Digimon. And yeah, that might sound awesome, but it's really, really not. There have been a few reviews to point out the glaring similarities between Fire & Flood and The Hunger Games (the Effie-character says, "May the bravest Contender win," for starters. And hands them a pin, you guys), so I won't, but I promise you, they're there. It's actually really baffling how this went through the processes of publishing without anyone saying, "Hey, wait..." but then again, 50 Shades is a thing, so.
For starters, the main character is honestly one of the stupidest characters I've read about in my life. As the book starts, she gets a mysterious message saying that she has to compete in a race in order to find a cure for her brother's disease. Her parents then try to burn the chip with this message on it, but Tella discovers that the chip doesn't burn and she takes it. Then she sets off into the night to follow the chips instructions, which basically tell her to go to a city miles and miles away and pick an egg from a library.
I swear, that's exactly what happens. The chip woman basically says, "So you're going to travel a few states to obtain an egg and race in a game of death," and Tella is basically, "lol okay." She follows the instructions of a woman on a chip, which her parents went to great lengths to destroy. This is Tella. This is our main character.
The last girl I see, I want to strangle. Like [someone she saw before], she has long hair. But instead of dark, it's blond -- no, honey gold -- and shines like that of a Broadway starlet. I can't see her eyes from here, but I'm sure they're some kind of stunning shade of blue. She has cream-colored skin and a body that belongs in a magazine -- the kind for guys, not girls. I hate her with everything I have as she laughs her perfect laugh and tosses her perfect hair and crosses her to-die-for legs. [...] We could be friends, I realize, if I weren't so overwhelmed with the urge to end her.
That is also her. We're supposed to like her, mind you. Root for her to, you know, not die. Even though with everything we're given about her character, she should have tripped over a flat surface in the very beginning of the race and died.
I hate him.
The corner of his mouth quirks upward.
Or love him.
And that is the romance. The few things I liked about this were the Digimon aspect (which, while obviously unoriginal, was a nice addition because Tella's Pandora was seriously adorable), and the writing, which was at times decent and funny. But that's it. This book makes no sense. There is no world-building, at all. The race isn't even over by the end of the novel. It's like, if your three-year-old were a big Hunger Games fan, and she drew a picture of Katniss, but it really looked like a raccoon with a crossbow that actually really looked somewhat phallic. That's Fire & Flood.
I'm really good at analogies.