Zeraphina is being lured northward and she thinks there could lie the answers to why she has...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
Zeraphina is being lured northward and she thinks there could lie the answers to why she has such strange cravings for blood, so when the chance arises to travel there with her sister, she ignores her misgivings and takes it up -- but on arrival, she realises her misgivings may not have been totally unfounded.
If you expect anything even close to a clichéd vampire story from the synopsis, you're completely off. Blood Song proved to be incredibly imaginative and unique. It had all of the best parts of fantasy without all of the worst (and yes, by worst, I mean the cumbersome names. They just roll off your tongue in this one: Lharmell, Amentia).
Zeraphina was a great character to read about. She was strong; she could (and did) hold her own in an argument, and when faced with a challenge, she dealt with it head-on rather than avoiding it. Part of her appeal was in how she realistically stood apart from the other women in the high fantasy setting, and wasn't moony and obsessed with men. Her relationship with Rodden was realistically developed, and their romance never became her number one priority. It was an appreciated sub-plot, a complement to the main plot.
On the topic of setting, the world-building was excellent, and the otherworldly backdrop to the story was vivid and portrayed in an apt light. For instance, Lharmell's creepiness felt tangible in every moment our characters spent there. The setting was richly imaginative and the tone suited it brilliantly.
Written expertly, you wouldn't guess this was Rhiannon's debut. The story was told in compelling prose, constantly foreshadowing and maintaining a tense and eerie tone. The plot took many turns, always unpredictable and exciting.
Blood Song was amazingly imaginative and atmospheric, definitely a welcome addition to the Aussie fantasy scene. I look forward to Rhiannon's future books!
I give Blood Song a 5 out of 5.
I'd recommend it for fans of: Graceling and Burn Bright.(less)
Clara was fourteen when her power started manifesting and her mother told her she was part an...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
Clara was fourteen when her power started manifesting and her mother told her she was part angel. She's since been having visions, glimpses of the future that reveal her purpose.
She forsees an alluring stranger, a forest fire, and assumes her purpose is to save him. But when it comes time to fulfill her purpose, she's torn between love and duty.
Unearthly puts a new twist on angels. The angel-bloods live essentially as human, albeit exceptional ones, until it comes time to fulfill their purpose.
Clara lived with her mother and brother in California until a vision revealed that she would fulfill her purpose in Wyoming, where they later moved. She's immediately drawn to Christian - the boy she's to save. But he spends summer at an internship in New York, and in his absence she falls in love with Tucker. She figures, why can't she can save Christian while still being with Tucker?
Clara was a likable main character, and the secondary characters were captivating, too. Even mean characters, a la Kay, were compelling because their personalities were so realistic and unique.
I loved the romantic aspect of the book. While I could see the appeal in Christian and understood why Clara was drawn to him, I'm on Team Tucker (and by extension, Team Aliteration). Their chemistry was apparent right from the beginning, through all their teasing. Their relationship built gradually and sweetly over the summer and it felt more like a realistic romance than hers with Christian.
Cynthia Hand's writing style was descriptive but still to the point. Her descriptions of the wilderness around Jackson Hole was beautiful. She also omitted slow, in-between scenes, so every scene felt important and added something to the story.
Unearthly had its laugh-out-loud moments, its suspenseful moments, and its sweet moments. It's an enjoyable read and I'd recommend it to anyone. I give it a 5 out of 5.(less)
Gabby wakes up in hospital with no memory of the night that put her there, but what happened...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
Gabby wakes up in hospital with no memory of the night that put her there, but what happened was obvious. With the blood alcohol concentration of a keg and in her hand the keys to her boyfriend's car wrapped around a tree beside her, her future looks to be a blur of DUI charges, jail time, and perhaps the most daunting in her mother's eyes, a face mangled by the crash. In the aftermath, she'll question if the events of that night were really what they seemed.
Ann Redisch Stampler's YA debut gets under your skin. Far from the light contemporary the cover and blurb imply, you accompany Gabby through a difficult journey and through so many intense and complicated emotions and realisations -- that growing into the person she wants to be is more important than any relationship is perhaps the most profound of all.
Written in evocative prose in a voice inherently teenaged and inherently Gabby. The narration was so personal, Gabby felt real and like someone we really know. I felt as though in the shoes of a fourth member of their friend group -- another Lisa or Anita bringing board games to her house during her recovery and asking her to open up. Her personality is well realised and well portrayed such that her shortcomings are plausible and sympathetic rather than frustrating.
The characters are dynamic and realistic. I prefer to relate to my characters than to idealise them, so their well-conveyed angst and bias and jealousy and ignorance made them only more engaging. Their flaws and poor decisions bring them to life and make them real. The characterisation was superb, and the narrative voice so true and raw. Stampler creates characters which explore moral grey areas that you can learn things about yourself from.
Gabby's reflection and emotional turmoil pay off in the end, in a huge and unexpected and perfect complete turn around. The way she finds the strength to accept what happened to her free of any bitterness and pursue what she really needs rather than wants is inspiring, and also gives us the comfort of knowing she finds the peace she so deserves.
Where It Began tackles relevant issues in a non-preachy tone, making for a story we get more than a few hours of entertainment from. Characters well-written and are created with relatability prioritised over likeablility, to be affecting on a much deeper level. It's an upcoming, enriching contemporary any fans of the genre should definitely seek out in early March.(less)
Reading Shadow Hills felt like going back in time to where all the books I read were paranorm...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
Reading Shadow Hills felt like going back in time to where all the books I read were paranormal romances cut from the same cloth. During this I wasn't feeling what the characters were, but feeling nostalgic, laughing "recurring dream sequence at the beginning! Old pal!" and "love interest who's so suddenly and deeply in love with our protagonist that he confesses his uber-secret non-human species! It's been too long!"
So I kind of regarded Shadow Hills like small child that is annoying but also kind of endearing for it.
