This book has been sitting on my shelf for some time. Since I received it before Christmas aThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
This book has been sitting on my shelf for some time. Since I received it before Christmas and I knew it wasn’t coming out until January, I let it slide further and further down my TBR pile. Not because I didn’t want to read it. I have to confess—I peeked at it a few times—but I had other things on my plate, and before I knew it, it was already the end of January. What with my Shadowfever commitments, I didn’t have time for anything else. Which was too bad, really. Across the Universe is one of 2011’s most highly anticipated YA debuts of the year. I think it’s worth the hype. It sucks you in and doesn’t let go. Both of the narrators—Amy and Elder—are likeable, sympathetic characters. Amy you instinctively feel for because she, like us, is new to the strange future she’s woken up in. Elder is likeable because, despite the trappings and conventions of his time, despite everything he’s been taught, he remains able to differentiate between right and wrong. While I liked this book a great deal, and it certainly posed a great many philosophical questions, I mainly came away from it feeling that it was what it is: the first book in a trilogy. It sets the stage for the later novels. It tells about the world we’ll be visiting when we read the next two books. It also tells us about the issues Amy and Elder will face in the future. I’m happy to go on the journey with them—it’s going to be fascinating. One thing that I really, really appreciated about this book is that the revelation at the end of this book happens at the end of this book. Revis could easily have let that particular twist taken control of the rest of the books in the series. I like that it was revealed in time for Amy and Elder to deal with it in future books—not just the last twenty-five pages of the final volume. They have a lot to work through. But, honestly, read the book—the issues are endless. So, by all means, search out this book—either at your local bookstore or through the library. I especially recommend it to fans of Anne Osterlund’s Academy 7. ...more
I really don't know how to start this review. I'm not inspired, which in and of itself is tThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I really don't know how to start this review. I'm not inspired, which in and of itself is telling. Deadly Little Secret was actually a pretty good novel. It has that first person p.o.v. I've been raving about. It has plenty of romantic tension. So, why aren't my thoughts flowing like usual? Is it writer's block? Usually I come off a book high with opinions, but I'm just blank.
Deadly Little Lies takes place...somewhere. There's no specific location stated. It's some small town near the ocean. Our narrator and heroine is Camelia, a sixteen-year-old girl who has a hippie mom, a regular dad, and a talent for pottery and sculpture. She also has two good friends: Kammie and Wes. At the beginning of the novel, Camelia is saved from being hit by a car by a mysterious boy. The boy shoves her out of the way, and during the rescue, touches her tummy. It's an electric touch, of course, and even three months later, Camelia can't forget about it. So when the boy shows up at her school suddenly, she is drawn to him. It's just darn bad luck that Ben only transferred to her school because he was recently accused of killing his girlfriend. Hm. It sounds really silly when I type it up.
Anyway, at first Ben denies being the one who saved her the parking lot three months ago. Then he studiously ignores her. Then it's his turn to have bad luck: they get assigned to be chemistry partners. Okay, I've thought of something: enough with using lab partners as a device for a guy and a girl to get some one-on-one time. Teenagers do interact in other settings. They could meet at the soup kitchen where they do their community service hours. Or in an SAT class. Yeesh.
Sorry, back to the story. Ben ignores Camelia. She is confused and hurt. Then, suddenly, Ben changes his attitude. And it all has to do with the fact that something happens every time they touch. Of course, the fact that Deadly Little Lies is A Touch Novel might also be a heavy hint. Then Ben reveals his secret, including the fact that Camelia is in danger.
Okay, I've thought of something else. It's a negative point and something that bothered me throughout the novel. I actually liked Camelia as a narrator and since the story is told from her perspective, I feel the need to account for her (very) natural bias. As the novel progressed, I began to feel that Camelia was, well, the object of affection for every guy in the book. Except perhaps her friend Wes. There's Matt, the ex who wants French tutoring, John Kenneally, the hot jock who asks for Camelia's number, Spencer, her boss at the pottery shop, who is willing to lend an ear if she wants to "talk", and of course, Ben, who atfirstavoidsherbutthencantleaveheralone. Really, I need to coin a term for this type of hero, he occurs so often in Teen Fiction. An acronym, maybe AFAHBTCLHA. Ooh, I know! Void: a boy, in a Teen novel, who at first avoids the heroine, then can't leave her alone. Coined!
But back to my point. All that love for Camelia is too much. If you've read the novel or have at least gotten part of the way through it, you know that the Camelia-love is more red herring than anything else. The subplot of this novel (because the mystery of Ben is really the A plot) is, who is Camelia's stalker? With so many guys jonesing after her, the reader's suspicions are all over the place. I found the red herrings and all the "is it that guy? or that guy?" more distracting than deliciously suspenseful. They're placed with a pretty heavy hand. And, also, am I seriously supposed to believe that Camelia is so hot that four different guys have a crush on her? I guess it's possible. It's just not very interesting.
Then there were other little things: with a best friend named Kimmie, am I really supposed to believe that no one's ever called Camelia "Cammie" before? It never even comes up. Then there's Camelia's conveniently distracted parents. It was supposed to be understandable that they failed to notice their daughter had a stalker or was spending time with a guy who possibly killed his last girlfriend. Also, Kimmie doesn't allow the fact that her best friend is being stalked and, oh, yeah, her mom's a nervous wreck because her sister just tried to commit suicide, from demanding how Camelia hasn't offered to be Wes' fake girlfriend in front of his dad. Since she's so hot and all. Sometimes friendships are uneven. Sometimes one friend needs the other to just be there for her, even if she forgets to reciprocate for a little while. Not forever. But Kimmie could have been a little more understanding that, since a stalker broke into Camelia's house, wrote "Bitch" on her mirror and sliced up the pink pjs he'd creepily left during his last visit, she might forget to ask her how her designing was going.
What did I like about this novel? Well, I liked that though there was a paranormal element to the story, the mystery was "normal." Too often, once one paranormal element is introduced into a book, everything revolves around the paranormal. It was nice to see a story where all of a sudden, the world shifts entirely on its head. It makes the story a little more realistic. I mean, let's say someone was really psychometric. It would be a well-kept secret. The paranormal is pretty universally thought to be bunk. Therefore, if you found out that it wasn't bunk, it makes sense that the rest of the world was still relatively normal. It's the only way that such a secret could be so well concealed.
I don't think I'll be reading the next novel in this series. I didn't hate the book, but it didn't please me overmuch, either. I prefer a meatier novel. I think Deadly Little Secret would work for those who really enjoyed Kristen Miller's The Eternal Ones or even Ally Condie's Matched. ...more
I was late the Mortal Instruments Loveathon, but I refuse to admit that this fact makes meThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I was late the Mortal Instruments Loveathon, but I refuse to admit that this fact makes me any less a member. However, when I heard that there would be three more books in the series, my first reaction wasn't glee. When an author writes more than he or she initially intended, it invariably messes with the happy ending. Therefore, I was pleased when I read that CoFA was to be Simon's book. That was okay with me. It meant Jace and Clary could still have their HEA. Then I read Cassandra Clare's statement that CoFA wasn't Simon's book, it was all the characters', and I was once more pitched into happy ending-anxiety. CoFA (because I refuse to type the whole title over and over again), lived up to these fears. I don't mean that it wasn't good. I liked it. Some parts I really liked. Others...not so much. By far, my favorite aspect of this book was the exploration of Simon, Isabelle, Maia and a new character named Kyle. Simon is believably in denial about the vampire he has become. His denial is aided by his ability to walk in the sunlight. So, while Simon can keep up the semblance of a "normal" life, it interferes with his ability to adjust to--and accept--the way his life has changed. Simon is floundering and his dual romances with Maia and Isabelle emphasize his paralyzation. He's completely incapable of making decisions. Speaking of the love triangle, it was clear to me where Simon's preferences truly lie, and the end of the book confirmed my hypothesis. Isabelle--due to her relationship with Simon--is the other character we get to see more of in CoFA. She's definitely someone who needed more definition. While Clare made her likable and full of amusing idiosyncrasies in the first three books, she was definitely a side character. I think she's grown up a lot, and I think we know her better. By the end of the book, I liked her a lot more than Clary. I can't say much about Kyle and Maia without being spoilerish, but we don't see much of the latter. Kyle is the more interesting character anyway, and I liked him a lot, and I really, really hope to see more of him. I like, too, that Simon has the opportunity to make a male friend. Or, to be more accurate, a friend who isn't Clary. Because that girl has few thoughts in her head besides Jace. Not that it would be awful to have Jace on your mind all the time. It just makes you a lousy best friend. The plot was really more of an instrument to get the series started. It worked, and I think it mirrored the internal conflicts of both Simon and Jace in an effective way. Jace's scars are old, and deep, and it makes sense that being with Clary wouldn't not be enough to magically erase all of that. Simon's scars are newer, but run to a depth that is nigh equal to Jace's. The difference is in their circumstances. With Clary completely wrapped up in her new boyfriend and her mother's upcoming wedding, a mother he dares not reveal his secret to, and two girlfriends he's trying to keep in ignorance of each other, there really isn't anyone he can turn to. He also doesn't really know how to articulate his problem, or even have an idea of what he really needs. Jace, on the other hand, knows exactly what his problem is, and consciously refuses to address it. In the first three books, I was all about Jace and Clary. In this book, I could have done without them. Clary has devolved into an ineffectual heroine, and I'm kind of over Jace. His philosophy seems to be "my life sucks and that gives me permission to block out the people that care about me and also, to act like a jackwagon." I kept picturing Clary spending the rest of her life reassuring Jace that she loved him, that he deserved to be loved, that he wasn't the evil monster Valentine tried to make him. I don't know if Clare's portrayal of Jace changed, or if it was a "this, again?" reaction to the same old Jace or maybe my opinion of him just changed. I don't know. What I do know is that I did not find Jace as appealing in this volume. I hate to say that I'm over him--but, honestly, the end of the book made me roll my eyes, groan and consider writing Clare, demanding to know why she felt it necessary to add to the fire of Jace's self-pity. Simon, Kyle, Maia and Isabelle made this book worthwhile for me. I'm looking forward to seeing the next two books, but not for them alone. Clare is a great writer, and she often makes me laugh. Her dialog is witty and fun, but self-consciously so. And, who knows? Maybe Jace will turn the corner in book five and I'll go back to fantasizing him with his shirt off. C'mon guys. It'd be illegal if I said "nude." He's a minor....more
My reaction, upon reaching the last page of this book, was to shout "Noooooooooo!" and immeThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
