It is extremely rare that I find a book I would happily read again. I used to be a serial re-reader, until I had the bibliophile “problem” of too many...moreIt is extremely rare that I find a book I would happily read again. I used to be a serial re-reader, until I had the bibliophile “problem” of too many books and not enough hours in the day to read them all. It was Steph @ Cuddlebuggery who insisted that I read The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski. ”It’s epic!” she exclaimed (and she may have held her dagger to my throat, too… we don’t discuss that). I realized two things: Steph’s dagger is plastic and The Winner’s Curse is one of the best books I’ve ever read.
Now, I could get into all the details, like how the writing is like poetry, or how Marie Rutkoski builds us a world that is as beautiful as it is dangerous, with lavish jewels and aristocrats, and dark alleys and murder. Or I could tell you that the protagonist, Kestrel, was a character I liked from the start, because she was deeply thoughtful and saw a world different from that of her peers. Or I could say that Arin, despite his character flaws and inability to make a freaking MOVE already, was the perfect hero in this story because he understood, like Kestrel, that the world isn’t black and white.
I could do and say all those things, but I’m just going to leave you with this instead:
Never in my life have I finished a book that left me with goosebumps on my arms and tears in the corner of my eyes, until I read the last page of How...moreNever in my life have I finished a book that left me with goosebumps on my arms and tears in the corner of my eyes, until I read the last page of How To Love by Katie Cotugno.
How To Love is a heart-breaker – and heart-mender – of a story. It’s the kind of story where you fall in love with the characters; where their troubles, and their loves, and their lives, and each heartbreak, each measure of happiness becomes your own. How To Love shows the reader what it takes to love someone, and that love is not an easy path, nor that it should be, because love is worth the wait, the scars and the tears, when you find someone who makes you a better you, even if the path to a better you isn’t a straight one.
Sawyer LeGrande is the prodigal son/boyfriend with habitual drug problems, the boy every girl wants to either party with, or the boy every girl wants to save from himself, because he needs saving. He’s charming, and he’s not necessarily and asshole, but he’s put other things first in front of the people who care about him – the people he cares about, deeply.
Reena Montero is a beautiful, mixed-up character. Having been raised by her devout Catholic parents, she’s never gone against the grain: she’s sort of quiet, but a bit lemming-hater and she’s secretly witty. She’s also brilliant and doesn’t think enough of herself to know it. And yeah, she’s been in love with Sawyer LeGrande for pretty much her whole life, but she’s been too meek to do anything about it, other than gossip about him in the quiet way some girls do with her best friend Allie.
Reena has such a poetic nature that just broke my heart, because she struggled with her love of him, like she knew she shouldn’t, yet she did anyway:
The hideous thing is this: I want to forgive him. Even after everything, I do. A baby before my 17th birthday and a future as lonely as the surface of the moon and still the sight of him feels like a homecoming, like a song I used to know but somehow forgot.
Likewise, Sawyer seemed to struggle with his demons, like he knew everything he was doing wrong, but a guilt so large lived inside of him, eating its way out, until he couldn’t take it anymore. He wasn’t a jerk or mean or anything, it was just like he had all these issues within himself that needed to be unraveled before he could be that someone for Reena. Yet I knew he still loved her, even when he left. My heart broke, but I knew he still loved her with everything inside of him. He just didn’t love himself enough. And he needed to find that.
Both Reena and Sawyer were the kind of characters that made me feel like I left friends when I ended How To Love. Having begun in the Before’s as naive children, not aware of what love takes, the kind of sacrifices required of them, they both really grew throughout the novel. Especially Reena. We don’t get to see much of Sawyer’s growth (although it does get shared), since he left and the book starts with his return, and is told in Befores and Afters, but Reena’s growth is magnificent. She goes from a teenager idolizing a boy she’s always loved to someone who knows that no one and nothing is perfect – including love.
The story is one that just tugged at me. The stories of lost and found loves always do, so I might be the perfect demographic for How To Love, but watching them tumble into love, the first and the second time, was a rip in the gut, because it wasn’t perfect. The first time, because there was the obstacle of Reena’s father, their religion and her own insecurities, and Sawyer’s addictions, guilt and selfishness. The second time, because seeing them mend their hearts with each other, through their baby daughter Hannah was just beautiful. It also wasn’t perfect: Reena suffered from anger and her own guilt and she was damn justified in all of that, but god, I could tell Sawyer loved her and he wasn’t going anywhere this time.
I have to say that the way the book addresses the idea of people being imperfect is just spectacular. Reena’s family is Catholic, Sawyer’s family is Catholic, and their upbringing reflects that. So how did they go from such a supposed Godly way of life to making a baby as teenagers? I mean, it happens, but what was the fallout from that? What happened that was so bad that Sawyer turned to drugs to dull his pains? Katie Cotugno addresses all of this with finesse and grace, her characters realistically dealing with their problems the way I can see it actually happening. I mean, life isn’t perfect and nothing is absolute, right?
What I learned from How To Love: sometimes the path two people take with each other is not the same path.
How To Love by Katie Cotugno was so incredibly perfect, that this review was nearly impossible to write. I feel like I am a better person for having read this novel. It is simply one of the best books I’ve ever read and is now one of my favorites.(less)
I am a total and complete fan of the Shatter Me series. In fact, out of the three books and two novellas, only one has been less than and 5-star and t...moreI am a total and complete fan of the Shatter Me series. In fact, out of the three books and two novellas, only one has been less than and 5-star and trust me when I say it wasn’t the writing, I just didn’t like that character too much. IGNITE ME is an epic conclusion that will satisfy all of Mafi’s fans…yes, even those “team” fans!
After the endings of the last few series I’ve read (and felt disappointed in), I was actually really scared to read IGNITE ME. I literally chanted to myself as I cracked open my ebook, “please don’t suck, please don’t suck, please don’t suck.” There is nothing worse than a horrible ending to a really great series #I’mlookingatyouAllegiant!
But I was so blown away by this incredible ending, my fears were completely unfounded. IGNITE ME is not only excellent, but worthy of standing up with SHATTER ME and UNRAVEL ME. It is the ending to end all endings, it leaves you with hope and wanting more.
