DISCLAIMER: I kind of am a bit hard on Ms. Jones in this review. I don't really mean to be; I love Carrie, really I do....more***FINAL RATING: 2.85 STARS***
DISCLAIMER: I kind of am a bit hard on Ms. Jones in this review. I don't really mean to be; I love Carrie, really I do. I think her blog entries are hilarious, and I think she has some really great ideas for her books. It's just that this is her seventh-ish book, the fourth that I've read, and I was kind of hoping for some different kind of writing from her. I'm honestly not bashing her personally--I was just so disappointed in this book and the writing in it that I may have been a bit harsher than I meant to be.
CATCHALL My interest in this book had been waning for some time when I received it as a Christmas present. Not about to let it go to waste, I read it. While it wasn't awful, it wasn't really what I'd been hoping for at all. I felt disappointed and kind of annoyed upon finishing. And my rating is definitely generous. I do, however, want to make on thing clear: I liked this book! It just wasn't my absolute favorite. It is true that in this review I focus more on the negatives than the positives, but I genuinely enjoy reading this book and would recommend it (though not to everyone).
THE HEROINE AIMEE Truth to be told, Aimee was kind of annoying. She has these ridiculous prejudices that make no sense. She's also kind of a hypocrite. I thought at first that she might be a strong heroine, but she seemed to get progressively weaker as the story went on, to no real avail. I didn't hate her, really--I simply don't have strong feelings about her at all. She was vapid and irritating--but harmless. Kind of like baby cousins. And, as aforementioned, I hated her stupid prejudices.
EXAMPLE OF DIALOGUE (Please note that these are not exact quotes (although they are similar) and reflect only my interpretation of the text, not necessarily the author's intentions):
BLAKE (Aimee's boyfriend at the beginning of the novel): That Indian boy beat me at racing today. AIMEE: (to self) Ohmigod. My boyfriend is obviously a closet racist. So he obviously cannot be my boyfriend anymore.
Seriously, people, when is the last time you've heard someone identify someone else by their race and automatically assumed they're a closet racist? (This is actually what she does. I couldn't even make this up if I tried.) Probably never. Especially someone whom you've known for a long time and has always been a good person. More likely you assume they're just trying to make identifying someone easier.
THE HERO ALAN And here's the character I liked even less. For one thing, I couldn't even picture him as even vaguely handsome, no matter how hard I tried. I thought he was really self-centered. He also kind of sounds like an idiot. At one point in the novel he thinks of Aimee: "Her mouth is sexy when she chews." Okay, a few things wrong here. 1) No one thinks that. 2) When is the last time you've found someone's chewing mouth sexy? (Also, this is totally in direct contrast with something she Jones writes in Need about it being awkward to watch someone you like chew. I mean, come on, you cannot have it both ways. Make up your mind.) Just…no. I thought he was one of the most boring characters I've ever come across. I've since rethought that--he might just be the most boring character.
THE SECONDARY CHARACTERS BLAKE He was probably the only character I felt any sort of connection to. Still, he wasn't exactly extremely likable or anything. Still, I cared what happened to him more than anyone else in the entire book. I consider this sad. He was kind of too stereotypical nice-guy-goes-bad-then-good-again--but that kind of thing I can deal with. It's an unversed plot line, but it wasn't used terribly in this novel. COURTNEY Stereotypical high school girl much? I mean, come on, Carrie Jones! In the Need series you've already kind of annoyed me with your completely insane collection of high schoolers, but this is totally pushing it. I am still in high school, and I can guarantee you that, believe it or not (you may want to sit down), there are actually normal people in high school.
I know, I know, I've totally shocked you. I'm sorry. Just take some deep, deep breaths and everything will be okay.
Moving on! I don't really give a damn about the other secondary characters enough to write about them, and none of them are important enough that I feel the actual need to.
THE PLOT … … … Excuse me. That was me forgetting what the plot was because it was so freaking boring.
AIMEE: Let's save Courtney! She is my OMGBFF4EVA! If we don't save her, she'll die! And since I have visions and all, that will obviously help a ton!
ALAN: You have visions? Awesome.
AIMEE: You're not freaked out like all the other kids?!?
