There is a horse-drawn carriage rolling through a scenic meadow. The sun is shining; there ar...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
There is a horse-drawn carriage rolling through a scenic meadow. The sun is shining; there are delightful fragrances in the air. The only catch is the you are the sweaty and straining horse, and the carriage you were pulling happened to be occupied by three rather large sombrero-wearing rainbow-colored elephants.
I admit, the sombreros and colors were unnecessary, but you have a vivid mental image now, yes...?
OK, so you're struggling to haul three elephants behind you. But you keep going, because there might just be something satisfying greeting you at the end of the path. maybe some water, a nice cool shade, or a huge pile of oats and other delectable munchies. Instead, what greets you is the edge of a cliff. Apparently, the scenic route has suddenly decided to stop existing. Poof. Gone, just like that.
Thus was my experience while flipping through the pages of Pegasus. Robin McKinley is undeniably one of the best fantasy world-builders I have ever had the honor to read; but the pacing -- it was horrendously slow. I could not read more than two chapters without feeling the urge to bang my head against something hard.* This had to be stomached in small doses, which is why it took me a staggering total of 15 days to read. I had to stop periodically and read other, more frivolous books before plunging back into the story of a princess and her pegasus. This book is truly a test of patience.
Pegasus does redeem itself and earn an extra star for its setting and background history, and the writing style fits nicely with the type of story it is describing. The novel would be a great source for artists trying to paint a fantasy scene. But for readers who are looking for a plot? Not so much...
The ending makes the sequel (exp. publication date: 2012) almost mandatory. There was a slight build-up, and then the book just ended. The expression on my face would probably have scared a few children if I were reading this in public.
Tidbit of random: I want to taste some fwhfwhfwha, too.
*We were working on a rather annoying Chem lab when my dear friend -- always oh so helpful -- offered to print out the picture at the very top of the review for me. Seriously, what have I done to deserve such amazing friends like this? Sarcasm is the spice of life.
Gwen Frost is being forced to attend Mythos Academy, an elite school set apart to train kids...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Gwen Frost is being forced to attend Mythos Academy, an elite school set apart to train kids who just so happen to be descendants of various mythical warriors. Of course, Gwen doesn’t believe in any of the supernatural skills her classmates supposedly possess. The only type of magic she actually accepts is her own and that of her own family. When the school’s most popular girl, the icy Valkyrie princess Jasmine, is murdered right in the library next to a stolen mythical artifact called the Bowl of Tears, Gwen is determined to get to the bottom of the entire situation. It’s never a good idea to poke your head into other people’s business, though. So the results? Who else is to blame but yourself?
Touch of Frost belongs to the new batch of paranormal stories that all seem exactly the same, only with different character names and fantastical elements. This novel’s back story is a mishmash of tons of various warriors -- from Norse gods to ninjas. While that is certainly a nice idea, it’s never really delved into. Except for a few key warrior gods, all the others felt extraneous and were barely mentioned at all.
The characters aren’t especially mind-blowing, either. You have the blonde mean girl clique, the quirky and unpopular heroine, and the hot bad boy who falls in love with the heroine anyways; just the same formula used over and over and over again. The character with an actual personality was Vic, the ancient magical sword, who has a grand total of about five lines in the entire novel. That is just sad. A sword beats out all those other full-fledged human characters? Sad, sad, sad.
Touch of Frost is quite a cliché, but lovers of stereotypical teen paranormal stories (I know there are a lot of you out there) will devour it with glee.
Having read a bit of Alyson Noel’s paranormal series The Immortals before, I started Radiance...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Having read a bit of Alyson Noel’s paranormal series The Immortals before, I started Radiance with expectations. The beautiful pastel blue cover and the rolling field of blue flowers were undoubtedly attracting factors. However, Radiance proved to be less gorgeous than its cover -- far less. After the first few pages, it became just another one of those mediocre what-life-is-like-after-you-die YA stories. For me, this type of plot is either a hit or a miss. Radiance was a miss.
A round of applause goes to the protagonist, Riley Bloom, for securing a spot on my characters-I-would-like-to-maim list. Seriously, has there ever been a more annoying 12-year-old girl in the history of YA lit? Since the story is in first person, the reader gets treated to 24/7 updates on Riley’s feelings as she complains and worries and complains and worries some more. The puppy love set up in here was also totally unnecessary. If the romance doesn’t aid the plot or spice it up for the reader, why bother putting it there? The entire book read like a novella, with barely any build-up of tension and a climax that was not climatic at all.
There was one line in Radiance that really got me, and not exactly in a positive way, either. So Riley, who just so happens to be complaining about the lack of fashion sense of a particular guy, remarks: “Just close your eyes and ask -- What would Joe Jonas wear?
OK, mentioning the Jonas Brothers (who I just so happen to dislike immensely) is called failure. Failure failure failure… Alyson Noel also mentions good ol’ Robert Pattinson, to which I responded with headKindle -- banging my head frustratingly on my Kindle to relieve stress.
I always prefer to end reviews on a positive note, so here it is: Radiance used the word “discombobulated” twice. I think this is the first time I’ve seen that delightful word in a published book!
Will I be picking up the sequel Shimmer? No. But I do feel that this book was geared toward younger teens. Maybe kids below the age of 13 would gobble this stuff up like pie...
