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BOOK REVIEW: The Seers (Holders #2) by Julianna Scott

BOOK REVIEW: The Seers (Holders #2) by Julianna ScottThe Seers (Holders #2)
by Julianna Scott
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

After nearly being drained of her ability and betrayed by a man her father trusted, Becca Ingle was left with one clue — Ciaran Shea. He holds the key to the downfall of the power-mad Holder, Darragh, and can ensure the safety of both Holder and Human kind alike... but is he willing to help?

Becca, Alex, Jocelyn, and Cormac set out for Adare Manor to meet with the Bhunaidh, an aristocratic group of pure blooded Holders of whom Ciaran is a rumored member. However, when Becca discovers that they might not be the only ones after the information Ciaran has, everyone begins to wonder if Bhunaidh might not be as uninvolved with Darragh as they claim.

A race to uncover Ciaran’s secrets begins, where the line between friend and foe is blurred, and everyone seems to have their own agenda. Becca will have to call on every ability at her disposal to uncover the truth, all the while knowing that sometimes the answer is more dangerous than the question.

 


“…For a long time it was enough-more than enough. More than I ever thought I’d have.” He paused again, swallowing twice before continuing. “But then I met you. And feeling the way I do about you…having what we have…if you were to…” He tried again. “If…” He took a deep breath. “All that other stuff, it isn’t enough anymore. I couldn’t go back.”

Awww…this series is just too cute. No, really, it’s way too cute for it’s own good. Where this one excelled in character growth and adorable situations involving my absolute favorite character, Alex, it also lacked the drive with which I wish it would go. It has so much potential, and I really did start to see it break through those barriers here, but it never takes that leap, you know? I crave the intensity that this series lacks…but I still find myself soaking in all the perfection that is the characters (or rather-Alex and and Bastian).

“For the record,” I glared. “I’m not like the other girls you know; I will throw a book at you.”
“And I’m not like the other guys you know,” he smiled, glancing up. “I’ll throw it back.”

-Bastian lol

I think my largest problem, in part, is that I read some pretty intense YA (I mean, as intense and gritty as YA can get) and I just expect that out of all of my YA books-which is wrong anyway. I just love an intense build up and the execution that follows-nothing is more gratifying than a high-powered finale. And this book does that-it builds up beautifully…but then the fights are all like wah wah…


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See the contradiction, for me, here? This big scary thing is looming…but there’s no follow through. Aside from the writing, which is my only other problem with the series, as I mentioned in book one, this is my largest gripe with the stories.

I scowled at the floor as we stepped off the last stair and into an empty hallway. “I don’t know, maybe…”
“What did you want him to do? Sneak off to some secret lair with a sign on the door: ‘Bad Guys Only, Mwa-ha-ha’?”

-Alex and Becca spying (I don’t know why I found this so humorous)

But, what I like most about these stories is the general happy tone on each and every page and the fact that it’s all actually pretty good. I mean, I hardly have any issues with the story, aside from a lack of build up and cheesy writing-that’s all in all a pretty good book these days, which is sad to say. Anyways, my point is that these books just make you feel good, and I don’t think we get enough feel good books these days-there’s too much drama riddled with angst, deception, lies…it’s nice to read a book about good, pure characters who fall in love and would do anything for one another. So refreshing. But I do love my angst, deception, and lies….lol

The people who love us most can always find a way to make us smile, even if we are dead set against it-a fact that was often as annoying as it was comforting.

And my least favorite thing from book one was taken care of pretty well in this installment. As in, it was almost non-existent. Alex and Becca’s love felt authentic and unforced (again, refer to review one-I didn’t dislike their romance and it wasn’t forced, but, anyway, look back to it if you don’t understand my rambling) and completely natural. And with that natural little romance came natural little jealousies and insecurities…awwww my little Alex!