ALAN: Nope. Because I am totally completely in love with you since you have red hair and obviously I am meant to fall in love with a girl with red hair.
AIMEE: *squeal* Okay! I love you too! Let's make out, and then save Courtney if there's time!
Um, yeah, guys, that's pretty much all I have to say about the plot. It was way, way, way too predictable. I could guess everyone long before it happened and I could tell from the beginning how it was going to end.
THE ROMANCE I have some major problems here.
First off, Aimee's breakup with Blake was completely unbelievable and had no base whatsoever. I felt like it was done simply because Aimee had to get with Alan somehow and Blake was in the way. It didn't ring true to me at all, and it was one of the reasons this book annoyed me from the beginning.
POLICE: Yo, Alan, Blake is missing. You know anything about that?
ALAN: No, why?
POLICE: Because you got in a fight with him earlier, dude. You've got reason to want him gone.
ALAN: Well, he is my girlfriend's ex-boyfriend, but…
It took me a full two minutes to realize the girlfriend Alan is referring to is Aimee. Why? BECAUSE HE NEVER FREAKING ASKS HER OUT. I don't know about you, but I don't care how much I like a guy--if he wants me to be his girlfriend, he damn well better ask me out officially. This part annoyed me immensely. It seems stupid of him to point out that this missing guy, who he's been in a fight with, is his "girlfriend's" ex-boyfriend. I mean, how stupid can you get?
And since I'm not an instalove fan, I don't like Aimee and Alan's romance. I didn't feel anything at all. I doesn't ring true with me and I cannot fathom their relationship.
THE WRITING I'm not a huge fan of Jones' writing in her Need series, but I was hoping to see a different style here. Unfortunately, I didn't really see that. There is another author listed, but I could barely see his writing obviously, if at all. I assumed at first that Jones wrote Aimee's POV and Wedel wrote Alan's--I questioned this as I read, but when I came to Aimee's chewing jaw being sexy, I knew that there was no way. I'm fairly certain Jones wrote most of this, or at least edited it heavily. Her writing is still largely immature--not even really high school lever. Just kind of ridiculous.
(NOTE: I was corrected on this. Wedel did indeed write Alan's chapters, and then the two authors collaborated on the editing. I apologize for my mistake, but I shall leave my original review intact, as that was my honest impression. I do apologize for any confusion this may have caused.)
Another problem with Jones' writing is that she has all these ideas she tries far too hard to get across. In Need, she really pushes Amnesty International and Greenpeace--which, okay, I try to deal with because it's not really that obnoxious. But in After Obsession, she majorly tries to push these racism issues, which completely detracts from the already questionable plot and writing, making the book, unfortunately, even worse. I thought this was such a shame. If Jones could step back from all this peace-pushing stuff she tries to do, I would probably enjoy her books much more.
THE ENDING It was stupid. I hate saying something so negative, but it was. It didn't make a whole lot of sense and too many strings were left untied. (But, my God, please do not let there be a sequel.) I wish that some things had been made clearer--I was left confused and had to go back to clarify a few too many things that should, if the book was better-written, been obvious.
WRAPUP Since I'm already so invested in Jones' Need series, I will be reading Endure, the last book of that series. Unfortunately, since I found this book to be such a disappointment, it will probably have to blow me away to convince me to spend money on another one of her books. So, whether or not I read Jones' future books remains to be seen. As for Wedel's books, I might give one a try, since even after reading this book I feel I do not know his writing style at all.
Haunting Violet was a beautiful, ghostly story that swept me up completely. Violet was a lovely, strong heroine, the kind I actually enjoy reading abo...moreHaunting Violet was a beautiful, ghostly story that swept me up completely. Violet was a lovely, strong heroine, the kind I actually enjoy reading about.
Naturally, Violet has to solve a mystery when the ghost of a drowned girl begins to appear to her. She must find the dead girl's murderer before he strikes again. In a race against time and the murderer, Violet teams up with her unlikely best friend, Elizabeth, and Colin, her mother's apprentice and her childhood friend.
Violet's relationship with Colin develops beautifully and Xavier fits into the whole equation quite nicely.
