this is a fun short story. I really liked the concept of the underwater aliens. I think it would be cool to read the stories of other people in the su...morethis is a fun short story. I really liked the concept of the underwater aliens. I think it would be cool to read the stories of other people in the support group and their interactions with the aliens.(less)
I was really excited when I first found out about Dance of Shadows last summer. I really love ballet stuff (Center Stage, Dance Academy, So You Think...moreI was really excited when I first found out about Dance of Shadows last summer. I really love ballet stuff (Center Stage, Dance Academy, So You Think You Can Dance, even Dance Moms!) and I was really excited to see how the paranormal aspects would be woven into the ballet story. While I think there were some really interested ideas in Dance of Shadows, I though they were presented in obvious and uninteresting ways.
Let me start of by thanking Bloomsbury and netgalley for the chance to read Dance of Shadows early and to participate in the blog tour, but unfortunately I don't have a lot of positive things to say. The best part of Dance of Shadows is the cover, so be prepared.
I didn't think any of the characters were that memorable. Vanessa, the main character is pretty oblivious throughout. She had this blind faith in certain characters but her relationships with them were never really all that developed so I didn't understand her devotion to them. She also, and I hate to say this, was a bit of a mary sue (ugh that's so bad but it's true). She doesn't want to be good at dance, she doesn't love it, but she's instantly the most special snowflake dancer. Ballet is HARD AS BALLS. Even the most naturally gifted dancers have to work their asses off, and frankly this book makes all of their dedication to the craft a bit of a joke. She also instantly makes a ton of friends (who serve no other purpose other than being Vanessa's friends, they have no back story or anything else interesting going on) and instantly draws the attention of the hottest dancer in school (who is really a big jerk face but for some reason Vanessa is just in love with him for....reasons). It's all just a little too easy for her in my opinion.
The other big issue I had was the pacing of the book. The mystery was just dragged out at a snails pace for 70% of the book and then it was like all of a sudden they realized they were 300 pages in and nothing had really happened yet so the ending was a huge flux of information and crazy events that took place a ludicrous speed (almost went to plaid!).
Now, with all of that said, I still really liked this book. I liked the premise and I really liked all the crazy stuff that happened at the end, I just wish the pacing was better and the characters were smarter. I mean, how did NO ONE notice that so many ballet dancers were missing? How did Elly or Chloe's parents not notice? Whose parents don't call their teenaged daughter in months? If it were my kid I'd be freaking the eff out. While I was intrigued by the people and events that were hinted at for coming books in the series, I do think it could have all been completed in one book and not dragged out.
Overall I thought Dance of Shadows had an interesting premise but poor delivery which may be the most disappointing type of novel. I think with a lot more editing Dance of Shadows could have been really good. Even though I had major issues with the book I was intrigued enough to want to read the sequel if one is published. (less)
The Diviners by Libba Bray is a dense book. This is by far one of the most historically rich young adult books I have ever read. The amount of effort...moreThe Diviners by Libba Bray is a dense book. This is by far one of the most historically rich young adult books I have ever read. The amount of effort and research Bray put into The Diviners is immediately apparent. Not only do we get the more surface historical elements such as bobbed hair and flappers and speakeasies, but we also get the political, social, and economic climate of the time period in a masterfully subtle way. I think that is the greatest strength of The Diviners. The historical elements are fully integrated into the story in a beautifully seamless way.
Besides the awesome historical element, I really enjoyed the occult aspect to The Diviners. I loved "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies" as well as the various rituals and ghosty things that happen. I think there's a wonderful blend of fact and fiction that creates a really interesting story. I think some people may be initially turned off by the occult elements, but I think if you just remember that this is 100% fictional it will be ok. (I personally love creepy Halloween stuff so that was a huge selling point for me).
Now let's just take a minute to discuss Naughty John. That is one CREEPY mofo. Seriously, Naughty John is one of the best villains I have ever read. I would say he is on par with Stephen King's ghostly bad guys, which are really about as good as you can get. I think a lot villains in YA are watered down but not Naughty John. He's a great villain and I'm really excited when YA authors take their villain out of the box the way Bray did.
The other characters were also wonderful. I really liked Evie, even if she started off rather shallow, I think there will be a lot of growth with her character. I also really liked Theta and Mable, Evie's two friends. I liked their friendship a lot. I've said it before, but I love YA that has girls being friends with other girls. I think it's really important to include in YA and I think The Diviners does a great job.
My only real complaint about The Diviners is the sheer density of the book. Not only is it almost 600 pages, but the story is so full of background and historical elements that it can be a little daunting. This really isn't a negative, more of an observation that The Diviners was a slow burn for me.
Overall The Diviners is an impressive YA novel and really stands above a lot of historical fiction (YA or not). The excellent paranormal mystery woven into one of the most comprehensive historical novels that I've ever read makes The Diviners by Libba Bray an achievement for the YA genre. (less)
Confession time. I have never read Wuthering Heights. I don't really know what it's about. I know there's a boy named Heathcliff and he's a bit of a d...moreConfession time. I have never read Wuthering Heights. I don't really know what it's about. I know there's a boy named Heathcliff and he's a bit of a douche to a girl named Cathy, but beyond that I got nothing. The House of Dead Maids reads like a middle grade prequel/inspiration story for Wuthering Heights. I think it would be great for a middle school student to help introduce them to the more Bronte/Austen style of writing. I could see The House of Dead Maids being used in a middle school classroom and then Wuthering Heights being taught later in High School.
The House of Dead Maids is very creepy. I could totally see it being an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark. The story telling and pacing are very well done and while it isn't extremely scary, it maintains a level of suspense throughout the entire novel. I also thought the ending of The House of Dead Maids was very clever. I liked how it ties in the Bronte sisters and hints at the inspiration for Wuthering Heights. It an interesting addition to the Wuthering Heights tale, and it has definitely made me want to read Wuthering Heights.
Overall The House of Dead Maids is a great middle grade Gothic tale that maintains a a suspenseful tone without becoming too scary. I think will help spur an interest in classics in young readers and I would recommend it to any reader who is looking for a quick and ghostly story. (less)
Fat Vampire was pretty good for the first half. I thought the writing was clever and I was really interested in the characters and what was going to h...moreFat Vampire was pretty good for the first half. I thought the writing was clever and I was really interested in the characters and what was going to happen. Unfortunately this book really lost focus about half way in. None of the events in the book were connected, it almost felt like an anthology of short stories and not a novel. The main character Doug became a completely different person with very little explanation. It lost all of it's charm and became way too serious for it's own good.(less)