Rummanah Aasi
  I couldn't decide what to review to today so I'm offering another round of YA mini reviews from different genres. I read these books a few months ago. Some of them I remember fondly while the other I wish I never took the time to read. Like with everything else, some books are a hit or miss. Here are my mini reviews for Angelfire (Angelfire #1) by Courtney Allison Moulton, Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, and Solitary (Escape from Furnance #2) by Alexander Gordon Smith.

Description: Elisabeth Monroe lives the life of a normal privileged teenage girl. Yet Ellie is anything but. Only she doesn't know it. Not until her seventeenth birthday. The nightmares she's been having are real. She is the Preliator, a being who has a mortal body but an immortal soul, the only one capable of wielding angelfire, who is reborn time and time again in order to serve her sole purpose - to destroy reapers and keep humanity safe. This time is different. Her rebirth took longer than ever before with only limited recollection of her past - a past that even her protector and guardian, Will, doesn't know completely. And this time the reapers aren't the only thing to fear. There is another out there who can threaten Ellie's very existence and alter her future in ways nothing before ever could. As Ellie grapples with recovering her memories about who she is and not yet fully able to control her powers, will she be able to unlock the secrets in her mind in time to defeat Lucifer's growing armies and prevent the Apocalypse? Will the answers she finds be too much to handle? And will her humanity be enough to overcome the darkness within her?

Review: I'm not sure you remember, but I've had Angelfire on my reading pile since January. I kept picking it up and then putting it down. I nearly dropped it altogether until I read reviews from blogs and thought I wasn't giving it a fair shot. I should've trusted my instinct because I didn't like this book at all. While reading this book I could've sworn I've read this story before as the plot unfolded and then I realize that I had. There's a lot things that are startling similar to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I didn't mind all that much as people draw inspirations from every where, but the thing that bugged me the most about Angelfire is the main character Ellie. I didn't like Ellie at all. She irritated me. When she was suppose to be strong and fight her battles, she cower in a little corner until the handsome, brooding, the guy 'she can't love but can't help be drawn to for some reason' (who I dub as the dull Angel clone) rescues her repeatedly. I can't take a heroine who is suppose to be a warrior seriously if she doesn't fight. Doesn't that defeat the purpose? Anyway, the plot was predictable including the plot twist that I saw a 100 pgs earlier, and the characters as you can tell were a bore. Needless to say, I'm not going to continue this series. If you're looking for a similar yet stronger plot and great characters, check out Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey instead.

Rating: 1 star

Words of Caution: There are some disturbing images and some language. Recommended for strong Grade 8 readers and up.

If you like this one try: Wings of the Wicked (Angelfire #2) by Courtney Allison Moulton, Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey

Description: Francesca could use her outspoken mother's help with the problems of being one of a handful of girls at a parochial school that has just turned co-ed, but her mother has suddenly become severely depressed.

Review: I can't believe it has taken me so long to read a book by Melina Marchetta. *facepalm* After reading several awesome reviews from fellow bloggers, I was determined to read Saving Francesca. Saving Francesca was an awesome contemporary/realistic fiction book. The plot is very simple yet the carefully constructed and complex characters and relationships make this book shine. I immediately connected to Francesca as she struggles to find and save herself. She has always used her mother as an indicator of what to do and how to be, but when he mother suddenly feels ill Francesca suddenly falls without a safety net. She learns to become comfortable in her own skin and slowly begins to put down roots at her school, bonding with the girls from St. Stella's (her former school) whom she had considered misfits, and with some unlikely guys. I've never read an author who realistically shows how people become friends until now. The friendships are organic that take their time to form but once they do, they are solid. The relationship between Francesca and her brother was incredibly sweet too. Marchetta beautifully depicts the pain experienced by Francesca's whole family and Francesca's anger towards her father. If you're looking for a character driven novel with excellent and realistic dialogue be sure to pick up Saving Francesca. I can't wait to read another book by this author.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language and underage drinking. Recommended to strong Grade 8 readers and up.

If you like this book try: The Pipers Son by Melina Marchetta, Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

Description: Imprisoned for a murder he did not commit, fourteen-year-old Alex Sawyer thinks that he has escaped the hellish Furnace Penitentiary, but instead he winds up in solitary confinement, where new horrors await him.

Review: Solitary is the second book in the Escape from Furnance series. Though the author gives enough information to new readers to the series, I would still strongly urge readers to read the first book, Lockdown, in order to get a better sense of the horrific ambiance of the Furnace Penitentiary. Just as breathlessly paced and soaked with blood and grime, Alex’s escape from the futuristic underground prison and experimental lab called Furnace leads first to recapture and then to a second flight that involves frantic chases through dark caverns and tunnels, face-to-face encounters with flesh chewing human-rat hybrids, and visits to a gruesome “Infirmary”.  Along with lurid imagery, we also get a bit more depth of Alex's character as he tries to make sense of his own guilty conscious. I was highly engaged with this book and definitely recommend it to reluctant readers, particularly boys, who are looking for an action packed story that reads like a thriller/horror movie. I can't wait to find out what happens next and if Alex ever survives and escapes from the Furnance. Books 1-3 are out now and book 4 releases next year.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language and disturbing scenes in the book. Recommended for Grade 7 and up.

If you like this book try: Death Sentence (Escape from Furnance #3) by Alexander Gordon Smith, Violence 101 by Denis Wright and I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells
6 Responses
  1. I'm sorry you didn't like Angelfire. I've heard mixed reviews of that one.

    I also haven't read a Marchetta book but I really want to read one! I will put this one further up on my wishlist!

    Oh and I still need to read Furnace #1 and so I also need to put the rest of these on my wishlist. Oh perhaps I'll wait until they are all out. That way I don't fret and get to read them all at once!

  2. Why, oh why, have I not read a Marchetta book yet?! Missie and Audrey rave about her so I need to fix the situation soon.

    I haven't read Angelfire yet and I'm not really sure I want to if the MC doesn't battle anything herself and just waits for a guy to show up and do the work for her. Lol, plus I'm not a fan of the cover.

  3. Oh! I can't wait for you to read The Piper's Son! It takes place 5 years after SF. The solid friendships are still there, but as with all relationships, they take work to maintain. I love how MM shows this.

  4. Jennifer Says:

    I just couldn't get into ANGELFIRE. I think it would have been better received if it had come out a year before NIGHTSHADE and similar books. I thought Moulton had a cool idea and neat characters, I just kept thinking I had seen this book before. I did like that Elisabeth was trapped in a role she didn't want and her position had become this sacred and mystical "thing" to the point where she was no longer considered a person.

    I've not seen SAVING FRANCESCA or the ESCAPE FROM FURNACE series. Both books sound interesting and I'll definitely look into them. Solitary sounds a bit like the MAZE RUNNER series which was pretty popular in our upper school.

  5. Hi Rummanah! How've you been?!

    I enjoyed Angelfire, but I think you're are right, it has a lot of similarities to Buffy. And, much of the time, Ellie annoyed me because it seemed she wasn't willing to get over the whole "I'm a warrior" thing. LOL!

    I've heard amazing things about Saving Francessca, but I haven't picked it up yet. Reading your review makes me think I really need to do that sooner rather than later. My TBR is going to swallow me one day! *wink* Loved your mini reviews!

  6. LoriStrongin Says:

    I really like these quick-fire reviews. Sorry to hear Angelfire was such a let down, but I share your pet peeve about a supposed warrior shrinking back any time things get tough and waiting for a big, strong man to rescue her. I much prefer the heroine who does the rescuing herself.


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