The Body Finder is an unfortunate example of wasted potential. I am sad to say that, because I feel that Kimberly Derting throws out some great ideas,...moreThe Body Finder is an unfortunate example of wasted potential. I am sad to say that, because I feel that Kimberly Derting throws out some great ideas, ones that could have been amazing, but inevitably fell short and got buried under a nauseating romantic plot and a sea of characters who were nothing more than stereotypes.
I loved the beginning of the novel. We start off with a young Violet finding the body of a dead child. If the whole story had followed in the footsteps of the prologue/first chapter I would have loved it. Violet's ability to find dead bodies isn't exactly a new concept but I thought the way in which she did it was very neat. Dead bodies came to Violet as an echo. The echo represented their life and death. It could attack any one of Violet's senses. She might hear the sound of fireworks, smell strong coffee or feel the touch of downy feathers on her skin. She could also sense death on others as an imprint. It was difficult for Violet to even be around her cat; since he carried the imprints of the creatures he'd killed.
I also found the murder investigation to be entertaining despite being a bit predictable. I read the majority of this novel in one sitting and was completely engrossed by the chapters in which Violet uses her ability to try to catch a killer. I also liked the included chapters from the killer's perspective. Unfortunately, I envisioned several endings that would have been more shocking than where the story actually went. I also didn't like the attempts to trick the reader into thinking something, because it was rather obvious that it was being done, so I didn't suspect it was true. I think that if these risks were actually taken with the story (specifically a trick played near the end) it would have made for a more gripping read.
My main gripe with this novel is the relationship between Violet and Jay. Honestly, they did not have personalities outside of each other. It was yet another situation in which the lead male is being fawned all over by every girl in his vicinity, but of course he only has eyes for our awkward heroine who couldn't possibly understand what he could see in her. Not only was it annoying that all of the other female characters in the novel apparently lost all sense of themselves when Jay was in the room and only cared about fighting other girls for his affections (ugh), it was also annoying that Violet inwardly mocked these girls and then turned around and did the exact same thing herself. She was constantly thinking about melting and how hot/sexy/attractive Jay had gotten since going through the apparently magical process of puberty.
In connection with this, I also didn't appreciate the treatment of Lissie Adams in this story. She is Violet's "competition" for Jay. She is referred to as "shallow and boring" and "just another brainless cheerleader" and given no depth beyond being the obvious bitch stereotype ready to claw Violet's eyes out to get to Jay. Is this really all we want women characters to amount to in novels? It's also said that she is a "slut" and she "gives it up to all the guys" and goes by the nickname "kneepads". This is a conversation being had at a table of girls. Was this necessary? I don't agree with slut shaming and I don't see what purpose this cattiness served for the novel. Jay, of course, can just cast this girl aside very rudely for Violet and it's viewed as ok, romantic even, because she is a bitch/slut/walking talking bag of evil. He even says that he was using her to make Violet jealous so she would realize he liked her. Um, couldn't he have just... I don't know... told her he liked her? Too simple, Jay? Too direct? Not enough casualties involved?
There is also a "friend" of Violet's whose only purpose is to be the "stupid" friend who never gets anyone's jokes and doesn't understand anything. At one point another "friend" of Violet's jokes to the girl that she must ride the short bus. Nothing like a good dose of ableism on top of all of that slut shaming. There was also a situation where one girl was to said to like to play the "bi-curious card" even though she was like SO TOTALLY STRAIGHT (as if it would be weird if she weren't) and all of the other girls would yell "Gross!" in response to her fake advances. One of the girls is even said to be homophobic. I enjoyed the serial killer plot, and I thought the idea of echoes and imprints was very original. Too bad the rest of the novel brought such an interesting concept down to its level in the dumpster of stereotypes and offensive tropes.
Between Shades of Gray is a very important story. It's a story that needs to be told. These people and what they lost needs to be remembered.
I wasn't...moreBetween Shades of Gray is a very important story. It's a story that needs to be told. These people and what they lost needs to be remembered.
I wasn't entirely sure how to rate this. While being a very important book, one that I did connect with emotionally, it didn't quite hit me the same way other books set during World War 2 have. During the official book trailer the author jokes about the original book being so dark that it required a lot of revisions, that originally it was even darker than Wuthering Heights, but I actually suspect that I would have loved that original edit more. While this book IS horrific (it absolutely is - don't get me wrong) it seemed like it held back from going to certain depths. That was a horrible time and no doubt it was even more horrific than this terrible fictionalized account shows. I just wish that whatever was darker about the original edits had stayed because no matter how horrible, we unfortunately can't edit history to make it easier to stomach, and I'm not sure how I feel about lightening up a story about it either. The things that happened to these people were awful, and I imagine even worse than Lina's story would imply. I understand the need to make sure there was hope present in the story; but I think that hope would have had an even greater impact in a darker story.
I absolutely loved that Lina was an artist. The story of artists during this time is just heartbreaking. The things that humans will do to get their story out there when people are attempting to silence them... Forget heroes in the dystopia novels of the fictionalized future, we can find the real heroes in our very own past.
This book was in fact a very short read. It flew by in no time at all, and I felt like I wasn't given enough time to really connect to the story like I wanted to. Despite the page count a lot of the pages were only half pages when preparing to end a chapter. With a lot of different chapter breaks and short chapters I think this made for a lot less material than it would seem?
In any case, the story is important, because it brings light to the real people who suffered these tragedies. It broke my heart, to see the way these characters were treated, and to imagine it being even worse than what our fictional Lina had to go through. These are things we can't afford to forget. I will recommend this book to others.