Shadow Hills follows Persephone (a goddess being her namesake turns out to be almost completely inconsequential) -- Phe -- as she goes to a new boarding school that her sister mentioned before her death, in order to understand her better (because she's grieving. You know she's grieving because she tells you that she is. Her usually-chipper tone will try to convince you otherwise). There, our curious protagonist soon meets three attractive boys: one, a best friend; another, the love interest; the last, evil-seeming. The latter two seem to have some huge, long-buried secret, which she naturally (and somewhat inconsiderately) tries to unearth.
The writing style struck me as pretty standard. I didn't find it particularly noteworthy, though it was smooth in a way that made me able to read it fairly quickly. It didn't do much to help me get to know our main character or evoke any emotion, but it was good for simply telling a story.
The background characters were at extremes. Adriana was a brat, Graham was the helpful best friend, and Toy was the loveable, awkward friend. But exaggerated to where eye-rolling is triggered by any dialogue. Trent was...Trent was almost comically evil. He asks Phe out, gets rejected, and responds (paraphrased, possibly playing it DOWN) "Good. Now I can ask someone actually worth my time." He was just...too much.
The romances felt unnatural and forced. Our main character scouts out the most attractive guy and they become a couple, and then everyone else seems to just shrugs and grab the nearest person of the opposite gender.
Overall, Shadow Hills proved to me to be mostly another of those dime a dozen paranormal romances. It used the standard plot and character templates, but had a few more interesting embellishments.
I give Shadow Hills a 3 out of 5.
This has been a not-entirely-serious review brought to you by a Skye In A Surprisingly Jubilant Mood!(less)
Anya is essentially the head of her family. Her grandmother is on her deathbed, her older bro...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
Anya is essentially the head of her family. Her grandmother is on her deathbed, her older brother's mental capacity took a turn for the worse after a car accident, and her parents are long dead. But that's not unexpected, given that they led the Balanchine crime family, specialising in distributing illegal chocolate.
She was an exceptionally likeable character; sensible, pragmatic, wry, and strong. She was fiercely loyal of her family, despite their shortcomings, and went to extreme lengths to protect them, even sacrificing her own needs to do so. The way she encountered a problem and immediately and selflessly did what was necessary to fix it was incredibly admirable and made her all the more interesting to read about.
The romantic aspect of the book played a huge role, and this didn't invoke the exasperation non-romantics such as myself would associate with this. Given the personal way in which Anya narrated, her relationship with Win dominating so much of her attention felt natural for her. It was clear how Anya the realist could fall for Win (I mean, his hats), and the way being with him broke her out of her pragmatic shell gave her character a whole other level of depth and relatability.
The setting, a dystopian future, was almost reminiscent of the past. The New York of 2083 had the feel of the New York of the 1920s, with smoky speakeasies and less technology. I liked the notion of our society reaching its peak and then slowly declining back to the past in a symmetrical fashion.
Anya narrated in past tense, taking time occasionally to point out her mistakes in the 20/20 clarity of hindsight. The style was refreshingly original and well executed. The prose itself was smooth and lovely, and had the almost wistful or forlorn quality that you'd be familiar with from Elsewhere and Memoirs Of A Teenage Amnesiac.
The conclusion was stunning, and slightly surprisingly. The final line, "May God forgive me for this and all these things I've done" left me awe-struck, and definitely furthered the impression that the book was written almost like Anya's confession. The next book can't come fast enough!
I give All These Things I've Done a 5 out of 5.(less)
In Ecstasy comes from alternating perspectives of Mia and Sophie, best friends for what might...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
In Ecstasy comes from alternating perspectives of Mia and Sophie, best friends for what might as well be forever. Sophie is gorgeous and irresistible, while Mia is funny but insecure and in her friend's shadow. At a party, Lewis, Mia's crush, starts showing interest in her, and offers her an ecstasy pill. How could she possibly say no and pass up the opportunity to get closer to him?
In Ecstasy takes an honest and raw look at teen drug abuse. With the story spanning over months, you see the user's slow decline. You see the drugs affect every aspect of her life - her friendships, school, her family; even her personality completely warps. Just when something happens you think will shock her out of it, she falls deeper.
Offering both the perspective of Mia and Sophie shows the reader how Mia feels due to her drug use as opposed to how it looks from the outside.
Both Mia and Sophie were dynamic characters with a lot of depth. Their friendship was apparently perfect, until Mia's change caused them to drift apart. Even when they weren't close anymore, both characters seemed to genuinely care for the other. In Ecstasy is as much about friendship as it is about drugs.
The plot wasn't action-packed or suspenseful, but it was intense. The writing style was simple yet engaging. The book on the whole was captivating, and I could hardly put it down.
Before I picked up Divergent, I heard it likened to The Hunger Games so many times. But whil...moreThis review was also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
Before I picked up Divergent, I heard it likened to The Hunger Games so many times. But while reading, I failed to see any real positive similarities or parallels. Divergent, to me, felt like The Hunger Games if Katniss spent 80% of the book training to perform in front of the Gamemakers for her score.
From all of the hype, I had imagined Divergent as this edge-of-your-seat action/thriller with the main character kicking ass or leaping from buildings on every other page, but I was disappointed to find that most of the action was...fake (let me explain what I mean by that!).
Most of the book centers on Tris during initiation. She has to fight against other initiates for a ranking, and battle her fears through simulations. During the former, she wasn't fighting for any real cause but to get into the faction. And as for the latter, as much as I can appreciate psychological thrillers, it just didn't feel like it hit the mark. The action only began to feel 'real' to me towards the ending, where there's an urgent cause and a consequence for failure besides a bad ranking. And that part only makes up the last seventy-five pages.
Beatrice was an intriguing enough character to read about. I could understand why she made the choices she did, but I didn't get where some of the changes in her came from. One minute, she's a passive Abnegation, and the next, she's as cruel and fearless as any other Dauntless.
Divergent was fun to read. It was exciting, and had a easy kind of writing style that allowed me to read chunks of the book in long sittings without getting bored. But it just missed that 'wow' factor for me.
