I am still surprised that I didn't encounter this novel during my English degree. When approaching it as a romance novel (without the messiness of act...moreI am still surprised that I didn't encounter this novel during my English degree. When approaching it as a romance novel (without the messiness of actual physical contact), this is not a bad read. It smacks of "will they, won't they" and can be infuriatingly slow for those readers accustomed to a bit more action. Much of the actual story is told second hand, through letters or ladies gossiping. It is also difficult to trust Elizabeth's opinion. She is quick to judge based on what one character says and then changes her mind based on what another character says. She also seems to be unfairly ashamed of much of her own family and their behavior.
Cover Impressions: The cover doesn't stand out as much as I would like. It is simple and clean...more This review can also be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: The cover doesn't stand out as much as I would like. It is simple and clean and I do like the gold crown and lettering on a blue background.
The Gist: As an orphan running the streets of Carchar, Sage has learned to depend on his quick wits and quicker mouth to survive. When he finds himself one of four boys bought by a wealthy nobleman with a dastardly plan to gain control of the throne, Sage must use every trick at his disposal to outmaneuver the other boys and convince the kingdom that he is fit to rule.
Review: The False Prince is the first book in The Ascendance Trilogy, and when I finished this book I was incredibly thankful that there are more to come while, at the same time, lamenting that I did not have the next installment NOW. This novel manages to invoke the same sense of intrigue and danger that Game of Thrones does, but presents it in a manner that is appropriate for a young audience. At the end I found myself warring contradicting emotions as half of me wanted to finish quickly so that I could find out what happens while the other half wanted to slow down a savor each word.
The voice of Sage, hooked me from the very first page. He is clever, witty and self-deprecating. He interjects a wonderful sense humor into the most serious of situations and is able to manipulate the other characters into playing along in his grand master plan. His antics left me laughing, shaking my head or asking "why can you not keep your mouth shut!" (and sometimes all three) in the most wonderful of ways. Sage is the type of character that is impossible not to root for and I truly feel that he will appeal to both male and female readers, a feat that seems difficult to accomplish in most YA novels.
The plot unfurls slowly but steadily, with secrets and betrayals around every corner. There was not a single moment when I was bored or wishing for more action. This is one of those books in which seemingly insignificant details will later be revealed as integral to the plot. I adore novels where all the puzzle pieces seem to fall into place, creating a finished piece that is full of detail and leaves the reader reflecting on all of the moments that brought us to this place.
The False Prince is easily the best book I have read this year and I am especially excited because this is a book that I can hand both my male and female students knowing that they will return begging for the next in the series. This is a wonderful addition to any classroom library, kid's bookshelf or adult's to-be-read pile.
Teaching/Parental Notes: Age: 12 and up Gender: Both - Boys will LOVE this book! Sex: None Violence: Shooting with an arrow, swordplay, stabbing Inappropriate Language: None Substance Abuse: None(less)
Cover Impressions: The cover is pretty, but expected. It makes it appear that Isolde is...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: The cover is pretty, but expected. It makes it appear that Isolde is the main character when, in actuality, the plot follows Luca for a majority of the time. I was glad to see the omission of the "heaving bosoms" that normally accompanies this type of cover
The Gist: Seventeen year old Luca is accused of heresy and thrown out of his religious order for using math to prove that it is impossible for all of the relics from the true cross to be real. He is quickly recruited by a secret order and sent on a mission to hold an inquiry into strange occurrences. Isolde has been cast out from her home upon the death of her father and forced to vows at a nunnery and serve as their lady superior. When the sisters began acting strangely and complaining of strange dreams and stigmata, Luca is sent to investigate.
Review: I was pretty disappointed by this one. I have read a lot of Philippa Gregory's books (though I haven't really enjoyed the latest ones) and was hoping for the same sense of excitement that I got while reading The Other Boleyn Girl. Instead, I got a watered down romance, predictable storyline and characters who were barely tolerable.
When we meet Luca, we are told that he has a remarkable head for numbers and that these skills led to him being called a Changeling (my definition: a child that is left behind by the faerie folk to be raised in a human household). Take note of this BECAUSE IT NEVER COMES UP AGAIN! Seriously. He never uses these mysterious mathematical skills and, despite the title of the book, we never find out anything about whether or not he is a changeling. As a character, he is boring as heck. He never does anything exciting or unexpected, his manner of speaking is flat and unaffected and he switches between allowing others to take charge and pompously reminding them that he is supposed to be leading this investigation.
Isolde has been promised by her father that, upon his death, all the lands and the kingdom would be hers. She has been raised to be the lady of the house and taught how to maintain her lands and keep her people fed and safe. Yet, on his deathbed he supposedly recounts all of this and gives her the choice between marrying a particularly disgusting man or joining the nunnery. Isolde is told all of this by her brother (her father apparently refused to see her at the end) and never questions the authenticity of his claims. When she asks to see the will, he gives her a COPY instead of the original and then sends her would-be husband to rape her. That's right folks, her brother tells his buddy that he can exercise his matrimonial rights before she has even accepted and (I think) within 24 hours of her father's death. And STILL Isolde doesn't think he is lying about her inheritance. FFS! How dense can you get? For the rest of the book, Isolde continues to be boring and is in constant need of rescuing. The only characters that show any type of promise are the servants Ishraq and Freize and even they are not nearly as interesting as they could be.
This book holds an odd place in the genre spectrum. It is not quite realistic enough to be true historical fiction nor is it strange enough to be paranormal fiction. The blurb promises werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers but doesn't actually deliver on either werewolves or witches and I can only assume the alchemists and death-dancers will be featured in the next book. The plot is sloooooowwwwww and concentrates far too much on traveling and interviewing people. It really feels like two separate stories; one that features the nunnery and one a village with a werewolf. The stories felt disconnected, almost like two novellas that were strung together in an attempt to make a full book, and no progress is made on any of the over-arching issues (Luca's mysterious new order and his heritage or Isolde's disinheritance).
For most of this book I found myself waiting for it to be over and wishing that I had chosen to read something else instead. I do not think I will be sticking around for the next in this series.
Age: 13 and up Gender: Female Sex: None Violence: Death by Poison, Death by Fire Inappropriate Language: None Substance Use/Abuse: Drinking Wine/Ale(less)
Cover Impressions: The cover is what first attracted me to this book. It is deliciously dark, simple and stunning.
The Gist: Velveteen was murdered by...moreCover Impressions: The cover is what first attracted me to this book. It is deliciously dark, simple and stunning.