There's not much more to say without giving too much away!(less)
CATCHALL Hereafter was a lovely, if bland, book. For the most part enjoyable and exciting, it was a read with action and roman...moreFINAL RATING: 2.25 STARS
CATCHALL Hereafter was a lovely, if bland, book. For the most part enjoyable and exciting, it was a read with action and romance. The blurb grabbed me from the beginning, and the cover is absolutely gorgeous. I had to have it. I should've known better than to fall for a cover after Fallen.
This review will contain minor spoilers.
THE HEROINE Sadly, I did not like Amelia. I really wanted to. However, she was so annoying and selfish that I realized early on that nothing would ever make me like her. So I tolerated her and her annoying decisions. So she can't remember anything from before her death-fine. Then stop bringing it up every twenty seconds. She did have her good points, but mostly I couldn't stand her. She has such an empty feel to her (no pun intended) and even after this long book, I still can't picture her. Or hear her voice.
THE LOVE INTEREST Joshua was not the best male lead I've ever read of. From from it, in fact. He sort of gives me the creeps, actually. Reading about him actually made me yawn. Of course he has perfect-boy good looks, of course he's popular, and of course he is oh-so-special. Seriously, what am I supposed to like about him? The description of him never goes beyond the superficial. I'd love to hear something deep about Joshua, and then maybe I'll rethink him. But for now, he's so shallow if he was a pool I'd let my newborn cousin swim in him. And I love my cousin like you would not believe.
THE VILLAIN Eli was the only interesting character is this freaking book. He actually has depth, and a background story. My heart ached for him, and yet Amelia remained so cold. This I did not find realistic. Hating someone without knowing them, and then continuing to hate them even as you get to know them better even when they have legit reasons for the things they do, always comes across as unrealistic to me. He is, in reality, less of a villain than a character who kept me from throwing this book across the room. He's also very hot, but I'm not being biased. Eli had a sob story, but that's not why he told it. He wasn't really evil. More like thrown off the right path when he died. But wouldn't dying do that to anyone? Imagine dying, and then being offered immense power. Would you really turn it down?
THE ROMANCE Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce a spectacle of the YA phenomenon I like to call… insta-love!!!!!!! What exactly do Amelia and Joshua like about each other? Is it their eyes, maybe? Or maybe their lips? Seriously, the only thing they know about each other are each other's age. They never actually get to know each other and the romance that occurs between them seems so false. I just didn't get it. There was no love; just lust. There's absolutely zero chemistry. Frankly, I hated this romance, and I usually live for romance. and just when you thought it could be any more cliché, its forbidden.
THE PLOT Where was the plot of this book? Sure, Amelia was supposed to avoid being exorcised, but I was sort of hoping that would happen. It would've improved the book by many degrees. However, all joking aside, it was always obvious that wasn't going to happen. So, then, again I ask, what was the plot? The closest I've come to perceiving a plot is the fact that Amelia is trying to regain her memories of her life and death. Nothing actually happens. She wanders around town with Josh. Then she discovers she can touch things only at heightened stages of emotion, which I found ridiculous. She can either touch things or she can't. Either way, please make up your mind.
THE WRITING Told from Amelia’s point of view, Hudson's writing was not my favorite. It was bland and impersonal. It was very rarely enjoyable and usually just plain insipid. Amelia's voice is empty and irritating. As it was a debut novel, I'm willing to cut some slack, but there still need to be improvements made in order for the writing to be more enjoyable to me. Her voice is so annoying naïve and frankly, hard to listen to without screaming. She sounds like she's either four or forty. It's absolutely ridiculous.
THE ENDING The ending was anticlimactic and boring. Nothing of interest happens, and there's no real signs of future activity. Amelia and Joshua basically have a pointless romantic scene. I may read Arise, but I may not.
CATCHALL Let's just say that I rarely rate books 5.00 stars. It is a huge accomplishment.
Where to begin? I'll start...more*****FINAL RATING: 5.00 STARS*****
CATCHALL Let's just say that I rarely rate books 5.00 stars. It is a huge accomplishment.
Where to begin? I'll start with a miniature anecdote.
Some time ago I bought a tube of bright, electric, cobalt blue mascara. I wanted something different and fun. Well, recently I've taken to wearing it and have observed that it is very noticeable. I get compliments and comments on it all the time. It seems impossible for people not to say something or, at the very least, do a double take.