My reaction, upon reaching the last page of this book, was to shout "Noooooooooo!" and immediately wish that it wasn't a hideously long ten months until 2012. So, um, I guess you could say that I loved it. The Gathering was my one of my mostly highly anticipated releases for this year. I read and glommed the entire Darkest Powers books in under a week. I wish the rest of the Darkness Rising books were already out so I could do the same to them. I need to find a hobby, fast, before I start stalking Kelley Armstrong in the vain hope of getting some details on book two. Because I anticipated it so highly, I was also very nervous about The Gathering. I was afraid it would not live up to my expectations. Fortunately, I was so very, very wrong. I'd already read the first chapter online and that back cover blurb got me very excited about bad boy Rafe. Color me surprised to discover that, as I read the book, Daniel would be the one I fell in love with. I don't know if Kelley's creating a love triangle--though I highly suspect it--but I'm already TeamDaniel. I was TeamDerek from book one of the Darkest Powers trilogy, too. So I'm really, really hoping that Kelley's thrown us a red herring (not only with Rafe, but with some obvious ohmygod moments). I love slow burn romances, which is probably why the Chloe and Derek worked for me. In that series, Simon was the obvious choice. He and Chloe had obvious chemistry. Derek and Chloe's barely simmered at all in the first book, but that's why I liked them, and rooted for them. I'm hope-hope-hoping for the same with Maya and Daniel. Of course, though the romantic angle of any book I read is important, it can't replace plot, setting and characterization. The Gathering has all of these in full supply. I was delighted by the self-deprecating humor about being Canadian. Maya and her friends are well aware of the fact that, to most people in the U.S., being Canadian is a joke but they don't let it bother them. I also liked the way that Kelley painted Salmon Falls (I'm pretty sure that's right. I had to send the book on, so I can't double-check. Please let me know if you remember differently.). If you've read the Darkest Powers books, you know that the set up in Salmon Falls is hinky. But you're still able to grasp why it seems so normal to Maya, her friends and her family. The sinister undertone flavors the entire novel and it's delicious. If I had one complaint about this novel, it would be the cliffhanger ending. Honestly, I shouted when I reached the last word on the last page. Everything is left up in the air. Er, no pun intended. The wait for the next book in the series is going to be grueling. My mind is churning its way through the revelations, hints and possibilities brought forward by The Gathering. That, to me, is an indication of its very awesomeness. ...more
I have a confession to make. It's been a long time since I read Hex Hall. So, when I crackThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I have a confession to make. It's been a long time since I read Hex Hall. So, when I cracked open the first page of this book, I spent a few pages reorienting myself with the characters, the story and the setting. It turns out I needn't have spent any energy on the latter: most of this book takes place in the English countryside. Fictional characters are so lucky. I want to spend my summer in a centuries old manor house/abbey. Of course, I could also do with Sophie's magical ability to alter her clothes with magic. Score! Aside from making me insanely jealous re: the location, Demonglass (and Rachel Hawkins) quickly reminded me of what I enjoyed about the first Hex Hall book. Sophie is our first-person narrator and she's sufficiently smart, snarky and complex enough to snag anyone's interest. I don't think I made it past the first page without chuckling, so you'll be glad to know that the delightful humor from the first book is still there. There are also lots of familiar faces: Sophie's vampire roommate, Jenna, Cal, the healing/groundskeeper strong-but-quiet warlock and Elodie, the mean-girl. Yes, I said "Elodie". Hex Hall left off with Sophie determined to go through the removal--a painful, possibly fatal process that would eliminate her magical ability. We pick up about six months later. Since having made such a monumental decision, Sophie has been forced to remain at Hecate Hall until her request receives approval. Instead, her father shows up to take Sophie with him to England for the summer, in order to have an opportunity to change her mind. Sophie's absentee father is eager to please, so he agrees to bring Jenna along and throws in the nineteen-year-old healing/groundskeeping warlock. And, oh yeah, did he forget to mention that Cal's her fiance? His bad. The shift from Hex Hall to pastoral England brings a whole new set of characters into the story. I regretted this, partly because the private school setting was what I liked so much about the first book. We learn a lot more about the magical world--Sophie and Co. hook up with the magical council of which her father is the head--but Hex Hall is firmly left behind. I wouldn't normally complain about an English setting, but there you are. I missed the school and the hints that Sophie wouldn't ever be going back there. Starting over with a whole new set of characters means that we don't really have the chance to get to know them very well. That's okay in part because we get to know Cal a whole heck of a lot better. I'm firmly TeamCal, and I'm excited that there's a love triangle in the offing, though I don't think his odds are good. I don't think it's too spoilery to tell you that we see Archer again (if it is, sorry!). Sophie wavers between being realistic about the facts (Archer was in a relationship with a girl in order to get information, he's an Eye, and therefore a mortal enemy) and being caught up in the feelings she felt developed for him. I think, personally, that it's a bit of a stretch to call what's between them love, but what do I know? I have to say that, while the chemistry between them is believable, the star-crossed lovers part of their relationship didn't do much for me. It hits points that irritate: Sophie keeps important secrets from her father and deceives her friends. I'll just say that, if I were Jenna, I'd be pissed that my best-friend was consorting with an Eye. The end of the book was a total game changer. It also signals the beginning of what will, undoubtedly be a very long wait until we get to the next book. It also made me wonder: does anyone know how long the Hex Hall series is meant to be? I do like it when the author has a well-mapped storyline planned out, instead of being open-ended. Still, Hex Hall #3 just got added to my to-read list....more
I am but one among many this week (and likely throughout next month) who is reviewing LaurenThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I am but one among many this week (and likely throughout next month) who is reviewing Lauren Oliver's Delirium. I've decided, in the name of all those other reviews, that I'll keep mine short. Or try to. I think I might have a touch of long-windedness. Delirium is that sweetheart of 2011--the YA Dystopian/love story. In Oliver's Dystopian future, love is considered a disease--for which a cure has been discovered. Oliver paints a future that's bleak and terrifying--thereby making her book a successful Dystopian. It also has likable characters. The heroine, Lena, is a seething mass of emotions. Part of her believes in the cure and fantasizes about a time when all the anxieties of youth will be erased with the swipe of a scalpel. But there's also a part of her that notices that the cure makes mothers indifferent to the pain of their own children and husbands and wives ambivalent to each other. It's emotional neutering. Delirium provided lots of food for thought. All love is eradicated in Oliver's dystopia, mother love included. For me, this raised an age-old question: if a child is raised in an atmosphere of indifference--i.e., without love--can he or she learn to love without being taught? Because Lena's mother was incurable, Lena grew up with a mother who loved her. But what about all the other children raised in households of people whose emotions have been effectively removed from their psyches? This was an interesting psychological question that I hope the series explores in later books. The other thought I had about Delirium was that I wanted to know more about how people came to view love as the root of all evil. What happened? And since I just wrote a paragraph about it, where were all the mothers? I can't conceive of mothers, as a whole, submitting to a procedure that would rob them of their love for their children. Which suggests to me that something pretty catastrophic must have happened to bring about a future like the one Lena lives in. Perhaps we'll learn more about this in the next book. I sure hope so. As for the love story, I liked Lena and Alex's relationship. It's allowed to develop and it's given time to mature. If they weren't star-crossed lovers, they'd be boring. Lena and Alex are pulled to each other, but their relationship is refreshingly free of the soul mates/desperate love stuff that can sometimes induce eye-rolling. I also liked the way that history was reinterpreted--like Romeo and Juliet being turned into a cautionary tale. But I was confused as to why Alex was living in Portland. His motives weren't even really hinted at. I mean, I get why he came there. But why did he stay? Alex knows a lot of illicit stuff, but is he part of a resistance of some sort? If he knows how much the government has altered history to reflect the idea of love as a disease, why would he want to go to school at one of their colleges? Because there's no other option? My final thought about Delirium was that I'm glad that it's not a stand-alone. It reads okay as a beginning, but I think it leaves readers with too many questions. Of course, books in a series should have unanswered questions. It's one of their major draws. But, with Delirium , I found myself more confused that intrigued. Which suggests to me that Oliver ought to have filled in a few blanks before she wrapped up the first installment of the series. ...more
I'll be honest: I haven't had a great deal of success with Maria V. Snyder. I've started boThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I'll be honest: I haven't had a great deal of success with Maria V. Snyder. I've started both the Study and the Glass series without the compulsion to finish them. Yet, I grabbed Inside Out the moment it hit the shelves. I've got a well-established love of the first person point of view, and Snyder sure knows how to satisfy it. I invariably like her heroines, and I think it's in large part due to their internal dialog. Snyder's heroines are smart, feisty and independent. These three things describe Outside In's Trella to a T. Especially if you add "slow to forgive" to the descriptive pile. Speaking of Trella, she is at once an alluring and repulsive heroine. She's that girl that draws people to her because of her very aloofness. She'd be the kind of friend you'd be afraid to confide in because neediness scares her off. Though she interacts with others, Trella's a loner at heart. She's not interested in having people depend on her. Reluctance to get involved is both her greatest flaw and her biggest attraction. She excells at playing hard to get, because she doesn't even need to try. In part, Trella is reluctant to take part because she doesn't want to let people down. She'd rather do nothing than try and fail. Also, I never got the sense that--apart from Riley--she ever really liked anyone. I suspect that Trella will never do friendships. Even at the end of the book she remains closed off. Which is a good trait for a leader, I suppose, but rather lousy in a friend or romantic partner. Though Riley takes a stab at pointing all of this out to Trella--and I admit that he has some sort of success--it's an indelible aspect of her character. And I can't help it--that turns me off. Trella's loner-by-nature perspective also means that we don't get to know many of the other characters very well. Riley's not even in this one very much. We see Trella's possible birth mother, Lamont, and theirs is really the relationship that makes the most strides, and all of that is due to changes in Trella's perspective. If Outside In has a message, it's that community is important. So is working together. The book is also strong on the message that it's important not to blur the line between you and your enemy. I don't mean that you shouldn't interact with them--but that you should be clear that the things that make a group an enemy are their actions. If Mr. X is your enemy because he tortures you when he has the upper hand, how are you any better if you do the same to him when the positions are reversed? I can't, of course, write a review of a book and not mention the romance. I said that we see less of Riley in this book, but what we do see of him, I like. In Riley and Trella's relationship, he's the one that isn't afraid to admit his feelings. Usually (and stereotypically), it's the guy that holds back. Riley doesn't. His chemistry with Trella is believable and the shower scene--hot--especially for a Teen book. I felt for him, though, because it would be hard to love someone like Trella. She returns his feelings, but she's also completely dedicated to doing the right thing, even if it places her in danger. Which it does. A lot. Trella is hurt and hurt and hurt again in this book. I'm frankly surprised she made it to the end. I enjoyed getting to return to Inside once again, and to learn a bit more about their world. For me, one of the most fascinating aspects of Dystopian fiction is watching people try to restore order. In the first book, there's a revolution. In the second book, we get to see the Insiders dealing with the aftermath, and fighting a new enemy. I don't know if Snyder is going to right another installment in the series--I rather doubt it, given the ending--but I'd be thrilled to read a book that was about the trials of turning a Dystopia into a better world. Not necessarily a Utopia, but something better than before. ...more