Kylie’s life is breaking down around her: her parents consider divorce, her boyfriend dumps h...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Kylie’s life is breaking down around her: her parents consider divorce, her boyfriend dumps her and immediately starts going out with another girl, and a stalker has been introduced into her life. It isn’t until Kylie gets caught at a party -- with under-aged drinking and drugs galore -- that her life gets turned completely upside down. Her Ice Queen mom decides to send her to Shadow Falls Camp, a psychologist-recommended institution for troubled teens. And soon, Kylie discovers herself stranded in the midst of brainwave-reading paranormal creatures that couldn’t and shouldn’t exist. Confused but feeling an undeniably weird sense of belonging, Kylie begins to realize just how special she really is. Kylie’s stalker also starts to make sense -- a startling relief after all the anxiety. But then trouble invades the camp, and the paranormals are pointing fingers at each other. Beware, happy little campers, someone has an agenda of their own, and they are quite the determined bunch.
C.C. Hunter’s debut, Born at Midnight, was attention-grabbing and hard to put down. However, the plot started out incredibly slowly. It is slightly understandable, as the author has to first describe the characters and the setting of this new series. But the predicament, which should be central to every novel, was brief and felt like an after-thought. Imagine this: pages after pages of descriptions and little action, a few chapters devoted to the build-up of tension, the short resolution, and then the end of the novel, which ends up feeling like accidentally running smack into a brick wall and maybe losing a few teeth in the process.
And onto the apparently mandatory element of a YA PNR book: the love triangle. The one that exists in this book felt pretty much superfluous. There was no reason for its creation in the first place, and Kylie’s indecision and fluctuating feelings becomes a bore to read about after a while. Girl, it is not right to be lusting after three guys (her ex-boyfriend included) at once, especially if you alternate between thinking about kissing one boy to thinking about the hotness of another a second later.
Born at Midnight is a nice read, not entirely original, but interesting nonetheless. The second installment of the series, Awake at Dawn, will be released in October 2011.
I love Karou: her eccentricities and her secrets, her bright blue hair and her drawings of mo...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
I love Karou: her eccentricities and her secrets, her bright blue hair and her drawings of monsters. She is the exact opposite of those spineless heroines who act like doll-puppet hybrids and follow whatever the guy counterparts tell them to do. Karou instead attacks her guy counterpart with Chinese crescent-moon blades. The difference is obvious, yes?
Then there is the fact that the book centers around Prague. Prague! Some place that is not the US or England or France. Do you have any idea how refreshing that is? Although Karou zooms in and out of this city -- this reality, even -- throughout the novel, we still get to catch glimpses of lovely Prague and its “ghost tours” and cathedrals.
And of course, the plot is deliciously twisted and full of so many weird elements that they all somehow come together and successfully contribute to the novel’s uniqueness. There are rooms filled with nothing but jars and jars of teeth. There are scuppy necklaces that give you teeny, tiny wishes. There are puppet masters and dressed like the reflection of moonlight across the water. Really, I have never read anything quite like Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It’s just so strange.
I love its strangeness.
This novel also features a wonderfully done star-crossed romance. Who knew that was even possible in YA? It’s a dark romance, too, full of sacrifices and misplaced trust. But it was also sweet and oh so satisfying.
Although the ending of Daughter of Smoke and Bone is not a cliffhanger, per se, I still want more. Now all I can do is shake my fists in the air and implore Ms. Taylor to publish the sequel as soon as possible. Or maybe I’ll take the less violent route and just read this book again. And again. And again.
A shy girl living a seemingly normal life? Check. A hot and mysterious guy appearing out...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
A shy girl living a seemingly normal life? Check. A hot and mysterious guy appearing out of nowhere? Check. Instant, unexplainable, and inevitable attraction blossoming as the two gaze at each other fatefully through a pane of glass? Check.
Haden/Mr. Dangerous-and-Brooding: Stay away from me, lamb.* I’m dangerous. Theia/Ms. Radiant-Sunshine: But I don’t want to. I think I’m in love with you! Check.
Does this sound just a teensy bit familiar yet…? Ugh, the first two-thirds of the book was a complete rehash of Twilight, albeit a better-written one. A solid 2 stars -- not horrible, and yet not horribly original. I had to roll my eyes a few times here and there. A couple of facepalms appeared, too.
What bumped the rating up to 2.5 stars was the last third of Falling Under. Told in the perspective of Haden instead of Theia, this portion of the book, titled Up is Down, is infinitely more interesting plot-wise and such a joy to read after the coughTwilightcough review we got before. If only the entire book was like the last part. Alas, it was not to be.
Overall, this book is worth it if you’re willing to wade through some clichés and overdone plot lines first. Falling Under’s invigorating ending certainly left me in need of the sequel.
*Seriously? Haden has to refer to Theia as his lamb, too? Please… -.-
Nothing but a ginormous orange sandstorm signals the approaching danger that fateful day Saba...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Nothing but a ginormous orange sandstorm signals the approaching danger that fateful day Saba’s darling twin brother Lugh gets kidnapped from Silverlake and taken away bound up in rope. Desperate and broken-hearted, Saba -- with the unwelcomed and unshakable presence of her little sister Emmi -- sets out to bring Lugh back. When the two girls are temporarily detained in Hopetown, Saba learns of the Sun King and the reason for Lugh’s capture and allies herself with the warrior Free Hawks and the ever infuriating cage-fighter Jack. Renewed with hope and greater numbers, the group starts out on a trek through the land. Their one goal: Lugh’s freedom, and possibly liberation for all.
Holy crap in a cup (Young, 379). This novel was an exciting ride reminiscent of other great high fantasy novels; well, only without all the fantastical elements. The action picks up right from the start, and the story doesn’t slacken in intensity until the very last page. Great side characters and creatures like the hellwurm -- which totally reminded me of those sandworms in Frank Herbert’s Dune series -- combined to become a great backdrop for the adventure and the two main characters Saba and Jack.