Anyway, there is a point to this story. This book is like that. It's impossible not to notice it. It's practically screaming, "I'M RIGHT HERE, EVERYONE!!! SEE ME SEE ME SEE ME!!!!" And it's beautiful and different and very, very wonderful.
THE HERO Cas is a wonderful narrator whose voice I loved from the very beginning. He's intriguing and haunting and downright sexy. He's also beautifully developed BUT the author does not spend pages and pages going over the way he looks. In fact, I'm not entirely sure we are subjected to the way he looks at all. Thank you, Ms. Blake, for not obsessing over the way our hero looks. There are ideas, certainly, but I can picture him in my head quite clearly.
He kind of reminds me of my boyfriend, actually. Not the killing-ghosts part, but the dedication part. Okaaay, they are dedicated for different reasons, but that is beside the point. Dedication is sexy in a man.
ANYWAY. It's not often I get to read a very good book from a male P.O.V., and I'm happy to say that Cas did not disappoint me in the least. He was a wonderful hero whom I immediately fell in love with and I enjoy reading about him immensely.
THE GHOST I adore Anna. She seems so haunted and even though she doesn't remember her past at first, clearly trapped inside it. She has so much history and so much emotions that she managed more than once to drive me to tears. Anna is no puffball (oh my God, I used the word puffball) and she is most definitely not TSTL. I loved that she was strong.
Anna is such an interesting character and I wished we'd gotten to see her more even though we saw her so much. She has such an air of mystery surrounding her and I'd love to go even deeper into her character.
THE OTHER SECONDARY CHARACTERS Carmel and Thomas were wonderful secondary characters who were not underdeveloped and served nice places in the story. They each are beautifully characterized and described. I feel like I know them very well, as I should. Morfran is a magnificent character as well. Will, Chase, and Mike serve also move the story along nicely as well, though that is their only purpose, really. Each character is very well-written. Anyway. I probably can't really say much else here without starting to blab spoilers so… moving on.
THE PLOT Oh my, my, my. This plot is so beautiful and original that I almost don't know what to say. I most certainly do not want to give anything away because I would hate to ruin this book for anyone. It's perfect. Intriguing and mysterious and just the right amount of vague, it blends into the story and fits beautifully. The plot is so original that it never gets boring, and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The setting and the details are intricate. Every detail was perfect, from the Victorian house to the elaborate but nicely slowly moving descriptions of magic. Magic, also, was not overused or clichéd. I'm afraid to say more, so.
THE ROMANCE (Someone pointed out to me that I forgot to write this section. I actually totally meant to leave it out. *LIE*) Anyway, the romance was beautiful. It was not developed too quickly and it had real substance. It wasn't shoved in my face. It was subtle but it was most definitely there. Cas and Anna make a sweet, if tragic, pair, and I will be looking forward to how this plays out later on.
THE WRITING Ahhh!! I love Ms. Blake's writing. It's lovely and detailed and not insipid or vapid at all. It definitely contributes to the beauty of the story, and, as aforementioned, I adore Cas' voice. It is realistic and intelligent and rings true. The writing is never boring, but brings to life the characters and plot and setting of the book and makes them real and visible.
THE ENDING Beautifully written ending with an awful cliffhanger. Awful because the next book does not arrive until early next August. The ending was relevant and didn't feel thrown in but seemed well-thought-out. It didn't feel overused but original. It was definitely a ver good way to end the book and I'm not sure it could have been better.
WRAPUP I will absolutely be reading the sequel as soon as I can possibly get my hands on it. This book left me aching for Girl of Nightmares.
CATCHALL Anna Dressed in Blood was the first book I ever gave a 5.00 rating too, and it seems fitting and perfect th...more*****FINAL RATING: 5.00 STARS*****
CATCHALL Anna Dressed in Blood was the first book I ever gave a 5.00 rating too, and it seems fitting and perfect that Girl of Nightmares also receives that same rating. Like Anna, it completely and utterly blew me away. I laughed. I cried. I did every single stupid positive cliché that you can possible think of. And I loved every single freaking moment of it. Girl of Nightmares was seriously one of the most amazing books I've ever read and could not deserve its rating anymore than it already does. It's beautiful and heart-wrenching, lovely but with a definite tragic twist. And yes, it's easily one of my all-time favorite books and one of the most amazing books I have ever ever read.