It had been quite some time since I read the first book in the series, Shiver, before I picked this up. I'm not sure why I waited so long. I suppose t...more It had been quite some time since I read the first book in the series, Shiver, before I picked this up. I'm not sure why I waited so long. I suppose the end was satisfying enough that I didn't feel the need to move immediately forward. It could also be that besides really loving the sweet and quiet story and Maggie's writing, I just wasn't in love with the first book, at least not enough to care to continue it immediately. Whatever the case, one night I found myself yearning to continue Sam and Grace's story, so the next day I went out to the book store and procured the lovely paperback with its green writing, and prepared to lose myself to the sad story of the wolves again.
Unfortunately, this book did not deliver for me. I get the appeal of a quieter story not filled with action, but does this book really move the plot forward at all? Do the characters develop a lot at least? For me, I don't think so. Sam and Grace are just as in love as before (and dare I say a little co-dependent...) and Sam is still the creative and emotional one to Grace's more logical personality. Other than Grace standing up to her parents there was no real development for either of them. The focus of this story is Sam and Grace just trying to hold on to each other. Grace is sick and her absentee parents have finally decided to step in and try to keep them apart. Most of the novel is spent between the two of them just wishing they were with the other. I wish they had been able to at least form deeper bonds with other characters in this book, but they didn't. Grace kept Isabel at a distance and Sam was distrustful of Cole from the start. This is slightly resolved in the end at least, but it didn't have the impact that it could have had if there had been a bit of build up to it, and Sam and Grace had been at least a little more open to other relationships throughout the story.
I thought the addition of Isabel and Cole's perspectives was kind of messy. I didn't really like or care about Cole until the end. I've never been a fan of the bad-boy-who-just-doesn't-care. It was nice to see a different side to Isabel though. I don't normally mind switching perspectives but I wish they had been contained to chapters. Often we would witness a scene through one character's eyes and then move on to another character's perspective a few paragraphs later. It was hard to keep track of who was who, and it caused me to feel like the characters were kind of losing their distinct personalities, and merging into one voice.
Maggie's writing is still nice here. A little purple-y during Sam's random lyrics, but otherwise just as lovely as ever. The somber tone to the story, of these humans who turn into wolves and lose themselves, who still come to witness funerals and watch over the sick, is simply beautiful. I also like that Sam isn't a jerk, always nice to see in a YA book. I'll probably wait to read Forever when it's in paperback so it can match the other two books I already have. I'm not dying to read it after reading this but I will be reading it. I do want to see how Sam and Grace's story ends.
Imaginary Girls is my favorite novel in which nothing at all happens. It is also my favorite novel that includes an entire cast of pretty unlikeable c...moreImaginary Girls is my favorite novel in which nothing at all happens. It is also my favorite novel that includes an entire cast of pretty unlikeable characters. Doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement? It is.
I've had some trouble committing to books at the start of this year but Nova Ren Suma pulled me in and soon I was drowning in the spooky setting of this book. I wanted to know just what was going on in this ghost filled world. This isn't a mystery though, this novel is a member of the "magical realism" genre. If you're not familiar or keen on that sort of thing then this book won't be for you. Because truly, almost nothing happens. This isn't another action packed dystopia. You probably won't fall in love with the characters. What you'll find in this novel is something different than a lot of what is out there today. This story is quiet. It is slow. It feels a lot like sinking*. It's not a trilogy. It's not even a romance. It's love, ghosts and magic. A whole town of ghosts trapped forever beneath.
It's the story of two sisters who are obsessed with each other in a very unhealthy way. Loyal until death. Attached at the hip in an unhealthy way that makes you want to reach out and shake Chloe. Wake up, Chlo. Ruby is the Regina George of your world. She always gets what she wants and we're all left to wonder why. The writing in this novel is so beautiful though, that none of that even matters, and you feel like you are floating in the water of the reservoir yourself; filled with anxiety over what may just grab your ankles in the pages to come and pull you in.
Looking for something a little different from YA? Imaginary Girls is your story. Nova Ren Suma is a beautiful writer and I can't wait for her next book.
* I really just wanted to throw in as many bad water references as I could here. No shame. Plus it's true. This novel does feel like sinking, right?
Recommendation: Those who like magical realism and ghosts. Lovers of pretty prose. Anyone looking to get away from your usual YA romances. Those who don't mind developing irrational fears of reservoirs and balloons.
Seven half-bloods shall answer the call, To storm or fire the world must fall. An oath to keep with a final breath, And foes bear arms to the Doors of De...moreSeven half-bloods shall answer the call, To storm or fire the world must fall. An oath to keep with a final breath, And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death.
The Lost Hero is the first book in Heroes of Olympus, a companion series to the popular Percy Jackson novels. I was a big fan of the Percy Jackson series. The first books read a bit young since Percy was just a kid when the novels began, but the series was still so much fun to read, and I loved all of the bits of Greek Mythology. The same is true of The Lost Hero. The characters are also older when this series begins and we get to bypass the awkward middle school phase that dragged down the PJ series at the beginning. I do think the characters still tend to come across a bit younger than other YA characters but it didn't really bother me.
The Lost Hero is told from the perspectives of three different half bloods: Leo, Piper and Jason. I thought that each character had their own unique voice, which I think is so important when it comes to a novel with multiple perspectives. The three half bloods go on many adventures in this novel and all proved to be just as amusing and interesting to read about as the adventures of Percy and Annabeth. The humor is still a little cheesy but it actually grew on me after awhile. It was refreshing after reading so many novels that seem to take themselves too seriously.
A few of our favorite characters from Percy Jackson are back at Camp Half Blood. By far my favorite scenes from both this series and PJ are the scenes that take place at Camp Half Blood. There's just something about the camp that reminds me of Hogwarts. Perhaps it's that each half blood is grouped together with their other siblings and they all compete against each other. Just like at Hogwarts each of the students tends to exemplify certain characteristics of their house; each half blood is similar to their God parent in some way. Aphrodite's children tend to care a lot about beauty. Hephaestus' children are good at fixing things. Ares' children are eager to go to war. There is something so fun about trying to guess which God each half blood belongs to before they are claimed by their godly parent.