I don't read many books either by male authors or with male protagonists. I don't particulaThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I don't read many books either by male authors or with male protagonists. I don't particularly have to go out of my way to avoid this--I don't think I've ever come across a romance with a male narrator, the Urban Fantasy that I generally enjoy is written by women, and most Teen fiction has the female perspective. That said, I've never gone out of my way to look for a male lead. I tend to find myself highly suspicious of authors who write from the opposite perspective. Not that I think they have some kind of hidden agenda...it's more that I doubt they can create an authentic voice. Having read the Curse Worker books, I'm still unable to come to a conclusion. Cassel seems authentic to me, but I'm a female reading a female's interpretation of the male perspective. How much is my opinion worth? Totally not sure on that point. Regardless of the perspective, Holly Black has created a main character I love. Cassel is a good guy in a bad situation. Considering his family roots--and the things he's apparently done--it makes sense that he is unable to believe it about himself. During the course of Red Glove, he is forced to make the best of the few bad choices that are before him. Cassel's one of my favorite types of characters. Cassel is a con man, believing that he can pretend to be something he's not...a normal teenager. I think he's most afraid that he will be rejected by his peers the way that his brothers rejected him. He sees himself as the unwanted little brother who will do anything to be accepted. In Red Glove, we begin to learn that none of his peers view him that way. Girls like him because he's dangerous, and Cassel's own roommate was afraid of him when they first met. But it's clear that Cassel is that guy everyone wants to know. I think the reason that Holly Black is able to surprise us with this external view of Cassel is because of her use of first person narration. It's also really, really effective as a form of characterization. Cassel is so consumed with the image that he projects and the desire to keep everyone from knowing the real him that his view of others is skewed. And at the same time, Cassel is incredibly observant of others in the way only a con man can be. I'm all amazement at Holly Black's skill at characterization. Because not only is Cassel complex, I have no idea what's going on with his love interest, Lila, or his best friend Sam, or Danica and at the same time, I do. It's just like in real life. We think we know people--and to a certain extent, we do--but we'll never be privy to their inner thoughts. It's something that--no matter how good a con man Cassel is--he'll never be able to do. If there's any character that doesn't feel complex to me, it's Barron. Is he simply ambitious? Is he jealous of Cassel? That last one is my suspicion, and I'm hoping that Black gives us more grist for the mill in Black Heart. The other thing I greatly enjoy in the Curse Workers series is the world-building. The way that Holly Black created this world where it's completely normal for people to wear gloves all the time, where crime families are in charge and worker rights are being threatened. Have I mentioned how much I love the glove bit? I especially enjoy the scenes where Cassel is embarrassed at seeing someone's bare hands. Most of all, I'm pleased at how well this second book in the trilogy came out. Second installments in trilogies are infamous for being place-fillers, but it's clear that book three cannot happen without book two. So much occurs that both needed to, and that helps to move the story along. My only concern is that, well, I really, really want Cassel to have a happy ending. Because this is my first Holly Black, I don't know if she does them. So, I'm worried. Reassurance would be good. Cassel deserves it. ...more
I might not be in the best frame of mind in which to write a review of this book. I've beenThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I might not be in the best frame of mind in which to write a review of this book. I've been on a pretty strict diet of YA for a while now and, to be honest, I've been feeling the burn. So to speak. I love YA and, to be honest, I never would have thought that I could get sick of it--and I'm not, exactly--but I need a reprieve. That's why I broke down and read Serengeti Heat when I should have been glued to Shadow Walker. All that said, I will try to be as fair a reviewer as possible. If you should have a moment, you can leave me a comment telling me that I a) fell so wide of the mark that you're pretty sure I'm somewhere in the Pacific Ocean or b) scored a perfect reviewer's 9.9, 9.8, 10, 10, 10. Today, I'm going to use a reviewing technique I've seen on other blogs. It's basically a five-point review system. My five points are these:
1. Good Stuff 2. Bad Stuff 3. The Characters 4. The Romance 5. Anything Else?
I know. You're, like, totally jealous I thought the five point system up before you.
1. The Good Stuff
I liked Gabe. A lot. Even though he confused me and I wasn't sure what his motivations were or why he was so loyal to Az and Kristen. There's also some interesting world-building. liked the concept of there being an undead subculture in New York (though Neal Shusterman did it better in Unwind). I especially liked the separation of the five boroughs.
2. The Bad Stuff
Events in the story happen really fast and jump ahead in time. Also, the whole angels being about love and therefore it shouldn't be so unbelievable that one might be gay felt a little preachy. And doesn't really make sense given the reason for Az's fall. And I still don't really get what a Sider is. Is this going to be a series? But isn't "Upstairs" supposed to be all-knowing? How do they not know about the Siders? And, I had issues with the idea that confession is what makes the ultimate fall happen. Why aren't actions more important? And if love is so important, why doesn't that have more weight on people's (and angel's) decisions?
3. The Characters
I don't really like characters who become the center of the universe. I like some universal love of the heroine, but not so much that even the evil characters think she's ridiculously awesome, too. Eden inspired devotion in too many people for me to like her much. I especially didn't understand Gabe's love of Eden. Eden and Az--well, attraction explains that one. It would have made more sense to me if Gabe cared about Eden because he cared about Az. But he genuinely has affection for Eden, too. Az, I never had a sense of. He's the least explored character in the book. Which is probably why I was sad that Gabe was gay and therefore not an option for Eden. Sigh.
4. The Romance
The romance happens really fast. It's basically love at first sight. Whatever relationship developments between Eden and Az happens off-screen. The scenes we see between them leap forward to the time when their feelings for each other had matured and developed into love. Or so they say. Also, because Az is given so little characterization, I didn't get why Eden loved him so much. I totally would have been mooning over his gay best friend. Az just kind of mopes around and doesn't do anything. Gabe is all action and Az is broody man candy. Yawn.
5. Anything Else?
I'd really like to give this book another try in a different frame of mind. After writing all this down, I've realized that I didn't enjoy reading it. There were times when I was absorbed in a story, but I was definitely looking forward to finishing it so I could get onto reading River Marked. It's too bad that I had to pass it on to the next person in the book tour. I need to read some other reviews so I can get some perspective....more
I think it was the hovercrafts, but something about this book reminded me of Back to the FuThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I think it was the hovercrafts, but something about this book reminded me of Back to the Future. You know that scene where Michael J. Fox zips around on the futuristic wheel-less skateboard? Don't get me wrong--I love Back to the Future. It's an awesome movie. I bring the subject up because the similarity basically sums up my experience reading this novel. A lot of the Dystopian stuff--and the future tech--felt a bit derivative. I kept seeing familiar Dystopian elements: the idea of being "matched" (Matched), the no-touching between the sexes rule (Delirium), and even the idea of the transmissions reminded me a bit of Momento Nora. Maybe I just need a break from Dystopians, but that was the element of the Possession--its biggest hook--that did the least for me. As usual, my favorite bits were the relationships. Mainly, Vi and Jag's. Ordinarily, I'd be skeptical about the speed with which Vi switches her affections, but with the brainwashing element I'm willing to accept it. I buy their mutual attraction for each other. What did bother me was the sheer number of times they separated, only to have big reunion scenes. I'm also a sucker for stories where the smallest touches are meaningful. The tension that fires up between Vi and Jag at the touch of a fingertip on the arm is an electric example. Overall, I'd say it took me about a third of the book to get into the story. I think this is because I didn't really identify with Vi. I couldn't read her motives or understand all her angst and desire for rebellion. As we learn more about her, and about what's brought her to the point of being arrested and basically cast out of her society. Once she started to connect with Jag, and work with him, I began to like her a little bit more. I was pleased to hear that Elana Johnson's going to be writing a companion novel but, ultimately, I confess to hoping for a bit more resolution for Vi and Jag. Please?...more
I both liked this book and was kind of bored by it. On the one hand, I'm always fascinatedThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I both liked this book and was kind of bored by it. On the one hand, I'm always fascinated by Dystopian world-building. I like to see what elements comprise a Dystopia for the author, and I think it's interesting to see the trends that formulate. One of the fairly popular ones at the moment is teen pregnancy. Megan McCafferty featured it in Bumped, it's featured in Lauren DeStefano's Wither, and here, in Dark Parties, it also plays a sinister role. I don't feel knowledgeable enough to really address what it means that this is a trend we're seeing, but it is interesting. Especially in light of the fact that, at the moment, scientists are worried about overpopulation not under. So, I wonder why no one's written a Dystopian where having children is restricted to the few and the wealthy and pregnant teens face execution. Or something. In the case of Dark Parties, Neva lives in a protective bubble called the Protectosphere. Over the generations, the people in the Protectosphere have interbred so much that everyone pretty much looks the same, and the gene pool is at risk. The former struck me as particularly sinister given the German origins of the novel. I couldn't help but be reminded of the Holocaust and Hitler's plan for an Aryan race. I don't know if the comparison would have occurred to me if the author had been, say, Guatemalan, and there's no discussion in the book about any plans by the Protectosphere's creators to create a master race. Still, it was an impression I couldn't shake. As for the story itself, it sped and dragged, then dragged and sped. Large bits were devoted to Neva's boring job at her father's office or her agonies over the feelings she's developed for her best friend's boyfriend. On the other hand, I fully confess that their illicit romance was one of my favorite aspects of the novel. In short, my feelings for this book were all over the map. I liked Neva but I got impatient with how long it took for her to figure out what was going on with the disappearing girls. Unless maybe I should be worried at the immediate turn of my mind? Huh. I think my feelings about Dark Parties can be summed up in this way: it's an excellent beginning. However, I still have dozens of questions that I want answers to, and I'm burning with curiosity about life outside the Protectosphere and the future of those still living within it. There's lots to like here, but it's an unfinished painting with lots of blank faces and spaces. I look forward to other efforts by Sara Grant in the hope of filling some of these in. ...more
I was completely psyched to get on a book tour list for this book, which is why I'm sorry tThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I was completely psyched to get on a book tour list for this book, which is why I'm sorry to say that I hated this volume. It's not because of anything Andrea Cremer did, exactly, but simply that I fell on the wrong side of the love triangle. Though I love books with love triangles, they really only work for me if I know the outcome. Otherwise, if I get "invested" in the wrong person, my disappoint ruins the whole book for me. I had some suspicions when I finished the first book, but I was not without hope that things would end as I wanted them to. I really should have cut my losses, or I wouldn't be suffering from the too-hard-shake-book-blues. Right now, I don't think I'll read Bloodrose when it comes out. But--if I do--I'll definitely be peeking at the last chapter first.