THE HERO CAS Cas is just as sexy in this book as he was in the last one, and I love him just as much. He's so…awesome. And completely and totally relatable. He has to make some seriously difficult decisions in this book, but he pulls through them without whining or complaining. He doesn't like his choices, but he accepts them and makes them and moves on. There are consequences, but he deals with them. He suffers heartbreak but he makes the right choices in the end. And Cas is extremely courageous, always willing to do whatever it takes to rescue Anna. But when it comes to his friends, he tries to protect and yet still let them be their own people. It's so super sweet.
THE GHOST ANNA I missed Anna in this book, because of course she wasn't in it as much as she was in the last one. Still, what we do see of her is marvelous. Anna is haunted in this book, trapped. And when we do see her, that is absolutely clear. But at the same time, she's so strong about it. She doesn't falter. But at the same time, she does want to be set free. For someone who's a ghost, Anna is a remarkably human character. And even though she isn't the main character, she is relatable too.
THE FRIENDS THOMAS Thomas is so loyal, and it's so sweet. He will literally do anything for Cas. He'll leave everything behind, including the girl he loves, if Cas asks it of him. It's literally impossible not to admire that, unless you are crazy or heartless. He doesn't try to stop Cas from doing things that mean a lot to him, even when there is potential danger. As far as I'm concerned, Thomas is one of the best friends anyone could ever ask for. And he's a wonderfully fleshed out character in his own right, and I definitely love him. He's loyal and brave—any more questions? CARMEL Carmel. Wow. The way that she was described was just—awesome. I don't have any other words. It was so realistic! Carmel lived in Cas' world for a while, and at some point, she wants out. She can't deal with it. But then, she also can't stay away. And I just love that! I honestly have no idea how Kendare writes such amazing characters but it's totally brill. Carmel is the typical girl-next-door, but she's got a little more sass than most. She isn't afraid to stand up for what she wants, but like most girls she doesn't always know what she wants. And that's totally cool. JESTINE Jestine isn't exactly a friend of Cas', but it's not totally inaccurate and I'm too lazy to think of a non-spoilery header. Jestine does do some things for Cas that are the type of things she'd potentially do for a friend. She takes risks too. She's not al good, and I don't think I'd trust her to have my back, but at the same time she isn't all bad either. She definitely respects Cas, and possibly even cares for him on some level. Despite the fact that she's a bit shady, she's a wonderfully written character and I couldn't help but love her.
THE PLOT When I first started this book, I was afraid that I would miss Anna too much. Really, I needn't have worried. Despite the fact that I did miss Anna, the book was so dynamic and there was so much other stuff happening that the loss of Anna was definitely forgivable and permissible.
Kendare is a genius. Seriously.
I wasn't bored for a single freaking second. Like, I couldn't stop reading it. It was addictive. Irresistible. In the best and most amazing way possible.
I sound like a total fangirl.
But this book is totally worthy of fangirling.
Anyway, the plot. This story revolves around Cas, Thomas, and Carmel trying to find out how to save Anna from her fate. They get a little help along the way, from Jestine, Gideon, and a mysterious new organization that we learn some interesting things about in this novel. And it is just so well done. Cas has to go through some serious obstacles, but he doesn't let them stop him. And the plot moves forward at such a smooth pace! It's never slow-moving. Something is always always happening. Whether it's action or research, there's definite movement.
Ah, and everything ties together so so so nicely. I don't know how Kendare does it. But she does.
Cas needs to save Anna, but there are challenges before he can reach her. And choices that have to be made.
THE ROMANCE So, not so much romance in this book because Anna is gone. But the lengths that Cas is willing to go through for Anna speak of love, and that's more than enough romance for me. Furthermore, the romance between Thomas and Carmel is so sweet. Not so much development there, but definite chemistry.
THE WRITING Kendare has some seriously gorgeous writing. It was lovely in Anna, and somehow she's managed to become an even more amazing writer in Girl of Nightmares. I completely love Cas' voice. She somehow captures it perfectly. The male POV is rare but absolutely fascinating. I love being inside Cas' head. He sees everything around him. He's observant. He makes the reader feel like they're actually there. And the dialogue is awesome. It seriously just brings a smile to my face and makes me laugh. And yet the heartbreaking moments ache so much, too. She has a wonderful range.