Mafi wraps the plot up neatly and still lets the reader choose some details for themselves. There are no definitive “afters” unless she someday chooses to write any (but I personally hope she doesn’t). Omega Point has been destroyed in battle and there are few survivors. Those who are left form an uneasy alliance with Warner who has his own agenda to play out. The love triangle between Juliette, Warner and Adam continues, but can I just say I’ve always thought there was only one right person for Juliette?
OH. CHAPTER FIFTY-FIVE YALL. DAYUM.
This is a young adult, so don’t worry, it’s clean (except for maybe some language here or there), but Mafi knows how to write sex scenes that JUST. GET. UNDER. YOUR. SKIN. I told my fiance to stop talking to me during dinner because it was almost too much to bear and he was breaking my concentration. And even though there is nothing naughty, it is still hotter than any of the steamiest adult sexy times I’ve read, which just goes to show it’s not the words but how you put them down. And homegirl knows how to put them down. Like, whoa.
I was really happy with the direction of this novel, and with Juliette’s character. Juliette spent much of SHATTER ME getting to know her powers and learning some self-confidence, and then the majority of UNRAVEL ME digressing into someone who needed to be sheltered and was very weak. Someone who should be pitied. She experiences major growth in IGNITE ME, and it is some of the best character growth I’ve seen. She went from someone who cried herself to sleep at night to a woman who could quite literally crack the earth or move mountains if she so chose.
A lot of IGNITE ME focuses on the romance aspect and resolution between characters, so if you’re expecting a ton of action, well…don’t. I will say there is a lot of buildup to a battle that didn’t take up much page time in the book, and normally this would irritate me in a “That’s it?!” fashion, but here it didn’t bother me in the slightest. It just seemed to work.
And I don’t think it needs to be said, but…
OF COURSE I’M STILL TEAMWARNER. DUH.
Stupendous finale. Seven! Seven! Seven! Seven! Seven. Only Friends fans will get that joke. (less)
I wanted to fill this review with smart-ass memes of Katy Perry kissing Justin Bieber and play off t...moreThis review is also posted at The Bawdy Book Blog.
I wanted to fill this review with smart-ass memes of Katy Perry kissing Justin Bieber and play off the “I Kissed A Girl” song, but as I tried to do this and write the review in a light and off-hand way, I realized that The Miseducation of Cameron Post deserves more than that from me. Miseducation is a broad and defiant look into what it takes for a teenager to come into their own – especially when they are gay. It is beautiful and poignant, and to put it simply, it’s become a Bawdy Favorite. Danforth’s writing is fluid and in some instances, dreamy, pulling you into the story one word at a time, until you are surely gripped by the pages, a movie playing behind your eyes.
Cameron’s world changes in so many ways one day when she kisses her best friend, Irene. And then does it again, only to have their sleepover interrupted by the tragic news that her parents have died in a car accident on their way home from Quake Lake. Her first thought: thank god they didn’t find out I kissed a girl. And so begins the story of Cameron Post and her journey to finding herself, despite – and in spite of – the obstacles in her path: her conservative Aunt Ruth, Coley Taylor, Promise (a de-gaying boarding school for youth), and the other influences in her life.
Miseducation is unapologetic and honest. It’s a young adult novel, but it’s for mature teenagers and audiences, because the themes addressed inside these delicious, glorious pages are not for the weak or faint of heart. It’s already a tough job to grow up, but when you are radically “different,” especially in the late 80s and early 90s, when HIV/AIDS is considered an epidemic and the word gay is still taboo, it’s especially difficult to find yourself and figure out YOU. Cameron is a (lackadaisical &) defiant sort of character, determined that even though others see a path for her, she won’t take it. She’d rather kiss girls in abandoned hospitals or smoke weed with her best guy friend, Jaimie. She’s also not an “I’m a lesbian, hear me roar” type of girl, either. Instead, she questions herself, knowing that how she is “supposed” to feel isn’t how she does feel, so how does she reconcile that? She’s not openly destructive, she’s not depressed or a cutter. She just wants to be happy and she doesn’t want to deny who she really is, but at the same time, she wants to please the people who love her.
Her friend, Coley Taylor, changes everything, but I really don’t want to put too much emphasis on her as a character. I didn’t feel strongly for her one way or another, other than she is a catalyst for a lot of Big Things happening and transitioning the story. I did find scenes between Cameron and Coley hot, but more importantly, it didn’t matter that it happens between two girls. It could have been a girl and a boy, and it would have felt just as innocent to me, in the way that youth exploring their sexuality can be.
So many great and sad things, and enraging things, happen in Miseducation, and it’s saddening to know that a lot of this happens in real life to real people. I am not going to go into any more of the story, because there are so many horrid and wonderful things throughout the multiple years that span Cameron’s life in the novel, and they should be left as surprises to the reader.
Religion plays a large role in Miseducation, but it doesn’t feel overly preachy and heavy-handed. It’s more along the lines of Cameron trying to determine for herself where exactly God and sin fit in with her life, because she doesn’t feel like she’s sinning, even if her Aunt Ruth and those running Promise tell her so. There’s also the whole parents-have-died thing, and having to face the possibility of what comes after death. As you know, religion is complicated.
I admit I was frustrated with the ending. I wanted to know more about the future for these characters I grew to love, what becomes of them, rather than let my imagination run wild. I will, however, beg you to read it, because this review…it’s a cop out. It doesn’t do such great literature justice. Not in any way.(less)
Easily one of the best novels I have ever read – er, listened to – Easy by Tammara Webber is emotional, uplifting, and empowering. I think every woman...moreEasily one of the best novels I have ever read – er, listened to – Easy by Tammara Webber is emotional, uplifting, and empowering. I think every woman should read it.
Jacqueline Wallace followed her high school boyfriend to college, despite being an incredibly talented musician, where a music conservatory would have been better suited to her collegiate and musical needs and advancement. She was in love and shunned the criticism of her high school music teachers and her parents. Three years together with her boyfriend Kennedy and she thought she had most of her life figured out; she never thought he would dump her to “bang co-eds with shameless abandon.”
But he did. And the result of that leads her to a Greek party with her roommate, where one of Kennedy’s frat brothers sees an opening to Jacqueline, now that Kennedy is out of the way, for his own twisted agenda.