Aside from the fact that I wish that I didn't get so invested in the romantic storylines of the books I read, Wolfsbane didn't do much for me. However, I want to make it clear: If I don't like the romance, there's nothing the author can do to make the rest of the book work for me. Authors take risks when they decide to go with love triangle storylines. They'll lose a portion of their audience no matter who the MC ultimately chooses. It was my bad luck to be on the losing side this time around.
Because I feel like I've totally failed as a reviewer for this book, I'd appreciate it if you'd check out the rest of the reviews on this book tour. Hopefully they can give you a more balanced review of this book. I haven't read them yet, because it's my policy not to read reviews of books until after I've posted my own. So far, there are three:
1. Karissa's Reading Review 2. Mary at Book Hounds 3. Yani at Avid Reader
As always, I really, really appreciate feedback. I'd love to discuss the effect of love triangles, as pertains to Wolfsbane, in general, the merits of Shay v. Ren, anything. This is an issue worth discussing. ...more
One of the most successful Dystopians I've ever read was Susan Beth Pfeffer's Last SurvivorThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
One of the most successful Dystopians I've ever read was Susan Beth Pfeffer's Last Survivors Trilogy. I don't say it was my favorite, but that it painted a picture so terrifying and realistic that I squirmed as I read it. I think Wither has a touch of that same terrific realism and, for that reason alone it's a successful book. I try to imagine what it would be like to reach the end your life at twenty and, frankly, I can't. It seems such a waste. Twenty is the cusp of adulthood. You're barely out of your teen years, hardly old enough to gain any wisdom or perspective on life. I also tried to imagine a world where nineteen is considered old and...well, that doesn't work either. Of course, longevity isn't the only thing that gives us perspective--experience can do that, too. Growing up knowing when you'll die and living in fear for your life (and your freedom) can't help but grow a person before their time. But when does a person really become aware? For a great deal of our childhood, our world is made up of Mom, Dad and maybe some brothers and sisters. The nuclear family. (Bear with me. I know this isn't always true, but it is for many.) When do we become aware of the world around us? As we age, our perspective expands. The teenage years are famously self-centric. Dying at twenty barely gives anyone a chance to move beyond. And, of course, everyone knows that boys remain immature long after girls. So their extra five years mean nothing. My point is that Wither was definitely thought-provoking. I'm still thinking of it, despite the fact that I reached the last page a couple of days ago. As the description tell us, Wither takes place in a future where genetic engineering has doomed the human race. Humans are dying out faster than they can procreate. The wealthy have addressed this problem by entering into polygamous marriages. Some men have as many as seven wives (one for each day of the week). The story begins with Rhine having been abducted and taken from her twin brother to become a bride. She's one of three brides chosen to replace her husband's dying first wife. Rhine wants nothing more than to escape, to find and reunite with her brother. It doesn't matter that she's lucky, as brides go. Her husband isn't cruel, he doesn't force himself on her, and he genuinely cares for Rhine. Materially, she has everything she could ever need: clothes, food and other luxuries. At no time does Rhine consider staying on, even when she earns the coveted position of first wife. A prison is a prison, even if the chains are made of velvet. Linden, Rhine's husband, is portrayed as a nice enough guy, but one who is firmly under the thumb of his father. That's certainly true. We learn that Linden believes whatever he is told and that he is easily susceptible to persuasion. To me, he came off as pathetic. And though I tried to remind myself that there was a time, historically speaking, when girls married at thirteen, I'm still disgusted by the fact that one of his wives was that young. I got the sense that Linden was supposed to be a victim (like Rhine and her sister wives were) but I couldn't feel it. I just thought he was stupid and naive. The sad thing is that I wasn't that fond of Gabriel, either. There wasn't anything wrong with him. I just didn't particularly feel that he was worthy of Rhine. I wanted him to be better, braver somehow. The writing and world-building in Wither were good. I was fascinated and horrified by it at the same time. The highlight of the novel is Rhine's complex relationships with her sister wives. It's a strange kind of intimacy that they share, being the three wives of one man. Cecily, the youngest, is still a child. Jenna, the oldest, is a realist who faces the future with indifference. It was the dynamic of this trio that kept me turning the pages. I'll definitely read the rest of the series, if for no other reason than to find out how the "dead at twenty" thing is resolved. Also, I'm kind of hoping that Rhine joins some kind of underground resistance movement and falls in love with the charismatic leader. Hey, a girl can dream. Fair warning, though: I don't actually think that's where things are headed. ...more
Hereafter has a whole lot going for it. There's the lovely cover for one thing. And the factThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com
Hereafter has a whole lot going for it. There's the lovely cover for one thing. And the fact that Amelia reminds me a bit of Evie from Paranormalcy, or maybe Clara from Unearthly. Both of whom I loved. However, I think ghost stories may not be my thing. Because, while Hereafter has a lot going for it, I find it difficult to move beyond the whole dead and incorporeal thing. I mean, a ghost doesn't have a body. It doesn't live and it won't age. All of these things kind of put a damper on the romantic element I'm so fond of. Particularly in a Teen novel. I also have to point out that I didn't know until I finished the book, got home, and began to draft for this review, that Hereafter wasn't going to be a standalone. While I was reading it, I was wondering how things could possibly end happily. So, what, Joshua is going to spend the rest of his life in a relationship with a ghost-girl no one else can see? That didn't sit well with me. Not that it's fair to ask Amelia to give up the one person willing to communicate with her (without a hidden agenda), but Joshua is the one who is still, you know, alive. And in possession of a future. I wanted one them to be realistic about the fact that, to the rest of the world, it looks like Joshua talks to himself and, apparently, makes out with the air. I'm just saying--It's a fact that needs to be considered. Luckily, there will be two more books in which to explore this complication in their relationship. I just didn't know that while I was reading it...and so I found Amelia and Joshua's relationship a trifle...strange. I think the main problem I had with this novel was that I was confused a lot of the time. Perhaps it's just my puny brainbox, but I wasn't clear on why Eli was doing what he was. Or, rather, why he was being asked to do what he was. And what were Joshua's grandmother's powers, anyway? Why do she and her grandchild have them, but not her child? What has so thoroughly convinced her that all ghosts are evil? While I enjoyed this book--it read easily--I'm not sure it works as a stand alone. Well--obviously it doesn't. It's part of a series. Duh. But sometimes a series can only be read from one book to the next. Which works if they've all been published, but not if you have to wait a year for the next installment. I need enough answers to find the first book satisfying while still wanting more. I want to add that the mystery surrounding Amelia's special abilities, and the role that she's going to take in the hereafter, are compelling. I want to know more about them. And I want to know what the deal is with the Seers, and how many there. But, more than anything, I'm wondering when Joshua's going to wake up a little and realize that there are going to be some drawbacks to having a ghost for a girlfriend. I'm not saying that I want Hudson to make the complications insurmountable, but that Joshua comes off as incredibly naive and incredibly young by his complete denial that there are any. All in all, I think this was a satisfying debut. I look for more from Tara Hudson in the future. ...more
Forgotten is one of those novels that takes a concept and twists it this way and that so youThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com
Forgotten is one of those novels that takes a concept and twists it this way and that so you end up spending the entire book wondering "Wait...how does that work, exactly?" In the case of Forgotten, we're presented with a character that remembers forward instead of backward. What this means for the narrator of Forgotten is that, while she doesn't recall what she wore to school yesterday, she can tell you what she'll wear tomorrow. London can only keep track of her life by writing notes to tell herself what she needs to know when she wakes up in the morning. It's a very bizarre concept and, more than once, it caused complex knots in my thinking processes, and my understanding (based on personal experience) of how memory works. Patrick deals with some of my most pressing questions. For one thing, I didn't really buy that London would be able to have a close relationship with someone who didn't know about her condition. No amount of notes would be able to tell her everything she'd need to know in order to avoid detection. There would be constant small slip ups that would give her away. As regards London's romantic relationship...I did question whether it could ever go anywhere if London feels like she just met him for the first time every day. This is answered in two ways. One is spoilery and I won't tell it to you. But the other I kind of like. London supposes that, while her head doesn't remember Luke, her heart does. I'm a Romantic enough to buy that. The romance between London and Luke is sweet and sexy in a first love kind of way, but it isn't the only thing Forgotten has going for it. One of the main disadvantages of having no memory (of the past, anyway) is how vulnerable it makes you. As London says, "for [her], reading is remembering." This means that, because her memory is external, it can easily be trifled with. There's also no way for London to know what things are important for her remember...this makes it possible for people to tamper with her "memory." What Cat Patrick is trying do--and very successfully, I think--is address that age-old question: Is ignorance bliss? Because London uses notes to "remember" her life, she can easily choose the things she wants to forget. Worse, others can choose them for her. I enjoyed this novel, even if I couldn't quite grasp the logic of it. I don't know if it's even possible to do so--I'm probably so entrenched in the concept of linear time that my tiny little brain goes into panic mode at the very suggestion of remembering things that haven't happened yet. I will say that I didn't care much for the mystery regarding the funeral that London keeps "remembering". Not so much the lead up to it, but the too-tidy resolution. There's no denying that Forgotten was a fabulous debut novel. I'm looking forward to seeing what Cat Patrick comes up with next....more
