Fever was a thrilling continuation of its breakout prequel, Wither, though for me, something was off. It wasn't Lauren DeStefano's clever, thorough writing style or the stakes that rose with every chapter, but it might've been Rhine's character or how the shine was starting to wear off.
I think dystopian trilogies might come with pre-installed slope of success. The first book is amazing and there's a hype over the new story, but when the second book rolls around, there's a lot of iffy-ness and "mehs" and by the third, well... While Lauren DeStefano did so many things right, the shine of the story had worn off for me.
One of the big pluses was DeStefano's ability to make me shiver. In his book Story, Robert McKee has this to say about world building (and, more broadly, creative limitation):
Limitation is vital. The first step toward a well-told story is to create a small, knowable world.*
The "twisted carnival" described in the summary of the book was creepy in the extreme. DeStefano uses the familiar backdrop of a carnival to paint the shadows of a dark, ugly world that goes on behind the curtains. DeStefano has a skill for taking tiny details and building them to make a "small, knowable world".
The stakes were upped, too. This wasn't a rehashing of Wither. Fever stands entirely on its own while maintaining most of the integrity of the first book.
The kinship that I had felt towards Rhine in Wither faded a bit in this book. While there weren't identifiable moments where I disliked her, or her motives or her choices, I felt a slight hesitation when I went to cheer for her. (The ending, however, was appropriately bizarre and really gained her some brownie points.) Though it didn't immediately detract from my enjoying the book, I'm worried Sever may see a degrading of my opinion of her.
Lauren DeStefano was cruel in the way she ended Fever, leaving me practically foaming at the mouth in anticipation for Sever. I'm excited to see what she'll do after the Chemical Garden trilogy....more
Could it possibly be? Say what? More enjoyable that The Warrior Heir? Whoa.
I could really see an improvement in Chima’s writing style here. Gone away are the awkward, brittle descriptive actions and instead more emotion is present to back up the prose. I really got into the characters—and was especially glad when I saw the return of most, if not all, of the characters from The Warrior Heir. Chima’s action-packed, intrigue ridden plots keep me riveted from start to finish.
I liked the main character, Seph. He was just a relatable character that had been through hell and back and was still likeable. Sometimes his style of thought and action reminded me a bit of Jack (from The Warrior Heir), but it was subtle and makes sense if you think about it. I mean, they’re boys.
The romance was a bit sudden, but I liked the girl. Her nastiness actually came off pretty well—stubbornness instead of rudeness. I cheered for her all the way. I wish the romance had been set up differently, because it didn’t seem convincing on Seph’s part.
The conclusion? Brilliant. Talk about a fight scene! It was easy to picture and it wasn’t forced—quite clever, too, by how it ended. The plot twist had me reeling!
I love how Cinda Williams Chima writes. She just has this style that works for me as a reader. Her stories are brilliant and her characters are memorable. I love sitting down to a Cinda Williams Chima book....more
The Name of the Star is Maureen Johnson's first paranormal work. I've enjoyed the one or two contemporaries I've read of hers, and I think she's made a promising start crossing over into the paranormal genre. The Name of the Star was enticing and rich with research. Though I only found the main character, Rory, merely agreeable and the romance very "meh," I was impressed with the detail and suspense put into the story.
Rory won't exactly be getting a friendship bracelet from me, but I'm not thinking about throwing her into a pit of crocodiles, either. She was, in a word, agreeable. Her Louisiana background was believable, but not overwhelming in detail. She was very convincingly American amongst a sea of Brits. She lost me at some points, but otherwise, she was a good MC.
The story was fascinating. (I mean, duh, it's about Jack the Ripper.) It was a bit confusing at some points, but in retrospect, that's to be expected. Maureen Johnson did a fabulous job clearing things up at the end, so if you're bogged down by the plot, hold out till the end. Everything sorts itself out. I really appreciated the amount of research Maureen Johnson must've put in -- there were a lot of small, almost inconsequential details that added flavor and intrigue to the plot.
The atmosphere was very eerie -- another thing Maureen Johnson did very well, better than a lot of paranormal authors who have several PNRs under their belts. I wouldn't say I was sitting on the edge of my seat, but I did hold my breath a few times. (And, yes, sadly, I mean that literally.)
The romance, however, stalled for me. Very "meh". I didn't think much of the romantic interest or why Rory was so interested in him, other than the fact that he was simply there.
The humor I'm on the fence about. While I read it, I thought it was funny, but looking back on it, I don't remember it being all that funny. A bit of a letdown coming from Maureen Johnson.
Overall, a brilliant story and definitely worth the time to read....more
Alexandra Bracken's work first hit my radar when I picked up and loved her debut, Brightly Woven. But I was pleasantly surprised by how much her writing and storytelling abilities had been significantly upgraded in The Darkest Minds. It was edgy and compelling in a way I hadn't expected it to be.
The main character, Ruby, was solid if a little melodramatic about her powers. (Gain some perspective, darlin, everyone thinks their power is the worst.) But I liked how Alexandra Bracken didn't go easy on Ruby. Ruby had a lot of problems to sort through, and nothing that I would consider "mainstream." By having the problems be character-specific, it heightened my respect for the character when she was forced to make a choice.
The world was excellent. I understood every aspect that was being presented, which I admire because more often than not, in stories like these, I haven't the faintest idea why the government is doing what it's doing. The suspense was heightened because I knew the stakes. It made the action scenes really come alive.