If you have read other reviews, you know that Easy opens with a near-rape scene. It’s uncomfortable, it’s controversial, but…it’s very real. Some books use rape, or any controversial topic, really, to make the book. And honestly, Easy is no different, but it’s incredibly well-done and delivered with a very specific message that when someone violates your body, you can recover from it if you are empowered to do so. It also shows that rape is not just about the two involved in the encounter: it’s like throwing a pebble into a pond, and watching the ripples spread out, because rape has adverse affects on those around the victim, not just the victim herself. Enter Lucas, bad boy-extraordinaire.
Lucas is the Bad Boy Ever Girl Dreams About, with his broad shoulders, gray eyes and shaggy, dark hair. He is not just a way for Jacqueline to get over Kennedy; he is a savior, he is her outlet for desire, he is her safe zone. He might be everything she ever wanted that she didn’t even know she craved. He is full of his own secrets, and no, he isn’t above reproach, but he walks through life knowing he isn’t perfect, and yet, I think he strives to achieve perfection.
Holy shitballs, I lusted after him.
Jacqueline’s roommate, Erin, is the friend every girl needs. She is brazen and confident, and always has her shit-kicking shoes on, no matter if they are platform heels or not. She’s also incredibly supportive when she finds out about Jacqueline’s attack and urges Jacqueline to become self-reliant and able to defend herself. She’s funny and, while the polar opposite to Jacqueline’s studious, quiet nature, not as brainless as she passes herself off to be in the beginning.
There are a myriad of other characters that really flesh out the story: Buck the Rapist, Kennedy the Ex-Boyfriend, Professor Heller, Mindy the Other Victim, the Greeks, and Landon the Tutor. They were all really great (well, except Buck, what a dickhead!) and they rounded out the story perfectly.
But let me tell you how Easy made me feel:
The first night after listening to the book, I dreamed I was raped. It was that well done and I was that emotionally disturbed by the story that I dreamed about it. I couldn’t get it out of my mind and every chance I had, I was listening to this book. It felt compulsory, like I needed to be there with Jacqueline to go through this time with her. My heart raced through the “pages” with Jacqueline and Lucas, and I railed against the obstacles that faced each of them and kept them from being together where they so obviously belonged. I wanted them together, dammit!
Rape is a very central theme to this story; even if it makes you uncomfortable, I still urge you to read it, because it elaborates how it knits people so closely together, and how a community of friends can build from it. It’s super-rare that a book makes me feel so emotionally attached to its characters and Easy deserves every star it has earned from me.
Tara Sands does a great job narrating the audio version of Easy by Tammara Webber. She has a wide range of voices, although she did sometimes mix them up between the characters, which would occasionally throw me off. It didn’t happen often, just enough for me to notice when I got into the story and was able to distinguish who was whom. Her pace and accents were fabulous and I will definitely look for more audios narrated by her.(less)
Boundless by Cynthia Hand was the perfect ending to a wonderful series that left the warm fuzzies in...moreThis review is also posted at The Bawdy Book Blog.
Boundless by Cynthia Hand was the perfect ending to a wonderful series that left the warm fuzzies in my heart. Some would say it’s too perfect, but I thought it was just right. ;)
Clara and Angela have returned from Italy and are starting their first year at Stanford, with Christian in tow, because Stanford is where Angela knows her vision is supposed to come to life. Clara is still mourning the loss of her relationship with the cowboy hottie, Tucker; Christian is biding his time before he makes a move on Clara; and Angela is determined to work out more details of her vision, while maintaining her fabulous grades. It’s a damn shame life doesn’t go according to your plans, even when you’re an angelblood. The plot in Boundless is darker now, after everything that transpired in Hallowed. The Dark Wings are after Clara, and really, the Triplare. Sam is stalking Clara, but, he doesn’t seem like the typical Dark Wing to me. Something about him appeals to my sympathy, like he wants to be redeemable. He always has actually. Perhaps his sorrow reached through the pages to me! Angela is determined to complete her vision, if she could just understand it. She strikes me as selfish in Boundless, because her focus starts to be solely on herself, and I was frustrated with her. But I didn’t love her any less. The love triangle is in full effect. Clara loves Tucker but they aren’t together anymore. Add to that he’s human, and she is confident they can’t be together ever, because how would that even work? She’s always liked and been attracted to Christian, who likes and is attracted to her right back, but patiently waits for her to get over Tucker, before making a move. Tucker spends his time like any dumped cowboy: pissed off and missing his girl. Only one person is actually right for her, and I’m not spilling the beans! Here’s the thing: I never really expected to like the Unearthly series as much as I did. Truth be told, it’s kind of sweet for my tastes, but somehow I still love it to itty bitty pieces. I could go between the books and forget about the characters, but that didn’t mean they were forgettable; as soon as I cracked open those pages, I was lost to the Unearthly world once again, and it just doesn’t let me go once that happens. It’s become one of my favorite series. Boundless is a fabulous conclusion. It’s the kind of ending that you want for a series like this. Yes, it could be considered too tidy, because somehow everything works out but I liked that about it. I wanted all my favorite characters to be happy and satisfied for a change, not get a bittersweet ending where compromises are to be had. And I suppose compromises are had here, because not everyone gets their ultimate HEA (there is a love triangle after all!). Hand leaves enough open that she could potentially write a spinoff series and if she does, well…..Hand, you’ve made a believer in me. And…I am sad that it is over.
I don’t think that I can give The Fault In Our Stars the praise it most certainly deserves. S...moreThis review was originally posted at The Bawdy Book Blog.
I don’t think that I can give The Fault In Our Stars the praise it most certainly deserves. So let me tell you a little story:
I’m driving down I-95 on my way to South Carolina last weekend to see my family for my cousin’s wedding. I decided I’d finish The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, because I had started it the weekend before and 7 hours in the car was the perfect time for some interrupted audiobook listening (without my boyfriend mocking me, I might add).
John Green’s writing nearly caused 1) an accident, because I was getting so wrapped up in the story, that I was spacing out and not really paying attention to the road (did I mention it rained my entire drive down?), and 2) me to pull over because The Fault In Our Stars caused me such excruciatingly painful (and awesome!) feels, that I didn’t think I could keep driving.
I had to turn it off and listen to Ke$ha for a little while. True story.