THE ENDING Wow. Just wow. Call me emotional, but I cried my eyes out until I literally had no more tears left upon finishing this book. It made my heart ache so, so much. It completely broke my heart. But at the same time, it was totally perfect and I wouldn't change a thing if I could. It was perfection. Everything came together beautifully, and there was enough positivity that I didn't feel like laying down and dying. There was some major tragedy, but there was the bright light at the end of the tunnel too.
WRAPUP Whatever Kendare puts out, I will grab it and read it and swallow it whole. I practically worship her. She's one of the most amazing writers I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Her writing is gorgeous, and her plot and her characters are absolutely awesome too. No detail is left abandoned. She thinks of everything, and that all combines to make her books incredibly amazing. And besides, doesn't Antigoddess sound completely awesome??! Yes, loves, I know it does. So, my recommendation? If you haven't read Anna Dressed in Blood, well what're you waiting for? Otherwise, grab your copy of Girl of Nightmares today!
CATCHALL I absolutely beyond a shadow of doubt adored Shattered Souls. It was intriguing and entertaining, and I was a...more****FINAL RATING: 3.70 STARS****
CATCHALL I absolutely beyond a shadow of doubt adored Shattered Souls. It was intriguing and entertaining, and I was absolutely drawn into the story. I really enjoyed the almost everything about it. There were a few things that really bothered me, but overall, it was wonderful.
THE HEROINE LENZI ROSE I definitely loved Lenzi. She was a strong heroine. Unfortunately, she was a bit too stubborn for my taste. However, she does accept who she is in the end, and it is impossible not to admire that about her. She's brave and smart but not reckless. Lenzi also has a strong sense of self identity and confidence that's really nice to see. She's a fantastic character until maybe near the end of the book, where she does this turnabout and made me want to slam my head against something. But she mostly redeemed herself.
THE LOVE INTERESTS ALDEN THOMAS Mmm. Alden was an amazing character. He's sweetly old-fashioned in some ways, but modern enough that he doesn't seem outdated or old. It is clear that he's lived before. He is fiercely protective but also knows Lenzi's strength. He'll do anything for her, and that's beautiful. Also, I really love that he's smart, not some empty-headed halfwit. Even though it's kind of pathetic, it is also really sweet and hard not to admire. ZAK Zak was an alright character. I like him except for the fact that he always calls Lenzi "babe." Now, let's get something straight. I have no problem with this word's usage. I have been called that in my time, and used it also. But I just don't like how he never says her name. Ever. It bothers me. And I thought that what Lindsey chose to do with him at the end of the book was too convenient and also unnecessary.
THE PLOT The plot was entertaining, delightful, and original. It followed a clear story line. Even though I'm not really a fan of reincarnation in general, this one worked for me. We're gifted with flashbacks, which admittedly helps. I don't feel like I'm supposed to know something that isn't there.
There's a little bit a mystery too, which I also really like. It keeps the story interesting. The mystery was refreshing, although fairly obvious. It seemed unlikely that it would have taken so long to figure out, and almost seems as if it was put in just to make Lenzi seem smarter, which it probably was.
It was definitely interesting, though, and was also thoroughly enjoyable. Overall, the plot was brilliant and I loved it.
THE ROMANCE There is a love triangle, although it is obvious from the beginning how it is going to end. The romance between Lenzi and Zak is a bit questionable because it seems a little abusive, but we don't get to see really how it was before Alden showed up, so it's hard to say too much on that front. The romance between Lenzi and Alden is very sweet. It could have been instalovey, but the flashbacks and the stories told really help. It could have been much worse than it was.
THE WRITING Lindsey has a lovely hand. It isn't perfect, but I shall cut my usual debut-novel-slack. The writing is lush and descriptive. There are points when Lenzi sounds like an annoying teenage girl and I kind of wanted to slap her for being so whiny, but it could have been far, far worse. The flashbacks especially are gorgeously described so vividly that I can easily picture them.