The characters themselves were amazing. All were endearing in so many ways. I love how dynamic the group of them were. I also love how they weren't static. They each had their own story that progressed through Ruby's own.
I was very satisfied with The Darkest Minds and, especially with the way it ended, I am psyched to get my hands on the second one....more
Where was this book ten years ago? I know that I would have been all over this. It probably would have given me nightmares, too, but I would have loved this book to pieces. Even now, just shy of an official adult, it really connects with my not-yet-buried side of childhood pleasures. Sometimes I just love a good, out-of-this-world, simple read. And Panjandrum and J.J. Telly really delivered.
At first, it took a bit for me to get into it. It seemed too otherworldly for me to grasp into my werewolf-and-vampire-hardwired mind. The simple pleasure of reading a clever children's story eventually took over however and I disappeared into it hours at a time. There was something compelling about Telly's creative interpretation of the alphabet.
See, the Levels are not just letters as we know, like: P, G, and H. It's phonetically written and it's really clever! So it would go: Pee, Gee, and Haitch. Then there's Eff (F), Ess (S), Que (Q)…Isn't that clever?! The amount of detail that goes into the story is awe inspiring.
I love the descriptions, too. There's something about it that pulled me in. Maybe it was because it was so unlike any style you see today in YA lit.
I loved this passage especially:
And Portentia contained the most wonderful laugh. It was the kind that billowed out like a gale, flooding the room. You could hear this laugh on a muggy, crowded bus and no matter how grumpy you were, the laugh would force you to crack a smile.
It was the kind of laugh that stole your sadness from you, though you didn't feel like you'd lost anything at all. Her laugh was a clever thief Bellamy could respect.
Excerpted from the paperback edition, page 124
Panjandrum is a clever story with likeable characters, a thrilling adventure, chilling subplots, and a detailed setting. I cheered Gelsem and the Parasitic Punks all the way. I seriously needed this ten years ago, though. It would have really spiced up my pitiful literary stack at the time.
This review copy was received in exchange for an honest review....more
Still keeping my emotional difference from Faythe. She feels a few fries short of a Happy Meal to me. But. Great plot, steamy (if seriously messed up)Still keeping my emotional difference from Faythe. She feels a few fries short of a Happy Meal to me. But. Great plot, steamy (if seriously messed up) romance, and werecats. Very nice, well delivered package. On to the next....more
I declare Maggie Stiefvater to be a master of mythology. Not that I know the first thing about horses that are pulled from the sea and raced on land. Merely that Maggie Stiefvater took a piece of mythology, made it entirely her own, and presented it in a dark, twisted, real way that I have never seen another author do before. Her writing was cunning, her characters strong and alive, her atmosphere rich and enticing.
There was a lot of passion in this story. It came through in the characters with their own battles and personal triumphs, and in the writing. I'd read a blog post on Maggie Stiefvater's site where she talked about how this book was the one she's always wanted to write. It was an inspiring post, and this was a very inspiring story. I loved every page.
The romance was fantastic. It was just as powerful, if more elusive, than the couple we all know and love—Sam and Grace. Sean Kendrick had that streak of reality to him that made him instantly likeable. Puck Connolly was fiery but very much human with her internal struggles and external battles. They were fantastic characters. I want to reread their story. I want more of their story. Even though I almost cried at the end—a rarity within itself.
The atmosphere was palpable. Talk about disappearing into a story. Small, seemingly meaningless details put breath and life into Thisby. I hate the beach, but the detail here was so vivid and enticing, I wanted to be down on the sand in the chaos leading up to the races.
The writing was just as beautiful as ever. The passion was there—passion that most authors strive for but bury under the pressure of blending into the mainstream YA paranormal romance. Maggie Stiefvater's work stands out, stands in its own category. The minute this book comes out in paperback, I'm getting it. Maggie Stiefvater is a writer I want to mimic. She writes flawlessly. She draws you in, almost tricks you into getting to know the characters. It's natural.
I can't wait to see what she does next.
Oh, did you know that The Scorpio Raceshas been optioned by Warner Bros.? No? Oh, well, now you know. You're welcome....more
If you haven't picked up an Ally Carter book yet, consider your life incomplete until you do so. If you don't want to read about a smart thief and a gorgeous best friend (also a thief), then check out the Gallagher Girls: they're spies. (You can't say you don't like thieves or spies, because everyone likes at least one or the other.)
If you need MORE reasons to make Ally Carter your new favorite author:
Thieves. Yes, I realized I already mentioned this, but you've got to admit that it takes a lot of talent to successfully write a book about teenage thieves without making it into a middle grade novel. This new installment in the Heist Society series was a lot edgier than the first book. Kat is dealing with a lot of crap: with her family, with her identity, and with Hale. I totally lent my heart out to Kat through the entire book. (And yelled at her a lot when she wouldn't confront Hale with…certain topics.)
Humor. I don't know about you, but I'm a sucker for funny books. Even if it has the WORST main character ever, if she's funny (she can't be all that bad) then I'll usually read the entire book without too much trouble. Kat, besides being a completely AWESOME main character, is funny. So is everyone else. Especially Hale when he's mad. ;)
Characters. Did I mention Kat's a world-famous thief? Just think about it: being an infamous con artist makes her smart. And not just smart, but clever. (Yes, there IS a difference, just like robbing a casino and robbing AT a casino.) So Kat is awesome, and Hale is sexy, and Simon is adorable, and Gabrielle is…apparently cursed, and Nick is…well, he's sexy, too. Don't forget the Scottish twins and legendary uncles. So yeah. In summation, you've got a great set of characters.
