At first it was respect. Renee was going through a tough time with her parents’ deaths and all that and through the beginning stages (turned out to be the only stage) of her coping, I respected her a little bit. She didn’t seem to wallow in self-pity.
At first, there were good descriptions. There were paragraphs that had excellent descriptions that really brought out the feeling and tone of something. For instance:
“Our house was the kind where you could touch things, my mother used to say. It was modest but lived in, with stucco walls covered with photographs, and big glass windows that let in the morning light. The grass was never mowed on time, and the pool out back was littered with leaves and beetles that always got stuck in my hair; but on a hot summer day it all seemed perfect. I stared at my grandfather’s shoes. They looked uncomfortable.”
Excerpt from hardcover edition, p. 12
And then things began to get annoying. I found it hard to connect to her character as I got a little bit further in. In the face of injustice, she screams and hollers while I tend to be angry and sarcastic. Also, she makes really whiny arguments. Stuff like, “You can’t make me!”
I guess I unconsciously expect some depth to the main character once I’ve gotten a fair ways into the book but Renee was desperately shallow. I am just plain sick and tired of stories where the romance is attempting to pass as strong and everlasting and failing miserably. I mean, dear god, they don’t know anything about each other, though Yvonne Woon does attempt to rectify this by writing a whole paragraph about random things Dante likes. (*epic eye roll*)
Renee completely lacks self-respect. NO self respecting girl would sabotage her own grades (we’re talking A’s, people…in Latin*) in order to continue getting tutored with a guy. She’s obviously too cowardly to start hanging out with him like a normal person. She’s also conceited most of the time, completely ignoring her friends’ problems. An example of the first:
“They mentioned Eleanor and her brother. I heard that Brandon doesn’t like you, or Gideon. Why?” “I don’t know. Maybe out of a personal distaste? Do you know why people dislike you?” “Who dislikes me?” I said forcefully. I was a nice, considerate person. Why would anyone dislike me?
Excerpt from hardcover edition, p. 157
Also, she doesn’t go after what she wants with any amount of tact. She also gives up WAY too easily (super annoying factor). An example of that:
“Why do you live off campus?” “I don’t like shared bathrooms.” “Why are your hands so cold?” “Poor circulation.” Sighing, I pushed my hair out of my face and collapsed back in my chair.
Excerpt from hardcover edition, p. 157-158
What she SHOULD have said was something like, “Stop BS-ing me,” or “Can I have a serious answer?” I mean, this chick obviously has not hung out with guys much.
And THEN, there was the lack of originality in the early interaction between Renee and Dante. Like he cut his thumb. It healed mysteriously fast. She’s all: I know what I saw. And he goes all: You didn’t see anything. You’re imagining things. UGH!
A lot of Dante’s character comes through her narrative and it just comes off as pathetic. I finally just didn’t care anymore. Not about the characters, the world, what was happening. Just…lost interest. The plot didn’t progress quickly enough and the characters had little depth. So. Not a book I’m picking up again.
* = And I'm in Latin III...trust me, it's difficult to keep an A in that class....more
The blurb by Nancy Werlin (Impossible) on the back of the ARC edition of this book really said it pretty well in terms of tone: “A surreal little nightmare in book form.” Imaginary Girls files right in there with The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff because it’s as if Nova Ren Suma had a nightmare one night, decided to write it down and just go with it. The setting was deep and creepy, as were the characters. Novels like these stick out for their untraditional way of storytelling, but the distinct differences make them stick out for their brilliance as well.
Imaginary Girls was one of those books that didn’t really have a typical unfolding of events. Nothing is really explained. There’s no handsome hero there to sit you down and say, “This happened because of This and now you have to watch for This, That, and The Other.” So when I finally began to piece together what happened as Chloe did, I got goose bumps. Especially since I wasn’t sure if I was right. Even at the end, I was left thinking that there was a trick and that something would be said in a concrete way. This technique of leaving the reader floundering around for information really adds to the book’s charm.
Also, this incredibly distorted view of sisterhood makes me think, “Who the heck would think of something like this?” Ruby scares me. Seriously. I don’t have any sisters and this almost makes me grateful. I like dedication and loyalty as much as the next person, but Ruby is extreme. It’s creepy. Like something taken off of Criminal Minds. These little things Ruby does that you know she does, yet you don’t have any evidence and you don’t want to believe it…(I think the creepiest thing was the balloons, because it proved that there was something going on with Ruby that Chloe was trying to figure out. But I won’t go into anymore detail because that would be spoiling the story for you…)
I liked how it was set through Chloe’s eyes. She was an honest character who was woefully innocent yet her story was told in this seasoned way, as if told through her unconscious side. The side that knew what was going on. I don’t understand the romance—or attempt at romance—that goes on as it wasn’t deepened and it didn’t contribute significantly to the plot. It did show some personal development on Chloe’s part, however, since it portrayed her and grounded her as a real girl who has unexplainable crushes like everybody else.
The writing was beautiful. In a remember-to-lock-your-doors-at-night type of way. The style made every emotion, scene and setting come alive in this nightmarish quality.
An example would be the opening paragraphs:
Ruby said I’d never drown—not in deep ocean, not by shipwreck, not even by falling drunk into someone’s bottomless backyard pool. She said she’d seen me hold my breath underwater for minutes at a time, but to hear her tell it you’d think she meant days. Long enough to live down there if needed, to skim the seafloor collecting shells and shiny soda caps, looking up every so often for the rescue lights, even if they took forever to come.
It sounded impossible, something no one would believe if anyone other than Ruby were the one to tell it. But Ruby was right: The body found that night wouldn’t be, couldn’t be mine.
Excerpted from the ARC paperback edition, page 1. Subject to change.
For a young adult debut, Nova Ren Suma is astonishing. I definitely recommend this for anyone who enjoys a good creepy read, and/or if you enjoyed The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff.
Special thanks to Holly @ Good Golly Miss Holly for holding this ARC Tour...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
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
One of my new favorite books. It's incredible that I've found another book out there that I can claim as an all-time favorite. "Looking for Alibrandi," already held a great appeal for me going in. I've found that Australian authors are so talented! (Such as Alison Goodman and John Flanagan) "Looking for Alibrandi," has won every major award for young adult literature in Australia and I have no problem seeing how. Melina Marchetta is the Australian Sarah Dessen or Jodi Picoult.
I think what I loved best was the honesty. I can tell you now that Melina Marchetta doesn't BS around, people. She will tell you exactly how it is without apology or shame. She dove straight into this girl's heart and brought out everything--hitting the nail on the head when it came to the teenage complexities and paradoxes. For example, we teenagers have epic mood swings (and not just us ladies). Sometimes, these mood swings don't make a whit of sense. They're irrational and not fun. Josie was going through some tough times and felt very real things.
Josie is such a fun character. First of all, she's hilarious. She's got the most wonderful sense of humor. And for another, Jacob makes a comment about her (if I find the exact quote I'll put it up here) about how she acts fearless on the outside while a big softy on the inside and the opposite is true for her mother. It's very true, too. Josie hides behind her tactless wit but she's got such a good heart. I loved reading through her eyes because I knew she was so real and easy to admire and/or identify with. I like how she handled her situation with Jacob.
As for Jacob, I usually have an issue with the love interests because they're all so bland and cookie cutter--or what I would call "stock"--but Jacob was a breath of fresh air. My favorite love interest characters tend to be the ones who are tortured souls with a stunning capacity for observation and a passion for setting things right, for expressing themselves. (For example, Sam from "Shiver" by Maggie Stiefvater, James from "A Certain Slant of Light" by Laura Whitcomb, Ethan from the Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, and Patch from "Hush, Hush" by Becca Fitzpatrick--except Jacob is a real boy, not a werewolf.)