I want to start this review by saying that it pleasantly surprised me. I'm often skepticalThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I want to start this review by saying that it pleasantly surprised me. I'm often skeptical when Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy authors decide to try their hand at YA fiction. Some authors--and people, for that matter--assume that because if they can write to appeal to an adult audience, than writing to a teen one will be easy peasy lemon squeezy. Then again, there are crossover authors whose adult stuff I won't touch (Kelley Armstrong comes to mind), but that doesn't keep me from adoring their Teen stuff. Lynn Viehl doesn't quite fall into the same category as Kelley Amstrong, but I do think that After Midnight was more successful than any book she's written with an "adult" audience in mind. After Midnight is a Rural Fantasy. The story picks up with Cat, the heroine, beginning her first day at her new school. After years of moving around and constantly being the new girl in town, Cat and her brothers have decided to settle in Lost Lake, a small town in Florida. Cat and her brother, Gray, have been raised by their older brother, Trick, since their parents died and for most of Cat's existence, it's been just the three of them. Wherever they've lived, they've felt like outsiders. And while Cat's ready to continue their cloistered lifestyle, Gray is yearning for a more normal All-American life, whatever their older brother says. I genuinely liked Cat, though she was a little too independent to be true. It's rare to find a teenager that self-possessed, or one who is never at a loss for what to say when she's up against an antagonist. It was Cat's two brothers that intrigued me. I was fascinated by Gray. He's uber-protective of his sister, but he has no trouble manipulating her into helping him achieve his goals. Sadly, his protective streak fades when siding with his sister conflicts with his romantic interests. Gray's desire to play football and date the head cheerleader was poignant, bizarre and sad. Trick isn't as easy to read. His main function in the book appears to be keeping secrets from Cat, but his motivations are, as yet unclear. Intriguing is the word for him. I was less impressed with Jesse. He's sort of your stereotypical vampire hero: Moody, broody, isolated and tortured but totally in love with the heroine. He kind of doesn't do anything. He's acted upon, and does very little acting himself. Fortunately for Jesse, there was no rival for Cat's affections. As far as romance goes, I'm waiting to see what develops for Gray. I have a suspicion. Or, a theory at least. Frankly, the part of this book that won me over was the end. It puts a whole spin on the mythology--and on Cat's relationships--that I think is fascinating. I should say that is hast no effect not on Cat and Jesse's l-o-v-e. They're just as blahblah-still-in-lovecakes as ever. Plotwise, though, the story ends with discoveries that redeem After Midnight from the banal star-crossed lovers theme. And, the Van Helsing/Vampire cliche. So, my advice to you is this: if you reach the middle of the book and are bored by Jesse's brooding, read on to the end anyway. The best parts of the book are the parts without him. I know, you're surprised to hear me say that. But: Trust me. Romance aside, it's worth it....more
WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR A BRIEF HISTORY OF MONTMARAY
Last summer, when The Niece was born, I spent almost a month in New York. Not the best time of year to be in the city, I admit, but it allowed me plenty of return trips to the Strand. It was on one of those adventures that I picked up A Brief History of Montmaray. And fell in love. By far, the 1930s-40s are my favorite historical era to read about, and in Teen fiction there are pitifully few to be found. I'm pleased to say that I found A Brief History so delightful, it made up for the sweltering wait in the subway. And that's high praise indeed. I think my favorite aspect of these books is Sophie. Which is awesome, because she's the one who writes these journals. Sophie is a refreshing heroine in that she's neither a fierce (but gorgeous) intellectual like her cousin Veronica, nor an rough and rowdy tomboy like her sister Henry. Sometimes, even when they're trying to break the mold, authors create heroines who are just as cliche as those which they're trying to break away from. Sophie isn't like that. She's agonizingly aware of her faults in the way that you are when you're a teenager, and she struggles with the fact that, although she misses living in Montmaray, she's also happy to have the luxuries, and the fripperies, that life in England offers her. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I find Sophie so true, and that her character resonates with me. But while I loved Sophie, I felt that this book covered too much time in too short a book. Not that this is a short book. It clocks in at 464 pages, but it spans two years. There are long gaps in Sophie's journal entries. When you read the book through, it doesn't really seem like so much time is passing, but before I knew it, Sophie was eighteen. I had to go back and check that I hadn't missed something when I got to that part. Cooper does this because it's clear she has a plan for the remaining Montmaravians that fits in with the timeline of World War II. It doesn't work so well in terms of the character development. I found myself wondering about all the blank periods where Sophie didn't write and how much was I missing by not being able to read about them. I'm also not crazy about Sophie's relationships. The only one who seems to have any sense of Sophie's worth is Simon. Simon, whom Sophie's brother is in love with. Simon, the man for whom she still carries a torch. Yet even Simon takes advantage of Sophie when he can. It's not that Sophie doesn't have her own way of getting things done. She's a budding diplomat. She's the one who scurries around behind the scenes, fixing everything. I feel for the fact that she's surrounded by a great bunch of egomaniacs. That's a character trait that's only acceptable in her kid (being the operative word) sister Henry. I'm not sure if I'm meant to like these characters in spite of their flaws, but either way, I didn't. Toby, who wallows in self-pity and takes advantage of his aunt, who has had everything in his life handed to him on a silver platter and who is universally loved because of his charm, irritated me. Veronica reminds me a bit of Blue's mother, from Natural Born Charmer. She's the kind of person who will put those she considers "less fortunate" before her family. I wanted pull her hair, or kick her for the way she treated Daniel. Finally, Simon is so darn calculating it's hard to like him, or trust him, any yet he still can charm you. Even though Sophie knows that Simon and Toby are (presumably) lovers, she can't quite get over him. He has a draw that makes her--and us--hate him and love him at the same time. I'm absolutely dying to get to the next book and see how everything turns out. I can't really see a happy ending in the works for any of them, but I'm hoping for one. Also, since I'm me, I've got my fingers crossed for some romance for Sophie. ...more
I've been looking forward to this book as far back as the first event I had on my blog (PriThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I've been looking forward to this book as far back as the first event I had on my blog (Private School Paranormals Week), at which time I pestered Jennifer Estep to participate even though it was waaay too early for ARCs and such. She offered me some bonus material instead and I've been a fangirl ever since. There's also the fact that Jennifer Estep described the Mythos Academy books as a cross between Veronica Mars and Game of Thrones. I adore Veronica Mars so much that I have seen Kirsten Bell in every Romantic Comedy her agent convinced her to try. This is all just to say that I was born ready to love this book, and love it I did. I'm so very, very thrilled that Kiss of Frost comes out this year. December is only five months away. Woohoo! The first thing I loved about Touch of Frost was the setting. Mythos Academy is home to a group of teenagers possessed of mythical, magical powers. There are Valkyries, Spartans and Amazons--all warriors. Gwen, our heroine, is a bit lost in this atmosphere. She's not a fighter. Her only talent is psychometry--she can touch anything and pull memories and feelings from that object (or person). It's a talent that has its uses, but not necessarily in the Mythos crowd. Or at the last school she went to. The story itself is part Fantasy, part Mystery and all awesomesauce. As the mystery slowly unravels, we learn about Gwen, about Mythos and about the world that Estep has built. In one of my favorite aspects of first person narration, perspective allows the reader to understand things that Gwen can't yet fathom. It also allows us to get to know the supporting cast. In the beginning, Gwen is a solitary character. Our outsider's view makes sure we know that she won't be alone for long. Just as we know that Gwen--and her power--aren't as insignificant as she makes them seem. I've made no secret of the fact that I'm a huge fan of first person narration. Jennifer Estep is particularly talented at making me feel like I'm inside Gwen's head, thinking along with her. The only complaint I have is that a couple of times Gwen refers to her own eyes as violet. As in, "I flicked my violet eyes across the room." This jerked me out of the narrative every time I read it. While I know my eyes are brown, I don't think about the fact unless I'm in front of the mirror. I think someone who wears a hoodie every day of the week would probably feel the same way. While there is a love interest for Gwen (can't wait to see where that's gonna head--love Logan), the primary relationship in this book is that which develops between Gwen and a Valkyrie girl named Daphne. It'll be great fun to see Gwen and Daphne figure out how to be friends. I have a feeling it's gonna be as awkward a beginning as any of its romantic counterparts. It's also nice to see friendships get some play in Teen fiction. Don't get me wrong--I love a romance--but Teen fiction doesn't need another star-crossed lovers/soulmates-at-sixteen story. Touch of Frost was one of my most highly anticipated titles of the summer and reading it has bumped the sequel to the top of my December can't-wait list. If you're looking for a Teen Paranormal that will restore your faith in the genre--look no further. Touch of Frost is a gem....more
In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to tell you that I've read Jenny's review of EnclaThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to tell you that I've read Jenny's review of Enclave. Also, I signed up to be a part of the book tour so long ago that I forgot I was even on it. In fact, I bought a copy of my very own from the Strand way back when I was in New York. Anyway, Jenny's review led me to begin this book with a positive outlook, and nothing has dissuaded me from that point of view. Enclave is the kind of Dystopia that I enjoy. It's been compared to the Hunger Games Trilogy--as, I suspect, all future YA Dystopians will be--but whereas The Hunger Games turned me off within the first chapter, Enclave drew me in. Not just Enclave, but its terrific narrator, Deuce. One of my main problems with The Hunger Games was Katniss' voice. I found her completely unrelateable and without empathy. I don't know if that changed, but I have absolutely no desire find out. From the beginning, Deuce appealed to me. All her life she has wanted to become a Huntress, and we are introduced to her on the day her wish becomes true. It's also the day she's introduced to her new partner, Fade. I quite frankly loved this book. It's got romance, mystery, a bit of horror, but at the heart, it has palpable humanity. It's there in Deuce, who has been raised with the idea that affection between males and females is only acceptable for Breeders, whose natural instinct is protect, who is genuinely bewildered by the harsh realities she is forced to face. It's there in Fade, who finds, in Deuce, someone to trust. Even characters you want to hate have deeper layers that make you think uncomfortable, philosophical thoughts. The ending of Enclave left me itching for more. I adore the post-apocalyptic world that Ann Aguirre created, and I'm dying to learn more about the place where Deuce, Fade and co. end up. This is a series I'll be keeping a hawk-eye out for. And I'm doubly glad to have enjoyed this so much because I've got Nightfall waiting for me on my TBR shelf. ...more