Also, ten extra points to this book for including a flying mechanical dragon and making him into a loveable character all his own. Maybe I just like dragons.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a light read. I think people who are interested in Greek Mythology will get more out of this series than others. (less)
I am a big fan of the world that Jodi Meadows has crafted in her Newsoul series. With so much dystopia on the shelves I didn’t realize how refreshing...moreI am a big fan of the world that Jodi Meadows has crafted in her Newsoul series. With so much dystopia on the shelves I didn’t realize how refreshing it would be to read about a utopia.
In a world where people die only to come back in a different body to different parents there is much opportunity for fascinating relationship dynamics. There is also an opportunity for the exploration of what it is like to have lived life in both a woman’s body and a man’s. The novel also discusses what might happen if two lovers come back as the same gender and that wasn’t their physical preference. I thought that raising these sorts of questions made this a very smart book and let it stand out among other YA books on the shelves today.
My complaint is that I think too much time was spent on the romance and not enough time exploring these very interesting ideas. I did enjoy Sam as a character. I think he may be one of my favorite male leads. I just wish the romance had taken a bit more of a backseat. I also thought it was sweet that their relationship grew with music, but beyond that I didn’t see much between them that would have built a romance, other than the fact that Sam was her first friend and that she was the only new person in the entire world he hadn’t met yet. That made the relationship seem less real to me. In fact, I kind of think it made it sort of unhealthy given Sam’s actual age and power over Ana from the start, even if he didn’t seem to be trying to use that power.
Ana’s personality is very combative and at times irrational. I thought that it was very realistic given the abusive environment she grew up in and I really respect Jodi for not creating another bland and likeable character who is loved by everyone. I know from personal experience that Ana’s behavior after leaving her abusive childhood is realistic. Mental abuse (and physical) leaves its mark. It colors the way you perceive the world and other people. It takes years to recover from that type of abuse, and I’m not sure that you ever completely do. I hope that Ana is able to grow throughout the series and learn to trust people. I am excited to go on that journey with her.
Another wonderful thing about this book is the addition of dragons and sylphs. I love fantasy and am immediately drawn in by books that include magical creatures. I thought they added extra enjoyment to the conclusion of the book. I was a little disappointed with the other answers provided at the end so I was happy the dragons and sylphs were present to keep the ending exciting.
I would recommend this series to others while admitting that it is very much a first book and doesn’t quite reach the potential of the questions it raises. I do think that given time to grow the series can be very worthwhile and I think it should be given a chance. Jodi has created a very original world and I’m eager to see where she goes with it as she continues to build Heart.(less)
Living Dead Girl is an extremely hard novel to read and rate. No one could call this book enjoyable. The subject matter is extremely rough and there i...moreLiving Dead Girl is an extremely hard novel to read and rate. No one could call this book enjoyable. The subject matter is extremely rough and there is no easy or comfortable way to approach it. Kidnapping, rape, and child abuse are things that crawl under the skin and a book written about them has to unnerve you. It has to make you cringe and ache, because we live in a world where these things really happen, and that is impossible to stomach. This novel is very short but it felt like it took forever to read. I wanted it to be over. I recommend reading it in one sitting so that you do not have to think about going back to it, because you won’t want to.
I’ve watched a lot of Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit and all of those episodes combined didn’t affect me as badly as this one little book did. That just speaks to the power and possibilities of literature as a storytelling medium, I think, because it placed us inside the head of the victim herself, and that is a very terrifying and ugly place to be. Years of abuse will change and reshape the brain of anyone and make the victim’s actions seem almost incomprehensible to outsiders because they haven’t been in that situation. They haven’t been forced to do things to survive. I thought this book did a very good job of showing what it is like to be inside the head of someone who has been through these sorts of horrific things.
In the end, I wished there had been more hope, but we live in a world where sometimes there is no happy ending or resolution, and that’s just the sad truth. I’d recommend this book with a great many trigger warnings.(less)
The Soul Screamers series approaches supernatural beings that I haven't yet encountered before in my reading. The concept of Banshees (Bean Sidhes) is...more The Soul Screamers series approaches supernatural beings that I haven't yet encountered before in my reading. The concept of Banshees (Bean Sidhes) is new to me and so it was definitely a refreshing subject to read about. I absolutely love the world Rachel Vincent crafts here. I was initially drawn to this series by the prequel, My Soul to Lose, and if I'm being honest, I enjoyed the prequel even more than I enjoyed this first book in the series. The prequel introduced us to Kayleigh's need to wail when someone near her was about to die. I was fascinated and excited to pick up the first book. Unfortunately, as I kind of expected, the first book was bogged down by an instant romance, taking away from the world that Rachel Vincent was building, which is a shame since the mythology only gets even more involved and interesting here.
The Grim Reapers and Tod as a character were really great additions to this story. I love the explorations into death and learning about the details of the involvement of the Grim Reapers and the different parts male and female bean sidhes can play. The plot was fast moving and the ending was satisfying. It did not feel like a cliffhanger but a complete story, which is very important for a series, but it still managed to leave me wanting more.