When Brimstone calls for an errand, Karou always comes. This is how it's always been. Brimsto...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
When Brimstone calls for an errand, Karou always comes. This is how it's always been. Brimstone is her family, and his store, her home. She is of both his world and of earth, but neither, truly, given that she doesn't even know who she is. But the door between the worlds is closing, and finding where she belongs is becoming all the more urgent.
"...they cupped their wings around their happiness and called it a world."
So I understand that not all quotes are created equally, but this one is just unfair. Laini Taylor's writing talent was clearly contrived from a wish on a gavriel.
The prose was lyrical and simply lovely. I was hanging off each word, even going back to bounce the occasional phrase around in my head and admire it. So many arresting, beautiful images were vividly created, and the story was so easily pictured. I was won over by the writing alone, and all the other amazing components -- the characters, the plot, the atmosphere, the emotion -- were added perks. Laini Taylor is the wonderful wordsmith she's esteemed to be and then some.
Taylor pulled off the best omniscient third person narration that I've ever read. She flitted between different perspectives, even in wonderful moments stepping out into an objective point of view. Changes in points of view were smooth and fluid, and each perspective gave something to the story.
Distance between us and the characters inherent in third person was kept minimal, giving us clear images of our characters. Karou and Akiva were brilliantly characterised, and they had strong, distinct voices. Their emotions were so arresting that there was an instant attachment to them. Each twist and devastating development felt like a weight on me as well.
The fantastical world was astoundingly imaginative. The world building was thorough and each element unique. Combined with the poetic prose, the effect was an eerie, alluring mood. Even in a human environment, in the romantic city of Prague, this tone is maintained. The atmosphere was compelling in its almost tangible feel, and in breaks I had to reacclimate to the real world.
The ending left me literally taken aback. Surprised (can you say that you saw that coming?) and devasted (can you believe that?). It concluded on a stunning note that left me wondering, "so what can...what do I do about this?". Apparently the answer to that is to impatiently wait for the next installment to wrap me up again in the incredible and heartbreaking world Laini Taylor built.
I'm not going to recommend this to certain kinds of people. This is an EVERYONE book. Everybody's life would be better for having read this book.
I give Daughter Of Smoke And Bone a 6 out of 5!(less)
This book may be better known by the title it was published under in the US, A Little Wanting...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
This book may be better known by the title it was published under in the US, A Little Wanting Song. It tells us the story of Charlie, a sweet muffled melody to everyone else's boisterous song, finding her voice.
Narrated in the dual perspectives of Charlie and Rose, the different outlooks on the characters and events give us added depth. We understand how things that happened or were said affected people in different ways, we can see our characters' personalities complemented and juxtaposed -- all due to alternating perspectives. A perfect example of when this definitely added something to the story.
Both characters narrated with distinct and relatable voices in the beautiful, ornate writing style that I was already familiar with from Cath Crowley's Graffiti Moon. Full of vivid imagery and poetic metaphors and similes, every other sentence makes you let out an involuntary and happy sigh.
The characters were all -- every last one -- fleshed out and realistic. I was especially taken with Charlie, whose tone was so soft and sad that I wanted to just big her a huge hug and then hold a microphone up to her so everybody else could hear her, too. Both her and Rose had clear character arcs that intersected in a lovely moment near the conclusion as they began to become real friends.
With narrators that escape the page and seem more real than fictional, beautiful prose, and relatable and touching character development, Chasing Charlie Duskin is a must-read for fans of contemporary or coming-of-age novels.
The Lost Saint had an amazing plot - I could never see where the story was headed. Part of th...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
The Lost Saint had an amazing plot - I could never see where the story was headed. Part of that unpredictability probably stemmed from being locked in Grace's head, with the first person narration, and having no idea which other characters you could trust or couldn't.
The werewolfism (I don't care if it's not a word - you know what I mean) in this series is so unique in lore to other werewolf books. I especially liked how it was seen as more of a curse than a blessing. I hate books where there's no downside to being a supernatural being.
Grace was a dynamic character. She struggled both with her newfound lycanthropy and with her family problems. Her relationship with Daniel is tested, and a darker, stronger side of her comes out in this book.
The book ended on a cliffhanger. The ending cleared up some of the conflict from the book while introducing new problems to be faced in the next book - which I cannot WAIT to read!
I give The Lost Saint a 5 out of 5.
I read The Dark Divine way back just after in came out, and probably would have given it 3.5 out of 5, at odds to how much I *loved* this book. My reading tastes have really been warped over the past year.(less)
Trella thought her part was over. She led a rebellion and won Inside back from the Travas and...moreThis review is also posted on by blog, In The Good Books.
Trella thought her part was over. She led a rebellion and won Inside back from the Travas and Pop Cops. Now she's happy to give control over to a Committee.
But The Committee can't decide on anything, everyone still harbors Scrubs/Upper prejudices, Inside is practically in anarchy, and now something from the Outside wants In.
The Inside Out series is dystopia, a genre that's increasing in popularity. It's more science-fiction-y than I'm used to, but I read it anyway, and found myself glad afterwards for doing so.
I thought Trella was a great character from the beginning, but in Outside In, she just gets better. Initially, she's content to leave everything to The Committee. After all, she's just a air duct scrub, not a leader. Her hesitancy to take control made her feel more real. Then when she finally realised she had to take matters into her own hands, she became admirable. All throughout, she proved herself a clever and resourceful protagonist.
Maria V Snyder's writing is unique and descriptive - she manages to create a far-out setting and then write it so that I can picture it clearly in my head.
The plot was constantly twisting and turning. Just when you think you had it figured out, some development you never saw coming arises. The quick-witted characters did, however, manage to overcome each problem, with no small amount of difficulty.
The ending leads me to believe there won't be another book in this captivating series. Though I wish there were more, I can honestly say I feel happy for the characters who worked so hard for their denouement.
I give Outside in a 5 out of 5, and I give NetGalley a huge thank you for the opportunity to read this.(less)
Say Hadley had gotten to the airport just four minutes earlier and made her flight. She would...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
Say Hadley had gotten to the airport just four minutes earlier and made her flight. She wouldn't have met Oliver, and may have had the exact miserable experience at her father's wedding that she anticipated. She was lucky. But in another stroke of luck, the two of them are separated after their flight without so much as a last name.