Plot. Wow. And I thought Patricia Briggs was the only author who could surprise readers with such class. Ally Carter drives her characters seemingly into a corner with no escape whatsoever (even for the world-famous thieves) and then slams you with a plot twist that is so awesome that it's beyond incredible.
I could go on and on. Ally Carter has presented a great addition to Heist Society and I can't wait to see what she adds to this series....more
What drew me to The Goddess Test was the cool idea and incessant coverage in the blogosphere. I love Greek myths, especially when they're retold in a fresh, new fashion. But I didn't think anything about The Goddess Test was fresh, or new. Every aspect, from the main character to the cheesy high school experience, left me unimpressed. It was a promising seed of an idea, but it I felt it could have been presented a lot better.
The summary itself doesn't seem to promise much. It's chockfull of unsurprising elements. Of course the Lord of the Underworld is "dark" and "tortured." When I think of a fresh, new take on Greek mythology, I have more in mind of a Hades (if he's a teenager in the modern world) that likes to go around wearing a Black Sabbath tee and ratty biker boots. Not a long, black trench coat. And, of course, Henry is unbelievably, undeniably gorgeous. Not the kind of depth and originality I was hoping for.
Modernizing the myth of Persephone is a rich concept, whereas Carter's story seemed to barely scratch the surface. It was clouded with things that had already been done before, from the bitterly worn out high school hierarchy (where the head cheerleader is blond and of course dates the quarterback and/or captain of the football team) to the prose itself. The prose was entirely telling, no showing, making it lackluster for me. From page to page, I was left unsurprised. It was so easy to see how the plot was going to progress from page one, so by the time I got to page sixty, I was ready to cry with frustration and boredom.
The frustration came mostly from the main character, Kate. I can empathize with her plight (though I'm not watching my mother slowly die, it's a member of my family) but I cannot sympathize with her. I expected more anger out of her; some other emotion than just perpetual flakiness around anyone other than her mother. She just came off childish after a while, and I quickly tired of her.
I thought The Goddess Test was going to be amazing, but it was simply one of those books that did not live up to my expectations. I was hoping for a story with an edgy charm, but it was blunted by superficial characters and melodramatic action....more
I don't think it was the thrill of reading it on my new Kindle that had me loving this book so much. The characters, the originality, the plot, everything, worked. It was a great read; I enjoyed it from beginning to end. There are a few things I would have preferred to be different, but it didn't detract from the sheer awesomeness of this book.
I liked the main character, Elisa. Though some of the things she did annoyed me like nothing else, she had such a streak of reality to her. She grew through her experiences and came to be a different person by the end of the book.
I loved the setting and plot, and how closely intertwined they were. I was totally blown away! Some parts were predictable, so I was settling in for a predictable ending and then BOOM. Halfway to the end and everything totally hits the fan. I almost cried.
But I liked the romance, I liked the story, and the characters. The only problem I had with it was how short it was. In retrospect, I could easily imagine the amount of time passing throughout the story. As I read however, it seemed to pass too quickly—to fast to get any depth. I felt as if the author should have taken her time, and let the story expand.
She had great descriptions, though. So great, I used the nifty note-making feature on my Kindle to mark a few passages, this one included:
The tumultuous snarl of sand is so huge and steady, so pure, that it is almost like quiet.
Elegant in its simplicity.
I cannot wait to see where this series goes. I want to read the next book now! (And I'm totally buying this in hardcover.)...more
A very promising debut. There are pros and cons with both writing style and plot but there’s something in the characters that makes me anticipate the next book’s release.
I love the archetypical hero’s story. It’s what makes me love stories like Harry Potter and Eragon. Griffin is an earth-angel who is realizing the heart of his situation: human versus angel. While he struggles to figure out the balance, he’s haunted by a jaded past. His struggles and obstacles were the perfect challenge for him and created a very enjoyable story.
I rooted for Griffin 100%. What really grabbed me about him was his humor because I’m a sucker for funny guys, but also his sensitivity (girls love a guy in touch with his emotions) and his loyalty. Griffin’s passion for saving people didn’t come off as cliché as I had started to fear it would.
As I read, I started to dread the romance. I was afraid that it would turn out to amount to several pages worth of description about what drew them to each other. But besides the initial, Wow, he/she’s pretty cute there wasn’t much to drag down their relationship. I actually began to cheer for Katie because she’s wasn’t a complete girl about some things.
“Fire, you’re fast! I almost didn’t beat you,” Griffin gasped. “Notice I said almost.”
”Well, I let you win. Frail male ego, you know.”
Excerpted from the ARC edition, page 84
I mean, I wanted to smack her about some things but otherwise, I liked her attitude.
The one thing that bothered me was Nash. The kid was way too much the archetypical bully. Griffin’s reactions were good (Go Griffin!) but the whole thing with Nash just didn’t fly well with me. I could see it coming a mile away and he didn’t put a lot of originality into the story. And the final confrontation between Nash and Griffin just annoyed me because Griffin was such an idiot about it.