Die for Me has been at the top of a lot of lists of highly anticipated titles for 2011. It'This review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Die for Me has been at the top of a lot of lists of highly anticipated titles for 2011. It's a debut by a new author, it's both a paranormal and a romance, and it has an exotic, foreign setting. These are winning elements in my mind, but put together, in this book, the finished product isn't as successful as I'd like it to have been. Now, I'm a hardcore romantic. When I read a book, the romance has to work for me in order for the book itself to work. But that doesn't mean a great romance is enough to carry the weight of the whole story. I'm certain there are exceptions to this, but I'm not going to go there right now. I bring this up because Die for Me revolves around the romance between Kate and Vincent and, in my opinion, the rest of the book suffered. Kate tells the story in first person, but I don't feel that I know that much about her outside of her relationship with Vincent. I have no idea what her school is like, for instance, and I was disappointed not to get a taste of Paris from the writing. Most of all, I felt that without those other aspects of Kate's life, she was not a particularly vibrant character. I wasn't even a big fan of their romance, though this was due in large part to the push-pull "I love you, but I can't bear to be with you because I don't want to lose you like I did my parents" stuff. Another thing that I struggled with was that I really, really expected people to have lived so long to have greater wisdom. I mean, there are things that some people will never learn no matter how old they get, but pretty much everyone with a tad of wisdom learns a thing or two about communication. The best example that I can think of is when Jean-Baptiste tells Kate's new friend, Charlotte:
"...but because of the circumstances I leave it up to you, Charlotte, to break the news to your brother that I have asked you both to leave."
(Gasp--end of chapter--which is the literary equivalent of the commercial break.) I object to this kind of manufactured cliffhanger. Jean-Baptiste isn't kicking Charlotte and her brother out, he's sending them away so that Charles (the brother) can recuperate. He also isn't saying they have to leave forever, so all this is is Jean-Baptiste finding the most dramatic and hurtful way to break the news to Charlotte. Which, I must add, doesn't really jibe with his character's "wisdom of the aged" personality. Finally, my biggest problem here was the world-building. This is a hard topic for me to address because I think world-building is incredibly difficult and I don't doubt that it represents a challenge for any author who attempts it. With that in mind, I'll try to keep my critiquing as constructive as possible. By definition, paranormal fiction messes with what we know of as the rules of our world. It alters them--sometimes in big ways and sometimes in small. But the thing is: in a paranormal world, the rules change--but there are still rules. I think Amy Plum played fast and loose with the world-building in Die for Me. No sooner does she introduce a rule, than there's an exception. For example: Vincent tells Kate that when a revenant is "volant," he or she can't communicate with a living person. Not much later we find out that, for some reason, this rule doesn't hold true for Kate and Vincent. I find that this is an element of Die for Me that I can't get past. It irritated me long after finally closed my Kindle. This book was not my cup of tea. I don't doubt that Amy Plum will find her audience. I just know I'm not it. ...more
I'm afraid I didn't enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed the Drake Chronicles. It's a periodThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I'm afraid I didn't enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed the Drake Chronicles. It's a period piece, which tends to bring out the nitpicker in me. I'm one of those people who is irritated when an author gets titles wrong. It's not that I consider myself a history buff--quite the opposite, in fact--but that's my point, really. If an ignoramus like me knows that the Earl of Bladiblah generally has several lesser titles in addition to the one he's known by, so should others. Here's your mini-lesson for the day: In addition to being the Earl of Bladiblah, Lord Bladiblah is also Viscount Hmmuna and Baron Xyz. If the earl is lucky enough to have a son (it's a joke, you guys), that son gets to use his father's next highest title as a courtesy. So, the Earl of Bladiblah's son would be known as the Viscount Hmmuna. And the earl's brother would be known as The Honorable Mr. Adam Smith, not Sir Smith. There have practically been treatises written about correct forms of address for the peerage. Online treatises. My point is: the knowledge is easy to come by. If an author doesn't know about it, then by gad, the editor should. I'm just saying. Though this irritates me, it's not the only basis on which I judge a book. It's true that historical inaccuracies can make it or break it--that's the danger of writing a historical novel. I've read far too many books that are simply modern stories in Regency clothing. I like it when the characters of historical novels act in accordance to the mores of their time. Spunky heroines who gad about town without chaperons or who stride about spouting post-feminist theories don't generally work for me. I don't say it can't be done, but for my coin historical heroines should liberal minded for their own time, not ours. Alyx avoids this trap by creating a heroine who is an outsider. Though she moves among the elite members of society (the oft mentioned peerage), she isn't one of them. She's illegitimate and she knows it. She also knows that her mother--far from being a respectable widow--was once a maid in a wealthy household. Violet is only masquerading as a lady, and therefore her unconventional behavior makes sense. Also, I wish I knew more about Victorian times, because I kept wondering about how easily Violet and her mother were able to become part of high class society. Certainly it was an age of great upheaval. The members of the peerage grew increasingly poor as the merchant and industrial classes grew wealthy. But it was also the age named for Queen Victoria--a monarch who was famous for rigidity. I expected Violet's illegitimacy to have a greater impact than her mother's fraud as a spiritualist. I liked Violet, but I didn't love her. Her mother, sadly, doesn't have any depth. She's bad through and through. I think this novel suffers from too many characters. There's Lord Jasper, Elizabeth, Marjorie, Xavier, Tabitha, Peter, Caroline, Frederick...I was never really clear on who, exactly, was at the house party. It became a mass of faceless people, which doesn't work for what is, essentially, a mystery novel. Also, because there are no characters that we really get to know very well, character development takes a backseat to the love story and the plot. I've admitted (repeatedly), that I like my fiction sprinkled with romance. What I haven't said (and probably should) is that character development is a major necessary for me, too. If a book doesn't have that, it won't work for me. And this story doesn't have it. Violet doesn't have to make any choices; she never takes control of her life. All the changes that lead to her happy ending are the result of other people's actions and/or decisions. Especially the change that has the greatest effect on her life. As I closed the back cover of Haunting Violet, I was left with a sense of dissatisfaction. Not because there isn't a happy ending--there is--but because I wanted more from Violet's story. I'm sorry to have not enjoyed this book, as I've enjoyed Alyx's other work. I'll still be looking out for the rest of the Drake Chronicles. ...more
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a title I was initially excited about based solely on iThis review was originally posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a title I was initially excited about based solely on its location. I mean--Prague! Top of my list of places I would love to visit. I was pleased to receive a review copy, especially when the positive (dare I say glowing?) reviews started popping up on the blogosphere. Logan, for example, basically told me our friendship would definitely suffer if I didn't like it. You will, therefore, never hear me say such a thing. However, Logan's threat aside, I really did enjoy The Daughter of Smoke and Bone. In fact, I loved it. It has it all--characterization, setting, plot, and romance. Swoon. Karou is a fantastic heroine. She's heroic, but not unbelievably so. She's not out to save the world, but she will fight to save those she loves. And as good as her intentions generally are, she's only 17, which means she has the tendency to be childish and immature. She doesn't always consider the consequences of her actions, but when they prove to be devastating, she doesn't shy from what she considers to be her responsibilities or to try to do what she can to make reparations. Karou's romantic interest is just as alluring. Akiva is an angel, the Romeo to Karou's Juliet. I mean, seriously--talk about tall, dark and tortured. Also a bit stalkery. In the good, non-creepy way. At first, Akiva is genuinely confused about his feelings for Karou. He doesn't understand why he is so drawn to her. His confusion is endearing. But, then, I love heroes who think they have no feelings only to have the heroine show them how very wrong they are. I knew I was going to love the setting of Daughter of Smoke and Bone even before I read it. If I wanted to visit Prague before I read this book, I can only say that the feeling has intensified tenfold. I love the cafe where Karou and her friend Zuzana hang out, and I love the old-world city that Taylor depicts. Other locations--Paris and London included--have sparks of charm, but in the end feel fairly modern. I'll be sad when the story really turns its back on Prague, which it essentially did at the end of the book. Still, I have enough faith in Taylor's world-building to believe that wherever she takes us next will be equally spectacular. To say much about the plot of Daughter of Smoke and Bone would be to give it away. I think I can say that most of it revolves around the mystery of Karou's existence. She was raised by a chimaera named Brimstone, for whom she runs dangerous errands involving the retrieval of teeth. It's a story with lots of mysteries. What are the teeth for? Who were Karou's parents? And what's the deal with all of her tattoos, and the fact that her hair grows blue from the root? When you get the answers to these questions, you'll be shocked, delighted and horrified at the same time. I promise. More than anything, though, you'll be dying to read the next book in the series. Too bad it doesn't come out until September of 2012. Don't worry--together, we'll make it through. 5 Points: I would move in with this book....more
Amanda: Is it just me or are there a lot of similarities between Half-Blood and Vampire Academy? At first, I was all, "BUFFY!" with how the daimons diAmanda: Is it just me or are there a lot of similarities between Half-Blood and Vampire Academy? At first, I was all, "BUFFY!" with how the daimons died, but by the third, fourth, and fifth chapters I was getting serious Vampire Academy vibes. I'm also not the biggest fan of Alex, but that's mainly because I just want to shake her and tell her to get a grip and focus on what's important. And I'm still waiting for Aiden to impress me, besides his arms, of course. I think his arms are very impressive. Ruby: This was exactly my feeling. In fact, I think our review should be titled: Vampire Academy 2: This Time, with Daimons. Because:
Both heroines get dragged back to their special school for mystical creatures after leaving under "mysterious circumstances." Both heroines are half of something--and therefore lesser. Yet, their half-blood status makes them wonderful fighters. Both heroines are kick ass chicks. Their missing time at the academy doesn't detract from their kickassiness. Both have older, hot, famously kickass mentor love interests who are off-limits. Potential, attainable love interest who will be really nice, but not be the hot, unattainable guy and therefore will not win the heroine. Also, I bet he'll die.--Totally wrong on this score. The world-building is startlingly similar. A lot of the "rules" remind me of the rules from the Vampire Academy books, but with minor twists.
