Discovery: Mostly late blog buzz, though I did read a review on Publisher’s Weekly.
+ Unique plot. I first read Romeo...moreI LOVED THIS BOOK.
COME AT ME BRO.
Discovery: Mostly late blog buzz, though I did read a review on Publisher’s Weekly.
+ Unique plot. I first read Romeo & Juliet when I was eight years old and I loved it. The romance & passion were unequaled, especially for a little girl who’d just graduated from simple chapter books. In the years since, I’ve read dozens of stories that claim to be fresh retellings of the classic play and while I don’t begrudge them that right, I haven’t really been blown away by any of the changes.
I’m quite impressed with the world that Stacey Jay created in this novel. Romeo has become synonymous with undying love and sacrifice, and to see that turned on its head? Sheer brilliance. It brings up a lot of issues that I think society has taken for granted or ignored, such as the lack of common sense in the original play. It was beautifully-written, to be sure, but Romeo and Juliet weren’t thinking straight. Call it love or madness–I would say both are the same thing and both certainly bring their share of complexities to one’s life. It’s hard enough for a 30-year-old to find and keep love and two 14-year-olds wouldn’t exactly have the maturity to keep that relationship going. Jay understands that and the story is sometimes brutally frank when it comes to reminding the reader of it.
+ Romance. Even though I enjoyed seeing Romeo and Juliet parted (no “sweet sorrow” on my end), I was very pleased with the romance that Juliet encounters with another character. There were times that I felt like it was a little rushed, but overall, the fuzzy feelings were quite welcome. I won’t say much because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but trust me, if you aren’t wibbly by the end of the book, you should go back and reread because it’s just gorgeous. I do have a caveat for the end chapter though, which I’ll talk about in greater detail below.
- Execution. I’ll say it again, Juliet Immortal had a great plot. The way it was written? Not so much. The length and character development were two things that I thought were inconsistent. In the book, you’ll find that there are at least two mini-chapters from Romeo’s point-of-view. I don’t think they were necessary to the development of the story, and the pages could have been used to better elaborate on the mythology. I also thought that the last few scenes were quite rushed and a little confusing. These are all problems that could have been fixed in another revision, but I’m hoping that Romeo Redeemed has a tighter narrative.
As for character development? Again, I can’t say much without revealing key plot points, but I was a little dissatisfied with the twist at the end. It seemed a little too contrived and I’m not sure I like the conclusion. It smacks a little of destiny playing another hand of cards. What is Juliet working for if she ends up without a real choice in the end? Was she simply meant to be shuffled off to the “real” nice guy? I think this might be a case of a heroine who’s better off being single. I would have liked to see her really gain a sense of independence and understanding of her own needs and wants before entering another relationship.
Recommendations: I don’t plan on doing this again, but I have to repeat what a Goodreads reviewer said about this book:
“If you love Romeo & Juliet, you’ll hate this book. If you hate Romeo & Juliet, you’ll love this book.”
I enjoyed it and liked the romance, but the writing leaves a little more to be desired. I would still heartily recommend this book for the sheer creativity that Jay pours in. Romeo Redeemed has just been added to my TBR pile!
Say the word "mixtape" and my inner 90s child is immediately lost in raptures of joy, while teens t...morePosted on Seashell Reviews at Mermaid Vision Books!
Say the word "mixtape" and my inner 90s child is immediately lost in raptures of joy, while teens today might just answer you with "huh?" Likewise, Meagan Brothers's story isn't one that will connect with teens growing up in the age of iPods and Spotify, but it does resonate for us readers who fondly remember the days of CD releases and radio taping. The early 1990s comes to life in Brothers's writing style, and I adored both the setting and the way the story brought back memories of my early childhood. I also genuinely enjoyed Maria as a character--it was easy to root for her as she struggled to carve out her identity within her family and alonside her music. While the tone of the book itself can seem youthful at times, it does serve to bring one back to those "good old days" of listening to boomboxes and the surprise of hearing one's favourite song on the radio. Is there anything better?(less)
Release Date:February 14, 2012 Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (Random Hous...moreYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Release Date: February 14, 2012 Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (Random House) Pages: 512 Format: Hardcover Source: Finished copy from publisher
Tell Me More: I love drama as much as the next person. I scream a little bit when revelations~~ occur in my favourite shows and I get invested in (relation)ships more often than I probably should. But when it comes to books, I find it more difficult to suspend my disbelief. It's my brain picturing the events and not a camera crew with mad editing skills. Unfortunately, Someone Else's Life didn't hold up very well to my own eye.
I've been told that the writing style is similar to Jodi Picoult's work, but since I've never read any of her books, I can neither confirm nor deny that claim. What I did find was that Rosie's story was extremely melodramatic, and at times, it sunk into soap opera territory. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but the resulting predictability of the story did not please me.
