DNF Review- The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz

IsleoftheLostThe Isle of the Lost
By: Melissa de la Cruz
Release Date: May 5th 2015
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Format: Hardcover
Source: McDuffie Communications

A copy of this book was sent to me by McDuffie Communications in exchange for an honest review.

Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon and made to live in virtual imprisonment on the Isle of the Lost. The island is surrounded by a magical force field that keeps the villains and their descendants safely locked up and away from the mainland. Life on the island is dark and dreary. It is a dirty, decrepit place that’s been left to rot and forgotten by the world.

But hidden in the mysterious Forbidden Fortress is a dragon’s eye: the key to true darkness and the villains’ only hope of escape. Only the cleverest, evilest, nastiest little villain can find it…who will it be?

Maleficent, Mistress of the Dark: As the self-proclaimed ruler of the isle, Maleficent has no tolerance for anything less than pure evil. She has little time for her subjects, who have still not mastered life without magic. Her only concern is getting off the Isle of the Lost.

Mal: At sixteen, Maleficent’s daughter is the most talented student at Dragon Hall, best known for her evil schemes. And when she hears about the dragon’s eye, Mal thinks this could be her chance to prove herself as the cruelest of them all.

Evie: Having been castle-schooled for years, Evil Queen’s daughter, Evie, doesn’t know the ins and outs of Dragon Hall. But she’s a quick study, especially after she falls for one too many of Mal’s little tricks.

Jay: As the son of Jafar, Jay is a boy of many talents: stealing and lying to name a few. Jay and Mal have been frenemies forever and he’s not about to miss out on the hunt for the dragon’s eye.

Carlos: Cruella de Vil’s son may not be bravest, but he’s certainly clever. Carlos’s inventions may be the missing piece in locating the dragon’s eye and ending the banishment for good.

Mal soon learns from her mother that the dragon’s eye is cursed and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She’ll just need a little help from her “friends.” In their quest for the dragon’s eye, these kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain’t so bad.

My Thoughts:
I really didn’t know much about Isle of the Lost other than it was going to be a TV show on Disney channel. I was a bit hesitant since I didn’t know if this was fully YA and honestly it didn’t really feel like it to me. It felt more tween and because of this I wasn’t really into the story, writing or characters. I think the premise was cute and I think it’ll make for a great show but I’m not the target audience.

I thought that the premise was really interesting–looking at the children of villains of our favorite Disney movies. I love the latest trend in highlighting the villain of the story and I think this book was a fun approach. Really, my disconnect came with the age this one was written for. I think if you are more open to middle grade or tween fiction you’ll enjoy it! If the premise grabs you give it a try.

Have you read Isle of the Lost? If so, do you think I should have stuck with it and finished?

DNF Review of The Novice by Taran Matharu

TheNoviceThe Novice
By: Taran Matharu
Release Date: May 5th 2015
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

Made it to page 148

When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world, he travels to Adept Military Academy. There the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. Fletcher is put through grueling training as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against orcs. He must tread carefully while training alongside children of powerful nobles. The power hungry, those seeking alliances, and the fear of betrayal surround him. Fletcher finds himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with only his demon Ignatius for help.

As the pieces on the board maneuver for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands. The Novice is the first in a trilogy about Fletcher, his demon Ignatius, and the war against the Orcs.

My Thoughts:
First, I absolutely love the cover of The Novice. That was what drew me in and I’ll admit I requested it based on that alone. I figured it leaned towards fantasy and so had really high hopes. I also hadn’t noticed the little lizard on the guy’s shoulder until I was about 20% into the book!

I enjoyed some aspects of what I read. The beginning started fairly strong (if not a tad slow paced) and I thought it would be a great read for me. I didn’t love any of the characters but I saw potential. Once Fletcher made it to the Academy things sort of started to fall apart for me. It felt typical of other middle grade fantasy I’d read but I enjoyed the addition of the demons the students had as their battle partner/pet. I’ve not done much with Pokémon but it did bring it to mind.

I think I would have been okay with the story pulling from some typical fantasy tropes if the writing would have gripped me a bit more. I felt that a lot of the story and dialog was just telling me and not showing me. I had very little emotional connection to the story progression.

I’m not opposed to picking this one back up at a later date because it did have elements that I enjoyed.

Have you read The Novice? And had you noticed the little critter on his shoulder?

DNF Review of Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

By: Heather Dixon
Release Date: May 19th 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow
Format: E-ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I made it to 57%

From the author of Entwined, a brilliantly conceived adventure through an alternate London. This sweeping, cinematic tale of an apprentice scientist desperate to save his family—and his world—is The Night Circus meets Pixar.

Through richly developed parallel worlds, vivid action, a healthy dose of humor, and gorgeous writing, Heather Dixon spins a story that is breathtaking and wholly original.