The Gist: Velveteen was murdered by a serial killer named Bonesaw. She spends her days emerging from purgatory in order to chase down errant spirits and attempt to foil the plans of her killer. When purgatory is thrown into upheaval, it is up to Velveteen and her team to hunt down the culprits and restore the balance between the living and the dead.
Review: The blurb for this novel led me to believe that it was the story of a ghost seeking revenge on the serial killer that murdered her. That story excited me and I imagined a dark and disturbing show-down between killer and victim. This was not what I got. Instead, Velveteen centers around a group of souls that are attempting to escape purgatory and return to the "daylight". This story is not nearly as exciting.
A major problem exists with the world building in Velveteen. It presents a unique representation of purgatory, however, there is little to no explanation of anything that is going on. We are left to stumble after Velvet in the hopes that she will drop some tidbit of information that will help bring this world into being in our minds. Alas, these tidbits are few and far between. For example, purgatory seems plagued by Shadowquakes. I never got a clear picture of what this looks like, nor what it means for the souls that are left in it's wake (one girl appeared to be captured by the first quake but was later mentioned as being shaken up - but fine). We are led to believe that all of purgatory is mashed together from items that can stolen from the living and smuggled in through the cracks, yet there is a train and it is never explained how this came to be. Every time I encountered one of these issues (and there were many) I was left flicking back pages, convinced that I had missed something. It ruined the flow of the story and left me annoyed.
The characters themselves are bland and boring. Velvet is a terrible leader and the souls that make up her team seem interchangeable. They evoked no sympathy or emotion whatsoever and were not the least bit clever or witty. It is never explained what makes these particular teenagers special enough to be members of the ________ team. ________ was such a boring character that I just had to go back and look up his name. There was zero chemistry between him and Velvet and her half-assed attempt to stay away was annoying and wasted time that could have been spent on developing the plot or explaining what the heck was going on.
When Velvet interacted with her killer there was a real sense of urgency and excitement. These scenes gave a titillating glimpse into the book that could have been. Unfortunately, there were only a few of these moments and, in order to reach them, I had to wade through page after page of grey dullness in purgatory.
In the end, Velveteen left me unsatisfied. I realize that this is the first in a series, but that doesn't mean that it shouldn't provide SOME answers to the motivation of the villain, or the secrets hidden by those in charge. Velveteen gave me no closure on this story and no desire to continue with the next.
A final note on appropriateness: As a teacher, I would NOT recommend this book to my students for fear of being fired. There is A LOT of casual swearing (see below), some pretty nasty violence and description of torture.
Age: 17 and up Gender: Female Sex: Allusion to sexual acts Violence: Knifeplay, Gunplay, Kidnapping, Torture Inappropriate Language: A LOT AND OFTEN! Piss, Shit, Blue Balls, Bitch, Slut, Ass, Tripping Balls, Dumpster Baby (just wrong), Whores, Fucking, Douche-Baggy, Dick, Pussy Substance Abuse: Use of Gas? (less)
Cover Impressions: This cover does not even scratch the surface of the awesomeness that...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: This cover does not even scratch the surface of the awesomeness that is inside. See those fantastically creepy drawings? Those are EVERYWHERE and they get even better.
The Gist: Scarlett was dead, to begin with. Heh, always wanted to start a review like that. Anyway, in attempting to avoid a painfully awkward class trip, Scarlett Dedd accidentally kills herself - and her entire family. In finding herself Bodily Challenged, Scarlett does the only sensible thing and attempts to gain some ghostly pals - by killing her old friends.
Review: I cannot possibly go any further in this review without mentioning the illustrations in this book. Not only are they clever, creative and deliciously gruesome, they are also integrated into the text in a way that I have never seen before. The storyline is melded with pictures, doodles, membership cards and coffee stains. The way that the author plays with words and pictures (see below) is fun and keeps the reader entertained. Elements like these add a sense of whimsy and macabre and would certainly enthrall any young readers.
The story is told through several sources. Along side the traditional narrative style, we see Scarlett's blog, online conversations and even an interview transcript. Personally, the constant changes in perspective and style took some getting used to, however, I can appreciate the creative effort and I know that my students would find it fun and refreshing. The plot took an interesting twist when Scarlett decided to try and kill her friends so that she would have some company, but otherwise was fairly predictable.
The characters are an interesting bunch. They are the artsy kids. The ones who tend to dress in black and compare recipes for fake blood rather than the latest party. While the "teen speak" feels a little forced, the characters feel like a realistic portrayal of typical teenagers. The only part that really bothered me about the secondary characters is that they don't seem particularly affected by the death of their friend. They also seem determined to exploit her current situation for fame and popularity rather than try to communicate with her. For her part, Scarlett incredibly self-absorbed, whiny and exceedingly dense. This is rather annoying for about the first half (how long does it take her to realize that her parents are also dead?) but it does get better. Eventually, she gets over her naivety and is able to put the needs of others before her own.
Scarlett Dedd is certainly a book that will appeal to fans of graphic novels and to those readers who can appreciate a little blood and gore.
For a taste of Scarlett Dedd, you can also follow her blog: ScarDeparted
Age: 12 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing Violence: Death by poisoning, several attempted murders Inappropriate Language: Retard, illustration of character gesturing with middle finger Substance Use/Abuse: None(less)
Cover Impressions: This cover looks rather primitive, as if it was gleaned from a cave d...moreThis and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: This cover looks rather primitive, as if it was gleaned from a cave drawing. I don't find it particularly eye catching but I can see where it would appeal to an audience of teenage boys
The Gist: Todd has grown up in Prentisstown; a town full of men who spend their lives surrounded by the Noise of each and every person's thoughts. Just a month shy of becoming a man, he stumbles upon a patch of silence - something he has never encountered before, and the secret forces him to run from the people who know his every thought.
Review: I had saved this novel for a time when I just had to read something great. It has wonderful reviews and has won several award so I thought it was a safe bet. I never dreamed how wrong I could be. I was angry and frustrated for most of this book. I spent my time yelling at the characters and cursing the writer. This was not an enjoyable experience. First of all, I did not care one lick for either of the characters. In fact, I actively despised Todd. I hated the way he spoke, I hated his actions, I hated the fact that he did not demand answers, because lord knows the author was not going to provide any. I don't mind novels that ration information, handing it out a tidbit at a time like Charlie nibbling on a scrumdiddlyumptious bar, but this novel gives no tidbits. Instead, it infuriates with lines like "it is time you knew the truth" followed by either and adult telling the kids to wait or something trying to kill them (something is ALWAYS trying to kill them - see below). Perhaps, since Todd cannot seem to spell Information, Ness decided that he didn't need to have any.