I'm starting to get frustrated with books that introduce uber-heroes merely as a way to foreshadow that the MC is going to be said uber-hero. Why does every book do this? Am I the only one who is tired of stories where the MC is "The One" with some kind of mystical destiny? This isn't a criticism of Half-Blood in particularly, more a comment on the genre as a whole. And I'm not just talking YA--it happens in PNR and UF all the time, too. I think it's part of why I've been wanting to take a break from books with paranormal elements. Amanda: I agree that there are a lot of over done paranormal elements in this story. Well, especially since there was so many Vampire Academy parallels. I, too, have noticed so many paranormal books using the "The One" story line. I think that while it's over done, it's only bad if it's noticeably that way. If that makes sense? Books that pull you in and make you forget all your likes and dislikes and just make you READ, those are the ones that don't matter if they have used something that EVERY OTHER BOOK has used, because it seems unique and special and AWESOME. Ruby: I'm also really tired of the "second best love triangle" phenomenon. Anyone who reads this book would be able to tell and Alex and Aidan are "The Couple." There's no tension in having a third party--Seth--because we know Alex won't end up with him in the end. And since there's no tension, I see little reason for the love triangle to exist. It would be far more compelling to have the story be about Alex and Aidan trying to have a relationship and trying to deal with the fact that Alex was mystically tied to Seth in a complex way. But noooooo. Can't have that! Amanda: The love triangle really annoys me in this book. Of course, love triangles annoy me in most books, but I don't really see a reason for it here, especially after Alex and Aiden nearly consummated their relationship. I just kind of want to yell at Seth to get out of the way, so things can happen, romance wise. Ruby: Having finished the book, I'm yet more frustrated by the way Alex and Aiden's romance is set to play out. It wings me all the way back into Vampire Academy territory. Amanda: I just finished Half-Blood. Yay! Oddly enough, I think my favorite character in this book was Seth. Ruby: I was thinking about how you said that Seth was your favorite character in this book and it made me realize that I didn't connect with ANY of the characters. I didn't particularly like Alex, Aidan or Caleb--none of the characters ran very deep. Complex they were not. Most of them felt like cliches. Caleb was the loyal best guy friend, Aidan was the hot, kick-ass love interest with emotional baggage, Lena was the mean girl who is somewhat redeemed by tragedy.
Also, I don't think this book ever recovered from the similarities to Vampire Academy. It did develop a little in its own direction, but not enough to distinguish it. The biggest flaw of this book was that it wasn't bad, it was so mediocre as to make me care little about it. There was nothing in it to surprise or delight me. It was just blah. Amanda: Yes. I definitely agree that a lot of characters felt like cliches, and this is probably why I connected with Seth the most. We didn't really learn a lot about him, but I found him intriguing, more so than any other character. What we do know of him made me think that a) there's a lot more to his story, b) there's a lot more to him than just being the Apollyon (I'm spelling that wrong, I'm sure but I can't find the spelling), and c) I want to know more about him. I could take or leave the rest of the characters. The similarities to Vampire Academy were so strong that something amazing would have had to have happened (say THAT three times fast) in order for it to move beyond the label of a Vampire Academy-like book. There also seemed to be a lot of foreshadowing, but so much so that it was obvious what was coming next. In some ways, that made it less enjoyable because it was easy to figure out what happened next. Ruby: Oh, right! The first time the story of the two Apollyons was related it was obvious what the deal was going to be. But I think I was too busy drawing similarities between the Vampire Academy books to appreciate Seth. I kept picturing him as Adrian--and the heroine's other, appealing--but obviously not first choice--option in the love triangle. Amanda: Oh. I haven't met Adrian in the VA series yet so I was perhaps able to see Seth as his own character. I also think that if this particular love triangle continues into the next book (and beyond), I would get really annoyed with it. With Half-Blood, Aiden was the obvious choice, and though Seth was in the picture, he wasn't really an actual option. But I also suspect that that will change with the next book. And that makes me hesitant to read it. ...more
I jumped all over this book when I first spotted it on Goodreads. I really love the cover,This review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I jumped all over this book when I first spotted it on Goodreads. I really love the cover, but that might have something do with the fact that I've lusted after that model's haircut for-freaking-ever, and long since resigned myself to the fact that my own hair will never look that good. Sigh. Still, I was pleased to receive a copy of Momento Nora for review. Not just because of the lovely cover and the great title. I was intrigued by the idea of a future where you could voluntarily have bad memories removed. Momento Nora is a short book, and it feels shorter due to the fact that its told from three different perspectives. This was a problem for me because I felt that the characters suffered from getting so little screen time. I don't feel that I got to know any of the characters very well. Nora, in particular, felt unexplored. She goes from being an accepting drone to a dissident with unbelievable rapidity. I buy that the discovery she makes about her mother would lead her to the action it did, but jumping feet first into helping to publish Momento doesn't jibe with her character. I think she'd have either been more skeptical in the beginning, or have taken more convincing to get involved in something which had such serious consequences. I also wasn't certain what Nora and Micah's motivation was in creating Momento. Were they trying to convince others not to participate in Therapeutic Forgetting? It felt like teenage mischief--which would be a stupid reason risk "The Big D". It would have made more sense to me if Nora got involved because she didn't want what happened to her mother to happen again--or to anyone else. But once Nora is aware of what's going on with her mother, she's more concerned with creating Momento than the fact that her mother is being abused by her father. Another thing I noticed was that people didn't wonder about what they were forgetting. It drives me nuts when I can't remember something. I can't imagine going through life with pieces of my memory missing. I'd constantly be wondering what I'd forgotten, and I think that thought would probably consume me. It would be different if I didn't know my memory was being erased, but if I knew it? It'd be like worrying a cavity, and it surprised me that nobody ever had a similar thought. On reading Momento Nora, I was struck by the similarities between this book and Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series. In part, this was due to the use of the word "glossy". It reminded me of "bubbly". I don't mean that Momento Nora felt derivative, but that it didn't feel particularly new or inventive to me. Which is, frankly, something I look for in a Dystopia. So, while there was food for thought in Momento Nora, I didn't love it. The lack of characterization, the rapid speed of Micah and Nora's romance, and missing motivation conspired to leave me feeling ambivalent. I'm going to wait for book two to solidify my opinion--but as an introduction to a series, I'm officially on the fence about Momento Nora. ...more
When I found out that Mary Jo Putney was joining the ever-growing list of authors writing fThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
When I found out that Mary Jo Putney was joining the ever-growing list of authors writing for the YA adult market, I practically did a song and dance. You see, Thunder and Ashes just about tops my list of favorite romances. I haven't read much Mary Jo lately, but I was one-hundred percent behind her getting into the Teen action. Um...that came out wrong. I meant--aw, forget it. Dark Mirror begins with a group of socially influential men deciding that, while they find magic useful, they'd rather it be the province of the lower classes. The men talk, share bad experiences, and scheme to make all outcasts high-born individuals with magical abilities. I'll be frank with you. I hated this scene. It smacked of exposition. How often do men get together and plan the social ruin of an entire population of people? It reminded me of a thousand bad Regencies I've read over the years, and it was not a good note on which to start the novel. I'd have much rather read a more generalize history of how magic became socially unacceptable than have a group of skeevy old men sit around a table and spoon-feed me the exact details. The story then shifts to about two hundred years later. The heroine, Tory, has manifested her magical powers. They are a great shock to her, and she resolves to hide them so deeply that no one will ever know she has them. When hiding them doesn't work, Tory is rejected by family and friends alike, and sent to Lackland Academy, where society's elite send their children to be "cured" of magic. As a character, Tory was all over the place. Initially she wants only to cured and to return to her old life. But even while she's thinking that, she joins a secret society of students who are embracing their magical talents in the hopes of defending England against Napoleon's invasion. But before Tory even has a chance to address this dichotomy, she's whisked through a magical mirror that sends her forward through time. She ends up in WWII England, where her country is facing a different invasion--the Nazis. This element of the story totally confused me. I didn't really see why Tory and Co. had to travel to the future to learn that magic could be valuable as a tool of defense in a time of war. As I've already mentioned, Tory's England is also on the cusp of war. The time travel aspect felt like a ploy to try to get the characters into a more modern frame of thinking while ensuring that they still retained some Regency-era formality. I also didn't connect to any of the characters in the book. For one thing, there were far, far too many. Some of them were interchangeable. Jack and Nick, come to mind the most easily. Tory was a little too good to be true. She's sweet, thoughtful, giving, but stands up for herself and others. As for Allarde, I don't even particularly want to read his backstory, because he didn't do much for me. Which is a shame, as I'm a sucker for a marquis. Yum. And I totally rolled my eyes whenever he and Tory did non-verbal eye communication. Mac and Barrons did it soooo much better. Before I end this review, I have to talk about the time travel aspect of this book. I'm not a fan of time travel books. They don't tend to work for me. This time, though I was intrigued by the twist--Tory travels into the future and not the past. I wanted to see how that would work out. Only it didn't. Tory and Co. adjusted far too easily to modern life. After very little time they're accustomed to electricity, plumbing, the wireless and automobiles. The girls are wearing knee-high skirts and never speak of embarrassment. Huh, what? They come from a time when it was scandalous to let a man see your ankle. I think that, if I were transported one hundred and thirty odd years into the future, I'd be pretty freaked out. It would be more than a few days for me to adjust to technology I can't even fathom right now. I started this book with high expectations, and I'm sorry to say that it didn't live up to them. I will be honest enough to say that I saw enough of Small Review's review to know that she didn't love it, either. I promptly averted my eyes, I promise, but I want you to know that knowing that probably had some influence on my reading. Generally, I don't like to look at other people's reviews until after I write my own, for this very reason. Teen Regencies aren't exactly thick on the ground. If you like that sort of thing, please go check out Melissa Doyle's Bewitching Season. I adored it. I wasn't crazy about the sequel, but I'm looking forward to book three in the series, Magic in Season. Follow the link to read the description. No book cover yet, here's hoping!...more
I am, unabashedly in love with this novel. Last year I read the Last Survivors trilogy by SusThis review was first posted at http://www.rubysreads.com
I am, unabashedly in love with this novel. Last year I read the Last Survivors trilogy by Susan Beth Pfeffer and, while I loved those, by the time I got to the end of the third book I was contemplating burning all three volumes. That's how depressed they made me--I was considering burning books--complete sacrilege. Ashes, Ashes includes many of the things I loved about Pfeffer's books, blessedly without the incredibly depressing ending. I said in a review I recently wrote that I was getting tired of Dystopians, and that's true. Ashes, Ashes isn't a Dystopian so much as it's Post-Apocalyptic. This is a differentiation that Jo Treggiari has made clear to me. Most Dystopians take place far after some apocalyptic event, which is the aspect that always confused me. But the difference is that both Pfeffer's trilogy and Ashes, Ashes tell the story of those living in the immediate aftermath of an apocalyptic even, when everything has gone to hell. Dystopians--like Matched, Delirium, The Hunger Games and company--take place in more distant futures, after the apocalyptic event has led to strict, imperfect regimentation of society. To put it mildly.