The question should never be “do you fight,” but “can you fight,” because fights happen, that’s just the way it is. What’s important is how you handle it. The strongest couples aren’t the ones who avoid fighting, but the ones who do fight and are able to grow from it, and come out on the other side with something better than they had before.

This is where my love for book two really won out-I like seeing these little quirks in a relationship (but mostly on the boy side-shut up) and I was worried from the first book that this wasn’t possible. Sorry, I just don’t like reading happy-go-lucky and I always have a perfect relationship books-can you say boring?? (We women are a fickle breed, aren’t we?).

So anyway…my favorite thing about this story was Alex’s love and devotion to Becca. He was sweet, kind, understanding, and he was always there for her-forever a support system when she doubts herself. I don’t think I would have found half the enjoyment I did if it wasn’t for my adorable, tortured Alex. He was so sweet beyond words in this one.

We all want to stand up for ourselves when the hateful people of the world put us down, unfortunately most of us rarely do. We’ll defend others to the grave, but when we are the ones attacked, most of our snarky comebacks and witty retorts go unsaid to everyone but our own bedroom mirrors.

And Bastian! I was ecstatic about this addition to the story. I can’t say much, but his cavalier and I’m better than you attitude cracked me up beyond words and I was never without entertainment when he was on the scene. I had a perpetual smile every time he was around and I couldn’t help but be addicted to him as a side character. Especially when he and Alex were there together :P. Happy happy me.


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So, all in all this was a wonderful story that overcame a lot of faults from the first story. And, might I say, it is totally underrated. No, it’s not perfect and yes it screams a tiny bit juvenile from time to time….but it’s eons better than some of the drivel making a ton of money out there. It’s so odd to me how some books make no waves whatsoever, yet they are a million times better than some of the highly anticipated and hyped books out there. It’s just so weird! Where these books lack in hype and street cred, they shine with heart and substance. I only hope that people start seeing how amazing this understated series is, and begin to let it worm it’s way into their hearts. It certainly did, mine.

BOOK REVIEW: The Holders (Holders #1) by Julianna Scott

BOOK REVIEW: The Holders (Holders #1) by Julianna ScottThe Holders (Holders #1)
by Julianna Scott
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

17-year-old Becca spent her whole life protecting her brother from, well, everything. The abandonment of their father, the so called 'experts' who insist that voices in his head are unnatural and must be dealt with, and the constant threat of being taken away to some hospital and studied like an animal. When two representatives appear claiming to have the answers to Ryland's perceived problem, Becca doesn't buy it for one second. That is until they seem to know things about Ryland and about Becca and Ryland's family, that forces Becca to concede that there may be more to these people than meets the eye. Though still highly skeptical, Becca agrees to do what's best for Ryland.

What they find at St. Brigid's is a world beyond their imagination. Little by little they piece together the information of their family's heritage, their estranged Father, and the legend of the Holder race that decrees Ryland is the one they've been waiting for. However, they are all--especially Becca--in for a surprise that will change what they thought they knew about themselves and their kind.

She meets Alex, a Holder who is fiercely loyal to their race, and for some reason, Becca and Ryland. There's an attraction between Becca and Alex that can't be denied, but her true nature seems destined to keep them apart. However, certain destinies may not be as clear cut as everyone has always believed them to be.

Becca is lost, but found at the same time. Can she bring herself to leave Ryland now that he's settled and can clearly see his future? Will she be able to put the the feelings she has for Alex aside and head back to the US? And can Becca and Ryland ever forgive their father for what he's done?

 

I look forward to it,” I laughed. “Then maybe I’ll get the chance to do something for you, for a change.”

“Ah, Becca,” he sighed, lowering his face so his nose brushed against mine, raising the hairs on my arms. “You have no idea how much you do for me.”

Awww this was just too cute. If ever there was a need for a lighthearted and sweet book, this would be it. It’s never too over-the-top and it doesn’t try to be something it’s not-it just is. I am horrible with my rules and expectations and what I will and will not read-but when my great friend, followed by my other great friend loved it, I knew I had to give it a try.

