I really enjoyed Megan Miranda's debut novel, Fracture, and I was really looking forward to her sophomore novel Hysteria. I thought the premise of th...more I really enjoyed Megan Miranda's debut novel, Fracture, and I was really looking forward to her sophomore novel Hysteria. I thought the premise of this book was really great, but the execution was really lacking and sometimes just confusing.
While I liked the mystery surrounding the murder of Mallory's boyfriend, I found the reaction of her parents to be completely unbelievable. I just can't believe that only a few months after being attacked and forced to kill her boyfriend in self defense that Mallory's parents would send her to boarding school alone. Girl needs therapy, not being sent away from everyone who loves her. No I'm sorry, but that is ignorant at best and in my opinion down right negligent. I have a really hard time believing that her parents would just ship her off, regardless of the social stigma in their home town.
And let's talk for a minute about the whole boarding school plot. (Without spoilers) It just did not work for me. All of the girl characters felt basically the same and I had a really hard time telling them apart. I felt like their motivations for their actions were really unsupported, especially later in the book where things got so melodramatic it almost turned to comedy. I thought it was a useless plot device that would have work just as well (or better) if we could have just stayed in her home town.
Then there's the actual murder "mystery". There's really no mystery at all. We find out at the very beginning that Mallory murdered her boyfriend. Without spoiling the story let me just say that there really isn't anything more to this story and there is no twist at the end. I was really disappointed with the lack of actual mystery.
I really didn't understand Reid's character either. Why did he even like Mallory? Maybe he liked her when they were 14, but that was years ago and a lot has changed. Also, did he know about her murdering her ex? I feel like that would be something you would hear about and if I were Reid I would not be in a hurry to start a relationship with someone with such a bad track record.
Really the only good thing about Hysteria and the only reason this didn't get a one star was Mallory and Colleen's friendship. They were there for each other, willing to literally carry them when the other was too weak to walk. I love reading about girls who are friends with other girls who support and are loyal to each other. Those types of relationships are really important to YA literature and I thought Colleen and Mallory were great friends.
Overall Hysteria was a great premise that was not presented well. It was like a collection of great ideas with no connecting plot to tie it all together. There was so much potential for something great, but sadly Hysteria just did not deliver. (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)
Butter is the story of an obese boy looking for acceptance and normalcy. It's a story about how tough high school can be if you aren't perceived as o...more Butter is the story of an obese boy looking for acceptance and normalcy. It's a story about how tough high school can be if you aren't perceived as one of the perfect popular crowd.
I could completely relate to Butter and his struggle with depression, self loathing, and his addiction to food. I think that people try and self medicate in a lot of different ways, and for a lot of people food is their security blanket. It's what they turn to when they are sad, lonely, bored, or scared. Butter just wants acceptance, I think he's afraid to allow himself to be happy. He eats to create a literal barrier between himself and other people because he's afraid to let people in. His weight stops people from trying and he doesn't have to worry that they might get to know him and not like him for who he his, not just his appearance.
I've read some reviews that say that Butter's classmate's reaction to his suicide plan as unrealistic. Well, I disagree. Maybe I have less faith in today's youth but it wasn't long ago that I was in high school and I could totally see my classmates egging people on. I was an outcast too, and I could completely see someone doing anything to get the popular crowd's attention, and in turn the popular crowd taking full advantage of that.
Butter is an extremely difficult book to read, and I think it will strike a deep chord with any person who as ever felt desperate to fit in. It is equal parts heart warming and breaking, but handles some extremely sensitive topics with care and grace. (less)
I am a huge fan of the Song of Ice and Fire series. I think it's absolutely brilliant and by far the best epic fantasy I have ever read. The character...moreI am a huge fan of the Song of Ice and Fire series. I think it's absolutely brilliant and by far the best epic fantasy I have ever read. The characters are complex and they live in a rich world with long running history, religions, and cultures (not to mention some fantastic geography, the backbone of any good fantasy in my opinion). I love discussing the different themes and events that occur in the series so I was very interested in this collection of essays about the popular series. However, we get kind of a mixed bag. Some of the essays are thought provoking and worth the read, but others just felt like filler.