I'm fascinated with stories where humans have to learn how to live all over again. I'm fully aware that without modern technology I would be completely worthless. The very idea of going without running water horrifies me and I have an orange thumb. Why orange you ask? Because it's on the complete opposite side of the color wheel from a green one. It's probably because I'd be complete crap at it that I enjoy reading about people being forced to go back to basics. In Ashes, Ashes, the heroine (Lucy) learned to survive without using a wilderness guide. She learns to set traps, to skin animals and use their hides and cook them for food, how to forage and make acorn mush. Everything Lucy eats she has to obtain with great expenditure of energy. At least, greater than going to the fridge or the pantry.
In Ashes, Ashes, we get to experience something of what it's like for the rules to suddenly change underneath your feet. In a Dystopian, the rules of the society are already set. The characters have generally grown up in a world that was Dystopian even before they were born. I find it a great deal more compelling to see how people are forced to adapt when the world around them changes so drastically that it completely alters the way they live, the way they think, and the way they interact with people. Yet, the issues in Ashes, Ashes are relevant, even in a non-apocalyptic society. How do you decide who to trust? When is self-reliance foolish and not brave?
If I had one complaint about this novel it would be that there wasn't enough of it. I'd love to follow Lucy and Aidan in the next stage of their adventure, and I'd love to know more about them. Both are compelling characters, but more of their backstory would be appreciated, particularly in Aidan's case. I read on Jo Treggiari's website that she has more stories to tell in the Ashes, Ashes universe. And let me tell you: they can't come soon enough for me....more
Fantastic! I love the Mara and her sexy love interest with the English accent. I can't wait for book two. The first one certainly ended on a cliffhangFantastic! I love the Mara and her sexy love interest with the English accent. I can't wait for book two. The first one certainly ended on a cliffhanger. Where do we go from here?...more
Most of the time, when I get into discussions with fellow appreciators of Jane Austen, theiThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Most of the time, when I get into discussions with fellow appreciators of Jane Austen, their favorite book is Pride & Prejudice. Sometimes I’ll come across an Emma or Sense & Sensibility fan, but I’ve yet to meet anyone who, like me, put Persuasion at the top of their list. (I won’t pretend I’m not hoping to hear an outcry denying this once the post goes live.) I put out a couple of ARC requests when I first heard about this book, but when I didn’t hear back from the publisher, I decided that it was probably a blessing. My expectations for this book were so high, I didn’t think I’d be able to write a review if it disappointed.
The thing I failed to prepare for was a feeling of ambivalence. I’m enough of an Austen fan to realize that any adaptation (or re-imagining, etc.) will fall short of the real thing. Still, there have been a few books that have paid homage to the great Jane Austen in the best way. The authors of the “good” adaptations don’t so much try to retell Jane’s stories as take a narrative leaf out of her books. They highlight the ridiculous, provide a grounded heroine in a world of bizarre priorities, and introduce heroes so awesome thousands of women (and probably a few men) go to sleep fantasizing about them. All this, and a heaping dollop of wit, too.
Peterfreund’s adaptation of Persuasion is more straight-forward than that. You can easily pick out which characters are meant to be which, and in that respect, I think she relies a bit on Jane Austen’s characterization rather than bothering to create her own. Surprisingly, I think this book would have been more successful if she had paid a little less attention to Persuasion and a little more to creating her own story. I think that trying to adapt the story limited its potential.
Additionally, Peterfreunds’ Elliot and Wentforth didn’t do justice to their namesakes. I didn’t even particularly like Kai. Wentworth (from Persuasion) is a remarkable hero because he never once utters a word of reproach to Anne, and no matter how much he wants to resent her, he can’t help loving her still. Kai, in contrast, knowingly spreads lies about Elliot and comes off as spiteful, petulant and grudging. And Elliot is much more uptight, mopy, and self-righteous than Persuasion‘s Anne could ever be.
Finally, there was ending. It was too perfect, and yet left the major plot twist unresolved. It is, I think, the greatest argument I can make for suggesting that Persuasion limited Peterfreund’s story-telling. The whole subplot of the book is about the enslavement and mistreatment of the Posts. Spoiler Warning: One of the minor characters sets out to reverse this, but Elliot just rode off into the sunset with Kai. I found myself wishing she had rejected him and stayed on at the North Estate where, as an affluent and influential landowner, she could have made a difference. And that’s saying a lot from someone who hates it when the couple doesn’t get an HEA.
While I don’t think I’d recommend this book on the basis of it being an adaptation of Persuasion, it raises some interesting questions about technology, duty, and family. If it weren’t for the ending, I’d say go for it. I can’t ignore it, though, so I have to take points off for it. For Darkness Shows the Stars is an ambitious novel, even if it was not entirely successful....more
Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.
Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.
Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.
Last year, when I finally succumbed and bought City of Bones, I fell in love. I devoured the three books of the series as fast as I could get my hands on them. And when I finished City of Glass, I immediately got on the web to find out when Cassandra Clare’s next book would be released. I got excited when I read about Clockwork Angel—because, have I mentioned that I’m a fan of Steampunk? I was thoroughly bummed to discover that it wouldn’t come out until August 31—that’s practically September! Then, since it came out on a Tuesday—during my first week of school—I didn’t have time to pick up my reserved copy the weekend. Argh!
By now, you’re probably wondering why I’m reviewing the book two and half weeks later. It’s not, sadly, because I loved it so much, it’s because Clockwork Angel didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Now, to be honest, that probably would have been difficult. I’d built up this book in my mind so much since I finished City of Glass that there was probably not way it could have. Knowing this should have stunted my disappointment, but it didn’t. I knew right away that Clockwork Angel wouldn’t fascinate me the way the first three City books did. I knew because I could—and did--put it down in favor of other novels that came my way. I’ve had Clockwork Angel for two weeks and I only finished it today.
I don’t mean to imply that Angel is a bad book. It’s really not. I enjoyed it. I’ll be reading the other books in the series. But neither the characters nor the world enthralled like those of the City series did. This might be because of the inevitable comparisons—between Clary and Tessa, Will and Jace, Jem and Simon. Try as I might, I couldn’t help but compare them. Making Tessa tall where Clary was short did not make them internally different. It struck me that any dissimilarity was situational, not a matter of character. Will is also very Jace-like. He’s handsome. He’s reckless. He’s a Shadow Hunter. He’s fiercely loyal. He resists his attraction to the heroine. He’s got a troubled, mysterious past. I’m not going to go on.
The other thing that I struggled with in this novel was that, for me, it didn’t really evoke the period of 19th Century London. Clare tried. She certainly did her research. She just didn’t pull it off. This might be because most of the action in the book took place indoors and not out in Victorian London. It just occurred to me that maybe that was the problem. The book lacked detail about the domestic life of people who lived in the age. Sure, there were candles and sconces aplenty, but what really evokes a period is the little things, the less obvious things.
So, what about the plot? I don’t know what to say exactly. It’s complicated. It involves clockwork mechanisms, vampires and demons. But I guessed the major twist even before it came. Clare dropped some pretty heavy hints and I was frustrated that none of the characters picked up on them. I think my biggest complaint about this book was how much it seemed like a set up for the other volumes in the trilogy. I don’t expect that each book in a series should be completely stand-alone, but though the major conflict is resolved in Clockwork Angel, in the end it largely served as the prologue.
As I say, however, I will be reading the rest of the books in the series. Clare’s writing is solid and I like the characters enough to want to know more about them. But I’m looking forward to City of Fallen Angels with far more anticipation than I have for Clockwork Prince. ...more