(In times like this, I wish I weren't a Spoiler Free blogger cause I want to talk about all my favorite scenes and exclaim about how such and such happened, but I can't. XD)
Sometimes, it's really hard to tell how a character changed throughout a book. I think it's best when it isn't completely obvious but when it creeps up, all natural-like. Towards the end when Josie started to reflect on herself, I could agree with the changes and I was just as surprised and satisfied as Josie at how much she'd changed. And I truly loved the ending. I wish I could tell you exactly why but I digress. ;)
I recommend this to ALL fans of Sarah Dessen and Jodi Picoult. Melina Marchetta expresses the true teenage heart in "Looking for Alibrandi" without sugar coating. A pure work of genius....more
I think the books that have clearly definitive categories of This is Bad and This is Good do not classify as really good books. So when I say “This is a mixed bag” I mean that it’s kind of muddled in my head and some things can go both ways in my mind depending on the situation. Not here. For Nevermore, there were numerous things that I liked and many things that I didn’t and there wasn’t a lot of middle ground. And for me, the negative always seem to outbid the positive.
The Negative -
The MC: The main character is The Critical Aspect of whether or not I will truly enjoy a book. If I can’t “see” everything through the character’s eyes, or if the character is so Not Me that I can’t relate at all, then the book will hold little enjoyment for me. Sub characters can’t really hold up a book, no matter how good it is. My point? Isobel annoyed the fudge out of me. It was mostly her lack of aggression. Sometimes, you just gotta slap somebody, or at least put your foot down from time to time, but Isobel clearly didn’t think so.
For example, with Brad…dear God. That boy would have been in Trouble if he’d been my boyfriend (if I was ever delusional or drunk enough to let him be my boyfriend). Isobel was completely blind (typical) and was way too weak-hearted. So in culmination, she came off as a stereotypical blond cheerleader who’s only real appeal was her sometimes quirky thoughts. If Kelly Creagh was attempting to show that not all blond cheerleaders are dumb, she didn't get very far.
What drew her to Varen is still unclear to me. It should have been a critical part to the development of the first half of the book. But even at the end, when love is announced, I’m still lacking conviction.
Speaking of development…Isobel didn’t have any. At one point I was hopeful but then she was a complete idiot with Pinfeathers and I just let it all go to hell. I started to skim over the last seventy-five pages because Isobel was so predictable. At the end, I couldn’t believe how stupid she was to buy into everything she heard. That annoyed me to no end. This girl obviously never watched Criminal Minds or NCIS or whatever your favorite crime show happens to be.
Varen: So he’s no Sarah Dessen hero, but could we at least see some type of defining characteristic other than his facial piercing and choice of clothing? Oh, and could we please, please get away from his “piercing eyes” as well? We get it. He’s intense. Let us move on, yes? It was similar to Twilight in how much focus was on his looks. Tired of that. Let’s get some fresh air.
I did like how Varen had some different things going for him. He would call Isobel out on things and I started to have hope for his character before he sent Isobel The Note and I resorted to my first eye roll of the book.
Gwen (the handling of): Why wasn’t Gwen a more critical character? Why wasn’t there any development around that? So she heckles Isobel for a while, gives her a ride and then…nothing? Seriously. Gwen could have been a truly awesome character, but the little we did see of her was really good, even as she tipped between fan-girl and loner. (Then again, I guess there isn’t a rule that says you can’t be both.)
The Positive -
New (External) Plot: Meaning, it was a great plot outside of all the (lack of) personal development. Sometimes it was really slow, but most times it was exciting and the new take on Poe? Absolutely brilliant. I have never seen anything like that before and I was fascinated with how Creagh presented Poe’s stories brought to life. Also, I could see mention of references to “The Raven” hidden slyly in the prose as I read.
And her brother. I liked that addition and how unique it was. I suspect that most books will make reference to their dorky younger brothers, but this is the only one I’ve seen where it goes into more detail and shows more examples of just how dorky they are. But the love shown there was a great addition as well.
Average to Excellent Writing: Most of it was average writing, but there were some real gems of truly excellent prose. The sudden turn around at the end, where the character Realizes Everything could have used some work but otherwise, I loved the progression of the writing and how it never seemed too forced. For a debut, this is a really good foundation for further development. I want to see what else Kelly Creagh does.
In Essence -
All the blond-cheerleaderness aside, the plot was kept aloft by the brilliant take on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. I recommend to those who enjoyed Twilight by Stephenie Meyer or the City of Bones by Cassandra Clare....more
So sure, it can be a kid's book, too. But as we all know, Harry Potter was published for children and look how many people love it. (Lifetime lover of the HP series, right here. Read HP1 when I was a wee little girlie at five-years-old. Just in case you were wondering...) So this book doesn't contain all the nitty-gritty, teenage dramatic rabble we get so much in YA fiction today. Instead....
It's a wonderfully refreshing journey. I very much enjoyed how it wasn't centered around a romance or a couple or the "normal" setup. It's set up at the beginning of World War I--1913--and it was rich in detail and atmosphere. For a while, I've felt the beginning signs of a history lover in me. I don't know of many books that are set in the World War time periods and are written specifically for young adults. I consider this a jewel for inspiring children--making them interested in their history.
It was a fascinating mix of future and past. And I do believe that is what Scott Westerfeld describes as the "steampunk" genre. I haven't been very impressed with the few steampunk novels I've read but this one was brilliant. This wasn't something that Mr. Westerfeld came up with on a whim. He put some real effort into this--doing his research and getting it right. I can't even begin to wonder how he came up with half the creatures in this book.
Some say "slow". Of the reviews I've read of "Leviathan," they say that it was slow--not a lot of action. As I read, I couldn't help but think, "Ooooh, they meant that kind of action." Like I said, this was written to be appropriate for middle grade kids while being interesting and complex enough for older teens. So, no. It won't have hot and heavy sex scenes. But there was plenty of action-action. Like the kind you see in war films. Getting chased by a huge metal spider-like thing while on the run for being the son of a murdered archduke? Getting caught in the middle of a storm strapped to the belly of a giant flying jellyfish? Getting stranded on a glacier in the mountains, waiting for your giant, hydrogen-making, living ship to re-inflate itself? And they say "no action"? Oy.
I loved the characters. Deryn was so flipping awesome! Maybe an overuse of the British slang but still, awesome all the same. A very strong heroine. :) And Alek wasn't too bad either. They were both so sharp and both had their own unique voice. (The chapters alternated between the two.) Sometimes I had a hard time keeping Alek's crew straight but it became clearer as I continued to read.
Thrilling plot. Talk about a cliffhanger! Grr! (But I can't say anymore--gotta keep to the Spoiler Free policy, after all.)
Shew! The illustrations? Okay, talk about talented. Personally, I LOVE young adult books that have illustrations in them. (The "Leven Thumps" series by Obert Skye is the only other series I know that is middle grade/young adult that has illustrations in it.) The illustrations provided the perfect visual aid I needed...it gave the extra spunk to the imagination.