The one thing that I really didn't like about this novel was a prominent enough part of the book to affect my rating. The romance between Nash and Kayleigh was formed too quickly to be believable. Kayleigh found herself wondering if Nash only had feelings for her because of what they have in common, and I did too, because what else was there? Kayleigh spends much of the story getting distracted by Nash's arms, hands, mouth and the swirling depths in his eyes and it caused me to roll my own non-swirly eyes on several occasions. She also frequently wonders what he could possibly see in her because of course he is ~beautiful~ and the most popular guy in school. Do we really have to keep writing heroines this way? Heroines who spend the entire day thinking about a boy and wondering how they could possibly deserve him? Can't our supernatural heroine have a little more confidence and focus on the much more important things she has going on without constantly thinking about a boy's "gravelly chuckle" and how it sent a "bolt of heat" blazing through her? At this point when it comes to a lot of YA romance I am hoping someone does a follow up. Can we look in on these romances a few years down the line when she's had to listen to him snoring at all hours and watched him forget to wash his hands after pooping a few times? Because I think the inner monologues would really align with reality then.
I will definitely be continuing on with this series. Romance aside, the story is one of the most original I've come across in the paranormal genre lately. I hope that future books focus more on everyone's abilities and the Reapers instead of pretty boys.
Recommendation: Anyone in the mood for some paranormal candy that ventures away from the usual vampires/werewolves. You can check out the prequel for free if you go to its Goodreads page.
The Fault In Our Stars took its rightful place as my first (and so far only) five star book of the year. I am actually not a hardcore John Green fan....moreThe Fault In Our Stars took its rightful place as my first (and so far only) five star book of the year. I am actually not a hardcore John Green fan. I read Looking for Alaska and fell in love with it. I count it among my favorite books. I always meant to pick up more of his work but for some reason I never did, until now. With all of the hype surrounding the book I felt caught up in the excitement. It was extremely cool of John to sign so many (150,000!) copies of the book. I was also aware of special copies that had fish or yeti's drawn in them. I went on a spontaneous scavenger hunt for the drawings (no luck though!) and I can assure you that the people at the book store thought I was borderline certifiable. I was the only one in the store at Booksamillion at night, so they were staring at me as I searched through the books on the display and I said "I am just looking for a fish. He drew fish in some of them." which resulted in some side eyes and polite nodding. Personally, book scavenger hunts are the best scavenger hunts. I don't know who wouldn't want to participate.
Now, on to the book. From reading the synopsis I was fairly certain that The Fault In Our Stars was going to be a big downer. There is nothing wrong with that, the subject matter is hard, and important. However, imagine my surprise when the opposite was true! Leave it to John Green to take a book about death and make me laugh out loud and smile all the way through. I was wrong from the start. This book isn't about death. It's about life. Sad, beautiful, ugly, infuriating, fake, wonderful, crazy, spontaneous, short, long... life. Though that isn't to say I didn't cry. I definitely did.
Hazel comes across as a very real teenager. So do her cohorts, Isaac and Augustus. All three suffer from some form of cancer, but they don't become caricatures, they aren't defined by their disease. We all know books that tend to do that. Allow the characters to become the disease. To be defined by it. In fact, people are even guilty of this in real life. I am pleased to say that John Green handles the characters beautifully. It all feels real, and the ugly moments aren't glossed over. Hazel and Augustus would be most pleased with this.
The romance here feels 100% true. It doesn't feel like a necessary addition to the plot added in only for the sake of having a romance. It doesn't conform to any color by numbers chart. It doesn't try to be dramatic just for the sake of the drama. It just feels... honest. What can I say about this book other than the fact that it's honest? That I felt like it contained so many of the thoughts in my head? Or that the characters reminded me of me or the people that I know? John Green gave such life to these characters that it hardly feels like fiction at all. Though, as we know from the front of the book, it most definitely is.
This book is extremely quotable. You know how you lay in bed at night and tons of wonderful ideas and sentences pour into your head and you promise yourself that you will write them down in the morning? John Green makes books out of his. Every word of this book feels like a near dream.
"I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once."
Recommendation: Everyone. It's a book that probably every one could relate to.
How absolutely cool is the premise of this book? In this dystopian society, skin is genetically mutated a certain color to paint convicts to represent...moreHow absolutely cool is the premise of this book? In this dystopian society, skin is genetically mutated a certain color to paint convicts to represent their crimes. Red skin means murderer. In this society, red skin also means someone who has had an abortion, a procedure that has been deemed illegal now that Roe V. Wade has been overturned. This novel had the potential to be as frightening as Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, a novel that didn't seem entirely far fetched when it was published, and still does not in a world where women still have to fight for their right to have complete control over their bodies. I think books of this nature are especially important given the current fight over birth control that has cropped up as candidates fight to challenge Obama in this year's election. People like Rush Limbaugh really exist. There are groups of people out there who want a world like this one to be the one we live in. Books like this one are almost realistic fiction when you think about it like that. Terrifying.
The novel starts out strong. Hannah Payne has recently been transformed to become a Chrome, her skin mutated Red, to represent her crime of abortion. She must live her days on camera inside of jail, where her every move is being broadcasted to people at home for their entertainment. Experiencing with Hannah her first moments as a Chrome, alone in solitary, is deeply intimate. Because of her perceived crime Hannah is subjected to humiliation and psychological torture. It was very interesting and painful to be inside of Hannah's head as she dealt with this experience.
Hannah is soon released and dropped off in a religious facility aimed at "curing" women chromes and bringing them back to the light of Jesus or whatever. This section of the book actually wasn't half bad. There were definitely some great points made using Hannah's experiences in that facility; perhaps Jordan should not have been so heavy handed with the message and allowed the "evil" characters to be humanized a bit. A particularly frightening thing about this facility was that Hannah and others were forced to create and carry around dolls that represented the "child" they aborted.
Once Hannah leaves the facility things get a little far fetched. She joins a sort of underground program put in place by those that oppose the new government and after that it is one unbelievable situation after another. Hannah's narrative is also a little weird. She still considers herself a murderer, even if she doesn't believe she deserves all of the ways she's been treated, and that is never resolved. I also didn't buy her loyalty to the father of the fetus, or why she would put entire groups of people at risk just to see him one last time. Also, there is a brief segue into lesbianism that would have had more meaning if it had, well, meant anything at all and didn't seem to be just a convenient plot point to represent Hannah's supposed awakening.