A word of warning, do NOT read this book if you haven't read the first five books in the series! These are discussion essays and will contain major spoilers!
My favorite essay in the collection is probably The Brutal Cost of Redemption in Westeros by Susan Vaught. This essay talks about how seemingly good characters, such as Robb Stark, make terrible choices due to lack of foresight and are forced to pay the consequences. The essay also looks at characters that start off unlikable, such as Sansa Stark or Jamie Lannister, adapt to their situation and struggle towards redemption, often having to make terrible sacrifices in order to do so.
Other notable essays in the book are An Unreliable World by Adam Whitehead, which discusses how over time events can be skewed and exaggerated, with average men being made into heroes and demons. I especially enjoyed the discussion of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen and the uncertain truth to their relationship.
In Of Direwolves and Gods by Andrew Zimmerman Jones we look at the different religions that are present in the Song of Ice and Fire series. It analyzes the influence of these religions on Westeros society and also compares them to modern religion's influence on today's society as well. The end point is summed up quite nicely in a quote from Varys "Power resides where men believe it resides. no more and no less."
And finally in the essay A Different Kind of Other by Brent Hartner we look at the role of outcasts in ASoIaF. Through this essay we realize that many of the main characters are viewed as unnatural or minority in some way - Arya and Brienne defy feminine social norms; Jon Snow the bastard; Tyrion the dwarf; Bran who is disabled; and Daenerys the literal outcast queen. This essay looks at how people who don't conform to social expectations can develop into the strongest and most heroic characters of all.
There are other essays that touch on subjects of rape and feminism, post traumatic stress disorder, the use of magic in Westeros, and more publishing business topic such as adapting the books into graphic novels and a television show, the collection of prequel novels, the future of publishing in a digital age, and the expectations of the fantasy genre as a whole. These essays are interesting, but not really stand out.
Overall the collection is just ok. There are a few interesting points, but most of the essays are disappointing. I would recommend this collection to the true die hard fan who really wants to dive into more thematic discussions but would say pass to the more casual reader (less)
HOLY CRAP. This sounds AWESOME! Do want now plz? (also, can we please have a book from Puck's POV? I would freaking LOVE THAT. Just a suggestion, J.K....moreHOLY CRAP. This sounds AWESOME! Do want now plz? (also, can we please have a book from Puck's POV? I would freaking LOVE THAT. Just a suggestion, J.K.)
ERMAGHERD I just got approved for this on netgalley!!!!!!! Thank you Harlequin!(less)
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa is the YA Vampire book I've been looking for. It has fantastic world building, compelling characters, and an overal...moreThe Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa is the YA Vampire book I've been looking for. It has fantastic world building, compelling characters, and an overall story arch that is exciting and interesting.
First off, I have to say that FINALLY we have vampires that are legit vampires! There's no wussy sparkling vampires here, they are frightening demons of the night that hunt humans like deer. There are two kinds of vampires, one that are more or less human like even if they think that humans are blood bags, and the other are horrific "rabids", mindless mutants that attack humans and vampires alike (kind of like the movie Daybreakers, did anyone else see that?). The vampires are cool, how they came to be makes sense, and how they function makes sense. There's also a really cool apocalyptic aspect to this book that also makes sense so yay! Science in my science fiction FTW! The world building and setting is lush and definitely the high point of the book.
Another high point of The Immortal Rules is the action. Allison is a kick-ass warrior and there is so much awesome fighting! One of the characteristics of Kagawa's writing is that she does not shy away from violence. She has an excellent balance where you get a clear (and yes that graphic) picture of the fight without it crossing into gratuitous. You see this throughout her Iron Fey series and it crosses over very well into Blood of Eden. There is some romance, but it is very minor in comparison to the main story line which is awesome. I really hope in future books the romance (aka angst) won't take over like we see so often in other dystopian books.
Overall I really enjoyed The Immortal Rules and would recommend it to anyone who liked Kagawa's Iron Fey series or readers who like action packed dystopians. It is thrilling addition to the YA vampire selections and should not be missed!(less)