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight has built up a lot of early buzz as a breezy crossover romance. The quirky mood of the story is matched by its title, though while I love long titles as much as anyone else, the whole time I was bothered by how little correlation there is between statistics and probability and how it just didn't work. But onto points of the book that matter more.
The Statistical Probability is barely 200 pages long, short in a way that reflected the story's span of less than 24 hours. Plain prose suited the simple romantic premise and kept to the point, making for a very fast, one-sitting read -- apt for readers also on aeroplanes.
The characters were likable and with definite chemistry, though with voices that didn't distinguish themselves from hordes of other romantic leads. I guess that helped them, though, in a way, adding a familiarity to them that made investing in their story easier. Though without any real development from their either lead, the novel couldn't be called affecting.
The plot also follows the typical structure of romance closely: the couple meets and hits it off, something splits them up, and they reunite. In this case, the something that split them up was airport routine completely independent of them, so their reunion didn't involve any character development or personal demons conquered. Still, while there was little depth, Statistical Probability was very fun to just stop thinking and read.
The romance was sweet, unmushy, and a believable whirlwind that I'm a sucker for. The characters were likable, and occasionally funny, and the story progressed quickly. It's the classic feel-good rom-com translated to paper. It's the exact story you predict from the adorable edition cover. It's the quick cure to a miserable day.
Overall, The Statistical Probability was a cute and entertaining read, if a little generic. It should definitely appeal to fans of YA romance.(less)
Sam and his younger brother Riddle live under the care of their unstable criminal father, con...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
Sam and his younger brother Riddle live under the care of their unstable criminal father, constantly moving out of his paranoia. Drawn to music, Sam one day finds himself in the back pew of a church, transfixed by the off-key solo of Emily Bell, who's given him more incentive to stay than he's ever had.
Let's begin with: I'll Be There is one of the most charming books I've ever read.
The tone of I'll Be There pretty accurately represented what it was all about. All throughout these undeservedly terrible situations, there's a hopeful undertone giving comfort. Hope carries in the promise from the very beginning "I'll be there", in the way our characters never delve into self-pity, in the soft, young quality to the prose.
Sloan's writing style is spare and beautiful and perfectly captures the emotions behind each of the characters and pulls off third person narration with deeply personal voices. A whole range of characters -- from smarmy sons of detectives to young boys whose education come from phone books to concerned parents -- are created genuine and relatable despite how wholly different they may be to the target audience, and our three leads Sam, Emily and Riddle are among the sweetest characters I've ever had the pleasure of accompanying.
On diverse characters, the story also struck me as having this ageless quality -- as in young in a way that wasn't juvenille or distant -- that will make it appeal to people of all ages, not just YA.
Also, unexpectedly, I'll Be There was not an entirely character-driven novel. In the first pages, Emily tells us about her fascination with twists of fate and ironies, detailing a story of a woman saved from a fall from her apartment window by a mattress ditched by the future husband she'll one day run over and kill. And later, the story follows the Border brothers through a series of astounding near-impossibilities that we forget are still possibilities, taking us along for an almost-ridiculously winding journey that would be comical if it weren't so sad.
And for all of the characters' personal journeys and emotional turmoil, Sloan weaves an ending that intertwines all of the finer points of the novel, restores karmic balance, and leaves even the most stone-hearted of readers all gooey.
A heart-warming story of circumstance and chance and love, I'll Be There is a new favourite of mine and must-read for fans of contemporary fiction.(less)
The Vespertine is set in 1889 Baltimore, where our protagonist, Amelia, is sent by her brother, August, to find a suitable husband. There, she stays w...moreThe Vespertine is set in 1889 Baltimore, where our protagonist, Amelia, is sent by her brother, August, to find a suitable husband. There, she stays with the Stewards and quickly finds herself friends with Zora Steward.
There, she also develops her inexplicable power to foresee the future. Word of her skill spreads, and soon she's sought after to tell fortunes. But when one of her darkest premonitions comes to pass, people have to wonder, does Amelia see these events, or cause them?
There are also interludes in the story which detail Amelia's life back with her brother. This effectively foreshadows an event that will drive her from Baltimore, which compliments her own power of premonitions: though she never foresees her own future, the story does.
The first thing I noticed about The Vespertine was how the prose is written in the language one would have used in 1889. The setting felt extremely well researched and believable - what I love in historical fiction.
In The Vespertine, also, the paranormal aspect is subtle, and takes a backseat to the romantic aspect. The romance itself added to the believability of the setting, in that it followed the social rules of course of the time.
If there was anything about The Vespertine that I less than loved, it would have been how long it took to get to the complication. But with Saundra Mitchell's beautiful way of storytelling and world building I would be lying if I said the lead up to the complication was at all dull.
The ending, without spoiling it, really hit the spot. It left just enough loose ends to maintain its mystique and tied up just enough to not be open-ended.
I give The Vespertine 5 out of 5, and now go off to add The Springsweet, the upcoming companion, to my already long TBR list.(less)
Seth McCoy was the last person to see his best friend, Isaac, alive, and the first to find him dead. It was just another night, just another party, just another time when Isaac drank too much and passed out on the lawn. Only this time, Isaac didn't wake up.
Convinced that his own actions led to his friend's death, Seth is torn between turning his life around . . . or losing himself completely.
Then he meets Rosetta: so beautiful and so different from everything and everyone he's ever known. But Rosetta has secrets of her own, and Seth soon realizes he isn't the only one who needs saving . .
Freefall is an amazing debut. The tone of the book rotated between sad, hopeful, funny, romantic and intense. The pages flew by, and I was surprised as a flipped the last page. I couldn't have read it all in that time - wait, hours have passed?
It isn't often I get to read books by female authors in such genuine male perspectives. Seth's character felt so real; his situation was believable and at the same time heartbreaking. Seth's change throughout the book was subtle, but noticeable in his decisions and actions.