These two had their fair share of aww moments. Saba is head-strong but obviously has a soft side for the guy. And Jack, cocky and teasing, contains just the right amount of magic to balance out Saba’s stubbornness. The chemistry between the pair is a cool blend of fake contempt, attraction, jealousy, and mutual affection. Saba, mostly in denial about her feelings toward Jack, is facepalm-inducing at times. But overall, they are one well-matched and well-paired couple.
Blood Red Road is a great dystopian debut. Don’t be discouraged by the slightly mediocre cover; an epic tale awaits you within its pages.
Book Source: eARC via Simon & Schuster Galley Grab(less)
Kate enters the town of Eden with a mother who is on the brink of death and a hope for a bett...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Kate enters the town of Eden with a mother who is on the brink of death and a hope for a better future that is fading bit by bit with the passage of time. As she drags herself through the motions of daily life, weird begin to occur around her. Her new frenemy is raised from the dead after an accident that definitely involved a large quantity of blood, and the only explanation Kate gets from the incident involves a certain dark-haired boy -- Henry, who later claims to be Hades, the infamous god of the Underworld. Kate soon finds herself participating in seven unknown tests to save her mother and help determine the future of the Underworld. A lot of responsibility for an eighteen-year-old, eh?
First off, gorgeous cover. The model’s white dress creates a nice contrast with the dark green fronds and plants in the background. Although that model looks like she’s 25 instead of Kate’s 18, that’s totally beside the point, right?
So here we go: Kate, Kate, Kate. If you existed in real life, you would be receiving death threats from readers of The Goddess Test. It’s one thing to be self-sacrificing and slightly clueless, but dearie, your lack of comprehension of life in general makes me want to go strangle some cute fluffy squirrel in the woods. I know you have a brain. Please use it.
And as various other reviewers have mentioned, the Greek mythology implemented in the plot was stretched just a wee bit too much. None, and I repeat, none of the Greek gods were virgins and/or particularly saint-like in any way. They cheated and murdered and raped and committed incest. Need I go on?
The Goddess Test presents modern twist of the myth of Hades and Persephone that strays a bit too far from the original. Combined with annoying characters and background inaccuracies, the novel was somewhat of a chore to get through. Although I suggest that you read the novel yourself and formulate your own opinion. Who knows? You might just end up joining the legions of reviewers who adored the book to death.
Book Source: ARC from Harlequin via NetGalley(less)
Various predicaments have presented themselves to Zara since the death of her stepfather...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Various predicaments have presented themselves to Zara since the death of her stepfather and the unwilling move to Bedford, Maine that followed. There is, of course, the whole pixie situation, but now Nick, her boyfriend and warrior werewolf, is gone, too. Zara, heartbroken and determined, allows the pixie king Astley to transform her into a pixie herself as a last resort to aid in the quest to retrieve Nick. The problem is: the only leads they have are the words of a disdainful Valkyrie and the existence of a mythical place -- Valhalla, said to be the ruling place of the Norse god, Odin. As Zara and the crew continue to search for more clues, evil pixies led by the newly appearing king, Frank, are kidnapping boys left and right. Zara, now the Queen of King Astley, also faces entirely new problems as her relationship with Astley and the trust of her friends are brought into jeopardy by these recent turn of events. However, Zara is nothing if not stubborn, and she will not rest until Nick is safely returned to Bedford.
As I read each of the Need books one after the other, the growth of the author was especially evident. Descriptions of the background and setup of each place, which were lacking in the first two books of this series, are found embedded throughout Entice, creating an even more realistic world for the reader. I adore the steadily increasing plot complications, too. A series that started out with a relatively simple concept -- eliminate the evil pixies and their violent ways -- has successfully morphed into an intense story involving mythical places and the existence of benevolence in an initially evil species.
Young adult books nowadays all seem to contain the classic love triangle scenario, and this book is not an exception. There does seem to be an almost two-dimensional quality to Zara and Nick’s relationship, though. Why are they even in love? I suppose there was a time limit on the development of their relationship since Nick was whisked away to Valhalla so soon after the series started. On the other hand, the author did a great job with Zara and Astley, whose relationship is multi-faceted and angst-filled enough to keep me interested. It also seems obvious who Zara will choose at the end, if one were to observe the popular trend followed by other YA novels. But who knows? Maybe Carrie Jones will spring out a surprise for us at the end of the series.
Entice is packed with action and is easily my favorite book out of the Need series so far. I will be looking forward to the next installment of the series.
Rhine lives in a world seemingly devoid of hope -- men now die at the age of twenty-five and...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Rhine lives in a world seemingly devoid of hope -- men now die at the age of twenty-five and females at a meager twenty. When she is kidnapped and sold into a marriage like countless others, Rhine is determined to revolt against the bonds that secure her to this new husband and somehow reunite with the twin brother who was torn away from her. Even in a world like this, opinions and relationships shift and change. But escape -- escape is always on her mind.
I devoured and simply adored this new YA dystopian novel. There were moments when I found myself engrossed, grasping the little paperback and yelling No at the words squiggling across the pages as the story unfolded around me. The plot is captivating and the writing artfully done. The characters are authentic and contain a certain depth that made me love the book just that much more, as I could relate to the pain they experience throughout the book. There is a slight The Hunger Games feel to the it, which I do not object to at all. This is definitely one of the best books I’ve read in 2010, and I cannot wait for the next installment of this trilogy.
Penelope has known no world beside the video game universe Edda her entire life. Living as th...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Penelope has known no world beside the video game universe Edda her entire life. Living as the only human avatar in a land of electronic beings, she bears the title Princess and scripts weapons into digital existence for Lord Scanthax as aid for his expanding empire. As a young girl, she was eager to please the cold Lord father figure. But as Penelope matures and discovers her lack of freedom and the reality behind her emaciated human body, fed through tubes and always plugged up to a game console to access Edda, she decides to exact revenge on the beings who have taken advantage of her trust and innocence. While Edda readies for battle for yet another conquest, another band of travels led by Cindella and Ghost from the universe Saga are gathering forces. Nothing is resolved until peace is achieved.