In terms of writing: it was rough but I liked the way it was set up—half journal entries, half narrative. The plot was straightforward and I think the story could have been greatly lengthened if more detail and depth had been added.
However, I loved Griffin’s story. I blew through this story so fast; I was sorry to finish so quickly. Now I can’t wait for the sequel! I can see a lot of potential in Darby Karchut’s style. I can see that with time and practice, she will flourish into a household YA name.
This ARC was received in exchange for an honest review....more
This has to be my favorite out of all the Cassaforte Chronicles. Which is saying something, peeps, ‘cause I absolutely fell in love with V. Briceland’s writing in The Glass Maker’s Daughter. This was just an enjoyable story that set me on my wit’s end when the suspense nearly did me in. And made my ribs hurt with laughter when Petro and Emilia went at each other. Petro’s character was real and it was fun to see the adventure through his eyes.
I like stories where you see the characters through other people’s eyes. We saw Petro when he was a kid in The Glass Maker’s Daughter, as Risa’s annoying but fun-loving little brother. Now we’re reading about his own adventures and learning the tune of his reactions. I love stuff like that.
Everything seemed to come together. I think what made this such an incredible read was the combination of elements that work. Also, the emotions are more raw in this book. Like the edginess between Petro and Adrio—I was constantly getting so angry at Adrio for all the stupid things he’d come up with, calling Petro a snob and all that. But it was so cool how Petro still went after Adrio anyway. So you’ve got those two best friends and then you’ve got Emilia. That whole deal didn’t turn out as I expected it at all—but it was such a lovely ending! V. Briceland was flawless: he somehow didn’t give me the ending I wanted, yet it still satisfied completely.
From the very first page, I could picture it. I didn’t catch on to the significance of this until after I was halfway through the book: when I’d started reading, I’d unconsciously started to film it in my head. I know we all do this (mostly) but there was something about it that flowed. I could pull it all together as I read and it made it all the more exciting when the action began and all of a sudden I was tied to the book. In essence, this reaction is the product of very impressive writing. I cannot believe that he isn’t as popular as authors like Tamora Pierce, Maria V. Snyder, and Cinda Williams Chima.
I’m so attached to this world and the characters. It’s a world I love stepping into. I’d love to spend a day with these characters. (I started to list my favorite characters…but it was one of those times when I kept backspacing to add more and more…) Above all, I really think Petro is my favorite character. There was so much emotional depth in The Nascenza Conspiracy and the outcome from so much inner turmoil really made Petro shine.
Of course, I can’t let you click out thinking that it’s only emotional stuff going down. Oh no! What else could come of swapping identities and a far-off Midsummer High Rites than a breathless adventure? And never forget the surreptitiously left clues that all click together in the end—the brilliant kind of click that makes you go, “Oh snap!” and slap yourself on the forehead for not putting it together earlier.
Unfortunately, I got the gut feeling that the series has come full circle. Which makes me want to cry. As I’ve said, I’ve gotten so attached to these characters and I love their stories so much. I feel like breaking down and begging V. Briceland in a hysterical email whether or not he’s going to write a fourth installment. I’d be happy if he was writing another series…(maybe)…but I’d do an ecstatic happy dance if he was planning on writing a fourth book.
If you like the writings of Tamora Pierce, Maria V. Snyder and Cinda Williams Chima, you’ll love adding V. Briceland to your collection....more
A fascinating addition to an already well-built world. Like I’ve probably said before way back when, but this guy is worthy of a Tamora Pierce mention—SEVERAL OF THEM! First of all, who can resist pirate stories? (Except me, when I’m in one of my moods.) V. Briceland is awesome about leading people a certain way and then turning around and going, “Hahaha! I seriously had you going for a loop, didn’t I?” And even though Nic can be SUCH A DORK sometimes, I’d totally sail away with him.
Do you love Tamora Pierce books? (If you thought no I suggest you keep your eyes down and back away slowly…) I can’t help but pair Tamora Pierce and V. Briceland together when it comes to their work. Their writing styles differ, sure, but both create this FULL world in which we realize that not EVERYTHING revolves around the central character. So we learn about the other countries that may or may not have anything to do with Nic’s predicament but we still know that they are THERE. Which, unfortunately, not a lot of authors realize. This is a a WORLD. We need to know some pointless stuff so that our subconscious isn’t overloaded with importantimportantimportant stuff.
V. Briceland is a beast. He leads you on and then spins you around and laughs when he says, “Oh what a trick!” Which I HATE (but really respect, so I love it deep down). I’m not saying that there’s tons of situations like this throughout the book, but stuff like this sticks with me, so it had to be mentioned.
The romance wasn’t as big in this one. At least I thought so. In “The Glass Maker’s Daughter,” it was painfully obvious who was going to get with who (whom?) but in this one, I was like…. “Um…they gonna do something or what?” But it’s almost as if the connection is deeper and you don’t get all the nitty gritty details of their love lives because that’s just how good it is.
Let’s talk Nic. I’d totally ask him to the movies (something like Pirates of the Caribbean 4?) He was scarred and alone on an island and trying to figure what the fudgesicle was going on. He was like that border-line bad boy with his sometimes sarcastic remarks and troubled past. I liked his reactions, his thoughts, the way he figured things out.