This was my first John Green novel. It won’t be my last. I Loved it with a capital “L”. Yep, capital “L” Love. The exquisite and emotional story tugged at me in ways very few novels have. I can probably tick them off on one hand, honestly. Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters are like two star-crossed lovers in my mind. Fated, but their infinity together is unfairly small. Bound together by cancer, they bond, not just with each other, but with the idea that they will not live forever, so they MUST LIVE NOW. And live they do.
John Green doesn’t keep The Fault In Our Stars all sobs and heartbreak. He somehow knows what it’s like, that to have cancer, you must have a sense of humor about life and all the things in it. So many scenes, or small quotes from the characters themselves had me laughing out loud. I quickly fell in love with all of them. The story told from a teenaged girl’s point-of-view is brilliant brilliant BRILLIANT with a capital B. I’ve only been on one side of cancer; now I can say I’ve been on the other, through Hazel and Gus.
So, spoiler alert, we’re talking about kids with cancer. (view spoiler)[There is no happily-ever-after in this story. (hide spoiler)]There is only before and after. I appreciated the realistic concept, rather than a, “Surprise! You’re cured!” approach I think some authors would take. Green is not afraid to make his readers feel, or think. And that’s what The Fault In Our Stars does: it makes you think, about life, death, mortality, the Before and the After, and what you are making of your life now.
Basically what I’m saying is, this book deserves the highest praise and I bow down its greatness and John Green.
My Favorite Quote:
“I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”
This audiobook is narrated by Kate Rudd, who performs beautifully. I will certainly look for more novels narrated by her. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I am 100%, fully, irrevocably invested in the Covenant series now. What began, for me, as a questionable beginning, seemingly too similar to another s...moreI am 100%, fully, irrevocably invested in the Covenant series now. What began, for me, as a questionable beginning, seemingly too similar to another series I’ve read and enjoyed, has become a favored set of books, books I would throw down with a fireman over, should my apartment catch ablaze and I need to save my worldly possessions (provided they weren’t ebooks and already on my iPad which would already be in my purse as I deftly jumped out my window to safety. Don’t worry, I’m on the ground floor.). Sorry, I got caught up. Jennifer Armentrout has created a world and a love story matched in very few other young adult books. Some would liken it to Rose and Dimitri of Vampire Academy (I do go on and on about that series, don’t I?), because it was epic and spanned across six novels. Armentrout also has the ability to make her reader (or at least ME) bounce back and forth in the love triangle. Am I Team Aiden or am I Team Seth? I thought I knew in the first book, and then I thought I was sure I knew who I liked in the second. Now I just don’t know. Damn that’s some good writing. Deity picks up shortly after Pure leaves off: Alex is back at the Covenant after returning from New York with Seth, trying to get over the trauma of having killed a Pure, and letting Aiden “cover it up.” She’s nearing the day of her Awakening, her bond with Seth is growing stronger, and she feels more conflicted than ever about him, but still maintains her love for Aiden. Compound that with the fact that someone on the Council wants her dead and she’s got herself a little quandary. She is desperately seeking to know who is trying to kill her, doesn’t know who to trust and is struggling between who she loves and whom to which she’s Fated. By the way, she ain’t a fan of Fate. All the characters take on so much more dimension in Deity, more than I thought possible, and this is something I give credit to any author, but I especially give credit to Armentrout for making me like a main character I was ambivalent to in the beginning. Alex has done a lot of growing in these three books, so I can’t imagine what is in store for her next. I also knew there was more to Seth than met the eye, that he was keeping secrets, but the depth of those secrets, and the reasoning behind them (if I’ve even really learned them yet) was somewhat of a surprise. He has a cruel streak in him, but he’s not irredeemable. There is something good in him, if Alex can only draw it out. The small short at the end of Pure from Seth’s POV truly encapsulates his good nature, even if it’s inconsistent and he often hides it. Aiden is without a doubt the rock of these books, never changing, always constant and dependable. In fact, if you look up “dependable” in the dictionary, I bet you’ll find Aiden’s picture next to it. It’s hard for me to like to good boys sometimes, but I do like Aiden, and my fondness for him grew exponentially throughout Deity, although I can’t go into details. Let’s just say he’s the reason for my little Team Love Triangle crisis I have going on in my head. I’m sure you can guess by now that I thought Deity was an excellent follow-up to Half-Blood and Pure. But I wanted to throw… no, wait, I wanted to slug the book (except I can’t, because it’s digital) at someone or something when I reached the ending. Dammit, I was so mad! Unlike other fangirls, because I was very “meh” at the beginning of the series, I did no real research into how many books were in it. I very incorrectly assumed it was a trilogy and thought Alex would be getting her HEA at the end of Deity. I assumed wrong, and Deity ends on a ridiculously awful awesome cliffhanger that left me gnashing my teeth on my knuckles, whimpering because I can’t believe an author would do something so terrible to me like leave me with an ending like that. Oh wait, Karen Moning did it with Dreamfever. Excuse me while I go rock myself in a corner now.(less)
WARNER WARNER WARNER WARNER WARNER WARNER WARNER WARN- Alright, I’m done. If I wasn’t a Shatter Me/T...moreThis review is also posted at The Bawdy Book Blog.
WARNER WARNER WARNER WARNER WARNER WARNER WARNER WARN- Alright, I’m done. If I wasn’t a Shatter Me/Tahereh Mafi fangirl before, I am now (…I totally was before), because Destroy Me was more than I ever expected out of the novella, and just makes me that much more antsy for Unravel Me in February. Do you think they make time machines where I can just go get it now? No? Damn.
Destroy Me is told from Warner’s point-of-view, just after he’s been shot and Juliette has been spirited away by Adam to someplace unknown by The Reestablishment. Previously, he’s displayed strength and brutality, but now he’s a victim of his own circumstance, in a way. He is the one who created the situation – or so we think.
Fuuuuuuudge, I don’t want to give too much away, because this novella was almost too good. But even in Shatter Me, Warner was one of my favorite characters, because he seemed so fragile beneath that hard-assed exterior, and in Destroy Me, we get to know him – as well as the inner workings of his sector – so much more intimately. He doesn’t seem to enjoy his power over the people, but at the same time he seems to think he needs it to survive. Or…that was my perception.