I think this book would have been far better served if it had focused on Hannah being made an outcast by society as a whole, and the treatment she would have received trying to live a normal life as a Red, in a world where abortion is legally viewed as murder.
I'm mixed on whether or not I'd recommend this one. It was a fairly enjoyable read, the idea of chromes was fantastic, the feminist themes were important, but in the end it fell short of everything it was trying to accomplish. I'd much rather recommend The Handmaid's Tale instead. (less)
N.K. Jemisin is definitely a force to be reckoned with in the fantasy genre. Her ability to craft an exciting and imaginative fantasy world is evident...moreN.K. Jemisin is definitely a force to be reckoned with in the fantasy genre. Her ability to craft an exciting and imaginative fantasy world is evident from the very first. The story of the gods is both unique and unpredictable. I would venture to say it is the most original use of gods in a story that I have ever seen. Jemisin's gods are everything you would imagine a god to be. They do not get weighed down by humanity because they are not human. I think this is one of the book's greatest strengths.
Another credit to Jemisin, and perhaps the biggest one, is her ability to write. This woman can write the pants off of many fantasy writers and many writers in general. Her phrases are lyrical and raw and inspiring. I immediately wanted to write them down and share them with others. The stream of consciousness style of writing was the novel's greatest strength and its greatest weakness. I thought it was strongest when Yeine's narrative was being overtaken by Enefa.
“I gather her body to mine and will all of creation to make her live again. We are not built for death. But nothing changes, nothing changes, there was a hell that I built long ago and it was a place where everything remained the same forever because I could imagine nothing more horrific, and now I am there Then others come, our children, and all react with equal horror in a child’s eyes, a mother is god but I can see nothing of their grief through the black mist of my own. I lay her body down but my hands are covered in her blood, our blood, sister lover pupil teacher friend otherself, and when I lift my head to scream out my fury, a million stars turn black and die. No one can see them, but they are my tears.”
I also found the stream of consciousness style to be frustrating and melodramatic at times. Yeine would often begin a story only to swear she'd come back to it later and start telling another one. While it certainly was a unique way to tell the story, it was also very distracting, and confusing for me as a reader.
While I think that this novel was beautifully crafted, and such an original addition to the fantasy genre, I didn't absolutely love it. In fact, I found myself uncaring about the outcome and the fates of the characters and the plot. I think this is because the characters never felt relatable to me, and I couldn't say that I truly liked any of them. Sieh seems to be a favorite among readers but I thought he was actually a little creepy and unpredictable. I suppose that's as it should be, since he is a god, and they live their lives in shades of gray. I think that it was just hard for me to get outside of my own head and view the gods as non-human creatures who clearly don't play by our rules. If I had been able to do so his behavior would not have seemed so odd to me.
Yeine was my favorite but there was something about her that always kept the reader at a distance and didn't allow for intimacy. Perhaps it was because she was slipping away? Characters seem to make or break novels for me. If you can make me care deeply for at least one character then you've got me, but if you can't, then it's going to be hard to grab my attention much at all.
I'd definitely recommend this to fans of the fantasy genre looking for something worthwhile and unique.(less)
When Cinder first came to my attention I was completely enamored with the idea for the book, and even more so for the concept of the entire quartet, w...moreWhen Cinder first came to my attention I was completely enamored with the idea for the book, and even more so for the concept of the entire quartet, which will also focus on other fairytale heroines. After finishing Cinder's first story I am happy to say that my expectations for this series were more than met.
Cinder is a cyborg. This was such an interesting spin on the story of Cinderella that I was captured by her character from the very beginning. I think fairytale retellings need to find a way to leave their own mark, to find a way to differentiate themselves entirely from the original story. Cinder certainly did that. I haven't read too many retellings prior to Cinder, Ash by Malinda Lo comes to mind, and while I more than appreciated Malinda's attempt to modernize the character of Cinderella (More LGBT characters in literature, please!) I felt that the rest of the story fell flat and failed to deliver anything exciting or new to the tale. Where Ash failed for me Cinder rose above and beyond. Cyborgs, robots, and aliens from the moon brought life and twists to this classic story.
Cinder herself is tough, amusing, and full of heart. She is a first class mechanic and highly intelligent. She will fight to protect those she cares about even if she has to do it without one of her feet. She dreams big dreams and is haunted by her past. Together with her robot sidekick, Iko, she was a pleasure to read about. I enjoyed her relationship with her sister Peony as well; it was nice to see Cinder have a true friend in the house aside from Iko. Cinder's relationship with her stepmother was nothing new but was made even more horrifying by the fact that Cinder was a cyborg. The evil stepmother was given more opportunity to be cruel in new and imaginative ways; she could hold Cinder's body parts hostage! I also enjoyed Cinder's relationship with Kai. It was slow to develop and realistic. Neither character was willing to put aside important things for the other and throw everything away for "love" as some YA characters do nowadays. Cinder and Kai both know that there are more important things than a budding romance; like survival, a kingdom, and family.
I did feel that a certain "twist" was so obvious from the early pages of the story and wish it had been a bit more subtle. It didn't bother me until we reached the ending. The ending seemed rather anti-climatic because it relied so heavily upon the reveal of a secret many of us had seen coming from the beginning. The story did feel a little incomplete and unresolved. I would have rather seen Cinder's story end in this book and had the other books in the quartet focus on the other heroines being introduced. I don't think this is only because I am growing so tired of cliffhangers and series in general, but also because it would have served the story better. Focusing on a new heroine each time would give plenty of time to give new life to the classic characters, instead of spending so much focus on just one. I wish the YA market would start going in the direction of companion novels (like Kristin Cashore's Seven Kingdoms Series) which would allow us to visit the same worlds again but also let us read about new and interesting characters, instead of dragging out the stories of the same characters over and over.