V. Briceland sets the standard. I want to know what else this guy is planning on doing. A new series? Continuing the Cassaforte Chronicles? WILL THERE BE A NUMBER FOUR!?!?...more
When I finished A Midsummer's Nightmare, the very second I closed the cover, I thought to myself that no matter what she did, I would love anything that Kody Keplinger came up with. If she decided to write about a penguin colony in Antarctica that was suffering from a salt water allergy, I'd read it and fall in love with it. (Maybe penguins was a poor example, who wouldn't want to read about penguins?) What grabbed me about A Midsummer's Nightmare wasn't just the promise of what Kody Keplinger brought to the table -- it was the deliverance of that promise. Just reading the excerpt on the back cover got me pumped for this book: from the edgy main character to the premise, I wanted that book on my shelf. Kody Keplinger, from start to finish, does not disappoint.
The gem that sparkled for me in A Midsummer's Nightmare was the main character, Whitley. She was badass, but she wasn't surrounded by a diamond-hardened shell. She was endearing to me because she showed growth through the story. She learned. It was a breath of fresh air to see a character develop naturally, like a Polaroid, slowing moving out of the shadows, showing bits at a time and at an uneven pace that eventually reveals a stunning, full image. What struck me was that there was a blatant lack of the obligatory best friend. Whitley's personal journey was to work through the bitterness she felt about her peers and to accept that friends weren't so bad after all. Her ability to roll with the punches, but also to recover afterward, was what made her memorable in my eyes.
Kody Keplinger doesn't fool around. When she tells a story, she tells a story. The awkward step sibling romance? Not something I figured most authors would've tackled enthusiastically. But Kody Keplinger doesn't just focus on this seemingly impossible and inevitably awkward romance. She presents a wonderfully balanced plot, moving back and forth to address issues like bitter parental separation, compulsions to drink and party hard, and the rough adjustment to accept someone as family. I was impressed by the depth that Kody Keplinger tackled these issues.
Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird) has a writing device she calls the one-inch picture frame. Meaning that when she was overwhelmed with her writing, she'd think of her story through a one-inch frame and write only what was in that frame. The plot of A Midsummer's Nightmare reminds me of that technique. Whitley's story was very contained, focusing almost entirely on her, but supported by a small cast of characters. Instead of writing off these characters and pushing all the spotlight on Whitley, each sub character was intricately defined, allowing for each character to leave their own impression on the main character and the reader.
Despite the awesome main character and great, humorous writing style (even accounting for the horrendous amount of vulgar language), the romance lost me a bit. I really liked the forbidden nature of Whitley and Nathan's romance and how it fueled the passion between them, but Nathan came off a bit flat to me. He had a lot of predictable moments, and to me it was because he was almost the only character that wasn't fleshed out enough. It could've been because the romance wasn't meant to take center stage -- Whitley had more on her plate than just dealing with the Nathan Situation. Despite the few moments I couldn't get into Nathan's character, I cheered for the romance from the start.
Kody Keplinger was an immediate success with The DUFF and I think she continues to bring everything to the table, even on her third book. I can't wait to see what she'll have for us next....more
A cute and well put-together story. I’ve had some tear-filled, hair-pulling, breakdown-worthy experiences trying to write short stories but Maureen Johnson has this thing down pat. Jubilee’s character (yes, her name is Jubilee...) is a perfect pair of eyes to look through. I usually don’t feel very connected with characters personally (but I can still love them half to death) but Jubilee had pointed out some things that I thought only I had noticed. (Isn’t it wonderful when that happens?) Maureen Johnson’s descriptions are incredible, too, in very creative ways.
Will leave you breathless for laughter. My aunt heard me laughing in my room and when I came out she kinda gave me an amused/funny look and said, “Must’ve gotten a good one.” Jubilee has such a hilarious way of putting things while keeping them real and Maureen Johnson came up with some creative events. (I put that delicately, cause I’m really thinking, “How the heck did she come up with that?”)
A great cast of characters. So there may not be enough to qualify for a full cast (but what do I know?) but the characters are sparkling with their own fire. Jubilee didn’t come off as whiny to me (shocker there) or as pathetic (major bonus) and I really enjoyed the Boy. (I was thinking maybe revealing which boy would be a bit of a giveaway because Maureen Johnson DOES leave it up to speculation, methinks, early on.) So even while, essentially, it’s just Jubilee and the Boy, the Boy’s mother and younger sister as well as Jubilee’s parents are present and well-developed for just sub-characters.
So as I’ve already pointed out (multiple times), I really liked Jubilee’s character. She was funny but completely honest. I loved her observations early in the story and most of her reactions reminded me of what I would have done. So, since I’m in a good mood, lemme say again: Jubilee’s character was awesome.
That aside, the descriptions were refreshingly brilliant. The one I especially like is this paragraph:
Mass Market Paperback edition, page 83 -- Debbie had to get up and slice me a thick piece of cake before she could answer. And I do mean thick. Harry Potter volume seven thick. I could have knocked out a burglar with this piece of cake. Once I tasted it, though, it seemed just the right size. Debbie didn’t fool around when it came to the butter and sugar.
There are many descriptions like this and I love it. Not just because it mentions Harry Potter. I’d love to be able to knock someone out with a slice of cake, too.
A story just right for the holidays. I think this would hold me better than a cup of hot chocolate. I know this will be a holiday re-read.