Definitely a favorite. I can't wait to head to Scott Westerfeld's appearance in Raleigh on the 22nd. I want to ask him so many questions! And I can't wait to read "Behemoth" (which released on October 5th, by the way.) On the 22nd, I will be the proud owner of a signed copy of "Leviathan" and "Behemoth" by Scott Westerfeld. Oo-rah!...more
In a cinch: Great idea, poorly executed. It's a real shame how often this happens. "I Am Number Four" had awesome potential. I mean, aliens aren't something everyone's raving about anymore. It's been overshadowed by the hordes of vampire books descending on the young adult sections everywhere. The idea of an alien coming to earth, assuming a new identity every year, being forced to run because the race that took over and destroyed their home planet is coming after them. These people living among us don't even remember each other--all they know is how many of them have died by a circle branded into their ankles. It helps that they must be killed in numerical order. Thus the title cover: "Three are dead. I Am Number Four." You see the cleverness here? And they've all got awesome powers!
The writing. Well, it left something--a lot of somethings--to be desired. There was very little amount of grace when it came to the structure or style. Events that you think should be held with kid gloves are blundered through like a bull in a china shop.
I couldn't get a lot out of the characters. They all seemed so shallow and so flighty. It's reflected in the romance. This supposedly "deep" connection as me going, "Are you serious?" It's like John (the main character) was so starved for something that he'd take anything he could find. No substance to their romance whatsoever. The only character with some life in him was Sam (the geeky sidekick) and the dog (Bernie Kosar).
The plot followed along too generic a road. I mean, you all remember Star Wars right? I found myself just skimming the last few pages. I didn't even care about what happened.
There's a second book, but I don't think I'm going to read it. The writing pretty much ruined the whole thing for me. I was really looking forward to this book, too, because it looked like such a refreshing idea. But alas, it was not so....more
I may not be a lover of vampires, but there are more than several reasons why this book didn't exactly call to me.
The writing was so-so. It seemed very half-hearted and there were many mistakes that should have been caught by an editor. There was nothing in the style that drew me in and kept me riveted.
The plot needed serious work. I can understand a little lull now and again and maybe some loose strings but there wasn't any depth. There wasn't a lot of mystery; I didn't feel compelled to figure it out for myself.
The characters: No depth whatsoever. In fact, the most fleshed out character was KiKi (aka: Maybelle Crusher). The main character, Daphne, was portrayed as weak and dramatic, constantly delivering choppy, unrealistic lines. You would think, given the fact she'd been slaying vampires since she was twelve, that she would have a backbone. It felt more like I was watching a soap opera--you know that stuff like this never happens. There wasn't any sense of realism--more like a dream.
There were promising components. There were many ideas that I thought were interesting and original--if only they had panned out. It had great potential at being a really good book if the MC was tougher and more realistic, the love interest not so Ken-like, and stronger supporting characters and atmosphere. I liked the humor even if there were only spurts of it. Kiki was hilarious.
If I were to choose one word to describe this book, it would be "cute". Most of the parts were stock--things you see in late night TV shows that carry no substance. For all the ideas the author had, the book should have been longer to allow the ideas to pan out. It really petered out towards the end.
Overall, not the most enjoyable book for me.
WARNING! Lots of swearing in this book, especially in the beginning and middle--not so much at the end. ...more
This is a fascinating mix of elements. This is a book that brought about that rare feeling where you just don’t know what to feel and where there are so many different things going on that you can’t just feel one way about it. The plot is complex and frighteningly realistic. Honestly, the writing gave me goose bumps and the ending gave me chills.
The one thing that really brings so much emotion out of this book, I think, is the world. Philip Pullman takes his time and leisurely describes the different aspects of life, setting up everything right in the very beginning while being careful not to bore the reader. I love that measure of detail. I think what most writers don’t realize is that you can’t rush into the story right away but you also can’t give a soliloquy about how things work. There’s a careful balancing act and Philip Pullman is a master of this craft. I didn’t feel brought down by any of the information and I appreciated it in the long run.
My dad has no imagination. Not in the fantasy-world kind of way, at least. He made a comment to me about armored bears. “Armored bears? Don’t think I see that right there.” And I said, “Yeah, dad, that’s where the imagination part comes in.” And he’ll just shake his head at me. Philip Pullman presents things in such a way that your brain doesn’t go, “Oh, yeah, right.” He presents it as that’s the way of the world and how could you question that? (Unless you’re my father.) Philip Pullman has published, like, a billion books so he obviously knows what he’s doing. And he’s also one of those minds that has me going, “Okay, how did he come up with that of all impossible things?” The simply wild events kept me riveted and the matter-of-fact prose created the prefect formula to keep me reading.
But the ending freaked me out. Really. Maybe it’s because I’d seen the movie first and saw how awesome Daniel Craig was. I don’t want to be spoilerish here, but for those of you who read the book, the ending just…God. Really gave me the willies. And, slightly relevant to that, I can see why some parents wouldn’t want their kids reading this book—at least until they’re older. Philip Pullman pulls from “The Bible” but uses his own verses, adding daemons in there.
I think what really made this book come together was Lyra. She’s an awesome chica. She’s so stubborn and determined. If she goes for something, she gets it and that’s that. Lord help anyone who tries to stop her. She’s such a real character that she provokes so many feelings for her. I was cheering for her all the way and wanted to cry with her, too.
Just a little note about the movie: I think it’s a good adaption. I can see why it was ended the way it was. You just gotta think that this is a kids movie and the way the book ended…well…I can’t see that being fit into a kids movie and going over well. Even being rearranged, I think the movie really captured the voice of the book while keeping it appropriate for kids.
In a nutshell, Philip Pullman brought together the complexities of the world and, combining them with a vivid and fresh imagination, created an everlasting story. ...more
If you like Tamora Pierce, you’ll love V. Briceland. I was completely hooked by this book—by the writing, the characters, the setting, the plot, the romance. I believe it rare to find stories where the world is completely thought-out and isn’t confined to what the character witnesses every day. While perhaps a tad bit difficult to understand at first, the remarkable detail really brings the story to life and keeps you riveted as the story progresses.
The writing—WOW! (with an exclamation point) Very simple, yet elegant. This is definitely a book I’ll turn to when I need to see how writing should really be done. It’s the kind of writing that fades into the background, but not in the nothing-significant kind of way. As in, it flows so smoothly that you’re left to enjoy the story and you aren’t hindered by the writing. Even fantastic, out-of-this-world writing can distract me from the story.
I loved the characters. These are the types of characters that will stay with you for years. All of them were unique and I didn’t get them confused with one another. Even if you didn’t have a written history of the characters, you felt as if you knew them and could easily interact with them. Milo was definitely my favorite character but Risa follows right behind and Camilla, too. Camilla was awesome. So was Ricard—he was hilarious!
The atmosphere was almost alive. You could tell that it was loosely based on Italy, but the world is its own. While the terms mock Italy (like, cazarra, tavernas) it’s magical in its own right. For example, there are many cazas and each represents a different craft. Like Caza Divetri (Risa’s own house), they are famous for their glass making. (Hence the title, The Glass Maker’s Daughter.) Then there are the gods Muro and Lena and the social structure of the Seven and Thirty. The detail is fascinating!
The plot was FANTASTIC! I thought it was going to be a cliché ending, but GOSH! I loved the twist at the end! The whole thing builds up and up and up and then plummets, then goes up again…it was incredible. Risa was the perfect character to tell this story and was smart, too, but not too smart. She was believable—she had her selfish moments, her anxieties, her tantrums, her shining times. All wrapped up in this ugly conspiracy that she’d gotten thrown into head first.
I usually don’t go for the subtle romances, but this was an exception. It was so sweet in how subtle yet completely obvious it was and it created an underlining tension between the characters and me, as the reader. It’s the kind that had me going, “Oh, c’mon, DO something!” But yet I enjoyed the bantering and the build up of trust between them. It really blended in well with the story but didn’t overshadow any important plot points.