My Thoughts:
Did you read that intriguing (and vague) summary? Sounds like perfection-so I knew I’d need to read this book as soon as possible. I’ve read Dixon’s Entwined and enjoyed it so I was even more excited. Pus, look at that cover. Really, what isn’t appealing about this?

Sadly, I think my expectations might have been too high. I enjoyed the beginning of this book but it felt on the younger side of YA and I’d hoped for a more mature storyline. The characters were okay but none of them really gripped me.

Illusionarium does deal with an alternate universe and the way Dixon introduces it through inhaling a drug and pretty much hallucinating the door between worlds was incredibly unique if not a tad hard to visualize. You’d think with drug use and hallucinating this book would feel on the older side of the young adult spectrum but it didn’t for me. The dialog and level of detail seemed nearly middle grade. I believe a good amount of people will become absorbed in the creative world building and enjoy the lighter feel of the story but it fell just a tad short for my taste.

I think my detachment stems from my inability to really connect to the main character, Jonathan. He was likeable, intelligent though on the goofy side. His voice seemed unique to him and I cant really find any real flaw with his character but my connection to him was absent. I wanted to feel more emotionally attached to him and his quest but I couldn’t. I wasn’t overly concerned about how he faired.

The side characters were less developed and felt a tad like caricatures. We spend very little time in Jonathan’s real world so his family members and love interest are quickly forgotten as the new cast of characters from the alternate universe are introduced. I’d also thought the book would be a tad romantic because of that swoony cover but it really wasn’t. There was hardly any romance and I wonder if that if it had been included if I’d have liked the story better. The book does focus on a sibling relationship that was sweet but I wanted a few swoon-moments. Again, I brought my own expectations into the story.

I ended up putting this book aside for more other books with more pressing release dates and after hanging out on my currently reading shelf since December of last year I figured it was time to give up and put this away. I might venture back because I really did enjoy this author’s other book and there wasn’t anything bad per se but it just couldn’t grip me.

I want to know- have you read Illusionarium? If so, would you recommend I go back and finish it?

Abandoned- Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel

PalaceofSpiesPalace of Spies
By: Sarah Zettel
Release Date: November 05, 2013
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Format: Paperback
Source: Gift- thank you Regina!

Made it to page 195

A warning to all young ladies of delicate breeding who wish to embark upon lives of adventure: Don’t.

Sixteen-year-old Peggy is a well-bred orphan who is coerced into posing as a lady in waiting at the palace of King George I. Life is grand, until Peggy starts to suspect that the girl she’s impersonating might have been murdered. Unless Peggy can discover the truth, she might be doomed to the same terrible fate. But in a court of shadows and intrigue, anyone could be a spy—perhaps even the handsome young artist with whom Peggy is falling in love…

My Thoughts:
I’m not sure I’d ever have picked this one up because I’m not drawn to the cover and I’m horrible at reading books if I’m not attracted to how they look. I know this is awful but I can’t seem to help myself. I received the sequel unsolicited and was told by a friend that the book was great. Said friend (Regina) gifted me the paperback so I wasted no time in starting this one.

The beginning of Palace of Spies was promising due to the unique storytelling Zettel utilized. I really enjoyed the chapter titles and how they summarized the events of the chapter, “In Which Our Heroine Learns Much That Is Unexpected, Finds Hope Unlooked For, And Shares A Sad Confidence With An Old And Trusted Friend.” The book had a humoristic approach and yet seemed accurate in its historical depictions. I zipped right through the first few chapters and though I couldn’t connect with the characters on a deep level I was still interested in what was occurring.

The further I read though the less interested I became. I started to get bogged down by the details and I hoped for a splash of romance or something to keep me invested. Sadly, my review schedule started to call so I put this aside to focus on the books I needed to read and this book sat on my bedside table for a long time before I remembered it was there. Now I keep glancing at it not really feeling the drive to pick it back up.

That all leads to this evening and my decision to abandon it for the time being. Did this book have potential- yes. I think I could really enjoy it if I had more time and was in the right mood for it. I hope to give it another go at some point.

My question to you- have you read this book? Have you wanted to or is this the first you’ve heard of it?

DNF Review- Where Silence Gathers by Kelsey Sutton

Where Silence Gathers (Some Quiet Place, #2)Where Silence Gathers
By: Kelsey Sutton
Release Date: July 8th 2014
Publisher: Flux
Format: Electronic ARC
Source: Publisher

I DNFed at 45%

Seventeen-year-old Alexandra Tate sits outside Nate Foster’s house, clutching a gun. After serving ten years for the drunk driving accident that killed Alex’s family, Nate has been released from prison. Every night, Alex waits out of sight, building up the courage to exact her own justice. There’s just one problem: Forgiveness.

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