Edda was quite a unique book. I am not an avid gamer myself (aside from the odd Pokemon game here and there), but the novel still managed to capture my attention at the very beginning. Well, to tell you the truth, the interest began to wan as I continued through Edda, and by the end, I was glad to finally read the last word and close up the book.
The novel was definitely written quite well, something I hadn’t originally expected, given the subject and setting of Edda. However, even the hard-core fantasy fan in me had trouble getting into the storyline. The viewpoint jumps from Penelope’s struggles in Lord Santhax’s castle to Cindella and the others’ journey through the electronic realms. What bothered me to no end was the lack of tension, I suppose. Penelope spends the entire novel plotting, and Cindella spends the entire novel traveling and killing things that got in their way. The resolution was short and took up only about 30 pages out of the 440 page book.
Although the novel was not my cup of tea, Edda will appeal to fantasy and sci-fi fans alike, and of course, gamers will enjoy the references to gaming spread throughout.
It is not often that books induce episodes of hysterical fits and render me speechless at the end. I will have to congratulate Patrick Ness on achieving that. This trilogy has been one helluva ride, and I enjoyed every single moment of it.
AJSLKDFMVILJMOIJAISODNF (Please wait as my brain restarts)
The world that Ness created is real, the character's emotions are raw. Yes, the entire book is one big war and one big attempt at peace. One would think that a war dragged out across 600+ pages would be overkill, but Ness managed to make every single page of this book worthwhile.
I have to admit -- I did cry at the end. Quite surprising actually, since this is not a particularly tear-jerker type book. You could say that the ending was so overwhelming it elicited tears. Just go read the dang book and find out yourself.
It’s possible that I harbor a sort of morbid curiosity toward angst of any kind, given t...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
It’s possible that I harbor a sort of morbid curiosity toward angst of any kind, given the surprising amount of love I felt for this novel. Because I am not kidding when I say that the entire book is one humongous angst-fest. There’s Adam’s heartache and Mia’s barely hidden heartache and just pain and this awful sense of detachment from every other person around them.
And I loved every single page of it.
If Adam had been a stereotypical male from the YA genre, we would doubtlessly have been treated to paragraph upon paragraph of whining and pining after Mia. Oh, I miss the way her hair smells, the feel of her skin on mine, her beautiful lips like bright red cherries blah blah blah… But Adam is stronger and just plain better than that, even if he himself doesn’t think so. Yes, he wrote emo songs to vent his frustration at Mia’s departure. Yes, he was basically kind of catatonic for a year afterward. But he did something about his pain. He made it a sort of productive pain, if that makes any sense. Adam did not sit around and stare into space; he became a national rock sensation instead.
I confess, I had originally put off reading Where She Went because If I Stay wasn’t phenomenal for me. Perhaps I was put off by the feeling of stasis -- the total lack of overall change -- that pervades the first novel. Well, Where She Went manages to retain the emotional rollercoaster from If I Stay and adds a lot more movement and development to the characters since Mia is, you know, no longer in a coma.
Sigh... An author’s ability to turn something simple into something so engaging and extraordinary: this is why I read.
Book Source: ARC from Penguin Young Readers Group via NetGalley(less)
June 2, 2011 Ugh, no. Did I really give this a 3.5 back in November? How naive I was...
November 5, 2010 Heaven and Hell are both vying for the same thing -- Frannie Cavanaugh, the one girl that can tip the scales and change the world forever. Luc is sent from Hell's Acquisitions, and Gabe is dispatched from Heaven. Their tasks are simple: to tag Frannie's soul for their own side before the other succeeds. A love triangle forms as the two boys gradually begin to understand the girl they were ordered to retrieve. But this girl has secrets of her own.
Told from the points of view of Frannie and Luc, this novel was an undeniably addicting read. This human and demon had completely different voices, and the author executed that well with the implementation of the two first person perspectives. The writing itself, while not exactly the most eloquent, was effective and managed to convey the meaning well. Although the relationship between Frannie and Luc could have used a bit more development to raise the authenticity level, it was acceptable. This applies to the interactions between Frannie and Gabe, too.
Fans of the Twilight saga would definitely enjoy this book, as I did notice a few similarities between the two character-wise. Overall, a solid debut by Lisa Desrochers.
Relic Master Galen Harn and his apprentice Raffi know that all is not well the moment they se...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Relic Master Galen Harn and his apprentice Raffi know that all is not well the moment they set foot in the settlement that had boldly requested their help a few days before. Drawn by curiosity and the possibility of discovering a relic, the pair nevertheless decides to venture into the castle-like fortress that is the settlement’s stronghold and soon come to regret the decision. After an unpleasant meeting with the leader Alberic, Galen and Raffi are off once again -- this time in search of a thieving Sekoi that had ravaged the settlement and the Crow, who, if found, would prove to be very helpful to Galen indeed. Carys, an orphaned girl in search of her father, soon join the group on their journey to the dark city of Tasceron, where both the Sekoi and the Crow were rumored to be found. However, the Watch is always present at every turn; their deception knows no bounds.
Having read and tremendously enjoyed Ms. Fisher’s Incarceron duology, I was, to say the last, excited to get my hands on the Relic Master series. While Incarceron seems to be geared more toward young adults, The Dark City reads more like a middle grade novel to me, albeit an intense and still relatively interesting one.
The world-building present in The Dark City is subtle and yet comprehensive. The use of magic by Galen and Raffi, while not extensively clarified, was explained enough to be understandable and not overwhelming. The cast of characters were quite darling, also, with their own little quirks and secrets. Even though the plot tended to drag noticeably in the beginning and middle parts of the novel, I think the ending was a success overall.