It was just a little difficult to follow at first. The first fifty pages or so, I lost track of how things worked and was confused with all the names mentioned, but as I continued, it made sense and gave it a more enriching quality.
If you like Tamora Pierce, Maria V. Snyder, or Cinda Williams Chima, definitely track this book down. It’s not well known and you may have to buy it from your independent bookstore or online. (I ended up buying it at Half-Price Books, which is a second-hand bookstore.) You can buy it from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or BookDepository....more
Brilliant, as per usual. You know, it takes nothing but pure talent and passion to be able to carry a series as effectively asGod, I LOVE this series!
Brilliant, as per usual. You know, it takes nothing but pure talent and passion to be able to carry a series as effectively as Patricia Briggs has carried this here Mercy Thompson series. Much like George Lucas--people feared that "Empire Strikes Back" would be a rehashing of "A New Hope". But it wasn't. George Lucas carried the story farther and displayed new depths. Patricia Briggs is a master at doing this very same thing. It's practically all one story but each book brings something new, resolves old problems, all within the realm of believability.
The writing. I cannot touch enough on the subject of Patricia Briggs' writing. I mean, holy crap, ya'll. Patricia Briggs' experience really shows. Her writing is mature. It flows. It's...vibrant! I have no problem visualizing the scenes. The writing is presented so that it's intuitive. There are very few cases where I was like, "Why didn't they think of that before!?" But otherwise, I follow Mercy's thinking pattern easily.
Mercy Thompson FTW! Seriously? Do I need to explain? The IDEAL main character. She's smart in the best possible way, not like bookish smart and not mastermind smart like Artemis Fowl. She keeps her head, knows how to fight, can actually resolve a love triangle without all the goofy drama. And she still comes across as believable, because she does have her weaknesses. She's not invincible.
If you haven't picked this series up already, pick it up already. That's all I can tell you. If you don't like it, that's okay. But most definitely give it a chance. I'm so glad I picked this series up. I can't wait to own all the books. :)
The Cover: Isn't that cover a beast!? I love ALL the Mercy Thompson books. And the tattoos! Wicked awesome, right!?
A great sequel. I wish I had some good quotes to share (maybe I’ll add them in later) because even though Jess pissed me off plenty of times, she still had great comebacks and absolutely hilarious lines. The way her mind works is fascinating in two ways: she’s funny and honest but then again, she can be sofreakingslow. And! The complete lack of attitude on her part just pissed me off! It feels like she just lets people push her around and she goes out of her way to make everyone else comfortable. GOD! Half the stuff she put up with would have started fights in my high school. Maybe it’s the small town thing…I don’t know. But the whole thing with Sarah? Oh no. Would NOT have flown with me. That chick would have gone down hard for all the crap she said. As well as the Wonder Boy, too. (Can’t go divulging anything, though…) What kills me about this series is that I consider almost all the main characters to be complete idiots, but I freaking LOVE these books!
It’s a real love-hate relationship. The characters—especially Jess and Pietr—piss me off in some way. (Except Cat and Max, they’re cool.) Jess has a whole laundry list of character defects I could tic off. She has practically NO attitude. Plus side? She can shoot a gun and ride a horse and throw a possibly decent punch. And she CAN stand up for herself…eventually…and at all the wrong moments. Pietr—oh my god. We shouldn’t even start on his stupidity. DUDE! What the fudge? He’s gonna go all “we can’t be friends” but still SO obviously likes Jess? C’mon. Get real. The guy just pissed me off ‘cause his reasons are all wrong! Ugh. Still. I really do have a fondness for these characters. If any of them die, I’d probably get a little teary eyed. Max and Cat are totally awesome and even though Amy was a total GIRL about some things, I loved her willingness to defend her friend.
Sarah, Derek, and Marvin—okay. These three? Not exactly the Three Musketeers. Unless the Three Musketeers have suddenly gone apocalyptic. Sarah is a complete (insert word I’m not allowed to say) and gets away with WAY too much crap. Derek…ugh. I’m not even gonna. And Marvin? The dude needs to go die. For real.
I loved how the story came together. Despite not giving her main character enough attitude (kudos for the backbone, though), Shannon Delany can really put a mystery together. Sure, a few things had me going, “Oh my god, it’s about time they figured that out!” but other times had me going, “Oh FUDGE!” The ending—wow, can’t believe I’m gonna say this—but it was heartbreaking. (Though it’s another example of how Jess is WAY too innocent. The chick has no idea how to manipulate people. Daddy’s girl + screaming fit = shredded forms. But what does she do?…why don’t you go find out?)
In closing, I gotta say I love the Russian. Seems to be that today’s exotic fictional hotties are all British (or Western European). So I love the refreshing change in the Rusakova’s. Annndd…I might be a bit biased because I got to apply the four Russian words I knew. (And this book taught me more! Though I wish she’d included a glossary written also in Cyrillic. My dad can read and pronounce Russian and he knows a lot of the words. So I don’t need a translator! I can just go to my dad for that.) Anyways. Love the Russian aspect. Totally do.
If you liked 13 to Life, you won’t be disappointed with this new addition.
Note: I STILL don’t understand the title "13 to Life”. What the heck does it mean?!...more
A pretty good book. Definitely something that you can immerse yourself in. However, I did have problems with a few things, like the fact that things moved waaay too quickly romance-wise for my taste. Perhaps due to the less than 300 page length in combination with the style created a lack of depth. The world was well developed and the characters painted well, but it lacked building.
I enjoyed the feisty main character. Perhaps just a smidgen too forced, but it was Ari’s tough attitude is what first drew me into the story. There was something in her character that I just couldn’t connect with; the useless resistance she sometimes went through? She just didn’t seem sharp-witted, but she did have some good comebacks.
Whoa there, central! The romance was put on the fast lane in this one. One moment they’re strangers, the next they’re making out in a restaurant. When I got to that scene, I couldn’t help but think, Good. Grief. The connection between the characters wasn’t very convincing. I mean, come on.
As I said, Ari seemed a bit underdeveloped. I didn’t see a motivation. What was the whole deal with Athena? Oy. It just seemed a bit too cliché a pattern for me. Things went wrong when you expected them to go wrong. Something comes back to slap the MC in the face. It just…didn’t work out overall. There was something that didn’t add up.
Athena wasn’t really all that original, either. Her lines were too cliché. I really expected more out of her character.
Still, a very original storyline. I love myths—especially Greek mythology—so I really enjoyed the mythological twist at play here.
So the main points for me were the butt-kicking MC and the plot originality, but it lacked development, unoriginal dialogue, and a too-fast romance....more
I’ve been excited to read this book for forever and that’s why it was even more disappointing when I couldn’t get into it—and was sorely tempted to thI’ve been excited to read this book for forever and that’s why it was even more disappointing when I couldn’t get into it—and was sorely tempted to throw it across the room as I got farther and farther into it. I know a lot of people have really enjoyed this book, but I am not one of them. I got nearly 200 pages in, cut somewhere in the back and basically got the whole story.
There were two things that really ate at me. The writing and the characters.
One of the first things that struck out at me were the poor scene changes. There would be a break in the story when there was no need for it. It was if it were meant to show transition when really, no time had passed. It was distracting and reflected poorly on the story.
Then, as I continued reading, I started getting frustrated by the poor execution of “show, don’t tell”. I could go through and point out several sentences/passages that could have been presented much more effectively by merely changing it so it came straight from the character and not as if it were a retelling. Due to this, there was a complete lack of personality in the style. It was plain and didn’t pull any emotion out of me, except frustration.