I can’t say it was perfect-Obviously it wasn’t because I didn’t rate it a 5-but it was great, all the same. I think a large part of enjoyment in stories stems from just falling in love with the characters. In this case, where the story didn’t quite reach my standards, the characters overshadowed that. I really really liked the plot-really. But I have these little…hmm…annoying quirks? Tiny things in a story can make me cringe and cause minor annoyance where annoyance doesn’t quite belong. I was never once not into this story, but minute things here and there would suddenly make me think, why? Why did this have to happen, why is it going this way, why can’t it just do what I want it to, damn it….and that’s just a personal hang up.


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I just have to say this up front-I adored this book. I gave it four stars without batting an eye. My enjoyment was never ending and I couldn’t wait to read it when I couldn’t be sitting on my ass and had to do normal human things, like, say, work. But it also doesn’t mean I didn’t want more.

He shrugged with a smile. “I’m used to the idea, I guess.”
“Wait, OK, so now I have to know, how old are you?” I asked, bracing for the answer.
“How old do you think I am?” he countered, his smile turning wry.
“I don’t know, one hundred and four?”
“One hundred and four! What about me screams ‘old man’, may I ask?”
“I don’t know, so younger?”
“Yes, younger!”

I think it’s safe to say that I was completely obsessed with Alex-he was absolutely adorable. Loyal, funny, brave, kind-he really was a knight in shining armor. Right when we meet him we can see that he is going to be a very addicting character. From his personality, to his upbringing, all the way to his voice (whispering, quiet, kind, reassuring, supportive), Alex is the complete package. I adored everything he was willing to do for Becca and her little brother, Ryland. He was a self-sacrificing type, and we see that from beginning to end-I have always fallen hard for these types of male leads.

As I watched him now, staring off into the falling snow, for the first time I could see how lonely he was. He didn’t have what he truly wanted, what he needed. Even with all the people around him every day, when it came to the ways that mattered most, he was alone.


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But the real obsession begins when we see something deeper forming between Becca and Alex. He is always there for her, always around, always doing something that makes my heart melt-it’s ridiculous. But then we get to see his pained side, his tortured side….and it made me heart ache in a totally different way. I think this is when I well and truly fell for him (not that that was ever in danger of not happening). It broke my heart to see him in pain, but more than that, it helped me to connect with him on an even deeper level…and I love that.

But with all that, this is one of the biggest things that bothered me. If you don’t want to see my biggest problem with the whole story (no, for real, it’s not Alex, seriously), then don’t read the spoiler. It is, indeed, a rather large spoiler and I can’t talk about this without everyone knowing what happened. So…proceed with caution. View Spoiler » And I feel like such a bitch, but I’m sorry, I’ve always hated this direction in books, and it just made me so sad that this story did it, too. It’s not bad AT ALL….and it’s done wonderfully, beautifully, even mixing in with my favorite parts of the story….but I wish it could have went a different direction, somehow. View Spoiler » but in the back of my cynical witchy mind I was like…sigh. Ugh.

And then the writing-while edited well (big pet peeve of mine) and not bad at all, it was written in one of my least favorite writing styles of all time. Which means all my gripes, all my problems with this story (it seems like a ton, but there were very few) are literally speculation and only personal problems, not actual issues with the book itself, because it’s actually wonderful and deserves more attention than it has gotten. I just don’t like when there are bits of cheese sprinkled in with the writing and self-assurances and…like I said, I’m being petty, because it was wonderful and addicting.


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I know I sounded negative-sometimes I do this, and I don’t know why. I love a book, I read it within 24 hours because it’s just that good, and then I bitch and complain more than I try to impress. It’s not right, because everyone wants to know why I gave it a four, and here I am pushing what’s wrong with it. But here, I can make it simple-

-Creative story-line
-Beautiful setting
-Amazing male lead with whom I am obsessed with
-Wonderful cast of characters
-Quick and fast-paced plot

I was addicted from page one, and these reasons are exactly why. A book doesn’t have to be perfect to be exactly what you need and are looking for. I cannot wait to start the second book this weekend, and I only hope it’s as good as the first. These are amazing, fun, and alluring characters, I hope anyone who gives this a try will like it as much as I did.