We also get to meet Warner’s father in Destroy Me, and without a doubt, I did not like him. He reminded me somewhat of the more ruthless leaders in our history; supposed family men, but cultivating their offspring to follow in their devious , manipulative footsteps.
The reasons Warner wanted Juliette were eye-opening and softened me. Not all is what it seems. And that is all I can give away. Tahereh Mafi has given us such a tasty teaser for what’s to come and I’M HUNGRY NOW.(less)
BREATHE left me breathless. Sarah Crossan has created a world so profound and scary, I hope to never see something like this happen. But even scarier…...moreBREATHE left me breathless. Sarah Crossan has created a world so profound and scary, I hope to never see something like this happen. But even scarier…it could. They say that humanity is the largest and longest plague Earth has ever experienced, and there is no better illustration of that than Crossan’s new dystopian novel, BREATHE. In it, humanity has been nearly decimated of its own hand, by logging all the forests, causing oxygen levels to plummet. The lucky few chosen by lottery – or sheer importance to their field of study – won homes inside the glass-enclosed dome, where class systems have been put into place and families get taxed on the amount of air they use. Everything is run by the Ministry, and the Ministry watches everyone. I was blown away by BREATHE. It’s been awhile since I’ve enjoyed a dystopian novel as much as I enjoyed this one. Crossan’s use of oxygen as the controlling element is so unique, but even better, it’s frightening because with all the logging we do now, this isn’t an impossible scenario. Improbable, maybe. But impossible? No. I also enjoyed how relevant it all seemed. Because the government provides an essential commodity (in abundance), its citizens are absolutely indentured to them. I’ve always been a fan of the old adage “give a man a fish and he eats for one day; teach a man to fish and he eats for life.” The citizens in BREATHE ate for one day, at a time, because commodities were provided to them. And the lesson I took away from this was, the more one can take care of themselves, the less they have to depend on others for what they need. I never want to need from my government, but I especially never want to need air. The message overall felt particularly relevant to the political climate of today with the many social programs and the government’s desire to decide what is best for us. Crossan’s characters covered the gamut of what a dystopian should have: the rebels, the people who are complacent and/or believe that what’s going on is good for the people, and finally, those who work for the government, ruling with their iron fist. I liked all these characters equally, because each had something so important to contribute to the story. Bea, a level 3 sub, wants so badly to be a Premium, and is in love with a Premium. She believes in the cause of Breathe, the entity that created the dome and sustains their way of life. Except, she’s a reasonable girl, and what she thinks is the cause may not be afterall. Quinn, a Premium, is humble and honest. It’s refreshing to get a privileged character like Quinn who hasn’t let it go to his head. He’s oblivious to a lot of things around him, something I did find irritating at times, but I chalked that up to his being a teenage boy. They’re all kind of dense. ☺ Alina is the smartest of the bunch. She sees things for what they are, but at the same time, her experiences have jaded her. And she feels she may have lost herself. The three of them are such an unusual group, but I enjoyed their interaction with one another, as well as the other characters throughout the novel. I am not going to go into the other characters, especially the villains, because I want you to read it and make up your own mind about them. Are they truly evil, or are they surviving with what they’ve been given? I’ll leave that to you to decide. BREATHE is a keeper and I urge every fan of the dystopian genre to read it. You will especially love it if you’re a fan of Under the Never Sky and – dare I say it – The Hunger Games.(less)
What Kills Me is what every young adult/paranormal romance should be. Epic, fast-paced and not witho...moreThis review is also posted on The Bawdy Book Blog.
What Kills Me is what every young adult/paranormal romance should be. Epic, fast-paced and not without a hot, non-sparkly vampire leading man guy to make you feel lusty. And thank god he’s not really a teenager, because this reader wanted him bad.
Axelia (Zee) is spending a couple of months in Rome on a study program, when she happens upon a beautiful stranger on her way home one evening – or rather, he happens upon her. He beguiles her with his flirty, friendly Italian accent, and they become fast friends. You know that saying “keep your friends close and your enemies closer?” Yeah, that. Or you might run from someone and fall down a well filled with blood and emerge a powerful vampire everyone believes is prophesied to doom the entire vampire race. Man, life sucks.
Wynne Channing has given the YA/PNR genres something really, really great. Yeah, you could ask yourself, “who isn’t writing something in this space?” But I’ve been bored with a lot of them lately, so much so that I’ve deviated into other genres to get fresh content. Coming back with What Kills Me was like a punch in the gut! But in a very great way! Channing’s characters are incredibly witty and sarcastic…and still they maintain that level of realism that helps to keep a paranormal fiction book grounded somewhat in reality. I simply couldn’t put the book down, and resented things like sleeping when I absolutely had to.
Zee’s sarcasm and self-deprecating humor is everything Bella Swan should have been and never was. I’m a Twilight fan, but I’ll admit, it’s not written well and Bella is a dry and drab character until she’s turned in the second half of Breaking Dawn. Zee is interesting before she’s changed and she’s even more interesting after. She looks life (and Death, ha!) right in the face and smirks at her own circumstances, all the while worrying about decorum and bugs. I really liked her.
Lucas….oh Lucas. You make my heart go pitter-pat. Lucas, the bladesmith tasked to help Zee, is every woman’s fantasy in a leading man: mysterious, quick-witted, and occasionally tender. Swoon. I have nothing against sparkling vampires, and this certainly isn’t a comparison review to Twilight, but Lucas was dark and dangerous and he was still funny. He didn’t take himself so seriously that he’d, you know, leave his girl in the middle of the woods because he’s too dangerous. The two of them together are simply delicious; you know they want to, but will they? Oh pride, it really gets in the way sometimes.
She doesn’t ignore any secondary characters…oh no. They all get their few minutes of fame, and they are as put together as Zee and Lucas, lending a stronger hand to the overall story.
The plot is action-packed and takes the characters from Rome to Thailand to the remote mountains of Asia. I loved traveling with the characters, not knowing where Channing would take us next! There are friends and foes, blood and murder, knives in backs (literally and figuratively). Throughout it all, the plot weaves tightly and thickly, wrapping around the reader and sucking you in (at least this reader). I was fascinated with the method in which Zee was “reborn” and the contents of the well… because while vampires still turn humans the usual way, Zee’s circumstances are so unusual, it makes the rest of the story that much more. It is the story.