I realize that the author made a conscious choice to use misspelling and poor grammar to allow the reader further insight into the mind of the main character. However, I do not care. I hated it. I cringed at every "aint" and "shun". I wanted to plant Todd in my English classroom and teach him how to speak so that he doesn't sound like a bumbling idiot. I couldn't concentrate on the story because every time he opened his mouth the evil teacher in my mind kept correcting him. Ness also chose to use repetition and short choppy sentence, one would assume, in an effort to make the novel more exciting. It drove me nuts. Passages like this:
And she lets go of me- And I jump across- And I'm in the air- And the edge of the falls is shooting over my head- And I land- And I turn- And she's jumping after me- And I grab her and we fall backwards onto the ledge together- And we lay there breathing- And listening- And all we hear for a second is the roar of the water over us now-
He employs this strategy over and over, sometimes for pages at a time. That's right, I said PAGES! This writing style annoyed me to the point where I really wanted to stop. Yet I pressed on, I had hope that there would be some twist or scene that would make it all worthwhile. I mean, something had to make all these people like it, right? Speaking of Hope. If the only thing keeping the characters going is hope, how about you give me some? These characters were attacked at every point. They never got a chance to rest before one of the main villians (one of which REFUSES TO DIE LIKE A PROPER HUMAN BEING) shows up and trounces them. The attackers have brute force, horses and guns. Our MC has ... a knife.... which he refuses to use. Also, you would think, at one of their stops on this journey they MIGHT have picked up a weapon for Viola. Fate (in the form of Patrick Ness' brutal pen) continues to pound on Todd and Viola until the untimely and unsatisfying cliffhanger ending. I will NOT be continuing on in this series. P.S Yes, of course I loved Manchee - and I hold Patrick Ness directly responsible for his treatment.
Teaching/Parental Notes: Age: 15 and up Gender: Both Sex: None Violence: Knife play, gun play, death by stabbing, death of a pet Inappropriate Language: Fuck, Whore Substance Abuse: None(less)
Cover Impressions: Pretty. Yay, no whitewashing. Natural hair on a woman of color!
The Gist: Summer king gets elected, summer king gets killed - still don't understand why. June is spoiled brat who causes trouble and calls it art.
WARNING: This will be ranty. If you don't like swearing, please move on to another review - this one is not for you.
This book broke me. And not in the "oh my god this is so good nothing will ever compare" kind of way. More in the "reading has become a huge disappointment and I will now spend my time watching reality tv instead" kind of way.
I hated every minute that I spent with this book and, now that I have finally quit, I don't even want to read anything else. I am that annoyed.
I hated this world. It was futuristic and fucked up and nothing made sense. To go along with the nothing making sense was the fact that the author chose not to explain anything. I made it 3/4 of the way through the book and I STILL have no idea why the hell they choose a summer king or why the hell they kill him some years and not others. And you know what? I don't fucking care. That is how little these characters affected me.
The kids were spoiled and entitled. June spent most of her time glorifying a father who committed suicide and blaming her mother for this, despite any evidence that she did anything to cause it. When she wasn't being a heinous daughter, she was pulling pranks making art for some weird ass contest to which no one ever explained the rules. Oh, and did I mention that any other free time she had was spent at lavish parties?
That was the gist of the plot, no danger, no immediate cause to work towards, just an episode of The Hills set against the backdrop of an alternative future.
Despite all these issues, I might have managed to get past it. However, then came the sex. I understand the desire to have sexual situations and language in a young adult novel, I really do. I do not, however, enjoy the way that this author chose to use sex in such a casual manner. June actually told us of how she and her best friend took care of their "virginity problem". We hear of the Summer King sleeping with anything and everything that moves and then, to take the literary cake, June strips off OUTSIDE, masturbates, is revealed to have had an audience to her little show and then acts as if it meant nothing. No. NO NO NO NO NO!
I can't even.
If I gave this book to one of my students, I would end up fired.
Fuck this. I'm out.
Age: 16 and up Gender: Female - I guess. Sex: See review - this shit's fucked up. Violence: Fist fighting. Knifeplay Inappropriate Language: Whore, Shit, Ass, Bastards Substance Use/Abuse: drug use(less)
Cover Impressions: The cover is quite beautiful and matches well with the previous one in the...moreThis review can also be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: The cover is quite beautiful and matches well with the previous one in the series. I like the styling of the model in a simple dress and headband with natural wavy hair. Although a small part of me does wish it showed some reflection of the opulence of the Underworld palace.
The Gist: After winning both her immortality and a seat as the Queen of the Underworld, Kate Winters must now fight to win the heart of her King and husband, Henry. Just when she is ready to spend some time getting to know the man that she married, her new-found family is attacked by Chronos, King of the Titans and Kate must put her own jealousy and mistrust aside to enlist the help of Persephone, her sister and the woman who broke Henry's heart.
Review: Goddess Interrupted is one of those books that leaves me wishing I could shake the author until she agreed to go back and fix it. I love this world. LOVE! I enjoy the new take on the Gods and Goddesses, I love how they had to re-invent themselves and how they depend on mankind to keep them relevant. I was really intrigued by the imagining of the Underworld as being whatever the spirit expects it to be and believe that this opened the door to explore the moral ambiguity of a person spending eternity being punished, not because they deserve it, but because this is what they have always been told to expect. The plot itself hinges on the many instances of infidelity among the Gods and could question whether or not a person should be held accountable for their actions after having their heart broken over and over again for millenia. Had the author chosen either of these paths, the second half of this novel could have been interesting and thought provoking. However, she did not. Instead, Aimee Carter choose to write page after page of an increasingly whiney girl begging a boy to love her, despite the fact that his words and action show little more than disdain.
The first half of this novel described a fascinating world in which resplendent meadows gave way to rivers of fire and back again. Kate explores this world, enlists the aid of the sister she never wished to know and is part the battle against the King of the Titans. The characters showed major flaws, but we still had half the book to go in which they could grow - I was hungry for more. Then things quickly fall apart. We spend the second half of the book listening to Kate as she laments that Henry doesn't love her. *Knock, knock "Hello Kate? Just thought I would remind you that the world is about to end. Yeah, this big mean dude made of fog is going to kill everyone in the ENTIRE WORLD, could you maybe concentrate on the big picture for one, teeny, tiny moment?" Nope. She didn't listen.