The other characters had stand-out personalities that belonged more to real people than to characters. After I got a feel for the characters, it was as if I could tell whoever was talking just by reading a few lines of their speech.
I loved reading about Rosetta and her relationship with Seth. Their romance was gradually built and the pair had a lot of chemistry.
The writing style was beautiful - simple yet poignant, threaded with imagery and figurative language. The dialogue felt true to the teenaged characters.
The plot was superb and the ending was simple, sweet and felt like the natural conclusion of events.
I'd recommend Freefall to anyone. It's an emotional debut that shouldn't be missed. I give it 5 out of 5 and look forward to future novels from Mindi Scott.(less)
After Luce's father is lost on a shipwreck and presumed dead, there's no one else to stay with but her drunk uncle. One night, he crosses the line with her, and Luce is left to join all the other lost girls who were mistreated by the men in their lives: the mermaids.
The mermaids get their revenge on the humans that abused them through sinking boats and luring the sailers to death with their siren songs. Though Luce comes to have to best voice in the group - one that can have men jumping overboard, one that can control the ocean itself - she finds that she doesn't want to kill humans.
Lost Voices tackled a lot of social issues that I didn't except from a paranormal book. It explored abuse, forgiveness, friendship.
I grew to like Luce as a character. At first soft-spoken and weak-willed, as you'd expect from an abused girl, she developed into a more independent and stronger protagonist when she found acceptance with the mermaids. Her personality and feelings shone through in the narration. Luce's feelings felt heartbreakingly real.
I loved the writing style, also. Lost Voices is Sarah Porter's debut novel, and her writing reflects that of someone with a lot more experience. The prose was lyrical and beautiful, and the dialogue was believable.
There wasn't any romance in Lost Voices, and I though I like to see romantic subplots, Lost Voices pulled it off. I'd rather no romance than a star-crossed one.
The ending, I found, was disappointing, in that it left so many loose ends, but I can forgive that, considering it's only the first book in a series.
June is the Republic's military prodigy, and Day is the Republic's most wanted criminal. His...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
June is the Republic's military prodigy, and Day is the Republic's most wanted criminal. His latest crime resulted in the death of June's brother, and June makes it her personal mission to track down the criminal that has eluded the military for years. They're from very opposite sides of the tracks, but on meeting, they'll discover that they aren't so different after all.
I'm a sucker for the 'good' criminal, the Robin Hood. Day's crimes consist of stealing from the rich and powerful and corrupted and giving to the needy in the slum sectors. His latest crime, and the focus of Legend, is breaking into a hospital to steal plague cures for the family he takes care of surreptitiously and thinks he's dead. Day was immediately refreshing and exciting to read about, though I would have preferred more selfless feats shown rather than retold.
I find that with action novels, a fast and thrilling plot can't manage to sustain my interest for very long since they mostly sacrifice character depth. Legend combined them both, though. Our protagonists June and Day developed and grew and it didn't take anything away from the action -- it added to it. Caring for the characters and developing an emotional investment in their well being made the plot more suspenseful and each obstacle faced more concerning.
Marie Lu's ability to heighten drama through the prose so simply was skillfull. The writing style implemented was perfect for the genre and the story. Only her first novel, and she's up there with my favourite action writers. I very was impressed in particular with how she layered the plots. Legend opened the major plot almost immediately (but not so soon as to not know and care about June's brother at all), and what promises to be the series arc took over later, but without forgetting about the former like I feel happens too often.
My sole complaint was that it had the basic plot structure of almost every other dystopia out there. An obedient girl meeting a boy that shows her that the system she's had faith in isn't what she's always believed it to be. I'm waiting for a new dystopia to blow me away. Legend features a very good storyline, but from all of the hype I expected it to have well and truly broken the mould.
Legend was a dystopian thriller featuring likable characters that draw you quickly through the fast-paced plot. If not exceptionally unique in the dystopia aspect, it was very, very enjoyable to read.(less)
Mara Dyer wakes up in a hospital, curiously unhurt, with no memory of what put her there. Slo...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
Mara Dyer wakes up in a hospital, curiously unhurt, with no memory of what put her there. Slowly memories return to her, of freak accident in an abandoned building that killed her friends, but not her. Eventually she begins to wonder, what role did I play in it?
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer opens with a prologue set after the plot of the book, basically in which Mara tells us that her story is a confession and a warning. "This is what I remember", she begins with. But the majority of what she remembers isn't important to the mysterious paranormal plot, but her relationship with Noah. I was hanging out for the point where he becomes important, but the hundreds of pages about him felt like a waste by the end.
Much about the writing got on my nerves, particularly the dialogue. The characters spoke with language unnaturally sophisticated for teenagers, and narrated in regular style. It would have been smoother if the 'big words' were saved for narration rather than speech. Also, I was getting the impression constantly that Mara was saying contrived things specifically to segue to some apparently clever remark from Noah. It was as though Noah had things Hodkin wanted him to say, and Mara's purpose in the conversation was the work around that.
On Mara and Noah, their romance, apart from being mostly inconsequential, was irritating. Mara turned to mush whenever he was around and let herself be walked all over. All of her interactions with him were "despite herself", and her whole fascination with him was founded on his good looks.
The whole mysterious paranormal aspect was predictable after not too far in, and the eerie atmosphere wasn't maintained. Only certain moments had an appropriately dark tone. It was clear where Mara was freaked out, but the writing didn't extend to us feeling freaked out as well.
The Unbecoming Of Mara Dyer was mostly disappointing, with it not living up to the hype it received for apparently great mystery and romance. But now that the scene's been set, maybe the sequel will be better, and maybe have a major plot.
I give The Unbecoming Of Mara Dyer a 2 out of 5.(less)
I was captivated right from beginning, from the explanation of Beatle and his twin sister bei...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
I was captivated right from beginning, from the explanation of Beatle and his twin sister being born six weeks apart. Scattered throughout the book were interviews with other twins with interesting and entertaining stories to tell, which we later find out go into a documentary Beatle and his sister feature in.