Most of my enjoyment comes from characters. If the characters flop, most of the story does as well. Which makes sense, since the characters are the ones who carry out the story. No characters, no story.
There was, once again, the archetype god-like hero and the plain heroine. Please, God, give us something else. I am just downright sick and tired of reading through the same character over and over again. Also, the social rival was far too cliché. There are nasty people out there, but I don’t want the Disney channel mean girls. (They make me laugh…kinda counterproductive, yes?)
Haven might have turned out to be a decent character if she’d just stayed consistent. She had some good lines, but they flopped afterwards because she didn’t have the personality to make her reaction credible. She was also very selfish and her lack of perception just made me want to scream! Half of her actions just defied common sense. She also seemed a bit dim-witted. Most of the time I was going, “No, really?!”
I think Beau was the realest. He showed the most personality and I really took a liking to his character. Though, I wasn’t really taken with Beau and Haven’s friendship. It didn’t seem real, credible, convincing…whichever word you want to use.
Iain was pathetic. Not taken with him in the slightest. He was too cardstock without any flair or personality at all. I went about four chapters with his character and just started rolling my eyes.
As I said before, I got 200 pages in, skipped around in the back and not only felt as if I’d gotten the whole story in a pinch, but I was uninspired to continue. I like it when, in series, you can pick up any book without having to start with book 1 but not in a book itself. I shouldn’t be able to cut in midway and know everything that’s going on.
God, I freaking loved this book. Fantastic prose, loved the character development and all the emotional upheaval will make your heart ache. I was afraid at first that I would have to reread Aurelia to get the characters fresh in my head and get the story straight, but I went ahead and read a bit of Exile as soon as I got it and realized it wasn’t necessary. I’ll tell you why…
The characters were more alive than ever. They came back as if I’d just finished reading Aurelia. Aurelia was up and fighting, straining against the unexpected bounds her expedition set on her. Robert, frustrated as ever, trying to tell her not to be so reckless and stupid. The two of them are presented so well. It’s so easy to imagine their relationship and with Anne Osterlund’s expressive writing style, everything comes alive—including the increasing heat between our two MCs.
I said fantastic prose, and I meant it. Right away, I found a passage that I just had to make note of. (I’m serious when I say this. I always keep an index card inside the book I’m reading so I can make note of this stuff for my review.)
“Eyes watched her. From behind pitchfork tines and around morning glory trellises, through the gnarled apple trees, and under the long, crisscrossed shadows of orchards…She tried smiling at the onlookers , but they ducked beneath their leafy screens and sank to darker slate-gray depths.”
Excerpted from ARC paperback edition p. 7
I wish I could share some of my favorite bits of prose, but they’re cliffhangers. Oh boy, can Anne Osterlund leave you a cliffhanger. Usually books don’t take me by surprise but I gasped a few times throughout this book. It might have been due to the slight change in her writing style. She had a tendency to write punchier sentences instead of the longer flowing kind. I think it’s what really made the emotion pop out in this book.
IEU: immense emotional upheaval. Aurelia was struggling with her traumatic memories of court, as was Robert. Aurelia was also challenged during her expedition in more traumatic ways than ever. Reading about her heart-wrenching reactions made me feel like a peeping tom. Like being in the room when someone’s crying. I think this feeling speaks of Anne Osterlund’s ability to bring out the soul of a character.
I love how it all comes together. I was so swept up in the adventure, thinking what the characters thought, that my Reality Button was turned off. It’s what usually clues me in on what’s going on—what the author is trying not to tell you. But as I said, the characters…you think what they think and when they put it together, I was suddenly going, “Ooohhhhh!!!” when it clicked for me too.
This is now the third novel I’ve read of Anne Osterlund’s and personally, I hope I have the money and means the day her tenth bestselling book comes out. I was so honored that she thought of me for a review copy. :) Definitely one of the Cucumber Fairies. XD
If you haven’t picked up any of Anne Osterlund’s work, you need to get on that. Like, right now. As in, this second. In fact, why are you still even bothering reading my review, which doesn’t do her work nearly enough justice? You need to be at the bookstore picking up one of her books. Why are you still here?!...more
This book was a mixed bag for me. I liked some aspects, really disliked others. But regardless, there was something elusive about this book that pushed me to continue—something that drew me in and held me to the very end. Thing is, can’t say exactly what.
First – The background, and the lack thereof, really annoyed me. I can appreciate having a book centered on a teenager’s sexuality and the struggle that ensues, but having a whole world where it’s acceptable—even expected—for a sixteen year old to have sex? I didn’t understand that at all. How had it evolved in the first place? How did we go from the society we know today to the sex-crazed world in the future? The lack of history frustrated me.
The writing was average. There were a few good lines that I really liked, but otherwise, I wasn’t really impressed.
I couldn’t really appreciate the world. The new terms weren’t explained well enough. She’d say “faster than a _____” and I’d go… “Um, okay…no idea what that is”. And it would make me feel ignorant and so it really turned me off. Some of the inventions were awesome and I liked. I think that if there was a backdrop of a “21st Century History” class, then you could compare the worlds better judging by Nina’s reaction.
I didn’t like Nina’s character. She was way too wimpy for me. She fell apart too easily and was a total spaz—and a moron! My God! So she wanted to protect her sister, then left her alone in the apartment. Stupid much? Half the stuff she did just didn’t make any sense. Sal’s character wasn’t much better. His lines were too generic and his personality wasn’t unique enough for me. His overprotective reactions just made me roll my eyes. Gran and Pops were too cliché—it was far too much like what you’d expect. The eccentric grandfather, the loving grandmother. My favorite character was Wei. I mean, thank god! The chick can fight and she’s not a pushover!
It had a certain charm. There was something about it that made me want to continue. I did want to see what happened to the scumbag and personally, he deserved what he got. Though I wish Nina could have gotten a little more satisfaction out of it. I mean, considering her own injuries at the time.
Even though I wanted something different, it was a relatively good story and I could really appreciate the imagination, even if it was suppressed by lack of explanation. It’s a debut so there’s plenty of time to work out the kinks. The ending was set up perfectly for a sequel and according to Julia Karr’s website, she does have two more books planned that are set in this world. A sequel and a spin-off.
I love the cover. If you want to get interpretive about it, I’d say that the XVI is all that the character sees and it’s hovering over her—like how obsessed Nina was over her XVI....more
So the introduction (prologue) was pretty good. Daniel’s attitude was kinda eating at me; he seemed pathetic, worrying about Luce so much. Just chill,So the introduction (prologue) was pretty good. Daniel’s attitude was kinda eating at me; he seemed pathetic, worrying about Luce so much. Just chill, you know? And stop being such a domineering tyrant. So she needs his permission to go somewhere, do something? Oh uh uh. That is not about to fly. I understand that this guy is totally whipped but he needs to get. a. grip.
As for prima donna Lucinda. She needs a good slap in the face. I think this falls under the category of a writing error. How many times can you say how much you love/miss someone? Oh. My. God. Once every few pages (or scenes, better yet) is okay, but not every other paragraph. We get it. Luce is desperately in love with a dude she doesn’t know the first thing about. Duly noted. She misses him like crap. Got that too. Move on!
I felt like the writing was bogged down by the “I knew he was going to say that” aspect. When I read, I unconsciously expect to be given original information that is unique to the story and properly reflects the character’s voices. Well, these voices are not that unique. Daniel’s an okay dude, but for God’s sake, come up with some more original lines. This is not a teenage soap opera. Luce’s lines are very typical too. Can you say dull?