BOOK REVIEW – The Seers (Holders #2) by Julianna Scott

BOOK REVIEW – The Seers (Holders #2) by Julianna ScottThe Seers (Holders #2)
by Julianna Scott
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

After nearly being drained of her ability and betrayed by a man her father trusted, Becca Ingle was left with one clue — Ciaran Shea. He holds the key to the downfall of the power-mad Holder, Darragh, and can ensure the safety of both Holder and Human kind alike... but is he willing to help?

Becca, Alex, Jocelyn, and Cormac set out for Adare Manor to meet with the Bhunaidh, an aristocratic group of pure blooded Holders of whom Ciaran is a rumored member. However, when Becca discovers that they might not be the only ones after the information Ciaran has, everyone begins to wonder if Bhunaidh might not be as uninvolved with Darragh as they claim.

A race to uncover Ciaran’s secrets begins, where the line between friend and foe is blurred, and everyone seems to have their own agenda. Becca will have to call on every ability at her disposal to uncover the truth, all the while knowing that sometimes the answer is more dangerous than the question.

I’m not a stalker. No, no, really, I’m not. Yet I’ll stalk Julianna Scott’s blog for sure to know when the next book will come out. Yes, it’s that good. Why, I think I can safely say that I’m pretty obsessed with this (underread!) series right now.

I’m shamelessly in love with Alex, because he is a wonderful male lead. Period.

Okay, want to know more? What can I say, the guy blushes, is loyal and trusting but oh so humanly insecure sometimes, he cares deeply about his friends and his love for Becca is maybe one of the most adorable thing I’ve had the opportunity to see. I must admit that at this point I wasn’t far from the obsession : the tiniest gesture or conversation made me smile so big, I probably looked like a moron, but oh well : he made my heart beat faster and to be frank, it’s quite rare. In a word, here’s a male lead like I would want to find more often in my YA books as he represents a refreshing change from the asshole/controlling guys we often find in PNR. I mean, I do like a snarky evil from now and then, but I’m not immune to this kind of charming love interest, even more because he does manage to make me laugh, in his quiet and non show-off kind of way.

Becca isn’t flawless, yet it made her very relatable and believable : she’s meaning to do whatever it takes to help and protect those she loves, but sometimes it’s just too hard, you know? She’s no hero, but a regular girl who happens to have powers and for that I’m grateful. I loved to see her discovering her abilities little by little, overwhelmed but eager to do the best she can. Moreover, she can’t stand bullies and doesn’t hesitate to stand for people who don’t get a say in the matter and I must confess that I was grinning hard each time she would have told someone to get lost. My only complaint would be that sometimes Becca comes as a little TSTL – not too bad, otherwise I would not have enjoyed the book, but she did trust a little too easily for my taste at some point, and perhaps she should keep her temper in check sometimes…

I mean, YOU STUPID!

But then, she is believably flawed, that’s why I could overtake it, because I have no idea how I would have reacted in her place… Easier said than done, huh?

➌ Moreover, the development of Becca and Alex’s relationship was great and really well-handled in my opinion. Indeed after book 1 we could have feared that unnecessary drama or overcheesery (I know, it’s not a word) was coming but fortunately, it never happened. I love them together.

Trust issues and complots. Remember how I found The Holders predictable? Nothing like that in The Seers, where the story kept me captivated and managed to surprise me along the way : the characters have no idea who they can trust, and as the witnesses of this masquerade, we don’t either. Truth be told, it’s maybe one of my favorite kind of plot, so I was really pleased by all the developments this sequel offers us. Not to mention that I found the atmosphere a little darker and even creepy at some occasions : it is very promising for the future of the series, isn’t it?