You fall in love with Beatle and Destiny as soon as you meet them. Perspective between them alternates, and you hear both of their unique stories. There is so much chemistry between the pair and their conversations are hilarious.
I loved the superstitious themes, I loved Beatle and Destiny's juxtaposed family dynamics, and I loved the narration that felt perfectly true to the teenaged characters.
But what I did I love the most about this book? The setting! I've never read a book set where I live. It was weird (in the best way possible) to have been to and know about all the places the characters go.
Beatle Meets Destiny is quirky, cute, funny, (especially the stalker plot) unconventional love story. It's short and light, and I give it a 5 out of 5.(less)
Dash convinced both his parents that he was spending Christmas with the other, resulting in t...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
Dash convinced both his parents that he was spending Christmas with the other, resulting in them both going away for the holidays and leaving him alone - just as he likes it.
Lily's parents are on a belated honeymoon, and have left her under the care of her brother, who'd much rather be spending his time with his boyfriend.
Their worlds soon collide when Dash finds a red moleskin notebook nestled in the stacks of used books The Strand's 18 miles of shelf hold. Therein, he finds challenges that, should he choose to accept them, will lead him to Lily.
I opened this book with high expectations that Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List by the same authors predisposed me to have. And then it totally exceeded those expectations and blew me away.
I've always reasoned that the best authors of young adult fiction are themselves young adults or at least young at heart, or else the characters don't really feel like teens and their dialogue doesn't capture the way teens really talk. No such problems occurred in Dash & Lily's Book Of Dares. The characters were amazing. They felt like real teenagers and their personalities stood out and gave them the feel of real people as opposed to just characters.
I was expecting the plot to be less-than-favorable, since Rachel Cohn and David Levithan's writing style is to not outline and just go where their characters take them, but it made the character's exploits feel more natural.
I also love the way this book explores the way people we meet compare with the ideal people we build up in our minds and how they compare to how we imagine them.
Reading this made me want to leave my own notebook in a bookstore just so I could meet someone like Dash (being a smart-ass makes other smart-asses endearing to me). It makes me want to be friends with someone like Lily, and hang out with someone like Boomer. It makes me want to spend Christmas in one the world's biggest cities with limited supervision (okay, so maybe I wanted to do that anyway).
Definitely one of my favorite books of the year, I give Dash & Lily's Book Of Dares 5 out of 5.(less)
Across The Universe is Beth Revis's debut novel. It's part sci-fi, part dystopia, part murder...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
Across The Universe is Beth Revis's debut novel. It's part sci-fi, part dystopia, part murder mystery, and part awesome.
The premise straight away had me hooked. People are frozen cryogenically to be thawed and settle on a new planet when they land, but our main character - Amy - is woken early in an attempted murder. Though I was nervous that the execution wouldn't live up to the premise, it exceeded it.
The setting was vividly described and thoroughly planned out. The setting wasn't just the story's backdrop, but a major part of it. Living in the ship had a believable effect on everything and everyone inside it. The dystopian society was cleverly built, featuring completely different ethical priorities and hierarchies than the world we live in.
With the perspective alternating between Amy (a newcomer on the ship) and Elder (who's lived on the ship his entire life), you get to see the Godspeed from both an insider and an outsiders point of view. Amy was thus easy to relate to, learning things about how her new world worked just as we, the readers, did.
The secondary characters were also well written - especially Harley (God, I loved Harley). Their personalities were distinct (with the exception of the ship's thousands of drones) and compelling. Beth Revis also explored the gray area between good and bad in characters - showing that the good guys aren't all good and the bad guys aren't all bad.
The romance between Amy and Elder felt like more a subplot. It was subtle and for a while at the beginning, one-sided, yet reading from each of their perspectives - getting inside both of their heads - it was clear they made a great couple.
The plot focuses for a large amount of the book on both Amy and Elder uncovering the secrets and lies that the ship's system was built upon. The plot was fast-paced and never predictable, ending with a satisfying conclusion that still leaves room for sequels.
Turning the last page of this book, all I could say was 'wow'. Across The Universe was a fast and captivating thriller. I give it a 5 out of 5.(less)
Imaginary Girls was an unsettling read, with the eerie atmosphere getting under your skin and...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
Imaginary Girls was an unsettling read, with the eerie atmosphere getting under your skin and standing the hairs on your arms upright. It was completely compelling and beautifully written.
Ruby has everyone in town tied around her finger. The boys all love her, the girls all want to be her, and things just have this way of leaning in her favour. But her attention is fleeting, she's fickle and spontaneous, and the only person she's tied to is her younger sister, Chloe. Ruby just has this gravity to her -- everything is drawn to and revolves around her, but there's nothing out of the ordinary about that, right?
I was surprised by the affinity I felt with Chloe from so early in the story. Though the premise of a girl living in the shadow of her older sister's vibrant shadow isn't exactly unique, the dynamic is presented in a unique light. From the beginning it was clear that Ruby wasn't my kind of person, but it was easy to see why Chloe felt so strongly about her. And even then, watching the strong grip she had on Ruby loosen slowly was touching and saddening.
The plot was slow-burning, with eerie suspense building until you're conflicted between rushing through to ease your anxiety over what'll happen and slowing to appreciate the amazing prose. Imaginary Girls was Nova Ren Suma's YA debut and second novel, but she wrote in an smooth and poetic fashion that trumped even much more experienced writers.
So much imagery was at play that created clear and vivid mental pictures. So many of the images were so visually arresting: Ruby walking into the reservoir calmly, London pale underwater with her hair swimming around her, releasing the balloons with Ruby's demands penned on them into the air and watching them disperse.
Imaginary Girls also reminded me of my love of paranormal realism, a genre I don't get to read often (if you know any good books in this genre, you should leave a recommendation in the comments and I'll love you forever). The vague and mysterious way the supernatural element was threaded in way so quietly creepy, like an usually busy road without a single person in sight. The ambiguous nature of the story only made it more compelling. Even long after finishing, you'll be wondering what exactly what was happening.