Kate goes on and on about Henry's lack of interest and, normally, I would chalk this up to her being an annoying, self-deprecating character who is unable to see the truth, but no, based on Henry's behavior, I don't think he loves her. He treats her like garbage, refusing to speak to her, refusing to be alone with her and comparing her to his first wife at every turn. At one point I found myself yelling at Kate to get angry, start throwing things, storm out of there, do ANYTHING but cry on your bed and make excuses for why you should overlook his behavior and "give him time".
Goddess Interrupted gets a 2/5 because the world is wonderful and interesting. It is also slightly redeemed by the last couple of pages which leaves me considering reading the next book in the series. But please, no more sycophantic teenage girl characters who are willing to overlook not only major flaws, but horrid mistreatment, for the man that they "love". It sets a poor example to young girls everywhere and with all the Snookies and Lindsay Lohans out there, aren't there enough bad role models already?
Age: 16 and up Gender: Female Sex: Talk of sex between two characters, A LOT of talk about infidelity, one sex scene. Violence: Cuts, attempted strangulation, loss of a limb Inappropriate Language: None Substance Abuse: None(less)
There are no words and if I try to find any, I will start to cry ... again.
Teaching Note: One instance of sex, but pretty tasteful. Favorite Quotes:
- "...moreThere are no words and if I try to find any, I will start to cry ... again.
Teaching Note: One instance of sex, but pretty tasteful. Favorite Quotes:
- "I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once."
- " 'Keep your shit together,' I whispered to my lungs"
- "Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.
- " 'Oh, I wouldn't mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.' "
- " 'When the scientists of the future show up at my house with robot eyes and they tell me to try them on, I will tell the scientists to screw off, because I do not want to see a world without him' "(less)
Cover Impressions: The cover does an excellent job of expressing the dark and foreboding mood of this novel. I am a fan of the oppressive fog and the...moreCover Impressions: The cover does an excellent job of expressing the dark and foreboding mood of this novel. I am a fan of the oppressive fog and the red highlights that provide a sense of mystery. The title font is PERFECT, antique-looking but clearly legible.
The Gist: Araby Worth spends her nights chasing oblivion in the Debauchery District. She seeks solace from the world outside, a world of death, disease and fear. The plague that decimated the city left her family elevated in society but shattered and haunted. When a night of revelry brings Araby to the attention of Will, the well-meaning older brother and Elliot, the reckless leader of a rebellion, she must shake off her stupor and finally decide if there are people in this world worth fighting for.
Review: Bethany Griffin is one brave lady. It takes guts to take on a master like Edgar Allen Poe. I love using Poe in my grade 7, 8 and 9 English classes, especially around Halloween. The kids enjoy the foreboding tone and dark imagery. Griffin manages to elicit the same ominous feel and sense of decrepit grandeur in her book. There is a beautiful dichotomy between the peasants ravaged by plague and the sheer opulence of Araby's lifestyle.
As a character, Araby is beautifully flawed. In the beginning, we see an empty, thoughtless shell of a girl. One that is guilt-ridden and bent on wasting away slowly and painfully. She is unable to recognize love and caring in those around her. Araby is easily led into betraying her father and endangering the entire city. It is as if she were waiting for someone to ask her to do something, anything, to tilt the precarious balance that the city has reached. As the story progresses, Araby begins to drop some of her carefully constructed walls and we get the merest glimpse into the strong and selfless individual that she might become.
For most of this novel, the action creeps along with a few tense moments here and there, much like the city, seething slowly but steadily until it erupts into a cacophony of violence that last until the final pages. There are some dull moments in the middle but if you persist and push through, you will be rewarded.
Teaching/Parental Notes: Age: 15 and up Gender: Female Sex: None Violence: Murders, Riots, Beatings, Swordplay, Gunplay. Inappropriate Language: None Substance Abuse: Underage drinking, Use of needle drugs(less)
Cover Impressions: This cover is so beautifully intricate. It is not the type of cover t...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: This cover is so beautifully intricate. It is not the type of cover that jumps off the shelf but it is the type that encourages the reader to stop and study it. I am already intrigued to see the artwork for the next in the series.
The Gist: The kingdom of Goredd holds a tenuous balance between it's human citizens and the dragons who can take their form. As the 40th anniversary of their peace treaty approaches it seems that someone is determined to tip the scales and renew the old conflicts. Seraphina straddles the line between humans and dragons. When a member of the royal family is found beheaded, she becomes an integral part of the investigation - if only to try and keep her own secrets hidden.
Review: Oh God. These are always the hardest reviews for me to write. I can rant all day about books that I hate, pointing out the slow plot, annoying characters and writing that would fit quite well in my stack of grading from grade 7. Those reviews are my bread and butter, they flow through my fingertips like water, gracing the page with WTF's and FFS!'s.
Every now and then, however, I come across a book that was just so fan-fucking-tastic that I can barely put into words why. Seraphina was one of those books. The world building is complete and unique. The characters are fully developed, sometimes flawed and remarkably human (even when they are not). The writing is polished and elegant, begging you to savor every word. The plot never lags or races but maintains a pace that keeps the reader enthralled (seriously - as soon as the baby went to bed I begged my husband to just leave me alone and go watch sports or something so that I could read).
Seraphina is easily one of my favorite characters thus far this year. She is intelligent, talented, brave, vulnerable, and loyal. She struggles with her own self worth and undergoes remarkable growth. The secondary characters are also not to be missed. Hartman has not allowed for one dimensional characters here. Between the members of Seraphina's garden, the dignitaries at court and the dragons in human form, there was always someone intriguing to watch and someone else to wonder about.
Hartman creates a world that is wonderfully strange yet oddly familiar. Though the people and dragons of Goredd negotiated a peace treaty nearly 40 years ago, there is still a great deal of animosity and racism on both sides. The hatred and anger between these peoples was palpable and created some of the most tense scenes in the novel.
The writing in Seraphina flows beautifully. The one thing that I did not enjoy (and this is a criticism of fantasy in general rather than this book in particular) is that choosing not to explain certain terminology in the text and to rely on a glossary is fine in a physical book, but I find it becomes rather tedious while reading an e-book.
This novel easily makes the list as one of my top books of 2012. Now, when is that sequel coming out???!!!
Age: 13 and up Gender: Both Sex: Implied at Violence: Death by be-heading, Knifeplay, Swordplay, Death by Poisoning Inappropriate Language: Bastard Substance Use/Abuse: Drinking of Wine(less)
Cover Impressions: I enjoy the covers in this series, they are clean and simple. The fon...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: I enjoy the covers in this series, they are clean and simple. The font works very well and I love the colors (blue, now green, hopefully red for number 3?). My only complaint is that they don't see to stand out as much - in my classroom, I don't see The False Prince getting chosen very often unless it is because of my recommendation.