I would definitely recommend Cinder to others. It's a fun book that stands out amongst the other debut novels of the year. We need more Science Fiction (non-dystopian) on our shelves. More cyborgs and robots too.
There will be spoilers for book one of the series: Cold Magic. To see my review of Cold Magic instead read it here.
After Cold Magic got off to such a...moreThere will be spoilers for book one of the series: Cold Magic. To see my review of Cold Magic instead read it here.
After Cold Magic got off to such a rocky start for me, I was very much hoping that the sequel would not go down the same path. Delightfully, it did not. Cold Fire picks up where Cold Magic left off. While the first half of Cold Magic was weighed down by awkward amounts of exposition, Cold Fire doesn't suffer the same fate. Since much of the detailed world Kate Elliott was building was already set up in Cold Magic, we are allowed in this installment to focus more on the characters and the action. New characters and magic are introduced but I did not feel that it was too much, or find it confusing. We are thrown right along with Cat on to an island inhabited by zombies and fire mages. I found the new storyline to be exciting and never dull.
I liked Cat and Bee in the first book but I must say I absolutely fell in love with them here. They're very strong women. It's nice to see females who can be both romantic and gullible but also strong and logical too. I think too often female characters get written as too much one or the other, falling into a certain role, instead of standing on their own two feet. We watch Cat make mistakes. We watch her get drunk and act in ways she'd like to forget. We watch her swing a sword like a genuine badass and approach situations rationally. It's wonderful...
"He said nothing. Yes, he was physically handsome, and attractive in some other intangible way. After those first disastrous days, he had made an effort to help me. His kiss had certainly pleased me in a most startling manner. But I did not love him. How could I? I didn't even know him. And whatever he might think, he did not truly know me. He only believed he did."
I like that above all else Cat stays loyal to her cousin Bee and that is not lost in this book. Having grown up together and relied upon each other through it all, Bee and Cat do not dump each other when it's convenient, or when they'd rather be with a man. They are not catty toward each other or in competition. Even if blood does not necessarily tie them together they never even dwell on it. They know family is not defined by blood and that's something I really respect. We also finally learn more about Cat's parents in this installment. I liked the twist.
My favorite thing about this book was probably the romance. I don't swoon too often. It takes a lot for a romance to impress me. I found myself deeply invested in Andevai and Cat's relationship. I thought it was passionate and respectful. Built upon something important. I liked that neither character sacrificed who they were or expected anything of the other that they did not want to give.
I am immensely glad that I stuck it out after the rough start of book one in the series, because the world Kate Elliott has built and the characters here are way too good to miss. Like Cold Magic, this book definitely isn't a light read, Kate Elliott's book are lengthy and detailed and full of heavy world building. This book was more fast paced than the first though and I hope that the third book is even more impressive.
Fracture is a quick read and is sure to please anyone who enjoys a darker YA novel, but this debut is most certainly not without its flaws. For this r...moreFracture is a quick read and is sure to please anyone who enjoys a darker YA novel, but this debut is most certainly not without its flaws. For this review I'm going to break the positives and negatives into sections.
Positives: Fracture tells a gripping story and the story is fast paced enough that it is never boring. Megan Miranda's writing flows nicely and is enjoyable to read. She approaches some darker questions pertaining to whether or not it's ok to end someone's life if they're suffering, and even goes so far as to question whether or not it's ok to make that decision for someone. I like that the novel focused on these questions and didn't get so bogged down with romance that it distracted readers from the issues it was exploring. I like the use of "To love another person is to see the face of God." throughout the story, and thought the relationship between Delaney and Decker was sweet and genuine. I loved Delaney's mother's story. I also liked that Troy wasn't made to be a sexy bad boy type. I imagine him being played by Ian Somerhalder and acting just like Damon on The Vampire Diaries; messy hair, abusive personality, pouty emo face and a death wish.
Maybe that appeals to some people but certainly not to me. I liked that he wasn't really romanticized or made to be the hero, and I applaud Megan Miranda for that decision. It's nice to see the stalker not turn out to be the main character's true love. I think it's unfortunate that books ever go in that direction.
Negatives: My main gripe is that Delaney was inconsistent as a character. One minute she is hiding from Troy in a locked room shaking in fear. The next she is hopping into cars with him. One second she is making sure her window is locked because she knows he is outside stalking her. The next she follows him alone on to thin ice. I'm glad that her decisions weren't based on romance (elated!) but it still seemed off to me. Delaney was also very inconsistent in her interactions with Decker. Her reactions to things often felt melodramatic and frustrated me. I mean, she did have brain damage, but a lot of the drama felt unnecessary. Another thing I took issue with was the character of Tara; clearly created to be your typical pretty/evil nemesis of our nerdy heroine. I had the same problem with The Body Finder, and I thought the stereotype was handled at least a little bit better here, but not by much. I thought her character was a bit cliche, and do not like to see slut shaming in novels. I wish she would have been given more depth or not been included at all. In fact, most of the side characters, even Janna (who the author clearly tries to give more depth to but doesn't include much of an ending for her character), were pretty flat. The ending of the novel felt abrupt, with too many characters left dangling, and the main issue of the novel (Delaney's mysterious new power) is never really explored. It felt a bit like wasted potential.
Fracture was an enjoyable read even if it leaves a little bit to be desired. I thought that as far as the romance was concerned it was a breath of fresh air for the YA genre. I'm glad this was my first choice for the Debut Author Challenge and can't wait to read more debut books this year.