It felt impossible to put down and I can’t wait for the next one. Wynne Channing, you can’t write the sequel fast enough. Thank you for giving us such a fabulous story.
I received this book from the author in exchange of an honest review.(less)
NOTE: If you're going into Fever Moon expecting it to be exactly like the books in graphic novel form...moreThis review is also posted at The Bawdy Book Blog
NOTE: If you're going into Fever Moon expecting it to be exactly like the books in graphic novel format, or expecting it to be a portion of one of the books in a graphic novel, you will be disappointed. This is not that, it is a whole new beast. Carry on.
If you’ve been following this blog for five minutes, you know my favorite author in the whole wide world is Karen Marie Moning, and that I’ve read the Fever Series a few times over. And oh yeah, that Jericho Z. Barrons is my book boyfriend. Because drool.
When Moning announced on her Facebook page that she would be releasing a graphic novel tied into the Fever Series, I thought, “Really?” I admit, I was a little, tiny bit skeptical. But as the release date drew closer and closer, and some of Al Rio’s artwork was teased on her page here and there, I began to desperately want a graphic novel for the first time ever. WTF was I, a 12-year-old boy?
And so I bought it. When I say I “bought it,” I really mean I tried to do a Barnes & Noble in-store pickup by ordering on the web, but got declined because of “no stock.” Impossible! I had to call them from work and make the sales guy hunt the books down. They weren’t even on display yet! WHAT’S UP WITH THAT, B&N? DON’T YOU KNOW WHO KAREN MARIE MONING IS OR WHAT THIS BOOK MEANS TO ME?!
It was everything I expected AND THEN SOME. In the Fever Series, Mac encounters the Fear Dorcha, an Unseelie Fae who rendered her speechless – and thoughtless – until the DEG* tells him she is not for him and to “look closer.” The Fear Dorcha backs away. Mac questions the DEG, wanting to know more about this Unseelie Fae she’s never seen before, and in true DEG fashion, she’s left with more riddles.
Fever Moon expounds upon that encounter and tells a nice side story of the Fear Dorcha and all it is capable of. It’s quite a satisfying story actually, because as in any other Fever novel, you begin with questions, but with Fever Moon, you actually leave with a lot of concrete answers. Mac and Barrons interact like usual, in the OMG-please-just-go-bone-right-now-and-get-it-over-with, and it’s of course exciting and, well, just thrilling!
The artwork…it’s phenomenal. Al Rio was truly blessed with an amazing gift. His ability to portray Moning’s world – the readers’ world, because surely now, it’s our world, too – was nothing short of amazing. Each sketch, each character, each page was a beautiful rendition of what I envisioned in my head, right now to the church and bedroom scenes. It was so awesome to see these characters come to life from the imaginations of the author and artists. Al Rio and Cliff Richards were able to capture the very heart of the series in that artwork, and it’s something I’m going to cherish forever. God damn, Al Rio, the world is going to miss you.
If you’re a fan of the series, even if you are unsure about graphic novels, you must get this one. It’s a super-fabulous addition to an already exciting series, and I don’t think you’ll regret it. It was nothing short of amazing.(less)
Every Day was one of the most unusual novels I’ve ever read. It was beautiful and poetic…and heartb...more This review is also posted at The Bawdy Book Blog.
Every Day was one of the most unusual novels I’ve ever read. It was beautiful and poetic…and heartbreaking. It’s the kind of story that sucks you in and doesn’t ever let you go. Not even after you’ve turned that very last page. A wakes up in the body of a different person – someone his age – ever day. That’s how it has always been for A, since he was a baby, before any of it made sense. It still doesn’t make sense, but A stopped asking “why me” and “how” a long time ago and just accepts facts and lives other people’s lives the best way he can. He does not interfere; he merely exists to move on to the next body he inhabits. This does not end for him, he forms no attachments and A seems content. Then A lands in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. Every rule he ever set for himself, they no longer matter. This is my first David Levithan novel, but it was certainly a doozy. I was absolutely captivated throughout the entire story. It had me rallying for A, desperate for some resolution so he and Rhiannon could be together. Even though the story is told in the 1st-person and A tells himself how content he is with his situation, I didn’t feel that from him. I felt resignation. No one should feel resigned to his or her own life, and my heart just broke for him because of this. David Levithan also touched on some really awesome themes throughout the novel: the idea that you don’t fall in love with a gender, but with a kindred soul. A is genderless, and even though I got the sense in Every Day that A is male, he’s really not anything; not male or female. And he could just as easily love a man, and throughout his body habitations, he feels pulls to both sexes, through the emotions of his hosts. And he’s loved both male and female. It really spoke to me that it’s not so much what’s on the outside as what is on the inside that counts. But at the same time, Levithan also tells us that what’s on the outside does count, too. Rhiannon has a hard time connecting A to a physical body (because he doesn’t have one!). Is his soul as attractive to her when A is an extremely obese 16-year-old male? Or a super-hot black girl who could double as Beyonce? I’ll let you read it to figure that out. The characters were just brilliant. Because A inhabits a number of bodies, Levithan has to write a wide array of characters, and he does so with such color and vivacity. Each character feels alive and real; I could have reached through the page to touch him or her. Not only did he write the obese boy and the hot black girl, but he also wrote the nerdy kid, the jocks, the insecure girl, the drug addict, the illegal citizen, the gay male, and the lesbian…I could go on and on. But what makes all of these characters so very special is that we, as the reader, get the unique perspective of their character from a 1st-person point of view, from A’s perspective. I absolutely adored that. If you could spend a day in the life of someone….A does. Every Day. On the flip side, A is only ever in one person for a day, so he doesn’t feel very grounded in reality at times. He’s very philosophical, but his perspective at times feels very one-sided. (One thing that tickled my fancy is Levithan’s obvious love for the band, Placebo. I am a big fan, so his use of their lyrics in this story made me smile. And upon further inspection of his other books, it seems he is as big a fan as I am. He even titled one of his other books after one of their other songs!) The ending to Every Day wasn’t my favorite. I was hoping for something…else. Something better. But I do understand why it ended the way it did. And I still rooted for him. I’ll always root for A. Every Day.
*This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange of an honest review.(less)
A Gift for My Sister leaves you emotionally raw and rips your heart to shreds…before putting it bac...moreThis review is also posted at The Bawdy Book Blog.