A perfect ending ensued, holding onto the chilling tone and mystery while still concluding parts of the story. The parting image of Chloe sitting alone, waiting, isn't one I'll soon forget.
Imaginary Girls was a haunting and creepy story of a sisterhood that knows no bounds; breathtaking and original with a gritty romance.
Something - some power is blooming inside Laurel. She can use flowers to do things. Like brin...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
Something - some power is blooming inside Laurel. She can use flowers to do things. Like bringing back lost memories. Or helping her friends ace tests. Or making people fall in love.
Laurel suspects her newfound ability has something to do with an ancient family secret, one that her mother meant to share with Laurel when the time was right. But then time ran out.
Clues and signs and secret messages seem to be all around Laurel at Avondale School, where her mother had also boarded as a student. Can Laurel piece everything together quickly enough to control her power, which is growing more potent every day? Or will she set the stage for the most lovestruck, infamous prom in the history of the school?
The premise of this book was what drew me in. I'm always up for something different, and flower magic seemed just that. Laurel's mother was a flower enthusiast and always spoke about the Victorian language of flowers. Laurel took up learning the language after her mother's death, and through that, she discovered the magic of flowers.
Laurel was a fairly likable character. Though she gave off a naive air, she could do what needed to be done and act when need be. The secondary characters had personalities that were realistic and unique from each other.
The writing style was nice, though it felt a little...babyish? Which I suppose should be expected when reading a book about characters younger than yourself. The plot was fairly straight forward: introduction, conflict, resolution.
Overall, it was a light read: which I could appreciate after reading a series dramatic paranormal novels. It told a sweet story about first love, friendship (both creating new ones and strengthening the old) and flowers. I recommend Forget-Her-Nots to younger readers than I, and give it 3 out of 5.(less)
When Cammie visits her roommate and friend, Macey, in Boston, where her father's being nomina...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
When Cammie visits her roommate and friend, Macey, in Boston, where her father's being nominated for vice president, she expects an exciting end to summer break. Excitement she gets, when she and Macey find themselves in a kidnapper's plot.
Luckily, escaping is just one the things they do best, as students of the Gallagher Academy For Exceptional Young Women - a spy school in disguise. But soon they find out that it isn't over yet, and as more attempts are made, they wonder if Macey was the real target.
Like the Gallagher Girls book before it, Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover was fast-faced and fun to read. Written in a no-nonsense prose, there was constant action and mystery, and was completely captivating - so much so that I read it on Christmas morning.
There aren't a lot of spy books out there targeted to a young adult audience, and this series is the only I've read in the genre, but it's enough to make me want to branch out and find more books like it. A boarding school full of female spies-in-training - a premise so unique and exciting you can't help but pick it up.
Cammie is a strong, clever and loyal protagonist. She spends the majority of this book trying to protect her friend without a second thought, outsmarting secret agents, and unraveling mysteries. Though, in spite of all that, she's relatable. She worries about her friends, she has boy trouble, and misses her dead father. She's a dynamic protagonist that you can't help but feel endeared and sympathetic to.
The plot was cleverly constructed, with problems from past books weaved into the story and with new ones arising. It was at all times unpredictable - every time I think I can guess what's about to happen, something else entirely occurs.
The romance between Zach and Cammie was mysterious and compelling. The broody, mysterious stock character that always weasels his way into paranormal romances can't hold a flame to the enigma that is Zach. I mean, he's a spy. His intentions throughout the book aren't clear, but he still feels trustworthy.
I give Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover 4 out of 5.(less)
After Wren's boyfriend, Danny, dies in a tragic car accident, she's devastated. Driven by gri...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
After Wren's boyfriend, Danny, dies in a tragic car accident, she's devastated. Driven by grief, in ignorance of the consequences, she uses the strange powers she inherited to bring him back, but he's only a shell of himself. He's cold and dead and only reflects the old Danny in fleeting moments. He can only think of her and becomes possessive and needs to be hidden from the world. And hiding him seems to work, until Gabriel arrives.
Cold Kiss was surprisingly raw and emotional. Wren is as devastated by Danny's death as you'd expect, and though she knows bringing him back was a mistake, saying goodbye for a second time seems unbearable. Her grief over the boy that is still technically with her and the conflict between what she needs to do and what she wants to do is heartrendingly real.
Wren had a distinct and unique voice, realistic and well-portrayed emotions, and a very likeable quality to her despite her standoffish cover. The way she developed was realistic, especially considering she needed a trigger -- in the form of Gabriel -- to do so.
Gabriel motivation for helping Wren out was plausible. He understood what was going on, he knew it was wrong, and he wanted to help fix it. Plus, he kind of liked her. He didn't try to just swoop in and get overprotective of her; he just offered assistance where it was needed. I love these kinds of relationships explored in YA: where the romance is actually beneficial to the development of the main character. Gabriel helped Wren overcome something that she couldn't have on her own, and their connection proved to be stronger than those of YA characters built simply on good looks.
All of this amazing character building was portrayed through an easy, flowing writing style. A quietly sad and slightly hypnotic tone was established quickly and maintained, inducing a strange prickly feeling at the story's climax. I'm interested in more books from Amy Garvey in the future based on her incredible writing skill.
Overall, a compelling and emotional read; heavy on the character development and light on the supernatural. A refreshing read for paranormal and contemporary fans alike.
I had The Iron Witch on my to-read list ever since the (gorgeous) cover was unveiled months a...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
I had The Iron Witch on my to-read list ever since the (gorgeous) cover was unveiled months ago. The blurb made me think the book would have a twisty, complicated, clever plot, though I found after reading that it didn't have that. A complication was introduced - Navin's kidnapping - and it had a fairly straight-forward solution.
Overall, though, I did enjoy this book. Even though the plot wasn't as complicated as I thought it would be, it was still compelling. A lot was left open for further series installments, which I'll be sure to read in hopes of more of the suspense and drama I anticipated.