➎ Concerning the secondary characters, we get to meet several interesting new ones, but shhhh – I can’t say more otherwise I would spoil all the fun for you and we wouldn’t want that now would we?

However, and on this I second what Emily said in her review, I would have wanted to see other female characters grow in importance. While Chloe stays nice but dismissed still too often (though it might change in the future), I didn’t like the addition of Shannon, since she was one dimensional and well, our stereotypical bitch : this kind of character never fail to annoy me because they don’t ring true, especially when the “hate” is instantaneous. However, I did appreciate that the drama didn’t involve Alex – Yeah, I *might* be a little overprotective of the guy. Meet him and you will understand, trust me.

➏ As in the first book, the writing is addictive and I find myself wanting to know more and more… Now I have a millions questions and FOR PETE SAKE WHEN WILL I KNOOOW?? TELL MEEEEEEE!!!

► In a word, if you love YA PNR, I don’t see why you couldn’t love these books. That’s true, there is romance and the plot is predictable at some points, especially in the first book, but isn’t always more or less the case in that genre? What I can say is what you won’t find : you won’t find an asshole as a hero, you won’t find an annoying heroine who spends her time melting on the floor because of the asshole mentioned above, and you won’t find boredom for sure. What are you waiting for?

BOOK REVIEW – The Holders (Holders #1) by Julianna Scott

BOOK REVIEW – The Holders (Holders #1) by Julianna ScottThe Holders (Holders #1)
by Julianna Scott
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

17-year-old Becca spent her whole life protecting her brother from, well, everything. The abandonment of their father, the so called 'experts' who insist that voices in his head are unnatural and must be dealt with, and the constant threat of being taken away to some hospital and studied like an animal. When two representatives appear claiming to have the answers to Ryland's perceived problem, Becca doesn't buy it for one second. That is until they seem to know things about Ryland and about Becca and Ryland's family, that forces Becca to concede that there may be more to these people than meets the eye. Though still highly skeptical, Becca agrees to do what's best for Ryland.

What they find at St. Brigid's is a world beyond their imagination. Little by little they piece together the information of their family's heritage, their estranged Father, and the legend of the Holder race that decrees Ryland is the one they've been waiting for. However, they are all--especially Becca--in for a surprise that will change what they thought they knew about themselves and their kind.

Warning : the plot is VERY similar to X-men at first but it didn’t bother me, because I get the impression that the author actually acknowledges it by several references. Secondly it’s just…. so FUN, and if some readers find that fun is cheap, I don’t : after trying a tons of books lately, I can say without doubts that fun isn’t easy to find. Moreover, there are some magical additions that appealed to me (alchemy, for example) and the great villain, Darragh, while sharing some particularities with both Magneto and Sylar from Heroes, is more complex that I imagined at first. Finally, I don’t mind inspirations of other works when it’s well-done and when the author uses them as a background to create a compelling and original story. In my opinion it was the case here, and the way the story unfolded satisfied me.

But perhaps the most important thing to consider is the fact that The Holders managed to get me involved in Rebecca and Rylan’s story at any time during my read : I was hooked from page one, and that’s something because I started almost 10 books yesterday. Yes, 10! So freaking annoying. The writing style was compelling, and the pacing pretty fast, as there wasn’t any dull moment and I couldn’t have stopped reading for the life of me.

Sure, some of the plot twists were glaringly obvious, yet instead of spoiling my read, they made it an almost better experience because the knowing created an expectation in me that improved my read, you know? Therefore strangely, I never minded the predictability.