Book one of the Relic Master series, The Dark City will appeal to middle grade fantasy lovers and readers who are willing to plunge into the fantastical world of the magic-wielding Order and the seemingly omniscient Watch.
After reading a whole slew of horrible reviews of The Girl in the Steel Corset, I had me...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
After reading a whole slew of horrible reviews of The Girl in the Steel Corset, I had mentally prepared myself for a train wreck. Well, I confess: the novel didn't turn out that badly for me. It wasn't exceptional, but it didn't enduce fits of hair-tearing frustration, mostly. Perhaps I've been desensitized by the unhealthy amount of mediocre YA I've been reading lately.
The characters here are pretty much your standard set of YA heroes, although Finley managed to annoy me quite a bit more than the average heroine. That girl, for the life of her, just doesn't seem to be able to make up her mind about anything. Oooh, Griffin is so handsome. But wait, Jack is hot, too. I'll just blame my attraction on the two warring parts of my personality! No. Just no. And guess what? In case one love triangle isn't enough, we've got two! Aren't you excited? Ugh, at least the two triangles don't overlap. Imagine what a mess that would make. A love hexagon?
The background of the novel comes across as completely random. There are beasties that have cool powers and are apparently harvested from the center of the earth and machines that do your chores or suddenly turn evil and just attack people. Add the Aether, a spiritual plane inhabited by the dead, to all that, and you've got an overload of fantastical elements that don't really coexist nicely with each other.
The Girl in the Steel Corset does not succeed in distinguishing itself from typical YA despite its steampunk flare and gorgeous cover. However, it is still a notch above a lot of YA out there simply because it presents the stereotype in a slightly altered package.
Book Source: ARC from Harlequin via NetGalley(less)
Infinity started out just like every other paranormal novel, albeit with a slower pacing than...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Infinity started out just like every other paranormal novel, albeit with a slower pacing than most. Nick Gautier is introduced, his background briefly touched upon, and the paranormal aspect stirred in. I was expecting some sort of yay-let’s-all-go-stake-vampires novel, when WA-BAMMM…
I went back and re-read the part to make sure I got it right. I mean, vampires, werewolves, dark hunters, gods, immortals, AND zombies?!?! (Yeah, I know it’s in the description. I was too lazy to read it, ok? Shush…) Needless to say, I have not read a book with such a bizarre mishmash of PNR creatures before, and Ms. Kenyon handled the integration well. Everything made sense and tied together at the end.
There was a total Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle moment in here, too. Nice way of adding confusion and mystery into the characters, I suppose…
I noticed the repetition of words such as gah and bleh, which I admit to using often in IM’s, emails, and Facebook posts. However, they do not work well in books and end up making the writing seem almost sloppy. I assume Ms. Kenyon was trying to portray the teenage voice through these exclamations of annoyance, but it did not work in her favor.
There was also the reoccurrence of the word goober, and it never fails to conjure up this delightful image in my head. I must say, it’s quite distracting when you’re trying to focus on an intense fight scene while Spongebob's I'm a Goofy Goober song occupies your mind.
Overall, a quirky novel that is more MG than YA. I would not have gone out of my way to procure this book if I didn’t have a contest-won copy lying around.
A little something I learned whilst reading Infinity: Three out of four demons all prefer barbecue sauce over hemoglobin. So kids, remember to bring along some BBQ sauce when you’re walking around alone late at night.
As an angel-blood, Clara has a purpose in life—the sole reason she exists on earth in th...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
As an angel-blood, Clara has a purpose in life—the sole reason she exists on earth in the first place. With nothing to guide her but visions of a boy in a forest fire and the annoyingly confusing comments her angel mother tells her, Clara and her family move from sunny California to snowy Wyoming in an attempt to complete her purpose. It is there that Clara comes face to face with Christian, the boy in her dreams, and delves into the complicated world of high school love and Nephilim war. As circumstances become even more perplexing, Tucker appears in Clara’s life. Fun, normal, dimpled Tucker. Clara is the one who must make the decision, for who else can do so for her?
Cynthia Hand’s debut, Unearthly, was gorgeously written. She managed to depict an authentic teen voice without going overboard with the standard ALL CAPS to express emotion and the internet slang (ie. OMG, LOL, WTF) that has infused itself into the world of teenagers. To say that I flipped open this book with skepticism would be an understatement, since I’ve had almost traumatic experiences with YA angel books before. Surprisingly, Unearthly proved to be different from the rest. Unlike the clichés that are prevalent in other angel books—the dark and brooding fallen angel who falls in love with a human girl—this book delivers a unique twist that left me flipping the pages one after another deep into the night.
Of course, we also encounter the infamous love triangle here, but the author handled it well, and I thank her for not following the conventional route most other YA books do. There is actually a development in the boy and girl’s relationship—a concept often lacking in YA fiction. Instead of love at first sight, a steady build-up of attraction occurs that seems real instead of crafted. I especially adore the ending, oh how I grinned like a maniac at the book in my hands when Clara finally makes up her mind.
This is the beginning of a great series, and I will definitely be on the look-out for future works by Cynthia Hand.
Since the Rose accident, Sydney has been branded as a disgrace in the Alchemist community. Wh...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Since the Rose accident, Sydney has been branded as a disgrace in the Alchemist community. When Keith -- that arrogant jerk -- shows up with a method for her to redeem herself, Sydney jumps at the chance. The pair is sent to California as guardians for Jill, the Moroi princess who has recently suffered and barely survived a brutal attack. Posing as students in an obscure private school in Palm Springs should be an easy task. However, a chain of events have already been set into motion at this sunny “haven,” and the Alchemist-vampire posse is right in the middle of it.
