A Double Serving of ARC Reviews #7

Hello BookDragons! I'm writing this before I pack my way to mt first COMIC CON EVER! I'm going with a few of my friends, and I'm SO EXCITED! I have today two reviews, Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley and Unnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog! 
I also had the pleasure of interviewing BOTH these authors in September and you can read Sarah Raughley's here and Cyn Balog's here.

Title: Fate Of Flames (Effigies #1)
Author: Sarah Raughley
Publication Date: November 22nd 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 1 of a Planned Trilogy
I Got A Copy Through: The Publisher via NetGalley (THANK YOU!)
Blurb Description: Four girls with the power to control the elements and save the world from a terrible evil must come together in the first epic novel in a brand-new series.
When Phantoms—massive beasts made from nightmares and darkness—suddenly appeared and began terrorizing the world, four girls, the Effigies, each gained a unique power to control one of the classical elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Since then, four girls across the world have continually fought against the Phantoms, fulfilling their cosmic duty. And when one Effigy dies, another girl gains her power as a replacement.
But now, with technologies in place to protect the world’s major cities from Phantom attacks, the Effigies have stopped defending humanity and, instead, have become international celebrities, with their heroic feats ranked, televised, and talked about in online fandoms.
Until the day that New York City’s protection against the Phantoms fails, a man seems to be able to control them by sheer force of will, and Maia, a high school student, unexpectedly becomes the Fire Effigy.
Now Maia has been thrown into battle with three girls who want nothing to do with one another. But with the first human villain that the girls have ever faced, and an army of Phantoms preparing for attack, there isn’t much time for the Effigies to learn how to work together.
Can the girls take control of their destinies before the world is destroyed forever?
“We fight and we die. That’s why we’re alive. That’s why we breathe. That’s why we exist. That’s just how it is.”
All Maia Finley ever wanted was to be someone – to be an Effigy.

Who are the Effigies?

Oh, only the four most important girls in the world with powers that gives them power over the elements. One Fire Effigy, One Wind Effigy, One Water Effigy and one Earth. Only four of them can exist at a time, and when one dies, another girl will take her place.

They are soldiers of the Sect – an international organisation established for the sole purpose of keeping the world safe from Phantoms – creatures of silky darkness and horrifying nightmares with the power to level cities in the blink of an eye.

And so, the last thing that orphan and nobody Maia Finley ever thought would happen, happened to her. After the death of the last Fire Effigy, she’s the new Chosen One.

But everything she knows about the Effigies she idolises, the institution they form an integral part of, and the assumed laws of the Phantoms are under attack, and what can a newbie that can’t even conjure her power do to save the world?
”This is reality. And if you can’t accept that, then get off the battlefield.”
Fate of Flames is not your average superhero book. It highlights four very different girls – one idealistic, one fatalistic, one scared and the last strong yet destructive – that have their own personas, and just can’t get along. In better words, Sarah Raughley portrays her Effigies as HUMAN SUPERHEROINES, flaws and all, and I LOVED IT.

I loved the complexity of the plot, the complexity of being an Effigy, the fact the social media had a part to play (and fangirls) and MOST OF ALL, it made me want more.

I just wish the answers we got were a little more substantial rather than just more questions, and that there was more POWER being used in the book over interrogations and photo shoots.

All in all, I will definitely be reading the sequel. 4 stars.


Title: Unnatural Deeds
Author: Cyn Balog
Publication Date: November 1st 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: The Publisher via NetGalley (THANK YOU!)
Blurb Description: Secrets. Obsession. Murder. Victoria is about to discover just how dangerous it can be to lose yourself.
Victoria Zell doesn’t fit in, but she’s okay with that. All she needs is the company of her equally oddball boyfriend, Andrew. She doesn’t care what anyone else thinks…until magnetic, charming, mysterious Z comes into her life, and she starts lying to everyone she knows in an effort to unravel his secrets.
And then something terrible happens. Someone is dead and it’s time for Victoria to come clean. Interspersed with news clippings and police interviews, Victoria tells her story to Andrew, revealing her dark, horrible secrets…secrets that have finally come back to haunt her.
Murder, Mayhem, A Good Girl turned bad because of a charming, enigmatic boy? How COULD I say no?

In a Few Words (and not a million?): Unnatural Deeds was a lot of things, just not all that it promised it would be.

Victoria Zell is new at St. Ann’s School. She doesn’t talk to anyone, sits in the corner of her class and has an agoraphobic boyfriend/ neighbour who she’s been dating forever. Zachary Zimmerman, ‘Z’, is Victoria’s polar opposite. He’s popular, always the centre of attention and the more you talk to him, the less you know about him.

So, it’s a huge surprise to invisible Victoria wants popular boy Z to want to be friends with her, and the last thing she ever expected when she starts falling for him. Slowly, and obsessively.
While the storyline itself was quite unique, and the WHAT HAPPENED and WHO DID WHAT element was always present and encouraging you to read more, there were a lot of things just off about the book:

1.       Victoria Zell: I understand that the point of this book was to make her a social outcast and completely gullible to Z’s charms, but this girl DID NOT TRY AT ALL – to make friends, or even acquaintances, to be a part of the town, the school – NOTHING. She didn’t even use her phone or have social media! It wouldn’t have bothered me at all – because there are different kinds of people, but when Z became friends with her SHE CARED ABOUT ALL THESE THINGS – her looks, what the popular girls thought of her – EVERYTHING. Like I said, off.

2.       Zachary ‘Z’ Zimmerman: I’ve had my fair share of popular, enigmatic guys that are friends with EVERYBODY. I GET IT. I’ve had two best friends that would fit Z’s description in the social calendar, but I felt NOTHING with this boy. I didn’t see his charm, I didn’t see that SPECIAL SOMETHING that made him oh-so-shiny. He just looked good. Period. I didn’t like him and I didn’t trust him, and ALL THE SPARKLY GREATNESS that Victoria described about him just made it worse.

3.       The Ending: While I knew to expect a big shocker of an ending, and IT REALLY WAS, like you COULD NOT SEE THAT COMING, it just WAS NOT EXPLAINED ENOUGH. After a big question mark of a book, and a twist, there was BARELY ANY EXPLANATION. I would have loved SOMETHING, thank you. Sigh.

4.       The Interviews: There were a lot of interviews that were placed between the chapters with characters by the police supposed to give you extra, third hand information about what was going on without revealing anything, these were short, were of no help and I’ve just seen this done better like in Eileen Cook’s With Malice, and I didn’t like it very much.

All in all, a book worth a one-time read if young adult mystery and obsession is what you’re into. I didn’t feel a connection to any of the characters, but definite points to the story for not being predictable for the most part. 3 stars.
If you could choose one elemental power, what would it be? - Air, Fire, Water or Earth?
Have you read any YA books that have interviews and articles to help support the story? 
I would LOVE recommendations!

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