As for the settings, most of the story takes place in St Brigid, a special academy standing in Ireland. While I appreciated the fact that the descriptions weren’t all over the place (I never had a huge patience for that, to my literature teachers’ dismay) I have to admit that while quite atmospheric at times it never reached the level of others books set in Ireland I read. Indeed the settings aren’t the main focus here, as we don’t get to travel and wander a lot. Therefore don’t expect to be transported otherwise you would be disappointed. This being said, I remained curious along the way, eager to catch any occasion to learn something about it, so it’s almost a win for me. And to be frank, I read enough fantasy to be satisfied on that count, and this kind of book is refreshing, not to mention that everything actually makes sense (you would be surprised to see how many books TRY to create a world-building and FAIL because it’s just too confusing and messy).

As far as the characters are concerned, the only thing I can that is that I loved them because they all were very likeable and felt genuine. Indeed Becca’s voice was refreshing and believable for a 17 years-old-girl : she can be immature at times but never dumb or annoying. What defines her the most is her strong love and mean to protect her brother and her mother, and for this I loved her.

“It’s just a school,” the younger man interrupted, in what I can only imagine was his best peacekeeper voice. “I promise.”
“You promise? What are we, twelve? Next I suppose you’re going to pinky swear me that this will all be for his own good, and expect me to let you take him?”

Well, yeah, she can be kind of ill-tempered sometimes, but it’s for a good reason, I promise! Pinky swear 😛

Alex has been designed for us to crush on him and strangely… I crushed on him. Hey, I never said I was immune to an adorable superpowered guy who can create illusions larger than life. I mean, seriously, the guy must rock on dates. Duh. Moreover, he’s loyal, caring, blushes all the time and frankly? So sweet and kind and AWW, I adore him.

Concerning the romance, I realize how easy it would be for me to take all the information at once and shows something else entirely. The truth is, if some aspects are part of what I usually don’t like in romances, here it worked. In my opinion here lies the talent of an author : when the peeves we can see in a book feel so right that we don’t care nonetheless. How could I bother about objective complains if in my heart I wouldn’t have wanted the story to be different? It would be so unfair of me – I won’t.

First Becca’s instant-crush on Alex, which could have been extremely annoying, strangely wasn’t because she kept it in check, let’s say. She’s well aware that she isn’t supposed to daydream about him and frankly, her take on the situation was refreshing. Yes, she has a crush. So what? Who never had? I might had a crush on him too As soon as it never morphs her in a somewhat pathetic and dumb heroine, but she stays focused on her goals, how can I complain? And as I already said, the guy is charming, and as we get to see their relationship growing from friendship to… something else, I didn’t mind.

Hey, guess what? It even contains a plot twist I never like View Spoiler » but I was so engrossed in their relationship that I didn’t care and shipped them hard nonetheless.

Finally, as I said earlier, this story also deals with family bounds and friendship. First of all, I absolutely adored the heart-warming relationship between Becca and her brother : it’s when I read books like this that I realize how much I have changed these past few years. When I was a teenager and my early 20s, I wasn’t a kid person – like, at all. They annoyed me, and I didn’t get all the fuss was about them, frankly. And then, well, I became a teacher, and most of my daily interactions are with children. What did I realize? That I liked talking with kids – that they were often more open-minded than the adults around us and that we underestimated grandly what they could understand. Therefore while I would have hated the addition of the little brother some years ago, I have to admit that today, I loved it, even more because in my opinion he talked like a 10 years old and not as if he was 5 (yes, because unfortunately that happens often in books)

Moreover, the friendship between Becca, Chloe, and really, all the side characters we meet was adorable and smile inducing : It won’t surprise you to know that I love when my heroines care about their family and have actual friends. Because in the end, what this story says us is that even though you’re different, there are people out there who care about you and who love you for who you really are – it can seem cheesy, but in our cynical world, sometimes it’s good to remember it, don’t you think?

► To sum up, The Holders came as a surprise as it kept me enthralled until the very end. Does it really deserve 4.5 stars? I don’t know.  Do I care? Nope, because it got me out of my reading slump and for this I’m really, really grateful.

Above that, contrary to many series I read lately, I won’t be able to wait before starting the sequel : that says it all, doesn’t it?

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