It’s a shame. I love thick books, but the angel books have disappointed me as no topic has before (except for vampires). (The only angel books I like are “Hush, Hush” and “Crescendo” by Becca Fitzpatrick.) The covers for these books are beautiful. I’ve officially given up on this series, though. I’ll be having a giveaway of “Fallen”, “Torment” and “Halo” (by Alexandra Adornetto) sometime next month. So look out for that if you love “Fallen”/”Torment”/”Halo”.
It’s reads true: “…darkly funny story of a teenage outcast.” If this were an upbeat story about something completely different, I would have greatly enjoyed Melinda’s sense of humor and wit and her skill for imagination. But combining it with her ordeal and suddenly, it sings a sinister tune. I think her wit made her real and made us more connected with her character. So, even if we can’t identify with her on a personal level, she has the type of outlook that we can imagine, and sympathize with.
Laurie Halse Anderson writes beautiful, subtle and descriptive prose. I had a thought while reading it. That it had the air of a great speech. It said, “This is important. You should listen.” And it kept me captivated right to the very end. I found myself thinking about it while in class, but not in that “boy, this class is boring, lemme read to escape” type of way. I was actually thinking about Melinda and what she would be like to hang out with and what I would do if something like that happened to me. Basically, it was a though-provoker and an eye-opener.
I can only imagine what the impact of this book had when it was first published in 1999. When it was published in October that year, I was only six, so I don’t know what it was like for teenagers and didn’t know how something like this would impact them. For teenagers now, I think this is something that will stick to them and make them more aware of the people they think are strange simply because they will not talk, or they called the cops on a party, or because they sit alone. It made me think about perception and how it’s different when you’re on the outside looking in. Just because the rooms look designer fresh, doesn’t mean there aren’t shadows in the closets.
I liked the subplot with Melinda’s Art teacher. I thought it really gave him depth and overall, I liked his character and how real he seemed. He didn’t seem flat or false. While the high school social structure was cliché, I found it fitting for the story and I was never bothered by it—except when Heather was being a butthead, and Rachel, too.
Originally, I’d given this book a 4/5 but that was because it was just so darn depressing. I always found myself under a cloud after I put it down. Then, I thought about how depression is basically the point of the book and since it had done its job, I gave it the fully-deserved mark of 5/5.
For those of you who haven’t read it, I urge you to do so. It’s a short book, only a few pages shy of 200. It’s a remarkable story and worth the time....more
This is one heckuva creepy book. It took me some several moments of contemplation to pinpoint just what, exactly, made it so hair-raising. I'll tell you, most books are so straight-forward about what they have to offer. They tell you something is creepy--it's direct and it sucks the fun out of picturing the scene for yourself. Brenna Yovanoff went about it a different way. She just gave you what it was--straight up, without flourishing it around unnecessarily. Then again, it's also what she doesn't say that gave me pause. Reading this book, I felt like I was constantly treading around broken glass--and I was so screwed if I happened to stray. So yeah, really creepy.
I love how the story progresses. Most times, when I can't get a handle on a book within the first few chapters, I reject it out of pure frustration. But there's something about this book...I slowly started to realize what was really going on as I continued to read the book. I knew that there was something dark about the town of Gentry, but what? I was left figuring it out as I read--and it was thrilling.
"The Replacement" is, in my mind, the literary equivalent of film Noir. Or, if you want to get technical, it's very much like Gothic fiction. It's very dark and progresses slowly, not continuing like you expect it to--it goes slow when you expect it to rush. There isn't a lot of humor and you start to expect a sad ending.
The antagonists freaked me out. Seriously, it's hard to write a creepy villain because it's difficult to keep it original--if you try too hard, it flops, but if you don't try at all, it still flops. I think that making a villain creepy is similar to how you make someone funny--you make them surprise you. If they don't follow the script, it switches your mind off and makes you more susceptible to buy in to whatever they're doing. Needless to say, I was getting really creeped out by the antagonists in this book.
I liked the romance. Going in, I wasn't sure what was going to happen. What was Mackie going to do? Who was he going to pursue? Alice was the typical queen bee but I thought it interesting how Mackie reacted to her. Tate was totally awesome, though she might come off as a creeper to some people.
Overall, I loved it. It was a refreshing change from the stock cut-out books that flood the shelves nowadays. This is a book full of originality and personality. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a break from the normalcy flood. A stunning debut.
Shew! I LOVE that cover. It's so appropriate for the book and just screams creepy. Love, love, love it.
WARNING! Lots of typical high-school language, so younger readers beware!...more
I don't know how many of you have read the Percy Jackson novels by Rick Riordan. If you haven't read them--you totally should! If you have a fetish for Greek mythology and half-mortal, half-god characters plus a satyr--you should totally read Rick Riordan!
Now that's been established, let's continue...
"The Lost Hero" was just as good,if not better, than the Percy Jackson novels. The main difference between the two series being the level of maturity. The Percy Jackson series were far more innocent and not as heavy with any of the darker issues. "The Lost Hero" is riddled with the puzzling uncertainties that come with liking someone--what it means, how should I proceed, what if she/he thinks I'm a dork? All that jazz. It provided a deeper undertone than what you'd find in middle grade novels. "The Lost Hero" will reach out more to older teens than the first Percy Jackson novel did.
Now, I'll tell you. I think the number of female authors far outstrip the number of male ones. But there are three authors that I hold in high esteem: Rick Riordan, Eoin Colfer and Scott Westerfeld. These three guys know how to tell a good story. (Yes, I'm getting to my point!) If you enjoyed the twisting, turning, enchanting plots of the Percy Jackson novels, you'll find it still going strong in "The Lost Hero". I have no choice but to love books that make me go, "OH SNAP!" at the end.
The one thing that I found interesting (translation: that I LOVED) was that the narration switched between Jason, Leo and Piper. And as I've mentioned in a few other reviews, it takes some skill to convincingly switch POV's. You can't just have the characters conveniently misunderstand everything the other person says. And Jason didn't get all the glory, either. All three of them had their own subplots and backgrounds and issues to be resolved within the book. Jason and his memory problem--who he was before conflicting with who he was becoming. Piper and her daddy issues. Leo and his confidence.
The Characters: (a deeper view)
Jason - So he's obviously the main character. Just like Percy was named after Perseus, Jason shares the same name with the sailor of the Argo. Jason's got some problems to deal with: he's lost his memory for one. I mean, good lord, what do you do with that? But he remembers some things and gets a lot of grief from Hera, the witch lady herself. Jason's ability to take charge seemed habit, but he didn't come across as arrogant or cocky. Which I liked.
Piper - Alright, so she's got some good moves. But there seemed to be some hypocrisy going on. Everyone thought she was tough. Were they serious!? Piper was CONSTANTLY falling apart. Grr! Come on. Why did she always have to be such a girl? But okay. I digress. Piper was awesome at the end. I'll give her that. :)
Leo - OH SNAP! Leo is my favorite character. I'm always going for the dudes with the sense of humor. ^_^ And Leo had some good ones. I really liked reading through his battle with his confidence as well as the battle with his past. Leo, out of all of them, seemed like the most down-to-earth, realest one. Annabeth - Yes! Annabeth makes many star appearances throughout the book. Am I the only one excited? I doubt it. Annabeth was freaking out all the time, though, cause...*gasp* I can't tell you. Shhh....Go read for yourself!