The Gist: Jaron has barely warmed his new throne when an assassination attempt alerts him to the danger that his kingdom is in. The murder of his family has left him with a council that harbors deceit and an army that is ill prepared for any attack. In order to secure the safety of his people, Jaron must abandon the throne and seek out this new threat head on. In returning to the world as Sage, he must ask if he is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to save his kingdom.
Review: I loved loved LOVED The False Prince. See my review and my Top Books of 2012. So there were some pretty high expectations for The Runaway King. I was not disappointed. I recently had a favorite student of mine as for a book recommendation. I handed her The False Prince and told her that "You will love Sage and want to strangle him all at the same time - that is what makes him such a wonderful character". This remains true in The Runaway King. I am 100% behind Sage, and because of this, I often cringe, shout or throw an all out temper tantrum to rival my 1 1/2 year old, whenever he makes a decision that I feel will put him in more danger. Sage never takes the easy way out. He is always willing to throw himself off a cliff (often quite literally) in order to do what is right for others. Now, that is not to say that he is completely selfless. The boy is one of the most arrogant characters I have ever read and he will often make grandiose statements that only seem to garner him more trouble. But, this is what makes him all the more likeable and enjoyable to read about. Sage is kind, clever, witty and stubborn. He captivates the reader and is easily one of my favorite characters in any series.
I was a little worried about where this book was going when Imogen left the storyline. I always loved the connection between her and Sage and was disappointed to see her disappear so early. But have faith ladies and gentlemen, she re-emerges! The tension between these two characters adds an extra element to the storyline without delving into the romance sphere. I enjoyed the fact that both of them are faced with a very difficult decision and that there is no easy way out.
In this novel, we also saw the expansion of some old characters and the addition of some interesting new ones. Jennifer Nielsen just doesn't do bland, one dimensional characters and each person that we meet, adds a little something special to the plot. Oftentimes, the characters that we might have overlooked or dismissed at first - turn out to be the most important in the end.
This author continues to astound with her ability to seamlessly weave details together to create a plot that is rich and full of surprises. Having many years of reading experience under my belt, it is often all to easy for me to notice the foreshadowing of what is to come. Things that seem obvious to me (I am discovering) my students have often overlooked - leading to them being surprised at the plot twist and me having figured it out from the 5th page. This is the one series where I can depend on my being just as surprised as my students. In both books, I have been taken aback by the way pieces that appeared to come from several different puzzles finally dropped into place to create one complete, and beautifully detailed, picture.
Yet again I need to commend Jennifer Nielsen for creating a series that contains enough danger and suspense to keep readers of all ages interested, but without approaching the issues of violence that would be inappropriate for a younger reader. Teachers and parents take note: THIS IS A BOOK THAT APPEALS TO BOTH GIRLS AND BOYS! Let's get those (sometimes reluctant) boys reading!
Age: 12 and up (though there are no real issues with giving this book to a younger reader if they can handle the reading level) Gender: Both Sex: None Violence: Swordplay, Knifeplay, Whipping Inappropriate Language: None Substance Use/Abuse: None (less)
Cover Impressions: The cover is kind of cool and I like the image of the cloak made up o...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: The cover is kind of cool and I like the image of the cloak made up of birds, however, it didn't really entice me. There is something about the face that doesn't quite match up with the creepy feel that I believe they were going for.
The Gist: The world has undergone a Rift. One side is safe, the other is a wasteland. At least that is what everyone is told.
Review: To be honest. This book annoyed and angered me. This usually happens when I can see vast potential that is smothered by poor plot pacing and lack-luster character development. In Magisterium, we are introduced to Glenn Morgan, who dreams only of leaving this world for a distant planet. Glenn bored me from the first moment. She is controlling of her world and her emotions in a way that prevented me from forming any type of connection to her (even pity). I simply could not understand the choices that she made, from turning her father in to the authorities to blindly stumbling through a world that she knew nothing about (and wanted to know nothing about). Glenn came across and naive and downright stupid. Case in point: her father is arrested, her friend is shot and she is on the run from a government that has lied to everyone under its control - and yet, she still wants to return and pretend that nothing every happened. She is not the least bit compassionate or curious and often made me scream in frustration
Glenn's friend, Kevin, seems nice enough and had the potential to be someone I could root for, however, about halfway through the book he undergoes a mysterious personality change and suddenly he is just as much of a jerk as Glenn is. The reason? Magic. The reason is always magic. Magic that is not expanded upon or explained and is used as a crutch to explain every moment of weird shit. We are simply supposed to swallow this ready made excuse like a bitter pill and move on. We are also expected to believe that, despite the lack of barrier or patrols on the border between the Colloquium (hated this word btw) and the supposed wasteland, no one ever goes there? Seriously? No teenage dares, no conspiracy obsessed nuts, no wandering children ever pass through the apparently thin stretch of forest? OH wait, we do get to meet one family, but they kill themselves before we get a chance to actually learn anything.
On that note, I must mention the brutality. But not brutality in order to examine a massive flaw in a government system or with human nature in general, no, this was simply bloodshed for the sake of bloodshed. I don't like this approach in adult novels and I despise it in YA books. It seems authors like this seem to forget that this is not HBO and not every death has to be a graphic mess.
By the time I hit the last 100 pages, I was completely over this book, it's characters and it's world building. The premise was interesting, it had great potential, but somewhere along the line it got bogged down in weird shit and forgot to tell a story. I am not sure if this is part of a series, but I will not be sticking around to find out.
Age: 16 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing Violence: LOTS: execution, gunplay, knifeplay, suicide Inappropriate Language: None Substance Use/Abuse: None (less)
Cover Impressions: I got the movie tie-in edition on sale. The cover is decent. It will...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: I got the movie tie-in edition on sale. The cover is decent. It will definitely appeal to boys and the cute guy on the cover will grab the girl's attention. I like the sparks and embers but would have like a little more indication of flame and a clearer image of the symbol in the background.
The Gist: 9 children escaped the doomed planet of Lorien in the middle of an attack by the Mogdorians. (Unsure of the spelling here - don't care enough to go back and check). They have been placed under a "protection" spell that requires them to be killed in order (wonder how they chose who would be number one?). Three have died already and we meet John Smith, number four.
Review: I was pretty exited to read this book. Not because of the movie (didn't know about that) or the plot, but because it was the first book chosen by my new Junior High Book Club. The kids made suggestions and I chose the final pick (mostly based on availability). A lot of my students claimed to have loved this book, so I couldn't wait to see what interested them so much.