The first half of the novel was confusing and felt a little rushed, while the second half seemed to turn into a sea of molasses, the revelations so few and far between. While I understand why Katie Dale used split POVs to tell the story, I think the story would have been stronger (and much shorter) had she stuck with Rosie. She was the only character that actually felt real to me, whereas the others seemed hollow. The dialogue didn't help either, as I found I could predict what certain characters would say before they said those things. Rosie's stubbornness and indomitable spirit were wonderful to witness, but as the book went on, they were overshadowed by the weak story structure and writing.
What would I have loved to see? The gravitas of the situation. We're told over and over again that it's so important for Rosie to find her birth mother, that the secret of her birth is one that will destroy families. I never felt that urgency. The characters glossed over the consequences too easily. In the end, it felt like Dale just tied everything up with a pretty pink ribbon and everyone lived happily ever after, the end. That HEA wasn't earned, in my opinion. Yes, the book is quite long, but length doesn't matter if a story is well-told.
The Final Say: Inconsistent character development and a melodramatic plot are discoveries that I wasn't happy to find in Someone Else'sLife, but if you're looking for an intensely emotional story, this might be the book for you.(less)
Discovery: I really liked the second book in the Kowalski series (my review can be found here) and Joe and Keri were absolutely adorable in their few...moreDiscovery: I really liked the second book in the Kowalski series (my review can be found here) and Joe and Keri were absolutely adorable in their few scenes. I’m glad I managed to find a copy of this book at my library.
+ Realistic storylines. This is one of the few contemporary romance novels I’ve read that nailed modern-day relationship and career issues. Joe and Keri’s post-college break-up is understandable, as are the situations they find themselves in a few years later. Keri is a focused career woman, but ball-buster she is not, which is a refreshing and welcomed change. Joe’s family aren’t picture-perfect people and I loved that this novel didn’t only tell me about Joe and Keri but about the people that helped them to become who they are now. I also appreciate the care Shannon Stacey took in bringing the two of them together–it wasn’t too rushed or too slow.
+ Supporting characters. I mentioned that the novel didn’t just focus on Joe and Keri and I think that’s one of its biggest strengths. The Kowalskis are a boisterous and loving family, which make them a delight to read about. I’m glad that Shannon Stacey didn’t underestimate her readers–each of the Kowalski siblings have believable flaws and problems that they all have to work through. None of these problems are solved in one fell swoop either. Did I mention how much fun it was to read about them? I started giggling more than once reading this book and it was great.
+ Writerly things. I have a soft spot for books with characters who are writers, and I’m so happy that this book did not disappoint. Both Joe and Keri seem involved and passionate when it comes to their craft. I’m especially enamoured with Keri’s career choices and the fact that she knows what she can and cannot let herself do.
- Terry Kowalski-Porter. I understand that she had issues of her own, but she was often the biggest damper on the fun I had reading this book. Those issues are resolved by the time the next book comes around, but judging this on its own, the scenes with Terry were the most difficult to get through. After 20-something years, she still hasn’t gotten over Keri “abandoning” her for other friends? It’s hard to believe.
Recommendations: This was a really fun, enjoyable romp of a book and most readers will have a great time watching Keri and Joe fall in love.
Discovery: As you might already know from my Darkest Mercy review, I’m a fan of Melissa Marr’s and her first adult novel intrigued me enough to buy a...moreDiscovery: As you might already know from my Darkest Mercy review, I’m a fan of Melissa Marr’s and her first adult novel intrigued me enough to buy a copy on release day.
+ Creep factor. It took me a while to read this novel because I couldn’t convince myself to continue it at night. I’ve been reading more and more zombie fiction, but this is much scarier. Once you’re a zombie, you don’t feel guilt or pain for what you have to do to survive. There is no capacity for thought or emotion. Melissa Marr’s walking dead are conscious of what they are doing and they do it anyway. What heightens the creepiness is the fact that the Graveminder herself becomes a victim.
+ Backstory. One reason why I love the Wicked Lovely series is the world-building. Faerie comes alive, and in this book, Clayville is just as vibrant and real. The small-town vibe is present, as are the usual people one finds in a small town: the sheriff, the priest, the mysterious recluse, et cetera. Marr’s writing make both Clayville and the world of the Graveminder chillingly true to life. I’m especially interested in the underworld. It seems as though this book has been set up for possible sequels, and I would love to see more of the previous Graveminders.
- Writing style. There are times when the prose becomes almost clinical and very detached from the characters. Marr’s words shine when she describes the supernatural, but sometimes they fail to get the themes across. It may just be a lack of sentence variety–if I read scenes aloud, my voice tends to go into a monotone which isn’t good.
- Dialogue. The main relationship in the novel is between Rebekkah and Byron and while there are some tense scenes, I never really felt like it got off the ground. The dialogue is partly to blame. Many of the conversations between Bek and Byron are repetitive and Bek especially harps on about the same conflicts. For a grown woman who claims to be self-sufficient, she is remarkably indecisive and it can become tedious for the reader. On the other hand, Byron has a tendency to clam up and it’s obvious in the dialogue.