I just gotta say...The ending? AH! It killed me!!! Talk about a cliffhanger! God. How could Rick Riordan leave us hanging like that!? Is he attempting to kill his entire fan base by keeping us in suspense, waiting for the second book which comes out next fall? He's doing a pretty good job of it.
If you're looking for a simple yet complex, deep, good, adventure-filled book, go pick this up. And when you're done with it, you can go pick up the first Percy Jackson book. You know you'll want to.
Favorite Quotes: p. 94 "I hate to tell you this," Jason said, "but I think your leopard just ate a goddess."
p.108 It took special talent to run over yourself with a surfboard.
p. 192 "Can we just call them storm spirits?" Leo asked. "Venti makes them sound like evil espresso drinks."
p. 194 "So, giants who can throw mountains. Friendly wolves that will eat us if we show weakness. Evil espresso drinks. Gotcha. Maybe this isn't the time to bring up my psycho babysitter."
P. 245 If Piper started getting urges to read fashion magazines, she was going to have to find Aphrodite and smack her.
p. 250 "What about a compromise? I'll kill them first, and if it turns out they were friendly, I'll apologize."...more
Holy freaking fudge. So I just gotta say it, like I have to say it for every other A and A+ book. THAT WAS SO GOOD! Closing a great book is like stepping onto solid land after being on a roller coaster. You take a deep breath, orient yourself, and the real world comes back into focus slowly. Ms. Garcia and Ms. Stohl would be great roller coaster engineers if they ever decided to steer in that direction. As for literary coasters, they're set for life. :)
Now, another thing I believe. Mystery is hard. Consider Arthur Conan Doyle. Now there's a guy who can write mystery. When you write a mystery, you have to consider every single detail. You have to imagine that your readers aren't just young adults and adults with nothing better to do, you have to make yourself believe you're handing this into the director of the CIA--someone who can pick apart anything you throw out there and predict the outcome miles ahead of the game. That's how awesome the mystery was. I was left going, "Ohhhh snap! That's brilliant!" Needless to say, I'm taking pointers from these lovely ladies. (Actually, I'm planning to get myself a paperback copy as soon as they come out. Ready the highlighters!)
Amateur hour is over, people. I swear these ladies must be fooling people. I think maybe they've published a dozen books apiece under different names 'cause they sure do know how to write. Writers and their work mature over time--I can't imagine what these ladies' work will be like, say, ten books down the line. Both "Beautiful Creatures" and "Beautiful Darkness" offer an inspiring journey full with believable characters that we can not only identify with, but root for. And really! The Southern drawl? Perfection! They do wonderfully with that without being cliche and noisy with it.
Alright, alright, so I had some major issues with Ethan throughout the book. But hey, guys are mostly idiots right? (Don't huff at me like that, boys, ya'll can do really stupid stuff.) But Ethan overall is pretty awesome. A true Southern gentleman--worthy of a country boy. (I'm from Kentucky and that is high praise, ladies and gents.) Still. There had to be a test in the relationship, right? So while I appreciated that, I STILL think Ethan would have done better playing the field a bit. (Ya'll who have read the book, you know what I mean. If you haven't read the book, GET WITH THE PROGRAM!)
I loved the new addition to the crew! Now if only I could pull off sounding like Liv and still be accepted by my friends. XD (Another reason I like both Ethan and Link's characters. Some cool dudes. God, can we get some more of those in the world?)
Overall, a fantastic sequel to a fantastic debut. I loved the continuation of the story and the new development with the characters. As always with debuts, I'm always looking for a rehashing of the previous book. But this was a great exploration into new territories. I loved it....more
So after having read nine of her previous novels, I may bit a bit biased but I really love Sarah Dessen’s new book. If you haven’t read any Sarah Dessen books before (I pray for your deprived soul), then this review is mostly for you. But if you’re a long time running fan of Sarah Dessen, then all you have to know is that this book doesn’t disappoint. In fact, you should already know that cause you should have already bought and read it by now.
The one thing I really love (among many other things) is how Sarah Dessen uses everything in her books. She’ll mention something in the beginning and tie it back in at the end. It’s done in such a way that you remember what it was and now it’s significant.
Also, she connects her novels, which is so much cooler than I can say. For instance, in What Happened to Goodbye, I’m pretty sure we catch a glimpse of Owen and Annabel from Just Listen (but you kind of have to infer). We also have an appearance (actual speaking lines) from Heidi, who just starred in Along for the Ride. This continuous looping of her character’s lives is so cool and original. So I’m starting to look for the connections every time I pick up a Sarah Dessen book.
Every Sarah Dessen book has a theme—a specific topic that she tackles and introduces a romance to offset. This time around it’s Mclean and her identity issues. This is a theme that I think all teenagers can identify with no matter who you are. (I’ve been told that a major identity crisis should occur at least once during your teenage years—part of “the deal” apparently.) And really, I found a strong connection with this book. Mclean was easy to relate to and she’s got a similar relationship that I have with my parents.
Seeing Mclean’s life though was really akin to a wake up call. I’ve always wanted to start over the way she did. Being molded into Your Place, especially when you’re in high school and unable to break out of it…it’s stressful if you think about it too much. So I can really respect how Dessen put this story together.
Really, though, every girl has to agree that the best thing about picking up a Dessen novel is the dudes. Dave was a beast. I love how he was a child genius but it wasn’t flaunted around—just shown subtly through Dave’s various hobbies and his weird parents.
But anyways, this is how I want a guy to ask me out:
“So,” he said as we turned onto the main road, the muffler rattling, “I’ve been thinking.”
He nodded. “You really need to go out with me.”
I blinked. “I’m sorry?”
”You know. You, me. A restaurant or movie. Together.” He glanced over, shifting gears. “Maybe it’s a new concept for you? If so, I’ll be happy to walk you through it.”
”You want to take me to a movie?” I asked.
”Well, not really,” he said. “What I really want is for you to be my girlfriend. But I thought saying that might scare you off.”
I felt my heart jump in my chest. “Are you always so direct about this kind of thing?”
”No,” he said. We turned right, starting up the hill toward downtown, the tall buildings of the hospital and U bell tower visible at the top. “But I get the feeling you’re in a hurry, leaving and all, so I figured I should cut to the case.”
”I’m only going to be gone a week,” I said softly.
”True,” he said as the engine strained, still climbing. “But I’ve been wanting to do it for a while and didn’t want to wait any longer.”
”Really?” I asked. He nodded. “Like, since when?”
He thought for a second. “The day you hit me with that basketball.”
”That was attractive to you?”
”Not exactly,” he replied. “More like embarrassing and humiliating. But there was something about it as a moment…It was like a clean slate. No posturing or pretending. It was, you know, real.”
Excerpted from the hardcover edition, pgs. 323-324
Now personally, I preferred her original title of Cut and Run. The true title honestly sounds like a bad daytime soap opera, but someone obviously liked it. I think Cut and Run has more edge, has a simpler meaning to it. Ah well.
Overall, Sarah Dessen uses her signature flawless writing style, humor and perfect timing to introduce another great book about figuring out who you are....more
First, I must say that I was completely psyched when I found out that Cinda Williams Chima had agreed to a four-book deal for the Seven Realms novels. I love this series. I feel as if it’s a perfect combination of the imagination and detail of Tamora Pierce with the pitch perfect writing style of Patricia Briggs or Maria V. Snyder. Cinda Williams Chima really knows what she’s doing and I’m glad she can put that into such huge books.