Recommendation: Those longingly searching for an enjoyable standalone novel in a sea of series.
There will be spoilers for the first book in the series: Unearthly.
I'm going to be very vague in my review because I don't want to spoil anyone. If I...moreThere will be spoilers for the first book in the series: Unearthly.
I'm going to be very vague in my review because I don't want to spoil anyone. If I were to write what I really wanted to about this book it would probably look something like this:
#$(#($(LIKE(#$(@#)@WHAT@(#(STOP IT CHRISTIAN@#(@TUCKERRRRRRR@((@#$(#NOOO JEFFREYYYYY@#*!*! and end with me riding off into the sunset with Tucker on the back of Midas in a blaze of Glory.
...thankfully for you, I'm going to write something else and try to make it somewhat composed.
Hallowed is Cynthia Hand's middle child and I liked it even more than her first. Sure, it's got classic middle child syndrome. It doesn't really further the plot along (though there are several new developments) and it ends as a very clear set up for the next book. The story still isn't the most original or groundbreaking thing in the world. There's still a love triangle with a heroine at the middle who is just special and shiny enough to make two men fall desperately in love with her. Yet, I loved this book. I laughed. I cried. I got angry. I worried. I stayed up all night with these characters. What kind of book deserves five stars if one that can make me do all of those things does not? I'm not here to be a professional judge of literary merit. Even so, it's like Cynthia Hand said to other authors "Look, you want to include the cliche high-school experience in your story and have a heroine who is being forced to choose between an attractive supernatural being and the boy next door? You can write that story but THIS is how you do it."
As stated in my review of Unearthly I was a little fearful of where book two was going to go. At the start of the book (and random moments throughout) I was worried that the story was going to be taken somewhere very cliche with the love triangle and fall in on itself. It's like I was standing at the edge of a cliff with Cynthia Hand behind me just begging me to trust her and I was saying "But Cynthia, those rocks down there look awfully sharp and I think I see Christian down there trying to give himself Edward Cullen hair..." and she was like "Shut up. I've got this all under control. And you've got to admit his wings are pretty." and guess what? Cynthia Hand never pushed me off that cliff. Although I'm pretty sure I saw her nudge Tucker a few times.
I don't like love triangles. There's usually a very clear winner and the girl ends up with the slightly abusive bad boy, while both boys stand around salivating over her like she's prime rib, and it's sickening. That is not so here. Well, for the most part. Cynthia Hand develops her characters so well that even if you came away from the first book solidly on the Team Tucker side (not that I would, um, ever, ya know, be on a team or anything... cough) that you will likely come to empathize with Clara and the reasons she is drawn to Christian as well. The thing is, Clara never casts Tucker aside. She doesn't look at Christian and say "Oh, but I cannot fight his charms! Look at his dark and smoky features!" and turn into mush in his presence. Though the boys have their cave man moments, they come out of it and apologize and they treat Clara with respect. They treat her as a person who can make her own decisions and don't try to force her hand. As a result, you feel something for everyone involved in the situation. It doesn't feel like a plot device. The love triangle makes sense as part of Clara's story. Clara is a creature with a destiny but she is also a creature with free will and the love triangle was a great way to explore that and help Clara grow.
It also isn't the focus of the whole book. I absolutely loved that Clara's relationship with her family is so developed. I like that the mother gets to have her own story. Too often in YA the adults aren't fleshed out at all and it's often a missed opportunity. Maggie is just as developed as Clara and I love Cynthia Hand for that. I would love to see Hand expand on Maggie's past even further. I also really enjoyed watching Jeffrey's story unfold.
I mentioned in my review of Unearthly that I really appreciate Cynthia Hand's sense of humor. That continues here. Which is good, because without Clara's voice, this book would have been very dark indeed. Clara pokes fun at her life and herself and the situations she finds herself in and it adds a necessary lightness to the story.
I'm glad I stood at that cliff with Cynthia Hand. Though, based on the ending I'm even more concerned for book three. I don't know why, because it's become clear that I should trust her. She has proven herself to be a great storyteller who treats her characters with respect.
Recommendation: If you liked Unearthly I think you should move right on to Hallowed. The same humor and suspense can be found in this second installment. Just don't come here looking for the plot to move forward a hell of a lot. This book focuses a great deal of its time on relationships (not just romantic ones) and character development. I wish there had been a little bit more resolved (particularly with Angela - you know something is going on there!) but I don't think fans of book one will be very disappointed.
(view spoiler)[So was Clara stealing Jeffrey's purpose not the most awkward moment between siblings in all of the world? What if Jeffrey could have carried Midas too and Midas only survived because he is some sort of demon who is now plotting to kill Clara for making him run for days through a huge fire? I've clearly just figured out the plot for book three.
For the (possibly) upcoming CW series based on these books Midas will now be played by the horse Shadowmere from the game Skyrim. Because he also never dies.
I'm a little worried that the television show will mess up my casting of the guy who plays Hoyt on True Blood as Tucker though. Can we just hire him and Deborah Ann Woll and call it a day?
Someone should hire me, obviously. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I'm still interested enough that I will likely pick up Firelight. I like Miranda and her powers, the fact that this is a Beauty and the Beast retellin...moreI'm still interested enough that I will likely pick up Firelight. I like Miranda and her powers, the fact that this is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and the writing was good.
However, I didn't like that the guy who attempted to rape her got to live with her while he healed from the injuries she gave him and become her friend...? No. Authors should stop using rape in their stories because they inevitably do something stupid afterwards.