A Gift for My Sister leaves you emotionally raw and rips your heart to shreds…before putting it back together in such a way that you know you’ll never be the same again. Because this is a story that, once you’ve finished it and set it aside, takes a piece of your heart with it. Sky and Tara are half-sisters; they share a mother, but Tara came along a number of years after Sky’s father passed away and their mother remarried, disrupting the comfortable twosome Sky and their mother had built over their own grief. Tara, having inherited the musical gene from her wayward, promiscuous father, uses her creativity as a measure of comfort in what she perceives is the absence of familial love. If she only has herself and her music to depend on, she doesn’t need anyone else. Likewise, Sky, when she marries her high school sweetheart and best friend Troy, and they go off across the country to be lawyers together and raise a child, finds the twosome in him she has missed since Tara was born, and determines that is all she needs to survive. Both sisters treat the other as if they have nothing in common, because they aren’t fully blood, when sometimes that doesn’t matter at all. Family can be created, not born. Until tragedy strikes and the two sisters are thrown together by circumstance and the familial bonds they didn’t think existed. I can’t say enough good things about A Gift for My Sister. There are just so many! The premise is initially very sad and full of heartbreak. After having several miscarriages, a stillbirth, and losing her best friend, Sky loses her husband Troy to a mysterious bacteria. Her family rallies around her in support, including Tara and her rap crew, a group of black kids from Detroit that Sky would rather judge than face her wrongfully preconceived notions. Notions that, in light of her recent loss, they all look past gracefully. Tara, desperate for some measure of a sisterly bond that they never really had, tries again and again to reach Sky and find what they’ve been missing all these years. But old resentments are hard to get over when one daughter lost her father and the other daughter’s father abandoned her. I feel like I could wax poetic about A Gift for My Sister all day long and simply not do it any justice. This is a book I don’t even want to tell you about; I just want you to read it. It personally struck a chord in me because I have an older half-sister, who is not quite eight years older than I am (we share the same father) and a younger stepsister by four years, whose father passed away nine years ago (and he raised me). And while my younger sister and I were close in childhood, and my older sister and I were not, the tides reversed when my stepfather passed away. Tragedy can do funny things to families; it can make you or break you. But, I like to hold out hope that in the end, it all works out. And A Gift for My Sister really gives me hope that it will. It addresses so many issues: family estrangement, race & prejudice, death, infidelity, but most importantly: how you live your life. It was heartbreaking and it was happy. I identified with all of the characters on a really deep level and this is the contemporary read I recommend everyone read at least once in their lives.
Because it doesn’t matter how you die; only how you live.
*This book was provided to me by the publicist in exchange of an honest review.(less)
I don’t know about you, but I look at life and I laugh…a LOT. I snort in derision at the news, I find...moreThis review is also posted at The Bawdy Book Blog
I don’t know about you, but I look at life and I laugh…a LOT. I snort in derision at the news, I find the things others do comical and as you may have guessed, I have a very sarcastic nature. I also like politics, but I’m wary of politicians….and I TOTALLY DIG VAMPIRES. When an author can hit all those sweet spots, they’ve won a fan in me. Christopher Farnsworth has managed to do that through not one, or even two, but THREE novels in his Nathaniel Cade series, and I’d place bets that his fourth will follow right behind (Chris, can you hurry up and write it already?!). It’s as if these books were made for me.
Red, White and Blood chronicles the third year Zach Barrows and Nathaniel Cade have been working together in above top-secret capacity to rid the United States (and sometimes the world) of paranormal threats against humanity. Cade, being the oath-bound vampire he is, is sworn to protect the President and his country – and all that entails. Zach, even though he’s in his third year on the job, still catches himself in a state of disbelief – that, you know, his life is THIS F*CKING SH*T. Gone is the simpering, egotistical staffer and in his place is a guy who would just like to get laid once in awhile…
Red, White and Blood is just so LOL funny. I mean that literally! The repartee between Zach and Cade is simply unmatched in any other book I’ve read. The best movie duo I can compare it to is Agents J and K in Men In Black. Zach is still as witty and sarcastic as ever and Cade….well I just love Cade. If Zach is in your face funny, Cade’s humor is subtle and understated, so much so that he might be funnier, without even trying. These two men – I’m sorry, scratch that – this man and this vampire are such a dynamic duo, that one is simply less without the other.
Now there is a killer stalking President Curtis’ 2012 campaign trail, someone something Cade not-so-lovingly refers to as The Boogeyman. The Boogeyman is such a great character. He is evil for the sake of being evil, and sometimes we just need a Good vs. Evil fight to the death (or….in this case Undeath?) to know what’s right in the world.
Farnsworth deftly introduces more characters in Red, White and Blood, while resurrecting a few oldies but goodies (not telling!) who would like to see their vengence fulfilled. He also continues to include the mini-prologues at the beginning of each chapter, something I absolutely love. There is one in particular – rally signs for a political campaign – that had me in such stitches, I had to read them to my stepmother over the phone. I love how Farnsworth can take current events (and even our history) and twist it with his imagination and still make it seem so real. The flashback scenes are so well done that it never disrupts the flow of the book and only aids in the telling of Cade’s story and the plot.
If Christopher Farnsworth quit writing books tomorrow, he could take up political journalism. His – for lack of a better word - mockery of American politics is stupendous, and all the while, he’s tossed in supernatural elements and it made the rallies and the campaign serious and funny all at the same time. I can’t begin to describe how much I loved the scenes on the campaign tour buses, or at the events, and all the while, I was nodding along, thinking, “This is absolutely perfect.” It never becomes a political novel, though, so don’t worry if you are someone who avoids things like that. Farnsworth simply uses politics as a means to an end in Red, White and Blood.
So now we’ve had:
Piecemeal Veteran zombies (Blood Oath) Snake-head virus (The President’s Vampire) The Boogeyman (Red, White and Blood)
What supernatural disaster will the author think up next? I impatiently await!
The ending…left me speechless. As it will you. Well played, Chris, well played.(less)
Amanda Stevens, you’ve done it again. You have me twisted around your finger with your story-telling ways and I can tell, you’re not letting me go.
The...moreAmanda Stevens, you’ve done it again. You have me twisted around your finger with your story-telling ways and I can tell, you’re not letting me go.