As for the characters, Han Alister really takes after Han Solo (from Star Wars), methinks. They’ve both got that kind of swagger and arrogance about them. And they’re both street smart—or in Solo’s case “space smart” I guess would fit better. But I thought Han was a bit of an idiot in this book, but in that “Ah jeez, he’s gone and been a teenage boy again,” type of way. I mean, teenagers just do stupid things but in this case, it wasn’t the type of stupidity that would make me want to throw the book across the room. As for Raisa, this chick is all over the place. At first it’s one dude, then the other but again, I wasn’t really annoyed. Raisa is presented in such a way that it makes me patient. If this were in a different setting however, say modern day, I’d be having a fit. Personally, I can’t stand anything near a love triangle because the girl is always such an idiot about it. (Except for Mercy in the Mercy Thompson series. SHE knows how to handle a love triangle properly.) But I really like Raisa’s character because she’s smart politically and that helps her in almost every aspect of her life just short of combat. And she knows how to fight! She puts up with some crap that she shouldn’t sometimes, but then again, she’s in disguise. Doesn’t mean it didn’t frustrate me to see her laying down about it.
Similar to the Mercy Thompson series, there was a fabulous mystery. Fantasies, I think, are the best to go for if you want a really good mystery that doesn’t involve a police story. Generally speaking, at least. Cinda Williams Chima presents a thrilling and intoxicating mystery. And this “mysterious wizard named Crow” deal. That was incredible! I’ve been trying to figure out who it is since the obvious suspects were ruled out (very cleverly, I might add, and very subtly) but it won’t be obvious until it’s revealed—which always gets to me because I’m not a sucker for suspense. Can’t stand it, in fact. A very poor trait for a book lover, yes? But suspense aside, this was a wonderful adventure. From beginning to end, it really got my heart beating. (I CAN’T WAIT FOR BOOK THREE!)
I absolutely adore the cover to this book. Absolutely one of my favorites of all time. I can’t wait to find out what the third cover will look like. :D
Things turned out a bit differently than I thought they would in this book, but nothing that really surprised me, romance-wise. ;) I love the ending and I can have a little hope about at least something in the next book (compare Han’s plans against Micah’s at the very, very end of the book and you’ll know what I mean). I can’t wait for the third book. (Did I not already mention that?) If you’re a fan of Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle or any of Tamora Pierce’s novels, you should really check in to Cinda Williams Chima. ...more
I am a HUGE fan of Arthurian lore (which is why I am absolutely in love with the show "Merlin") and so I was super excited to pick this book up. Overall, I was impressed with the level of detail and the blunt honesty in which Philip Reeve writes.
However, the one thing I really picked up on was that there seemed to be a complete lack of a plot. I couldn't really see what was driving the whole story. Where was the conclusion? Well, there wasn't really a conclusion because there wasn't anything to be concluded.
Yet it was a fascinating story. Most Arthurian novels make Arthur this heroic, wise beyond his years type of fellow. Philip Reeve cast him in a more believable light--more towards something that would be expected of that time period. Arthur wasn't that wise and leaned more towards a fiendish raider with little compassion for others and with a penchant for war. At first this was a bit disturbing, but it was easier to buy into Arthur's character this way.
A rather short and simple read. I didn't get a lot of satisfaction out of it. While I could understand Gwynna's character, I couldn't really see through her eyes. The romance came at the end and didn't pan out so much. I did like the interesting twist on Merlin's character, though (portrayed as "Myrrdin" in this story).
The writing! The descriptions were wonderful and supported the story most of the way. Some lines were just...absolutely brilliant. It really cast a light on imagination. It was easy to read and yet was complex enough to challenge.
So while unsatisfying for my own personal tastes, I appreciate the writing and imagination behind the story....more
This is the first book of Ms. Marchetta's that I've read (she's also written "On Jellicoe Road," "Saving Francesca," and "Looking for Alibrandi") and let me just say that for this being her first fantasy novel, I was extremely impressed. I've never come across a style like hers before where there were many things I thought could be improved upon and yet I really enjoyed it.
It was raw. Raw in both the writing and the story. For example, there were many scenes that I thought could have used some more editing and others that were raw emotionally and it came off brilliantly. Reading Ms. Marchetta's style of writing and the content was inspiring in a way. She didn't hold back on anything and for that, I applaud her.
This was a very dark book. But that just made the light more satisfying and uplifting. I absolutely loved the ending. And the mystery! A mystery wrapped inside a mystery! The beginning was confusing and I was left going, "Ohhkay..." and with any other story I would have given up, but I've been wanting to read this for forever! So there there was no waaaay I was going to give up then! The brilliant part? While confusing at first, it all played out in the end. I loved how Ms. Marchetta just brought everything together and it made perfect sense. The revelations made throughout the story made me go, "Oh snap!"
I just wanted to say this: some of the lines could have gone over poorly because of the cliche-ness of it BUT here's the thing--I never thought it was cliche when I was reading it. The dialogue fit together so wonderfully. Finnikin is such a forceful character. He doesn't feel anything halfway. So everything he says is direct and is believable.
I loved the characters. They were strong, believable and fun to read about. Their pain and triumphs resonated perfectly. I thought it interesting how Ms. Marchetta would sometimes write scenes in Froi's point of view. I thought it was weird at first, but then I kinda got into it and I started to love it. But I really liked Finnikin's character. Like I said, very forceful. Full of emotions and a quick thinker. Most heroes start to blend together after a while--and very few YA fantasy books are written in the hero's point of view anymore--but Finnikin's character was so raw and honest that the impression his character made on me will last for a long time.
I cannot WAIT to get this book! By either Borders or BookDepository or Amazon, it's gonna happen either way. The only question is when. I prefer as soon as possible but the financial problems of a teenager can be rather alarming sometimes. (Translation: I'm pretty much broke. XD)
WARNING! There is a lot of sexual content (more suggestive rather than explicit) and a lot of dark events, so I'd say this is more for older teens (15 and up). But there isn't a lot of swearing.
"Once in Every Lifetime" by Jem goes great with this book. You can find it on the soundtrack to the movie Eragon.
Overall, an inspiring and fantastic read. I absolutely loved it. I can't wait to read some of Ms. Marchetta's other works. :) (And she's Australian!! AWESOME accent! You can view an "interview" with her here.)
I hope there's a sequel. There's plenty of material to work with, methinks....more
(Please note that this is a bit of an informal review and also a very short one.)
First thing’s first: Alison Croggon is a fantastic writer. She’s got a vivid taste for describing things. She knows how to bring to life a scene. Everything about Gilman’s Cot was nerve-rackingly real. The third-person omniscient point of view works well for the story—not as erratic in changing from character to character as say, John Flanagan (Ranger’s Apprentice: Ruins of Gorlan) but her writing doesn’t take on the quick consistency of action while still maintaining form like say, Christopher Paolini (Eragon).
So there is my point: lack of action. The book is incredibly slow. While the writing maintains this for the first hundred pages, it begins to slack when it reaches the point that you expect action to happen. For things to start picking up and the plot to start becoming tenser and suspenseful.
I really enjoyed the world that she’s creating and there are some truly hilarious scenes as well as some exciting ones, but once I got to two hundred pages and nothing was really happening, I lost motivation to read it. So after that point, the glamour of the writing sort of wore off. Instead, it began to drag me down and I began to skim over whole (very long) paragraphs.
So this is not to say I won’t pick this book up again. But it will be only when I want some sustenance for some really good writing. I could really take a note on Alison Croggon’s style, but I’d lend it more towards action then description of the countryside and the development of the history of the Schools.
The plot is very promising and it was the hunger to find out what happened in the end that drove me forward, but really, the lack of action bogged me down, so I’m leaving Myraed and Cadvan for another time....more