DNF Review: The War Against the Assholes by Sam Munson

waragainstTitle: The War Against the Assholes
Author: Sam Munson
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 272 pages
Publication Details: June 9th 2016 by Atom
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

Mike Wood is a teenager at a decidedly unprestigious Catholic school in Manhattan, accustomed to solving problems using brawn rather than brains.

One day, his nerdy classmate Hob Callahan persuades him to read a mysterious old book of unknown authorship, The Calendar of Slights. On the face of things, the book is a guide to performing clever card tricks; but in fact, it is a test for recruiting new members to join a secret cell of radical magicians.

Amazingly, Mike passes with flying colours unlocking not only his potential magic powers – but also the door to New York City’s vast and hidden underground network of warlocks, sorcerers and mages.

Here, with Hob as his unlikely guide, Mike’s role as a steadfast soldier begins. For there is a war being waged. A war between rivaling factions of magicians that has spanned the ages. A clandestine war against the establishment: a war against The Assholes.

Review

I completely misjudged this book. From the cover and the title I assumed it was going to be a contemporary YA high school read when in fact it’s more of a contemporary fantasy. I realised that I was wrong quite early on and I was then looking forward to it even more… but unfortunately I just couldn’t gel with it. 

Mike is the average guy at school. He’s not the most popular, he’s not the most nerdy. He’s not a bully, but he will (and does) pull punches to defend himself. 

Hob is a loner who is always lurking around reading the same little book with intensity. He never participates in anything and therefore no one really knows him. But when Mike and Hob are thrown together by a common enemy, Mike is intrigued and pleasantly surprised by him.

Hob gives Mike his little green book and urges him to read it, and from there on out things get crazy-weird. 

Even as I was typing that summary I was thinking ‘this sounds great, why couldn’t I get into it!?’ And the only answer I can think of was the writing style. 

It felt very disjointed and jumpy to me. I don’t know if it was because I wasn’t paying enough attention, but it seemed like the characters jumped from one scene/location to the next without an explanation. It may well have all been explained by the end but I’m sorry, I just had to give up. 

I love the idea of a secret magic circle, and being initiated via his strange little book, but I couldn’t follow the story. The world-building didn’t seem fully developed, nor did the characters. 

I struggled through 30% of The War Against the Assholes and I had to give up. There is a huge chance that it could have gotten a lot better after that so I don’t think it’s fair to give it a rating, or put people off it. Maybe try it for yourself and let me know? 😉

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead #YA #BookReview

glitteringcourtTitle: The Glittering Court
Author: Richelle Mead
Series: The Glittering Court #1
Format: Digital ARC, 416 pages
Publication Details: April 5th 2016 by Razorbill
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…
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Review

I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Glittering Court. I really enjoyed some of Mead’s Vampire Academy books but this sounded like a huge departure from that. It does however have a stronger fantasy element than I expected from the synopsis. 

In a nutshell, our protagonist runs away from an unwanted arranged marriage by pretending to be her servant Adelaide. Adelaide has been invited to join the Glittering Court, a kind of a finishing school / brothel where poor but pretty women are educated and polished up in order to be sold off to the growing number of noblemen in ‘The New World’. The only problem is that ‘Adelaide’ already knows everything there is to know about being a lady and mustn’t be discovered.

I like Richelle Mead’s writing a lot; it feels so effortless making it easy to get swept away, which is what happened here. In fact it was going pretty great, along with a nice potential love interest between Adelaide and Cedric – until that is – we’re hit with a whole religious angels-vs-demons-secret-heathen-backstory/infodump thing. Ugh.

I mean, the religions were touched on very briefly at the beginning and I realised that the Glittering Court wasn’t just a case of being set in the past, but in a different world,  yet it still felt very out of the blue and unnecessary to me. I thought it was a perfectly good story without trying to put a fantasy spin on it.

Overall, The Glittering Court was enjoyable, but not without its faults. The world-building wasn’t thorough enough for me and it felt confused. The fantasy elements seemed to have been dumped in at the last minute.

However, it was still fun and I’m interested to see if the companion novels shed more light on what Mead was trying to achieve here.

unicorn rating 3

 

Bizarro High: Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz #YAReview

sanctuarybay

Title: Sanctuary Bay
Author: Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 320 pages
Publication Details: January 19th 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin (USA) // February 13th (UK)
Genre(s): YA; Thriller; Mystery
Disclosure? Yep! I received an advance copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing.

Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation.

 

Review

I fell in love with the cover of this book instantly, and when I read that co-author Melinda Metz was one of the writers of Roswell (one of my favourite TV shows of all time – no shame!), I knew I had to read it.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the premise though. The elite prep school part appealed to me, and I assumed the story would follow the mystery of the missing room-mate, but Sanctuary Bay was SO much more than that.

Protagonist Sarah is really interesting character. She witnessed her parents getting killed when she was just three, and she remembers it vividly. Everyone tells her that it’s impossible to remember at such an early age, but Sarah knows that her brain works differently to other people’s.

Sarah has grown-up in foster homes, some good, some terrible. She considers herself pretty poor, and she’s determined to make something of herself. When she’s offered a scholarship out of the blue to the most elite prep school in the country, it’s practically a miracle. But Sarah wants to believe her luck has changed, and feels that she deserves this great opportunity, so she’s determined not to mess it up.

But of course, if something’s too good to be true, there’s usually a reason. And Sanctuary Bay is definitely not your average school.

Marketed as a ‘full-immersion’ school, in which pupils can never leave (it’s on an island so they really, really, can’t), or have any contact with the outside world including family, apart from being allowed monthly care packages to arrive through the post.

The students are therefore quick to form bonds. At first Sarah is blindsided by how friendly everyone is, and she soon feels like part a family – something she has longed for her whole life. But it’s not long until things start getting weird. She’s initiated into a secret society whose ‘missions’ get weirder and weirder. And then her room-mate goes missing and Sarah is stuck between loyalty to her brothers and sisters, her own sanity, and the truth.

There is so much more to this story as well. I absolutely loved Sanctuary Bay and couldn’t put it down! I liked the contrast between the futuristic-type technology at the school and that part of it was built on a POW camp, and how all of this is woven into a great mystery.

The setting was awesome, I couldn’t fault the writing, and it was a fast-paced, thrill-ride.

I’m extremely happy and impressed at how the YA genre has evolved over the last ten years, and it’s all down to diverse, unique, and exciting books like this one. Success all round.

If Sanctuary Bay is anything to go by, 2016 is going to be another great year for YA…have ALL the unicorns!

unicorn rating