THE ENDING I'll be honest; this actually was not my favorite. Honestly, I just didn't think it was very well thought out. Lenzi gets annoying until about the last two pages or so, and Zak gets--well, Zak does not get very lucky. Everything seemed to fall into place just suspiciously a bit too nicely. Also, there was one particular part that was almost laughable. Still, I suppose the ending wasn't horrible. It simply wasn't spectacular. And I did really like the last few paragraphs, which are sweet and satisfy my ridiculously romantic little heart.
WRAPUP I hear rumors of a second book in the works, and if this is true, I'll be reading it. While I was satisfied with this book as a standalone, I am interested in hearing more. The concept is very interesting and I do like the characters and the writing style. While I wasn't expecting to hear more, it is a pleasant surprise and I am pleased by this new development.
CATCHALL Since I read Aprilynne Pike's Wings when it was first released, I have a soft spot for that series as well as...more****FINAL RATING: 3.55 STARS****
CATCHALL Since I read Aprilynne Pike's Wings when it was first released, I have a soft spot for that series as well as her in general. Though the series had its ups an downs, I enjoyed it immensely and couldn't wait to see what came next. In Life After Theft, Aprilynne Pike brings us a fun yet deep paranormal romance where the plot is unique and compelling. I loved the world she built for us, and though it quickly made a place for itself in my heart.
THE HERO JEFF I really, really like Jeff. He's an enormously entertaining hero with a great sense of humor. He tries to be smooth, but usually ends up being awkward. He's clearly smart, but he still does stupid things, just like any teenage boy. He wants to do the right thing but isn't always willing to go out of his way for it. In short, he's flawed. But it's these flaws that made him so relatable. Someone perfect wouldn't have suited the role he played, and he needed to be a dynamic character, so that's exactly what he was.
THE LOVE INTEREST SERA I don't know how I feel about Sera, honestly. Firstly, she's kind of underdeveloped. Secondly, Jeff places her on this pedestal which is endlessly irritating. Honestly, if he hadn't done that, I probably would have like her better. But the fact that he insists on seeing her as a perfect angel is really, really freaking frustrating. She's definitely allowed to make mistakes, and be human, and change, but still. Whatever.
THE GHOST KIMBERLEE Kimberlee is in many ways the focus of this novel, and there are definitely ways one can view her as the heroine if one so desires. Still, not enough development here. She's kind of a word that rhymes with itch, and she doesn't get that much better. She sort of has a revelation at the end, but she doesn't really see the whole picture or even seem to want to change that much. It was kind of a letdown honestly.
THE PLOT I loved how original the plot was. Apparently it is based on The Scarlet Pimpernel, but I have never read that (or even heard of it, shut up) so I can't really compare, but I thought everything worked out nicely and there weren't any major similarities to works I'd read before.
The main problem I had is that I feel like Kimberlee was shoved into the backseat a lot. A lot of the story revolves around her, but it's like she exploded and is a black hole and everything is being sucked into it even though she's not there. Sorry, am I being confusing? I suck at this metaphors stuff. Ugh.
Anyway, I did it was well executed otherwise. Though Kimberlee should have been in her own story more, Jeff does a fantastic job of taking over. He wants her gone, so he agrees to help her, but it turns into more than that. Secrets that cannot be reburied are uncovered, and Jeff finds love and friendships in his new town. He also learns several lessons. The hard way.
Another thing I loved about this book is that the parents actually exist! There are so many absentee parents in YA these days and it's really frustrating because most teenagers have parents/guardians that actually pay attention to what they do. Sure, Jeff's parents are pretty chill parents. But they still punish him for his mistakes, and they definitely have a role to play, however minor. Sera's mother is also a significant figure although I feel her personality didn't match her actions.
This book was the perfect mix of heavy lessons and lighthearted fun that got my blood pumping and my head spinning.
THE ROMANCE Not a huge fan of this romance, honestly. I loved Aprilynne's Wings romance, which is probably a large part of why I was so disappointed by this one. Not only did Sera annoy me, but the instant attraction just for whatever reason didn't work for me here. I never felt any spark between Jeff and Sera and I don't even know what was going on with Kimberlee's feelings. It was boring and unrealistic and I didn't like it.
