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Positive Feelings: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

Hi!

A little while back Harper Childrens’ Audio was kind enough to send me a review copy of Heather Demetrios’ first book in the new Dark Caravan series, Exquisite Captive. This book was inspired by Arabian Nights, which is not a story you see popping up in YA fiction that often, so I was pretty interested from the beginning.

Overview

Exquisite Captive by Heather DemetriosNalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it?

My Thoughts

Overall, I have positive feelings toward Exquisite Captive. The story, although feeling similar to some other stories I’ve read recently, was for the most part unique. The idea of a genie being enslaved to its wish maker (master) is one I had never really given much thought to, usually assuming the genie doesn’t mind granting wishes. But duh! Of course the genie would hate being entrapped by someone else even if that someone else treats you like a princess giving you all the material things you’d want.

Nalia’s backstory, which unfolds as the story progresses, also opens up the door to a world entirely separate from our own. Most of Exquisite Captive takes place in our contemporary world, but with Nalia’s back story we learn more about the Dark Caravan and the home she has left behind. I’m excited at the prospect of exploring the world of Arjinna as the series continues as well.

One thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the love triangle between Nalia, Malek, and Raif. I have to admit we’re not given much to ship in this love triangle. Malek, Nalia’s sometimes kind, sometimes cruel master is incredibly confusing in his behavior and treatment of Nalia, while Raif is pretty boring. This causes me to feel conflicted over who I should be cheering on! Malek is a mean, although good-looking, slave owner and Raif is a boring, also good-looking, jinni rebel. Honestly I think I’m leaning towards Malek – at least he’s interesting!

Conflicting love triangle aside, I do have mostly positive feelings toward Exquisite Captive. The story is interesting and unique and I will mostly likely pick up book two, Blood Passage, when it releases later this year. In the end I believe that Exquisite Captive would be best enjoyed by paranormal romance fans (it feels more like paranormal romance than fantasy) would enjoy this read!

Details

Author: Heather Demetrios
Publisher: Balzer+Bray (October 7, 2014)
Format: Audiobook
Length: 13 hours and 44 minutes
Series: First in a series
YA/MG: YA

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Decision Paralysis: The Elite by Kiera Cass

I’m always excited when there is even a spark of romance in a book I’m reading, so it’s no wonder why I am such a fan of Kiera Cass’ Selection series-romance! I recently finished the second book, The Elite and I’m craving book three!

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea. America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream The Elite by Kiera Cassof being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

I really enjoy reality type shows like “The Bachelor” (although I rarely watch it) or “House Hunters” where the characters have to choose between multiple options by the end of the show. There is something deeply interesting about observing someone else make a decision. I’m always intrigued by what factors they consider as the options are weighed and, in the end seeing what they considered to be the most important. I think this is where the main interest is for me with this series; I want to know what choice will ultimately win for each character.  Also, there is some big time romance!

The Elite picks ups exactly where The Selection (see my review) left off. America Singer is one of six contestants left in the competition to win Maxon’s affection and become Princess of Illea. America is struggling to make a choice- is her heart in the competition (with Maxon) or does it still belong to her first love (Aspen)? As someone who has a difficult time making even insignificant decisions I totally understand where America is coming from. She is enjoying herself more than she thought she would in the palace, but sometimes wonders if she is really the right girl for the job. I get this and I do love America, however I found myself very frustrated with America’s waffling throughout the story. She wants Maxon’s attention is surprised by her jealousy over the other girls, but continually sneaks off with Aspen when no one is looking. She’s hot and she’s cold. It really does just make a reader want to throw something at her! But, when I really sit down and think of it, America is smack dab in the middle of a highly stressful situation and who wouldn’t get decision paralysis if your choices had so much riding on them?!

So, America is a little annoying, but I really got into the way Cass added a little more depth to the story with all of the politics, rebellions, and dark family secrets. The story is obviously still focused on the competition of the Selection, but now there are other factors to consider which clearly add more stress to the situation. This made it much more than a YA version of “The Bachelor”. Plus we get to know a little bit more about Maxon’s backstory and his relationship with his parents, which I want to know more about. But don’t be alarmed by the addition of darker things, there is still a lot of romance going on, thanks to that love triangle America can’t seem to wriggle herself out of!

If you’re like me and you enjoy romance and a good reality-show-like vibe, then you need to get your hands on this series. The Elite is just plain romantic fun and I seriously don’t know how I’m going to wait until May to read the final book!

Author: Kiera Cass

Publisher: Harper Teen (April 23, 2013)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 323 pages

Series: Second in The Selection trilogy

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: The Elite (Selection)

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Not My Cup of Tea: Halflings by Heather Burch

I read Halflings by Heather Burch as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge.

After being inexplicaHalflings by Heather Burchbly targeted by an evil intent on harming her at any cost, seventeen-year-old Nikki finds herself under the watchful guardianship of three mysterious young men who call themselves halflings. Sworn to defend her, misfits Mace, Raven, and Vine battle to keep Nikki safe while hiding their deepest secret—and the wings that come with.

A growing attraction between Nikki and two of her protectors presents a whole other danger. While she risks a broken heart, Mace and Raven could lose everything, including their souls. As the mysteries behind the boys’ powers, as well as her role in a scientist’s dark plan, unfold, Nikki is faced with choices that will affect the future of an entire race of heavenly beings, as well as the precarious equilibrium of the earthly world.

When it comes to supernatural fiction I’m finding that I’m more interested in angels instead of vampires. I have nothing against vampires or the vampire trend in YA fiction, but I just never got that excited about it (except for Vladimir Tod; he’s pretty cool!). I just think that angels are infinitely more intriguing. That being said, I think this book had a lot of potential.

Anyways, Halflings by Heather Burch is centered around three halfling angels and Nikki, the girl they’re sent to protect. Nikki is a confusing character, sometimes she’s incredibly vulnerable and embracing the whole damsel-in-distress persona and the next minute she’s a stubborn, prideful girl who just can’t let herself be seen as weak. I didn’t dislike Nikki, I just didn’t get a good grasp on who she was as a character. She does however have her own interests (i.e. painting, karate, motorcycles) which is so refreshing to see, even if we only catch glimpses of these other sides to Nikki.

So, there is a love triangle and its very simplified. One boy is the good angel on Nikki’s shoulder and the other is the devil on her other shoulder; one halfling is moral, the other is edgier. Mace and Raven are much too stereotyped to be interesting, although I wanted to be as mystified by them as Nikki was.

The only two characters who I was actually interested in were Vine, the third halfling, and Vessler the sketchy friend of Nikki’s parents. Vine seems like a side character who would actually make a more interesting main character. I was disappointed when he wasn’t in a scene; he was the only one of the halflings who had any real life to him. Also, Vessler. Who is he? What is his story and is he good or bad; you’re still not too sure even at the end of Halflings.

I really wanted to like Halflings but I didn’t. I just wasn’t impressed. But if you’ve been wanting to read this one you should give it a try, just because I’m not a fan of a particular book, doesn’t mean everyone will feel the same way. I just felt like The conversation was a little clichéd and the story ends pretty anticlimactically. However, I do think some of my students would enjoy this book, as they love supernatural fiction. So, all in all I think middle school aged readers would enjoy Halflings, even though it wasn’t my cup of tea.

Author: Heather Burch

Publisher: Zonderkids (January 17, 2012)

Format: E-book (ARC from NetGalley)

Length: 288 pages

Series: First in a series

YA/MG: Middle Grades

Buy the Book: Halflings (A Halflings Novel)