Perhaps I’ve been subconsciously persuaded by the scathing Bloodlines reviews out there. Or maybe I just felt like Last Sacrifice was the conclusion of Vampire Academy, and spin-offs wouldn’t do the original series justice. I have no idea.
But Bloodlines failed to impress me as much as its predecessors did.
You notice right away that the Alchemist Sydney, who has now inherited the important job as narrator, lacks the sarcasm and attitude that characterizes Rose. This naturally causes the reading to seem a bit dryer and less humorous. I’m being petty here, as the character Sydney is supposed to be serious and obedient, but this little observation did contribute to a lower rating than the standard 4-stars I’ve been giving the rest of the Vampire Academy series. It’s hard not comparing the two.
Even with a different set of main characters -- aside from Adrian -- Ms. Mead still manages to stun with wonderfully done plot twists. I admit: I was cocky and seriously thought I had the entire plot figured out about a quarter through the book. Never have I been more wrong, and I apologize to Ms. Mead for underestimating her. I thought the novel did start out a bit slowly and ended up putting it down multiple times in the beginning. I was hooked eventually.
Although Bloodlines is a teeny step below the rest of the Vampire Academy series, it is worth reading for the thrilling conclusion. Old fans will be glad to see Adrian back in their lives, too (I know I was).
Across the Universe was certainly an unique read, and I, being one of those guilty people who...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Across the Universe was certainly an unique read, and I, being one of those guilty people who often judge books by their covers, started reading with a sky-high stack of expectations. These obviously stemmed not just from the gorgeous cover, but also from the praises YA bloggers were singing to the heavens about the book.
I liked it, but the feeling was laced with disappointment. I had to constantly stifle the urge to yell insults at Elder throughout, since he acted like an idiot most of the time. I do get that he was raised that way and is still in the process of escaping from Eldest's clutches, but couldn't Elder have, oh I dunno, grown a spine faster? Since he is one of the central characters. It seemed as if Amy was the one doing all the work while Elder drifted along and just happened to appear at crucial moments and learn important pieces of information to contribute.
The descriptions of The Season was, like others before me have mentioned, quite disturbing. They were repeated, too, as if to remind the reader that, hey look, there's another couple going at it over there, you know, in case you forgot. It succeeded in increasing the believability of the novel, but was it really necessary? In a YA novel, too.
And alas, the ending, or lack of. The climax of the novel seemed to be nonexistent. I was excitedly flipping the pages, wondering what sort of argument or revelation was going to occur and end the novel with a bang. Well, the bang never came. There was no real resolution, either, which bothered me to no end. I guess I prefer stories that are tied up with nice little polka-dotted bows.
The world Beth Revis created was likable, and the sci-fi elements were nicely done, but the plot just fell flat for me. I would still recommend the book, though.
The Thief started out as nothing special. The plot seemed mediocre, and I had trouble creating a mental image of Gen -- the main character, narrator, and thief -- in my head. But after the first few chapters, I found myself suddenly very engrossed in the novel and couldn't for the life of me put the book down to eat, sleep, or perform any of life's necessary functions...
Oh, Ms. Turner, what a tangled web you weave. The Thief had the type of ending I love best. It was unexpected, tied up everything nicely, and made the reader want the next book in the series without being frustratingly cliffhanger-ish. Now I shall try to restrain myself and go to sleep instead of starting the next book in the Attolia series.
Seventeen-year-old Lena lives in a world where love, or amor deliria nervosa, is nothing but...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Seventeen-year-old Lena lives in a world where love, or amor deliria nervosa, is nothing but a disease deemed to be fatal by the government. The only way for society to flourish as it should is through complete eradication of love, and that is where the cure comes in. All inhabitants of the United States of America living within the heavily militarized border are required to have the procedure on their 18th birthday. This cure takes away all the intense feelings of love won and love lost, of fixation and obsession, and of euphoria and despair. Lena, of course, simply cannot wait for her procedure. She has always been different, set apart by her infamous and long-deceased parents who just so happened to be branded with the most shameful labels society has to offer: one is a sympathizer; the other took her own life. Lena just wants all this pain and worry to disappear, but then Alex comes into her life -- Alex, who bears the scar of the procedure on his skin. This means he is completely safe to interact with, right? Right…?
In my opinion, Lauren Oliver’s second novel, Delirium, was not in the same caliber as her debut, Before I Fall. Although Oliver’s fluid writing style is still there, peppered with beautiful similes that make her books such a joy to read, the setting and plot of Delirium just doesn’t have the originality of her first book. Thirty pages in, my mind was flashing warning signals, and the existing similarities between Delirium and Scott Westerfield’s Uglies series began popping up. For some reason, I felt like Lena was, for a lack of a better word, somewhat of a bimbo. She is passive and hesitant, and her doubt about herself and the world around her can be quite annoying sometimes. I understand that most books are centered on characters that aren’t special in the conventional sense but end up maturing and discovering the rebel within themselves as the book progresses. It felt like Oliver was aiming for this growth, but Lena fell short. She does indeed become more confident by the end, but the transformation process was lacking.
The other thing about Delirium is the speed of its plot development. The first half of the book was a chore to get through -- almost nothing occurred. Total stasis, almost perpetual boredom. The addictive quality of a novel is a big factor for the reader’s enjoyment, and the crawling pace of this book was the biggest turn-off for me.
With all that being said, Delirium does have its lovely parts. Each chapter is preceded by a short passage taken from various pieces of literature that exists in the Delirium world. They give insight into the novel and are all gorgeously crafted by Oliver. The ending was quite an intense ride as well. It definitely leaves the reader wanting of the second installment of the Delirium trilogy. Overall, an applaudable addition to the YA dystopian genre.