THE WRITING If you compare Aprilynne's writing from Wings to Life After Theft, the improvement is visible. It was always pleasant, but the quality is clearly better now and that is something I both love and appreciate. Jeff has a distinct voice, and though he's often biased he manages to tell the story. I feel like there should be more adjective use in some places, less in others, but overall I like the feel of it.
THE ENDING The ending was perfect. Super, super gutsy, especially for a standalone. I most definitely did not expect it to end the way it did but I loved, loved, loved it. There is no way it could have ended better. It's definitely a risk, and I'm sure it'll be greeted by mixed feelings, but personally I thought it was the only right way to end this novel.
WRAPUP I really enjoyed Life After Theft, though it didn't have the allure for me that Aprilynne's Wings series did. Even so, I did feel it was definitely worth the time and I would definitely recommend it to fans of both contemporary and paranormal romance. As for me, I know I'll continue to read Aprilynne's books. I'm really looking forward to her Earthbound series, and wherever she decides to take us after that.
CATCHALL Paper Valentine, while not the most amazing book I've ever read, was throughly enjoyable. Thought I struggled t...more***FINAL RATING: 3.20 STARS***
CATCHALL Paper Valentine, while not the most amazing book I've ever read, was throughly enjoyable. Thought I struggled to connect with the characters, I loved the mystery in the plot and the overall creepiness. It was a fantastic, unputdownable novel that I absolutely read straight through. It was fun and delightful, and despite its imperfections it has crawled into my heart. My bleeding paper heart.
THE HEROINE HANNAH Hannah isn't actually a particularly memorable heroine. I had to look up her name when writing this review in fact. I liked her, but there was nothing really special about her and I never felt that I connected to her. She definitely has some fun quirks, and her determination to solve the mystery is admirable. Even so, she just didn't have that extra oomph.
THE LOVE INTEREST FINNY Finny is the type of bad boy you see in the hall every day but never talk to until you realize there's more to him than he reveals to just anyone. He's protective of Hannah in a sweet way, but he never tries to dominate her which I love. I definitely thought he was a mystery for some time but I loved figuring him out.
THE PLOT Paper Valentine is really creeptastic and awesome. I couldn't put it down. I loved all the suspense and mystery. There's a slight hint of horror in the novel, and it's multi-dimensional. It's about the murders, but there's more to it than that. It's also about Hannah coming to terms with her feelings and herself.
At first, the mystery starts to be revealed sonly. We get a few more hints each time and have to try and put them together. There's always some new aspect, some random tie to the past. And of course, Hannah's friend Lillian, who is a ghost. She's not the best character, self-centered and annoying, but she really helps Hannah.
Lillian wants Hannah to stay away from Finny and focus on the murders. Hannah wants to do both. So she tries. It isn't always easy, but it made for some awesome entertainment,
My biggest issue with this book is the murderer was predictable. I didn't get it instantly, but before I reached the halfway pointI knew who had done it. It could have been worse, but I still would have liked to have been kept guessing.
But overall, I really did love this. It's a fun and dark novel that thrilled me throughly.
THE ROMANCE This book might actually have the least romance of any recent YA book I've read. There is romance between Hannah and Finny, but it's not the main focus at all. It's a true side plot, which I loved. It doesn't have to be the focus to be important. Hannah likes Finny, but she's okay without him. The way the romance develops between them is really sweet, and it's awesome because it seems to reveal another side of Finny.
THE WRITING I really like Brenna's writing. She has the whole creepy, disturbing wording and imagery down pat. There's so much to love about her detailed descriptions. They're horrific but not too graphic. She's really mastered the art of saying just enough, something that's incredibly important. I also think that Hannah has a nice voice. It's not stellar, but it's reliable, and sometimes that's what's most important anyway.
THE ENDING This is a standalone as far as I know, and I really liked the way everything wrapped up. It wasn't entirely perfect, but it was still a happy ending. There's no dreadful cliffhanger, although you can tell that life will go on for these characters. There's sense of closure and knowing that everything worked out in the end.
WRAPUP I really did enjoy Paper Valentine, and I'll definitely be picking up more of Brenna's books in the future. This one was just so damn creepy and wonderful. I absolutely recommend it to mystery and suspense lovers anywhere, and even those of you who are new to the genre or in general don't care for it will likely enjoy this one. It's truly a spectacular read.