I liked Donna's character. She was strong-willed and determined, though insecure at times, which made her more relatable. Her past was tragic (though I maintain that the iron markings on her hands are cool, as well as useful) and had a realistic affect on her persona.
(view spoiler)[I liked her relationship with Navin, though I kept hoping they'd end up as more-than-friends. I kept expecting a love triangle with Xan, whose romance with Donna felt rushed. Navin was friendly and funny, and Xan was much the same though with a darker side. (What does it say about me that I liked him better at the very beginning - sarcastic and kind of a jerk?). (hide spoiler)]
I liked the writing style, and how that even in third person it could make me feel a connection to the characters.
The paranormal aspects of the story were creative and different, and thus, intriguing. Human alchemists trying to use science to understand the paranormal living alongside Fey - what's not to love? I hope more about the world introduced in The Iron Witch is elaborated upon in further books.
I give The Iron Witch a 4 out of 5. I would have given it a 3, but it doesn't feel fair comparing a book to what I expected it to be. I hyped it up a lot in my head before reading, but I'd still recommend this to anyone up for a paranormal romance that's heavier on the paranormal than the romance.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The Iron Daughter ends after Meaghan kills Machina, the Iron King, and is exiled back to the mortal realm for her trouble. But she's back with her fam...moreThe Iron Daughter ends after Meaghan kills Machina, the Iron King, and is exiled back to the mortal realm for her trouble. But she's back with her family there, and she still has Ash with her. It's then her understanding that with the threat of the Iron Realm negated, she can relax. There's no one to keep targeting her family to get to her, and there's no threat of the Summer and Winter fey dying off.
But with a False King taking the throne to the Iron Kingdom, seeking out the the Iron King's power that Meaghan - as his killer - now holds, she's back in the line of fire.
Julie Kagawa has a beautiful writing style that makes me certain that I'll love anything she writes, no matter the subject. I thus had high expectations for The Iron Queen, and I wasn't let down.
In all of the books in this series, conflict after conflict comes up. The plot is bumpy and unpredictable, and you can't put the books down. The Iron Queen takes that to the next level, with higher stakes and more suspense.
What else I loved about The Iron Queen were the characters.
Meaghan grew so much. Over the course of the series you can watch as she develops and becomes a stronger heroine, both physically and mentally. She lost that helpless and naive quality about her that she had about her in the previous two books.
There's still light-hearted and loyal Puck, if a little more bitter this time around. And Ash, still the cool and dangerous ice prince, less impassive without his ties to the Winter court. And my favorite, Grimalkin, with his dry humor and simple "I am a cat" explanations.
And the ending. Oh, God, the ending. I won't spoil it, but I will say that it didn't go the way I thought it would, and I'm glad for that. At first, when the fourth book was announced, The Iron Knight, I was unsure of how much longer the story could be dragged out. But with that ending, it creates a whole new conflict that I'm sure will keep the next book just as action-packed as the last.
I give The Iron Queen a 9 out of 10, and recommend you pick it up come its release date: February 1, 2011.
Ellie doesn't understand why she has nightmares of horrible creatures and far off times and p...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
Ellie doesn't understand why she has nightmares of horrible creatures and far off times and places until she starts seeing the creatures in the real world. They're reapers - beasts that devour humans and send their souls to hell.
Ellie soon meets Will, who tells her she's the reincarnate of an ancient warrior - the only person who can wield angelfire and kill the reapers. But with the reapers threatening to bring about the End Of Days, the apocalypse, she finds herself barely-trained and on the frontlines of a supernatural war.
Firstly, I want to talk about the non-paranormal aspects of this book. It was refreshing to just have a normal heroine: with friends, but not popular; average at school; average socioeconomic status; and with both parents alive and together.
And the paranormal aspect was unique to anything I've read before: reapers, angels, demons. The mythology behind it all was interesting and made the current situation and conflict believable.
The action scenes were well-choreographed, and the writing style created suspense and tension during dramatic scenes.
The romance played only a small role in the story, and was sweet and believable. Ellie and Will had chemistry, and separately, they had depth and unique personalities.
Angelfire was a fun read. It had humor, action, romance: something for every reader. I'd recommend it to anyone. I give it 4 out of 5.(less)
I remember reading Spellbound because I thought it sounded different. But I've just reread th...moreThis review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.
I remember reading Spellbound because I thought it sounded different. But I've just reread the blurb, and ask myself, "Skye, how could you have expected something refreshingly unique from that?" I sheepishly look down at my feet in response.
Immediately, in Spellbound, you're introduced to the stock characters. There's the inexplicably cruel and bitchy popular girl, and the stupid, aggressive jock who teams up with her. There's the flamboyant gay guy who befriends our lead, and the social-outcast who fills the other friend position. And then, of course, the profoundly attractive, kind, over-protective jock who's destined to become the love interest. They're named Kristin, Anthony, Cisco, Angelique, and Brendan respectively.
And then the protagonist: Emma's the new girl; orphaned, shy, sarcastic, and 'drawn to' Brendan (note to self: if at any point in the blurb the phrase 'drawn to' is used, there will be insta-love.). Her past was traumatic, but that didn't seem to affect her in the slightest. Her future promised to be even more traumatic, but she doesn't do anything about that but ignore the warnings.
Moreover, her relationship with Brendan made me dislike her. Even as he begins to ignore her, the world still revolves around him, and she's as desperate as ever to get back into his good books (See what I did there? No? Okay). Plus, she's flattered by his over-protectiveness.
The writing style wasn't anything impressive, but it was by no means unenjoyable. It evoked the character's voice effectively, although I was constantly confusing the book with other's I've read in the past because of the token character traits.
The plot was...strange. But not strange in the good sense. There's an overall complication that isn't revealed for an irritatingly long time, and once revealed the characters choose to ignore it. Meanwhile, there's a smaller plot provoked by blown-out-of-proportion villains that conveniently ties up the larger plot with it's denouement.
I can best describe Spellbound as the kind of book that's fun if you don't think to hard, or aren't familiar with common paranormal romance tropes.