Tidbit of random: Ash over at Smash Attack Reads! casted Diego Boneta as Alex. Having watched Diego as Alex (oh the irony…) on the TV show Pretty Little Liars, I totally agree. He’s a decent actor and is incredibly cute.
Fang has left, and Max, hurt and bewildered, has no idea how to function anymore. She knows t...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Fang has left, and Max, hurt and bewildered, has no idea how to function anymore. She knows that the world still needs saving -- that life is bigger than the two of them -- but it is one thing to say it and another to believe it. When the deserter, he-whose-name-must-never-be-mentioned, fires a call their way out of the blue, Max, Dylan, and the gang is dragged into yet another plot for world domination -- or in this case, mass destruction. The Doomsday Group has suddenly sprung up out of nowhere. With its hypnotic figurehead, the DG is gaining followers fast. After witnessing a group rally, the two groups led by Max and Fang journey to the DG’s headquarters in an attempt to crush the cult right at its roots. Never underestimate a group of crazed and fanatical humans, even if they aren’t genetically enhanced, even if they aren’t the future of mankind, as the DG have started to call Max and her little group. The future of mankind, huh? That is quite a title.
Followers of the Maximum Ride series have come a long way, from Max’s first discovery of her real identity to the various times her gang has successfully thwarted a crazed scientist or politician of some sort. Angel, this newest installment of the series, brings forth with it yet another villain to eradicate, which makes it feel as if the former books of the series don’t matter at all plot-wise. At least Max hasn't lost her sarcastic touch and gangstah attitude. The addition of Dylan, the new gorgeous bird-mutant guy, creates -- yes, you guessed it -- a love triangle. Really, Mr. Patterson, I expected more of you. Maximum Ride started out as a fresh new series and has now been reduced to just another teen paranormal novel -- in terms of characterization, at least.
While the plot of this book grabbed the reader’s attention, there was not much depth. Even so, I could not resist reading the novel in one sitting so I suppose I shouldn’t be complaining. I did feel like Mr. Patterson was making too much of an effort to sound like a teen girl, though. Yes, Max is fifteen, but like, teen girls don’t like, OMG, add in a “like” every few letters when they like, talk, you know? I was fifteen just four months ago. Trust me; I know what I’m talking about.
Despite all that, Maximum Ride is addictive and a very fun read. I know it seems as if I butchered every aspect of Angel, but still, I will not hesitate to obtain a copy of the next book in the series when it becomes published. We have a weird relationship, Max and I.
To adopt the slang of the stereotypical blonde, blue-eyed SoCal surfer dude: “Ashfall wa...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
To adopt the slang of the stereotypical blonde, blue-eyed SoCal surfer dude: “Ashfall was hella legit, man!” It features an epic adventure of survival in the face of natural adversity, adaptation amidst chaos, and a frantic love that is equal parts desperation and need. Ashfall is going to appeal to a wide variety of readers, as it has something to offer every single one of you out there.
I would have liked Ashfall a lot more, too, if not for the beginning. We are dumped right into the middle of a volcanic eruption and the series of unfortunate events -- you see what I did there? -- that follows, and yet, the novel seems to drag on and on. It literally took me 7 days to read the first 1/4 of Ashfall and 1 day to read the rest. So yes, pacing was a problem.
Besides that, I enjoyed the novel. There was a good balance of gore, fighting, starvation, and discovery. Our protagonist Alex is brave and foolish and horny (like most teenage boys), and the love interest Darla is the definition of kickass. She’s the one stitching up axe wounds and smushing liquefied rabbit brain on animal hides -- don't ask -- while Alex struggles not to puke in the background.
Ashfall is an intense new post-apocalyptic novel that falters a bit in pacing but is otherwise a very engrossing read. It’s a great way to heighten your chances of surviving the next supervolcanic eruption, too!
Wait, looks like Californian surfer dude is back with a bit of reassurance: “Since no supervolcanoes will erupt for probably another few million years, you can chillax, OK? Here, have a beer.”
Book Source: ARC from Tanglewood via NetGalley(less)
Even though I am fairly new to the adult PNR/urban-fantasy genre, I have read my fair share of vampire novels. Blood Song turned out to be an enjoyable read with a unique twist on traditional vampirism. The protagonist Celia is the usual kick-ass 20-/30-something heroine with multiple guys pursuing her as Celia herself remains clueless to the attention. In this reality, however, the entire world knows of the existence of preternatural beings. Some humans have even uncovered their own hidden powers.
The first half of the book was slightly hard to get through, and the plot felt almost random at times. There were some characters who felt kind of... unnecessary, I suppose. The ending is not overly cliffhanger-ish, but does connect to the second book, Siren Song, which I will read one of these days...
Everything, everything is blurry to Alex. The events of the night before has become nothing b...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Everything, everything is blurry to Alex. The events of the night before has become nothing but a huge pounding headache and random flashes of disjointed memories. She remembers talking to Martin, then to Carter. Then there is Carter's room, and the entire scene blanks out...
As rumors of that night spreads thoughout the prestigious Themis Academy -- fueled and distorted by Carter himself -- Alex is determined to get her old life back as the quiet piano genius. She enlists the help of the Mockingbirds: a student-run organization that acts as the enforcer of unspoken rules in a school where the administrators turn a blind eye on student issues, afraid that publicity of the flaws in their system would damage the school's reputation. Remember, don't underestimate the Mockingbirds. They have their ways. So Carter dear, you'd better watch out.
Daisy Whitney's novel explores the consequences of date rape in a high school that appears pristine on the surface. I found the author's integration of concepts from Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird to be fresh, new, and incredibly sneaky. Almost all of the Mockingbird's procedures and symbols are analogous to various elements of TKAM, like Boo's gifts to the Finch children or details of Tom Robinson's court trial.