By the end, I had begun to doubt their taste. First, the good things. This book has quite a bit of action (mostly at the end). It has a love interest and a main character with super special powers. The plot was interesting enough at the beginning but began to fall apart by the end. Perhaps the problem is that I question while I am reading and many students have not yet learned to do that or do not have a varied repitoire from which to compare writing. Either way, I did have some issues here.
First of all, I liked the premise behind the book but found some plot-holes frustrating. It was never explained WHY the Mogdorians are spending so much time chasing these kids around Earth. They have already gotten what they wanted from Lorien - slaughtering (hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands?) full grown Loriens with developed powers, so why would they be worried about a handful of kids rather than using their resources for a full scale invasion of Earth? I understand that in a series like this, these type of secrets are often saved for further books but it seemed like no-one but me even questioned why John was being hunted. I was also frustrated at the lack of revelations by the end of the novel. I do not need to know EVERYTHING at the end of the first book, but it would have been nice to learn SOMETHING - John could have opened the letter at the very least! The plot itself was fairly predictable and the big shocking moments were things that I had assumed would happen after only the first couple chapters.
The characters were mostly bland and annoying. John refuses to face his situation, seems cocky for no reason and makes selfish decisions that puts everyone else in danger. He has an amazing ability to ignore what is going on around him and seems to be more interested in making out with his girlfriend than training to save his world. Sarah was boring beyond belief - so boring in fact that I just had to go look up her name because I couldn't remember it. She does not appear to have a single flaw and is beloved by everyone, despite her having recently turned her back on her boyfriend and the cheerleading squad - one would think those people might be bitter but, no, they still love her. The side characters mostly blend together, particularly the football players, or are mildly interesting, like Sam, but don't get any real development.
The action scenes in this novel seemed to be missing something. At the end, they were prolonged with attack after attack but still didn't have a real sense of urgency. The tickle trunk Lorien Chest, made problems a little to easy to solve and I couldn't help thinking "There's an App for that!" every time they opened it. The only characters that I really cared about were Henri and the dog. This left me bored for most of the action.
I can understand why my students would have liked this book (many of them liked Twilight after all) but I did not have any desire to read the teaser for the next book, let alone actually continue the series.
Age: 16 and Up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing Violence: Bullying, Hand to Hand combat, Knifeplay, Gunplay, Violence to animals Inappropriate Language: Shit, Bitch, Damn, Dick Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking (less)
I have always been fascinated with witch stories. Simply spying the word in a book blurb can make me sit up and take no...moreI have a soft spot for witches.
I have always been fascinated with witch stories. Simply spying the word in a book blurb can make me sit up and take notice, (oddly enough, the word Werewolf usually makes me stop reading a blurb with disgust - an instinct that I should have listened to when I picked up Shiver. Damn you Stiefvater! Also, damn you for having a name that I have to check for spelling every time I want to curse you. But, I digress).
Briony is a witch. At least, she tells you she is a witch. However, (view spoiler)[other than talk to a few people no one else can see (hide spoiler)] she doesn't actually DO anything witchy. At the beginning, this brings out minor annoyance in me, prompting me to tell Briony "Come on, talk to the old ones, write their stories, do a spell - it's not so bad, you'll like it!". About halfway through the book, my irritation gives way to anger at how much of my time this book is wasting and my pleas get a little more dark: "Oh, you don't like that chick? Let's kill her!" and get more and more desperate "Come on, Just kill her! Maim her? Give her Boils? .... Hives? ... One, little, pimple?"
The writing itself is strange. Just when I think I have a handle on what is going on, Billingsley throws out something that leaves me flicking pages trying to figure out what I missed. She goes off on random tangents that have nothing to do with the storyline and only serve to add to my annoyance (see above). The plot points that are supposed to stun and shock me only leave me shaking my head and asking "You're just figuring this out NOW??? Where were you 100 pages ago?!"
The only character that I enjoyed was Rose, and there was far to little of her. Briony's self hatred made me feel like I was reading a 13 year old's emo poetry and Eldric's constant figeting was more irritating than endearing.
The word that came to mind throughout this entire book was Tedious. I found myself forcing time to read it when I would much rather be doing something more enjoyable like, oh I don't know, taking a bath in a tub full of razor blades.
Teaching Note: While I am not sure any of my Junior High students would appreciate the quirky writing style, I might recommend it to a grade 9 student due to the difficulty and one scene of *almost* sex
This review can also be found at Reading Between Classes ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Cover Impressions: I really enjoy the mish-mash of elements in this cover.
The Gist: Peter Mayle and his wife have visited Provence several times and fallen in love with the picturesque countryside and the relaxed style of life. They have decided to take the jump and buy a property there. Peter chronicles their first year in their new home.
Review: This was a book club pick and not something I would normally have chosen for myself. The writing was enjoyable enough but I suffered along with the lack of a plot. Instead of a tale with a beginning, middle and end - I was presented with a large collection of anecdotes. While these were, in themselves, enjoyable, they did not lend to engrossment in the novel or inspire me to pick it up again after a few hours of distraction elsewhere.
This book felt like a lazy summer day, pleasant, but lacking anything of substance. As such, I am having difficulty finding things to write about. There was nothing inherently BAD about the book, but there was nothing particularly impressive either. One issue that I did encounter was the descriptions of food. At the beginning, these were interesting and charming but, as time wore on, they became tedious. By the end of the book, I felt that I had sat with Peter and his wife at every meal for an entire year!
All in all, A Year in Provence is a light, easy read perfectly suited to an easy going vacation or simply a trip to the beach. However, if you are looking for something with a little more substance, it would be best to move on to something else on the shelf. (less)
I read this book for my book club. When it was suggested, I was very interested by the premise of a young boy fascinated by books who stumbles upon a...moreI read this book for my book club. When it was suggested, I was very interested by the premise of a young boy fascinated by books who stumbles upon a mystery. The book, however, did not live up to my expectations. It was very slow going. I found the main character tedious and boring. It was clear rather early on that nearly every male in the book wanted to boink every single female he came across (and/or beat the crap out of them). The setting did nothing for me and I cared little to nothing about the constant references to "the war". When things started to fall apart, I took a sneak peak at a few reviews. They assured me that there would be shocking revelations that would make my patience worthwhile. When these started to come to light, my reaction was much less "OH MY GOD!" and much more "WTF, I figured that out 200 pages ago". Note to authors (view spoiler)[if you introduce a character who doesn't know who is father is who then a) is taken in by a relative stranger with a penchant for sleeping around and b) falls in love with the daughter of this man - I am going to assume immediately that the dude is his father and he is boinking his sister - this no longer constitutes a mystery. (hide spoiler)] The only redeeming factor in this book: The hope that the Cemetery of Forgotten Books actually exists - I want to live there.