A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle by John Green
This is the kind of story that gives me a glimmer of hope. I mean, so here’s proof! Proof that not all guys are sex-driven neanderthals who will only commit their simple thoughts to cheerleaders and smoking hot girls. Tobin (love that name) is an awesome dude. I want a Tobin for Christmas, Santa.
So hilarious. Even more so than Maureen Johnson’s “The Jubliee Express”. *GASP* I know! That goes against the very nature of life! John Green had me clutching my sides and simultaneously hoping my aunt didn’t kick me out for constantly laughing the roof off. Now that I’ve only got Lauren Myracle’s story left, I’m slightly apprehensive. I’ve never read anything of Lauren Myracle’s unlike in the case of Maureen Johnson and John Green. I’ve never even heard of Lauren Myracle until now. So. We shall see.
As in the case of Mauren Johnson’s “The Jubilee Express,” there was plenty of surreal adventure. I mean...come on. The whole plot was driven by Tobin and JP’s hardwired need to see the cheerleaders at the Waffle House. And since this plot is in the hands of John Green, you know that it will get crazy.
This is a fantastic holiday read. Well, forget that. Year round! But it especially carries the warmth of Christmas.
Favorite Quotes: (I actually put the first one up on my personal Facebook. XD) Mass Market Paperback edition
p. 149 “And Brittany didn’t get that you, like, aren’t really a girl.”
“If by that you mean that I dislike celebrity magazines, prefer food to anorexia, refuse to watch TV shows about models and hate the color pink, then yes. I am proud to be not really a girl.”
p. 186 She slowed and we caught up with her. “Honestly, Duke?” JP said, putting his arm around her. “I hope this doesn’t hurt your feelings, but if I ever had a sex dream about you, I would have to locate my subconscious, remove it from my body, and beat it to death with a stick.”
I also love the first and entire paragraph on page 192 (just in case you have this book and happen to have the Mass Market Paperback edition--though the pages might be the same).
The Patron Saint of Pigs by Lauren Myracle
It took a little extra effort to get into this character. It barely helped that knew this chick was supposed to be selfish and a total spaz and that she would change during the story but wow...that was a real test in patience. If this had been a full-fledged book, I would have never made it through. That chick really ticked me off. It was presented well, because I'm under the impression I was supposed to be ticked off by her and then be impressed when she changed. Her change was convincing enough and by the end of the story, I was glad I'd stuck around to read it. So keep that in mind. She'll make you wanna quit, but keep with her. She'll surprise you. ;)
Now that I've reached the end, I love the world. Together, these three authors created a convincing and enjoyable world full of gossip and dramatic happenings. Like Stuart (in Maureen Johnson's story, "The Jubilee Express") is brought up briefly in the other two stories. Also, Jeb (who was also introduced in "The Jubliee Express") makes the star appearance in this tale. All these characters intertwined with each story and I thought it was fascinating! It's incredible how they affect each other and what seems to be a big deal to one is insignificant to the other.
I thought this a charming story. Angie was a total spaz and a selfish one to boot, but it was sweet and romantic, though not my favorite. I didn't find Angie as humorous or clever or interesting as the others, though she did seem real enough. There wasn't as much adventure as the others, but it carried its own grace. I especially liked the continued reference to "It's a Wonderful Life" and the angel involvement. I thought that was a nice touch. Most definitely.
Overall, it is a book I will read every holiday season. It was a fun and fantastic read. The bringing together of these three authors was brilliant and really made the sparks fly. I highly recommend it. ...more
Though not as endearing or as satisfying as the first two, The Dragon Heir is a stunning addition to the series.
The book focused mostly on Maddie and Jason, both introduced in the previous book, The Wizard Heir, though there were plenty of shifts between POVs. I really like Maddie and Jason—Maddie, for her ferocity and Jason for his complexity.
But I was confused about some things. There were a few plot points that were slacking. For instance, the way the book opens is with Maddie's infamous grandmother Min telling her about these four pretty boys she'll meet—two who will steal her heart and two that will deceive her. I think that whole aspect could have been eliminated entirely. It didn't hold up very well towards the end; didn't seem important at all. The book could have done well without it.
I had problems with the very beginning and the very, very end. Just…the way it ended? From a strategic standpoint, the whole "where they are now" scene should have been put into it's own chapter—the Epilogue. There was no "floating down" period—a denouement, if you will—where you were guided through the full impact of the climax. A lot of crap went down. There should have been something more—the mourning period and reconstruction progress should have had more than a paragraph a piece dedicated to it.
I loved the battle scenes—so well described. I could picture all the chaos and fighting and the character's reactions. I was glad the fighting lived up to the anticipation. I would have dropped a star on the rating if there had been all this panic about an attack only to have a tiny little fight scene.
I like how Cinda Williams Chima switched between the setting at Trinity and Booker Mountain. She kept the atmospheres unique to each other. However, I think the book would have been tighter had she kept to just Maddie and Jason's points of view. It seemed as if Chima tried doing too much with too many characters. It gave the story a looseness where I expected iron-clad progress.
The one part I really liked was how Seph's character was expanded. After reading The Wizard Heir, which was mostly in his point of view and now into The Dragon Heir where he's shown through the eyes of other characters, you can see his transition from rich boy arrogance to home grown humility to self-sacrificial hero.