Onto the musical aspect: mentions of Beethoven and Lizst and the like. These presented another facet of the novel that seemed to be irrelevant, but ultimately was not. Even Beethoven's famous Ninth Symphony can be symbolic to a story like this.
There was one part that made me laugh hysterically for a while. Then again, it might have just been due to the fact that I was reading at a time that should be reserved for sleep... Alex and Martin, an apparently cute science nerd (where can I find one of these, huh?), were discussing their ideas for the spring project. This assignment is similar to a senior paper, although these two aren't seniors, and it's not a paper. Anyways, Martin decides to do his project on barn owls, and when asked why, he replies: "I was driving this summer and I drove past this injured owl on the side of the road. I was about to call the Humane Society, but then he just died, so I took him home and I dissected him."
The Mockingbirds is a unique contemporary novel that turned out to be more than I expected. I did not realize there was going to be a sequel, which definitely piques my interest.
Tidbit of random: I wish my school was cool enough to have the Mockingbirds' system.
Holy. Frickadoodles. (No, I don't say words like this regularly. They are reserved for specia...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Holy. Frickadoodles. (No, I don't say words like this regularly. They are reserved for special situations such as these...) This was one of the creepiest books I've ever read. A worn out doll with bright green eyes, a seemingly innocent little girl, and an antisocial pink-haired teenager together weave an intricate story about a malicious ghost hungering for revenge.
The plot is fast-paced, with little details that ultimately help unravel the mystery scattered randomly throughout. As major revelations occurred, I would go back and try to find the clues that answer the questions. Sometimes this helped, but oftentimes, it appeared to complicate the plot further. The author also did a wonderful job with characterization. Pink-haired Alexis has just the right amount of sarcasm to seem like a strong girl without being overly annoying. Her younger sister Kasey was marvelous, too, as both her needy and resentful sides were portrayed realistically. It takes talent to craft a 12-year-old with the level of terrifying grace that Kasey possesses.
Bad Girls Don't Die is an addicting paranormal novel that will leave readers anxiously waiting for the sequel.
Tidbit of random: I swear, this song was running through my mind as I read the last few chapters...
Life has finally settled down after the violence and uncertainty of the Force of Sheep rebell...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Life has finally settled down after the violence and uncertainty of the Force of Sheep rebellion. Trella, the famous Queen of the Pipes, now knows her place in this new version of Inside, and it is definitely not as the leader of 22,509 people. After endorsing a Committee of nine uppers, nine scrubs, and an extra member to prevent voting ties, Trella intends to fade away into obscurity and distance herself from the agenda and messy politics of Inside -- tedious tasks such as organizing work schedules and deal with the enemies and traitors of the rebellion.
Trella soon discovers that it is actually quite difficult to disentangle from this sticky web. Peace has not yet been achieved. Complaints of the people precede deadly bomb attacks that are, in actuality, distractions and/or clues in disguise. So Trella returns to her pipes, and the sneaking around begins yet again. There are consequences for every action, though. So be careful before you decide to stick your nose where you don’t belong.
Maria V. Snyder once again pens a story filled with action and suspense. It is quite an accomplishment, being able to master two different genres of writing -- the Middle Age fantasy setting like her debut, Poison Study, and the futuristic science fiction like Outside In. There are lush details (ie. believable techie gadgets and slang common in sci-fi novels), and since the world-building has been pretty much completed in the first book, Inside Out, the reader is plunged straight into Trella’s post-rebellion life.
At first, I had my doubts, as the story seemed complete with the conclusion of Inside Out, but Snyder seamlessly introduces new elements into the plot, weaving them in one delicate thread at a time. The surprising plot twists that occur throughout are also another one of Snyder’s fortes and greatly increase the unputdownable quality of the novel. Every once in a while I would utter a string of unintelligent sounds as another complication is revealed. Feelings of delight, incredulity, and outrage were frequent.
Snyder is a great writer who knows exactly what to do to grab the reader’s attention. I am looking forward to the next installment of the story of Trella and Riley and, of course, Sheepy the stuffed animal.
Book Source: ARC from Harlequin via NetGalley(less)
Animals are showing up dead in the woods with their throats ripped out and the rest of t...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Animals are showing up dead in the woods with their throats ripped out and the rest of their bodies untouched, and the residents of the little town of Mystic Falls are freaking out as they attribute the attacks to demonic activity. Through all this mayhem, there is Stefan, who's led a relatively simple life; until now, that is. The boy suddenly finds himself faced with an unexpected arranged marriage and an equally unexpected visitor -- alluring and orphaned Katherine Pierce. Needless to say, it is attraction at first sight, and when Stefan's brother Damon returns from the army and appears to be quite taken with the young Katherine as well, trouble begins to brew. Two brothers and a girl: there has to be a winner, and there has to be a loser.
Based off of the hit CW TV show Vampire Diaries, Origins describes Stefan, Damon, and Katherine’s mysterious back-story. There are countless differences between this book -- co-written by the two TV show producers instead of L.J. Smith -- and the original Vampire Diaries series. While both are enjoyable, I found Origins to be slightly superior plot-wise, and L.J. Smith’s original story to be better written and characterized.
One little quirk: we never really discover who the villain is because of the abrupt ending. A nice conclusion or revelation of some sort would have been cleaned the plot up nicely. Overall, the book was still appealing -- the latter half especially, as the story finally picks up pace.
Origins would be a great read for all die-hard fans of the Vampire Diaries series and TV show, as it presents an alternative view of the Vampire Diaries world and sheds light on the murkiness of Stefan and Damon’s past.