Cover Impressions: The cover is interesting but I do feel that it is missing something....moreThis and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: The cover is interesting but I do feel that it is missing something. Perhaps it is the lack of color that is throwing me, though I do understand the purpose in washing it out in order to reflect how Eva had faded to nearly nothing.
The Gist: In the world of the Hybrid Chronicles every body is born with two souls, each with a distinct personality. Through their younger years, these souls exchange use of the body and are treated as two separate individuals. However, as they grow older, one soul rises and dominant and the other fades away forever. Once in a while, there is a soul that hangs on: a Hybrid - feared and hunted. This is Eva and Addie. For three years Eva has hidden away, locked inside Addie's mind while she tries to pretend that they have settled, that they are normal. But Eva sees a chance to live and be known and it will drag both of them down a dangerous path.
Review: I will admit, this book took me longer than normal to finish. Admittedly, the munchkin and I were visiting my parents which does not make for the most friendly of reading environments, but I still feel like there was something missing.
The world was interesting. The concept of two souls in one body is unique and opens the door for a lot of exploration. I did find it difficult to piece together the history that led to this particular place and time. A war was mentioned a time or two, but I would have liked some more details (perhaps they will be forthcoming in subsequent novels?) The writing was fast paced and exciting and I cannot quite put my finger on what kept me from diving for this book at every free moment.
Perhaps it was the characters. I found it difficult to connect with Addie and Eva. They had spent so much time trying to blend in and not be noticed that they came off a little bland. The secondary characters were not much more exciting. I would really have liked to have been able to tell simply through dialogue and actions, which soul had taken over the bodies at which point. Instead, I had to be told by Eva who was in control and it took something away from this unique premise.
In the end, I was a little underwhelmed. There was some character growth and a set up for the next novel but nothing that really left me satisfied in the outcome. The book was enjoyable enough that I will be coming back for the second in the series and hoping for some more dynamic characters to go with the roller-coaster plot.
Age: 16 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing Violence: Physical restraint, unnecessary surgery Inappropriate Language: None Substance Use/Abuse: None(less)
Cover Impressions: The cover is pretty, and I like the dark tone and colors but it doesn...moreThis and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: The cover is pretty, and I like the dark tone and colors but it doesn't really stand out from all the other "pretty girl in a pretty dress" in YA. If it wasn't for my slight obsession with witches and fairy tale re-tellings, I probably never would have picked up this book.
The Gist: Bewitching spins together a number of fairy tales as it follows Kendra, a witch who tries to help people but, inevitably, makes things worse.
Review: I thoroughly enjoy books that re-tell or take a different spin on fairy tales. This book should have been right up my alley, but there was something about it that just didn't click. First of all, I wasn't a fan of Kendra (does anyone else think this is an odd name for a character that originated in the 1660s?). We never really learn anything about her motivations. The story opens with her escaping a plague ridden town with her brother in tow and being captured by the witch from the Hansel & Gretel story. This witch teaches Kendra how to control her powers but we see very little of these lessons nor do we learn anything else about the history of that witch or Kendra. Eventually, the brother disappears - for no apparent reason and we abruptly shift to the Cinderella story of Emma and Lisette.
In Emma, I see a character that I could enjoy (despite her being ANOTHER YA character who is obsessed with classical novels - puhleese!). She grew up in a priveledged household, but it ultimately just a lonely little girl. When her stepfather brings home a daughter Emma never knew about, she hopes to gain a friend and instead finds Lisette to be a mastermind at manipulation. A few things bothered me: 1) we never find out why Lisette lived in abject poverty while Daddy Warbucks spoiled Emma and her mother 2) the father seems like a decent guy, but while bonding with Lisette he COMPLETELY neglects Emma - FOR YEARS!
Just as I am getting interested in Emma and Lisette's story, there is yet another interlude while Kendra tells us another story. The shifts in time and narrator changes made for a very choppy storyline and left me annoyed. Each time one occurred, I was tempted to put the book down and never pick it up again. In the end, it felt like the author started this book with a handful of short stories and then concocted a weak storyline in order to link them all together into one book. Perhaps, if the entire story had been told from Kendra's point of view (or at least switched between just Kendra and Emma) it might have flowed better.
In the end, I found this novel unsatisfying. While the novel may be exactly what some readers enjoy (and judging by many of the reviews, it is) it was simply not for me and I do not think I will be continuing with Kendra's story through any subsequent books.
Age: 15 and up Gender: Females Sex: Kissing, Violence: Death by drowning, Inappropriate Language: Bastard, Slut Substance Abuse: Underage Drinking, Marijuana Use (less)
When I say I hated Shiver, what I actually mean is I loathed Shiver. Had I bought the book instead of the ebook, I would have burned it. As it was, I...moreWhen I say I hated Shiver, what I actually mean is I loathed Shiver. Had I bought the book instead of the ebook, I would have burned it. As it was, I felt I should do a system restore on my reader in order to cleanse it from the stench of mediocrity.
I have serious issues with teenage LUV (not to be confused with love) at first sight especially when it is followed by a storyline riddled with tortured romance. I also couldn't, for the life of me, figure out WHY Sam and Grace loved each other, Lord knows I hated them. Grace was flat and irritating. Sam, on the other hand, was a chick in wolf's clothing. No guy talks/thinks like that. None. Ever. Speaking of talking, I work with teenagers, Stiefvater might have tried listening to some real teenagers before she tried to write about them. The plot was slow going at best and ground to a standstill whenever Sam started to get cold and/or had to go outside, and/or breathed. And a final note - song lyrics, and poetry. SERIOUSLY? Leave it to the professionals, or at least the talented. (less)
Cover Impressions: This cover feels very contemporary fiction to me. There is nothing ab...moreThis and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: This cover feels very contemporary fiction to me. There is nothing about the cover image that feels supernatural and only the title hints at the paranormal elements that are crucial to the story. I do not feel this one would stand out on a shelf.
The Gist: Having been pushed in front of a subway, Charlotte wakes to find herself in a swanky hotel and in the company of the Dead Girls Detective Agency. Together they must find Charlotte's murderer in order to give her a chance to move on.