This transition in Seph shouldn't be the focus, however. Jason's character didn't really change or grow. So at the end, I was confused at his depiction. I liked the change in Maddie. Her story was very cool and it made the end of the story very satisfying. Though taking a step back from her character, I didn't like how whiny she seemed sometimes and her romantic interest just didn't hold up. I didn't believe that she was really in love with anyone.
I loved the plot twist at the end, though. Fantastic!
Other than some plot holes and overdoing the POVs, it was an absolutely thrilling conclusion to the series. (Though it isn't the conclusion. Chima has a sequel coming! *squeeage*)...more
Cinda Williams Chima knows how to tell a good story. Let's consider this: this is a five hundred page novel, is set in a fantasy world, and doesn't have "elves," "dwarves," or "dragons" anywhere on the cover. And yet Chima has the outstanding ability to keep you riveted all the way with her fantastically crafted characters, clear and twisted plot and in-depth world. If you haven't picked this series up yet, your life is not complete. I'm just saying.
Now usually a series will start to either decline around book two or pick up the slack from book one. Chima keeps everything consistent—actually, she ups the stakes and makes you pine after the next book before you even finish. Raisa is still one cool chica—for a princess. This book always reminds me of Aladdin but Princess Jasmine is seriously weak compared to Raisa. Sure, Raisa can be a real girl sometimes, but hello, she's a princess. She can face down the High Wizard, man. She's impressive.
But still. Han Alister is more like Han Solo—that selfish and emotionally distant character that is so incredibly sexy you can't stand it and you get instantly jealous of any girl he gets with. Not that I would get jealous, of course. I'm just, you know, saying. (And so what, I've got a thing for knife fighters.)
And as always, Chima has you going along, giving you the benefit of the doubt about how much you really know about what's going to happen and then BAM. Throws you for a loop! A hundred pages in and I'm starting to get smug because hey, my assumptions have been right so far! Well Chima won't have any of that. She completely floored me with that plot twist. And the ending?! Oh snap.
I need that fourth book. As in, right now. As in, today. BUT IT COMES OUT NEXT YEAR. You know how you love an author's work so much you almost hate them because they seem to take forever to get their next book out? For me, Cinda Williams Chima is that author. Hyperion has The Crimson Crown set to come out sometime in 2012. The sadists....more
This book is for "ages 10 and up" and your first thought might be, "Oh, this is a middle grade novel. Psh." Well, if your definition of a middle grade novel means that there is no swearing, no hot and heavy sex scenes, and no vampires lusting after someone's blood, then yes, this is a middle grade novel. But if you're one for quality books with likable characters, a fast-paced and engaging plot set in a fascinating world, then this is the book you want.
Nya is a girl I could steal chicken eggs with, no problem. She's one of those awkward teen girls who can't seem to keep their mouth shut and gets a little shove from fate. Nya's emotional journey was really intense, and I lived it right along with her. I LOVED how Hardy did not go easy on Nya. That girl went through hell and came out by pulling herself up by her own bootstraps (with some help from her friends).
I think readers, and writers alike, should take note of what Janice Hardy has pulled off: Nya was conflicted and complex. She wasn't a saint, nor a heartless scoundrel. She was just a girl who really didn't set out to be the "voice of the voiceless" but that's the direction fate shoved her in, but for a price. She did bad things and I loved that. Finding a main character who didn't make all the right moves was refreshing, and really attached me to this story because this book wasn't depressing—it was heart wrenching and inspiring.
"Punctual as well as smart," Zertanik said as the clock tower chimed midnight. He held the door open for me and I walked past him, leaving my conscience on the porch. It curled up next to my principles.
Excerpted from the hardcover edition, page 190
Nya was also funny and self-deprecating, which is always a bonus. And her friends were awesome ones—they all came with their faults without taking over the spotlight.
The plot was brilliant. Hardy did an excellent job of presenting the information you needed to know, and didn't bog you down with backstory and elaborate description. I had no problem keeping up while still remaining completely engaged. The "bad side of healing" was a fascinating idea—one that Hardy executed magnificently. The world was also excellently portrayed—right up there with Tamora Pierce and Cinda Williams Chima.
The second book, Blue Fire, continues Nya's journey as she goes up against the Duke and his best trackers. WOOT. Can't wait to get it. I'm thinking (and hoping) that the series will continue to deepen and mature as Nya experiences more and more and gets a little older.
To writers: Janice Hardy has a GREAT blog for writers—one that I have been cheerfully stalking the past week or so after a friend referred me to it. I think her blog is helping me so much right now, she might end up going in my acknowledgements, even if I never get to actually meet the gal. So go check it out: The Other Side of the Story...more
This was a great, heart-wrenching story. And instead of romance, the focus is on the two sisters, Darri and Callie. This companion novel to Mistwood was a thrilling and compelling read. While dark and spooky, I wish there had been more romance, but that's my personal preference in a book. I think it would have added some flavor and drama.
The characters were excellently written and each distinctive. They were all loveable and all garnered respect from me in one way or another. Even Varis, who was a real butt head and didn't really change much throughout the story, was relatable in my mind. I really rooted for Callie and Darri in equal turns. Their relationship was excellently written.
The setting, well…ghosts creep me out anyway. You won't ever find me chilling by a fire listening to ghost stories. So Nightspell really got my imagination shaking at some moments. Leah Cypess crafted an excellent ghostly setting. Not just spirits moving in the dark woods far off, but partying, carousing ghosts who, unfortunately, can acquire really cool—and dangerous—powers.