Recommendations: This book is worth reading, if only for the supernatural gold one will find. As a love story, it comes up shy.
Release Date:February 1, 2008 Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers Age Group: Young Adu...moreYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Release Date: February 1, 2008 Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 224 Format: Paperback Source: Personal copy
As children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also each other's only friend. SO when Cameron disappeared without warning, Jennifer thought she'd lost the one person who would ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she is popular, happy, and dating—everything "Jennifer" couldn't be. But she still can't shake the memory of her long-lost friend.
When Cameron suddenly reappears, they both are confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken.
Sweethearts is a story about the power of memory, the bond of friendship, and the quiet resilience of our childhood hearts.
Discovery: I first heard about this book from my best friend Aimee, who fell so hard and fast for Cameron Quick that she got whiplash. Needless to say, that set up some really high expectations.
+ Themes. Most of the talk surrounding this novel involves the touching romance between Jennifer and Cameron, and while I'm inclined to join in that discussion, I would like to highlight the beautiful character development and themes in their story. Jennifer's insecurities will be familiar to teen and adult readers alike--who wouldn't want a chance to reinvent themselves and be one of the "cool kids?" As someone who knows exactly what Jennifer went through in elementary school, I found Sara Zarr's take on bullying to be terrifyingly accurate.
Bullying isn't restricted to kids who look different or who may identify as a different gender. It is easy to forget that there are kids out there without an alliance or celebrities to look after them and tout their cause. And as readers will find in Jennifer's story, there is nothing more difficult than getting past all the hurt and bitterness. It's even worse when you have no idea why you were chosen to be the laughingstock of the class. Zarr brings contemporary teen fiction to a whole new level with this no-holds-barred look at what life is like for the quiet kids, for the kids who don't fit in, and the daily challenges they face.
+ Romance. Cameron Quick. Those of you who've already read Sweethearts told me that your heart skips a beat when you hear that name. I'm happy to count myself among your number now. I was expecting a flat-out obvious romance between Jenna and Cameron, but what I got was more beautiful and heartbreaking. I can't recall a YA love story that relies so much on nuances and distance, and yet manages to show the reader just how deeply the characters feel for one another.
There is no guarantee of a happy ending. I reread this book a few days after my first go, looking for clues to the ending. Sara Zarr sprinkles the story with touches of hope and yearning, but never quite lets the reader relax. As adults reading this book, we know deep down how it will end. But the power of Zarr's prose makes us believe, makes us wish for Jenna and Cameron and their childhood love story.
The final say: Anyone who wants to read contemporary YA should not pass this jewel up--Jenna and Cameron's story is a precious shooting star of a novel.
Release Date: March 6, 2012 Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin) Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 4...moreYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Release Date: March 6, 2012 Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin) Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 408 Format: Hardcover Source: ARC received from publisher
Tell Me More: As a relatively new visitor to Bordertown, I thought I had a pretty decent idea of Charles de Lint's writing style. The rusty, gritty worlds he constructs are one of a kind, and yet they feel like neighborhoods we've all visited or seen. His characters are tough without falling into stereotypes, and unique enough to peak anyone's interest. In Under My Skin, de Lint brings his talent to the town of Santa Feliz, California, where Wildlings have begun to take over the population.
There are no complaints to be found when it comes to the prose--de Lint charges full-speed into a whirlwind of language. His descriptions of the town will make readers feel like they're breathing in that sea air, and the dialogue is snappy and fresh. The plot was certainly fascinating to watch unfold, even as I was able to predict what was going to happen in every chapter. If it were anyone else, I admit that I would have given up on such predictability, but I trusted that de Lint would make it a story worth reading.
I do question the necessity of dual perspectives in the novel, because it felt like a distracting concession to some readers' preference for knowing everything that happens in the story. I would have been content following Josh or Marina, but having both characters narrate some of the same scenes or overlapping scenes did get a bit tedious. This ties into my other problem with the novel: uneven pacing. Many of the urban fantasies I've read have a zip to their story, which keeps me from overanalyzing the piece and allows me to immerse myself in that world. There were moments in Under My Skin that were like watching a snail race--I couldn't wait to get to the next chapter and see some actual action. Josh and Marina were so real to me that when they got a little too whiny or difficult (as teenagers do), I did find it difficult to be as patient with them as I wanted to be.
Overall, there are about an equal number of pros and cons to the Wildlings series, which I believe will be better balanced in the succeeding books. More time with the universe de Lint has created may serve to clarify why these characters face the problems they do, and give the reader the chance to really fall in love with them.
The Final Say: Under My Skin is an explosive new addition to the YA urban fantasy spectrum, with shapeshifters that are more human than you might think. It is an excellent introduction to the genre and will delight supernatural fans all over the world.(less)