Review: This was a very tough read for me and I am surprised that I managed to make it to the end. The Dead Girls Detective Agency had a fun and interesting premise, but the writing, characters and plot were lackluster at best.
From the very first chapter, this novel featured A LOT of dialogue. I get it, Charlotte had to be introduced into this new world and some groundwork had to be laid. However, there had to be a way to accomplish this that did not involve pages and pages of info-dumping with very little in the way of comic relief and no action whatsoever. For the first half of the book, we are forced to endure endless explanations of the rules. What the rules are, who made the rules, how to bend the rules, what happens when you break the rules. This is interrupted occasionally while Charlotte moons over the boyfriend that she left behind, realizes that he is a selfish twit, and then is informed by her ghost-mates that she gets 9 chances to break the rules - so let's go have some fun! Seriously? All that time spent building the world around these rules and then we frivilously toss them out the window so that we can drop in on Beyonce and Jay-Z? That feels cheap to me and makes me angry that I had to sit through Ghost 101 when none of it actually mattered.
The writing featured a great deal of teen-speak that did not feel genuine. In all my years of teaching, I have never heard an actual, honest-to-goodness teenager use an acronym in a sentence. Yet, these teens drop OMG's like a middle-aged parent trying to be "cool" with their kid's friends. The author also chose to engage in one of my serious pet peeves in YA: name-dropping. I know it is tempting. You want your book to be relevant, you want your readers to be able to relate to the characters: "She likes Simple Plan? OMG! I love Simple Plan - we could be BFF's!!" In reality, in stinks of desperation.
The plot of The Dead Girls Detective Agency crawled. I found myself skimming pages, just waiting to get to some action. There were some higher points, like when the girls possessed the cheerleaders (aptly named the Tornahos) but even those did not live up the the potential for hilarity. There was very little in the way of action. We had a few tense moments where the killer is revealed and a few more when Tess and Edison's connection is revealed. I was pretty disappointed at the choice of murderer. I am never a fan when the killer is revealed as being someone to whom we are barely introduced and, in this case, doesn't even warrant a name.
Despite my obvious issues with plot and writing, Cox could have pulled me back in with some kick-ass characters. Alas, this was not the case. The characters felt very cookie-cutter to me: the sweet one, the nerdy one, the fashionista, the bitch, the slutty cheerleaders, the sleazy ex-boyfriend, the new love interest. All of them acted as expected. They didn't do anything exciting and they didn't have any clever, funny or interesting dialogue. Charlotte was incredibly boring, naive and gullible. I was also bothered by the fact that she described herself as a prolific reader - yet she didn't speak like one. At one point she even says "And one time, she helped me with a Shakespeare assignment, because I'd just finished reading Harry Potter and kept getting confused between Halmet and Hagrid and it was completely messing up my essay on why he had issues." Seriously? You claim to read a vast and varied array of books and yet you have trouble distinguishing between two characters? I just couldn't relate to a girl that 1) dumped her best friend the minute she found a boyfriend 2) talked about the boyfriend non-stop for the majority of the book and 3) didn't use her special new ghostly powers to do some serious damage to the slutty cheerleaders and the boyfriend who hooked up with three of them within a few days of her funeral.
The Dead Girls Detective Agency just didn't work for me. I was expecting a fluffy and humorous read, but this one just didn't have enough substance to hold it together.
Age: 16 and up Gender: Female Sex: Kissing, talk of "hooking up" Violence: Murder - pushed in front of a subway Inappropriate Language: Bitch, Pissed, Ho, Asshole, Slut, Whore Substance Use/Abuse: None (less)
Cover Impressions: The cover has some beautiful elements but, for me, it feels like it i...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: The cover has some beautiful elements but, for me, it feels like it is missing something. The script is stunning, the trees create a fantastically creepy atmosphere, but I keep looking for something else to rest my eye upon and there just isn't anything. If I were designing this cover - I would have added a full moon so we at least had a focal point.
The Gist: Ethan Wate is counting down the days until he can escape the small town of Gatlin. He spends his days barely tolerating his classmates and his nights struggling to hold on to a girl that he has never met. When Lena Duchannes arrives at Stonewall Jackson High School, everyone can tell she is different. Ethan finds himself seeking her out and will soon discover that they have a mysterious and powerful connection.
Review: I have encountered this book (and the others in the series) off an on throughout my forays through the world of YA. In reading the synopsis, however, the whole mysterious romantic connection turned me off from picking up the book. Then I encountered the trailer for the movie to be released in 2013 and it looked so good I just had to give the book a shot and decided to try the audio version.
Let me tell you, it was loooooooooong. Normally, I find audiobooks make my commute better and make dealing with traffic a heck of a lot easier (just more time for the book!). But this one left me frustrated. I found myself yelling at the characters as they whined about their lives. Boo hoo, my home town is boring (Ethan) Wah Wah my life is weird and full of magic (Lena). I swear, if I heard Lena say "I am going to go dark" one more time I was going to throw my ipod under the wheels of a semi. It was even more irritating because the underlying plot was great. It had lots of mystery, great settings and interesting characters. But it seemed that just as I was getting some answers and seeing the plot progress, we would revert to moody Lena, queen of complaining. I really wanted to shake her - you have super-fun powers, DO SOMETHING WITH THEM! While Beautiful Creatures had a wonderfully creepy setting and some fantastically exciting scenes, there was just too long in between them and I got tired of waiting.
I was not a huge fan of the narrator, though he was competent enough. However, at one point, the narration switches to Lena and a female voice. I did not like her at all! This new narrator displayed little to no emotion and it completely pulled me from the world that the author had created. Because this occurred during a particularly important and action-filled section of the book, it was incredibly jarring and ruined those emotional moments for me.
This book is also guilty of perpetrating one of my pet peeves: the uncaring school. As a teacher, I take a real offense when I encounter books that feature teachers and administration who turn a blind eye to the blatant bullying that occurs in their school. I take a special offense when the teachers and administration become and active part of the problem. Yes, there are bad teachers out there. Yes, there are bad principals out there. But the majority of us did not get into this profession so that we could ignore the obvious distress of our students.
The ending of Beautiful Creatures left me unsatisfied. There were just too many questions left unanswered and, while I want the answers to them, I am just not willing to read/listen to the next book just yet. Especially as other reviewers have noted that it is even more angsty than the first.
Age: 13 and up Gender: Female Sex: Kissing Violence: Fist-fighting, Magical attacks, Stabbing Inappropriate Language: Bitch, Piss (there may be others but I forget) Substance Use/Abuse: Underage drinking, cigar smoking (less)