The plot was excellent as well, though I really missed some minor part at the end. There was some revealing piece about Clarisse and it went over my head. Other than that, however, the end was just what the back cover said, "a heartbreaking choice". It really fit the characters. Wasn't too much of a stretch or anything. The very last scene though, in my mind, was a bit of a cliffhanger, which is just mean. There had better be another companion novel.
I think this book was primed for a great romance story. The lack of it, however, I think really added to the flavor and environment. Some authors, like the talented Ms. Cypess, create books that are so awesome you don't even NEED a romance. Still. It's what I like to see in a book, so I was a smidge bit disappointed there.
Overall, it was a great story—very enjoyable. I think out of the two Leah Cypess has written, I'd say I liked Mistwood more but I think the main character's ability to shape-shift has something to do with that.
If you liked Mistwood, you'll love Nightspell....more
Divergent came with insistent recommendation from my best friend. She practically slept with this book--that's how much she loved it. Me? I admit to a bit of skepticism. (1) any book that blows up so violently in the blogosphere warrants a bit of wariness and (2) it's a dystopian, which I tend to stay away from because they're...well, depressing. But my best friend was so determined that I read it that she sent me a copy as a Christmas gift.
Well. Can't let that go to waste.
Divergent was a surprisingly fantastic book and one helluva read. The main character, Tris (formerly Beatrice) was a dynamic character. The romance was well-balanced, if unsurprising, and the world thick with details and intrigue. Veronica Roth knows how the dish out the good stuff. For a debut author, I take my hat off to her. I can't wait to see what she does beyond this series.
Tris was, as I said, dynamic. Meaning with good and bad appeals. Firstly, she felt fear and just because she had her meek moments didn't mean that everything went miraculously her way. She was a fighter. I cheered for her. Until about halfway through the book and she started to piss me off. She started to feel entitled, and it made her arrogant. That was a turn off. My feelings towards her were a tad bittersweet at the end, but I truly want to see where she goes in the next book.
Her relationship was not a shocker, but I like how their romance wasn't perfect. They had squabbles and misunderstandings and reunions. As a couple, I totally cheered them on.
The world Veronica Roth built was incredible. The setting was painted crisply in my mind, it was as if illustrations were included. Also, the trademark of a well-layered world, was the feeling that if I ever lived in their world, I would be at once terrified and thrilled. I like how Veronica Roth took her time and didn't skimp on the details.
The plot was well put together, though some of the major arcs were easily predictable. It still leaves me thirsting for more. Just like the rest of the cool peeps in the literary world, I'm waiting in breathless anticipation for the sequel, Insurgent....more
I always enjoy a good Rick Riordan book. You gotta admit, the dude has talent for telling a good story. True, this book is for “kids” but we all love a good, heart-racing adventure. Even though this story is a spinoff from the Percy Jackson series, the characters come off more mature than in Titan’s Curse, Battle of the Labyrinth, or The Last Olympian. The story, however, is just as exciting and funny as the books we already know and love.
The increased level of maturity was very subtle, but Percy seemed different than in The Last Olympian though he’s probably the same age as he is in The Son of Neptune. His responses are more varied and give him a deeper, more three-dimensional look than before. Frank, also sixteen, has his own issues that are perhaps a bit darker than anything Riordan has presented before. Hazel was the only character who didn’t stick out in that aspect, but I still liked the girl’s spunk.
A friend and I talked about the Rick Riordan books and I remember him saying how they were becoming too “kiddy” for him, which is understandable because this book is technically a “middle grade” novel. Still, I’m seventeen-years-old and I freaking love these books. I couldn’t wait to get into this one. I can’t wait for the next one, The Mark of Athena. Nothing has taught me more about Greek mythology, and nothing gives me such an “unstructured” read than a Riordan book. Almost all the young adult mythology tales are so poorly done, I just can't bring myself to read them. But Riordan makes it fun, entertaining, and gets me emotionally invested in the story to where I absolutely love every minute.
This was a great installment in the Heroes of Olympus series. It had its share of cliché moments (the good kind) and sometimes the dialogue was a bit “meh”. But the characters were awesome, the story was fantastic, and totally leaves me wanting more....more
In my mind, "Lena" is nearly synonymous with "pitiful." Though I read Requiem way back in March-April of last year, I cannot forget listening to Cher Lloyd's "Want U Back" to reflect on how ridiculous Lena and the entirety of the romance was throughout this book.
The romance... That entire fiasco just ruined everything for me. I had a tiny bit of (grudging) respect for Lena because the events she's put through in Requiem would fracture anyone, but the conclusion of the romance lost me entirely. Poof. I'm gone.
What bugged me, outside of Lena and the Endless Melodramatic Romance, was the cookie cutter nature of the plot. I felt a little insulted, because things were easy to predict. The ending was exciting, because there doesn't always have to be major dramatic plot twists when a siege is involved, but otherwise, it fell flat for me.
I do have to give it to Lauren Oliver, though: her writing skills are practically unparalleled. She has a frightening ability for word weaving, and this is primarily what saved my opinion of her dystopian series. However, when I bring it up to people, I cannot praise anything about the books except for Oliver's masterful ability to write.
Delirium has captured so much attention since its first descent into the blogosphere, but from very early on, I struggled to see its appeal. It, like so many other series, had a rocketing start but quickly fell flat for me. ...more