Also, I'm no prude but I never read romance novels, so the sex dreams were a bit random and explicit for my tastes, but that's an issue of personal preference and not something I can really count against the story.(less)
I want to knock off some points for the injustice of Giddon and Bitterblue not being a thing. Maybe later. I kind of like that she didn't have to e...more4.5
I want to knock off some points for the injustice of Giddon and Bitterblue not being a thing. Maybe later. I kind of like that she didn't have to end up with anyone in her story. There HAS to be more books. There's so much to explore here, such a wide variety of characters and worlds and relationships, that for this series it actually doesn't feel like overkill or like they're just trying to sell more books. Each of these stories is important. Imagine that, huh?
I have grown into somewhat of a diehard Lauren Oliver fan. I just like everything she does. That is basically my entire review for the novella Hana: I...moreI have grown into somewhat of a diehard Lauren Oliver fan. I just like everything she does. That is basically my entire review for the novella Hana: I just like everything Lauren Oliver does. Guess what? That was a lie. I didn’t like this that much.
Okay, I liked it. That’s what a three star rating means to me: I liked it but there was something missing or something wrong. I expected better of this book. I spent a great deal of the book bored. It took me awhile to finish this. I felt completely detached from Lena’s story for most of the book. I really didn’t like the choice to split the book into Then and Now. I can see why she chose to tell the story that way, but it was like reading two completely different books, and I just kept finding myself annoyed that when I would finally get into what was happening in one section I had to read about the other.
I enjoyed all of the side characters in the Then story. I enjoyed reading about Lena’s interactions with them and the struggle of living among the Invalids. Oliver certainly knows how to make the feeling of grief tackle you from the pages of her story, dragging you down until you feel it right alongside her heroine. Much of Before was rife with emotion. Raven’s story in particular was especially harrowing and beautiful.
I enjoyed Now’s story much less. It felt too plain to me. It didn’t do anything to stand out from the many other dystopian novels on the shelves. There was just something about it that felt like I’d read it all before, and not even Lauren’s gorgeous prose could save it for me. I also didn’t buy the romance between Lena and Julian. I liked it only because Oliver seemed to be allowing Lena to move on instead of the usual in YA in which One True Love is all our heroine gets, but the relationship between them seemed to only be formed by proximity and chaos, and it didn’t feel entirely genuine to me. It seemed like Lena was falling for him when she wasn’t completely over Alex, instead of giving herself time to properly grieve and move on, which will only allow room for the (view spoiler)[dreaded love triangle (hide spoiler)] later on.
The book ended in a cliffhanger that I found predictable and very disappointing. I also have begun to grow a specific hatred for books that so obviously end in a cliffhanger this way, and it did nothing to improve my feelings toward the book. I really hope that the conclusion to this series is satisfying. If anyone can get it back on track it’s Lauren Oliver. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I was late to the Curse Workers series and read all three of the books in a hurry; read them in such a hurry in fact that I raced through them before...moreI was late to the Curse Workers series and read all three of the books in a hurry; read them in such a hurry in fact that I raced through them before I wrote reviews for any of them. So I've written three mini reviews of each book and my final thoughts of the series as a whole. Read them here at my blog: The Night Bookmobile(less)
“I remember being born, in fact, I remember a time before that. There was no light, but there was music: joints creaking, blood rushing, the heart’s staccato lullaby, a rich symphony of indigestion. Sound enfolded me, and I was safe. Then my world split open, and I was thrust into a cold and silent brightness. I tried to fill the emptiness with my screams, but the space was too vast. I raged, but there was no going back.” [ARC]
Rachel Hartman has come into the fantasy genre with a beautiful debut, a book filled with lovely paragraphs such as the one above, and intricate but enjoyable world building. She takes a different approach to dragons; the dragons shift into human form but mostly remain emotionally detached and incredibly intellectual. This idea pays off and creates a very interesting dynamic between humans and dragons that I really enjoyed reading about.
One of the most heartwarming relationships between dragon and someone with human emotions in the novel is between Seraphina and Orma. I really loved watching how they navigated their bond to each other, as Orma struggled with acting more like a human companion, and Seraphina attempted to learn how to accept loving someone who didn’t know how to love her back in ways she could understand. A struggle for Seraphina was to learn to accept that she loved and was bonded to someone who could not legally show affection for her without the threat of having his memories erased.
“What if our mothers were not the fools we had taken them for? What was love really worth? A hundred thousand wars?” [ARC]
Seraphina’s own personal journey was an emotional one. I think most of us can relate to having a part of ourselves that we are afraid for people to see. She reminded me of one of my favorite literary characters, Fire, and her occasional hatred for the monster that she was. There is also a moment that touches on self-harm that I thought was nice to include, especially since this is being marketed as a YA novel, and I know it is a subject that a lot of teens deal with. That being said, I’m not really sure why this is being marketed as YA. The only part of the novel that strikes me as YA at all is the romance, and that’s not a very large part of the book. I’m not sure how much the politics will appeal to most younger readers, or how many of them will take the time to deal with a slew of made up words, and the more advanced language used throughout the novel. I would hate to see adult readers who don’t typically read YA but are fantasy fans miss out on the story because of how it is marketed or the smaller YA elements.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my absolute favorite part of this novel: Seraphina’s garden of grotesques inside of her mind and the role they end up playing in the story. They gave the book something extra and completely original that I loved. I can’t wait to meet more of the characters from the garden. Another favorite of mine in this story was Hartman’s descriptions of Seraphina’s music. You can tell that Hartman is a lover and player of music herself because the descriptions are incredibly intimate and lovely.
Definitely a book worth checking out if you’re a lover of fantasy.
An Egalley was provided by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.(less)
I enjoyed the stories about the Gods but this was just so damn boring all the way through. I didn't even think the ending was THAT impressive. I li...more2.5
I enjoyed the stories about the Gods but this was just so damn boring all the way through. I didn't even think the ending was THAT impressive. I like Eugenides though (wish there were female characters...) and hear the books get better from here so I'll continue. (less)