The Prophet is the third installment in the Graveyard Queen series (can I pause a moment and say I am OMGsogladit’snotjustatrilogybecausesogoodWANTMORE?!) and we follow the beautiful Amelia back to her home base in Charleston, South Carolina, after her close brush with death in Asher Falls. Asher Falls has changed her, made her stronger, and at the same time, weaker, because she knows something is missing in her life. There is something so ghostly about Amelia, as if she is only living half a life, because she is too afraid to live it fully. At the same time, she knows she must or she’ll only be a shell of a person and never have everything she wants – or the one person she wants: John Devlin. And yes, while she lusted after Thane Asher, she realizes it’s Devlin she loves and Devlin who holds her heart, even if she might never have him.
By now we know Devlin is haunted by the ghosts of his wife and daughter, who died in a car accident two years prior. He is nearly gaunt and almost hollow-looking, but Stevens still manages to make him appear dark and beautiful. Their reserved passion for each other is so palpable you almost feel as if you can touch it, and yet so restrained you want to pull your hair in frustration, as if that will help them each deal with their demons so they can move on with each other.
Asher Falls was cruel to Amelia, but it opened her eyes to the fact that she can’t hide from her abilities or who she is forever. Or...where she comes from. Facing her destiny, she is approached to assist those who wish to move on to the Other Side. Helping them flies directly in the face of her Papa’s rules, the rules which have safeguarded her her entire life. She promised to bring the walls back up when she left Asher Falls, but she can’t deny the urge to help, even if helping these ghosts means inviting haunting, witches and murderers into her life.
I’m not giving away a single more detail of this book, because I think you just need to read it yourself. It’s stupendous and again, Stevens has become one of my favorite authors. I hope she never stops giving us stories. Amanda Stevens’ writing is simply some of the most beautiful and fluid I’ve ever read. Her words wash over you like iced tea on a hot day in the South, refreshing and vital. She very neatly ties all three books together in The Prophet, masterfully engaging the reader in yet another creepy (although not as creepy as The Kingdom, which is FINE with me!) story of murder, ghosts and mysteries. What IS a truly southern gothic tale without those elements, really? And while the series could potentially end very satisfactorily with The Prophet, Stevens has left just enough morsels trailing behind her to lead to a 4th book. God, I want more! I just may be reduced to begging. (less)
I don’t even know what to say about Blood Red Road. It’s one of the roughest dystopians I’ve ever read - or, in this case, listened to. It grabbed me...moreI don’t even know what to say about Blood Red Road. It’s one of the roughest dystopians I’ve ever read - or, in this case, listened to. It grabbed me by the collar of my shirt, yanked me up on my feet, then tossed me back down on the ground and proceeded to run over me a few times. Because that’s how I felt when I was done - exhausted, weary, trampled, and pleased that I’d been through it, because it was worth the ride.
Blood Red Road is the first audiobook I’ve ever listened to. I have a strange aversion to audiobooks, but I had attempted to read Blood Red Road previously and Moira Young writes it (and spells it) in dialect, making it impossible for someone like me (I get very distracted reading books spelled in dialect) to enjoy it. When I saw Parajunkee’s review of the audiobook version, I decided to pop my audibook cherry and try it out.
I AM SO GLAD I DID.
Moira Young is nothing short of an amazing, brilliant novelist. She breathes to life a dry, desolate world where nothing is yours and everything is a fight for survival. Saba’s twin brother Lugh is kidnapped by a group of men and she sets off to find him, because she promised and Saba always keeps her word. Young’s characters throughout Blood Red Road are truly something to behold: Saba is such a strong individual, and she truly shines in Heather Lind’s narration. If Saba is all fire and fight, Lugh is calm and steady. Jack is the light-heartedness to Saba’s feisty, somewhat bitchy manner. Emmi is sweet. In fact, they all counter-balance her character in some way, and each other’s. And their personalities were so rich and colorful, it felt as if I knew each of them intimately. Young also paints a completely desolate, dusty world for us to step into. Each page is a vivid description of the wastelands leftover after civilization has been demolished, although we don’t learn how or why. But I was so entranced by the world around them, I didn’t care how or why it happened, I just cared that it did and this is where it ended up. I wanted to step into the pages and experience it for myself (but only for a second, because it is tough living!). Heather Lind’s narration is brutal and freaking awesome. I don’t know if anyone else I ever listen to will hold a candle to her characterizations. Her voice was beautiful, gritty and real. I loved every second I listened to her story - because when she narrated, it became her story, too. Bottom line is, you have to get the audiobook of Blood Red Road. I’m demanding it. It’s everything you’d want in a dystopian. It’s Under the Never Sky (but before there was an Under the Never Sky) without the traditional love story or the Aether; it’s Mad Max; it’s The Hunger Games; it’s every great post-apocalyptic fiction you’ve ever read rolled up into one GREAT, EPIC STORY. (less)
Amelia Gray may be the Graveyard Queen, but Amanda Stevens is THE Queen of Creepy. She not only matches the bone-chilling tone of The Restorer, she su...moreAmelia Gray may be the Graveyard Queen, but Amanda Stevens is THE Queen of Creepy. She not only matches the bone-chilling tone of The Restorer, she surpasses it by great leaps and bounds. I don't recommend reading this late at night with the lights off, otherwise you'll need a stuffed animal for protection. Clutching my cat didn't work out so well for either of us. The Kingdom picks up shortly after the end of The Restorer. Amelia has accepted a new contract in Asher Falls, SC to restore Thorngate cemetery at the behest of an anonymous benefactor. Even en route to the tiny town, she's regaled with the creepy local lore of the ghosts of Bell Lake and it's not long upon her arrival before she notices strange happenings and, more importantly, her own draw to the place. I didn't think Stevens could top The Restorer; it's excellent and it's hard to beat excellent, but she manages to do just that with The Kingdom. For being a first-person novel, Amelia Gray is still such an anomaly. In this creepy follow-up, we get to learn so much more about her (and her past) and I enjoyed that aspect of it. I loved learning exactly why she sees ghosts. The new characters in this novel were absolutely vivid. Stevens incorporates more than just a mere ghost story into The Kingdom. This time, we get witchcraft, family legacies, and of course, more murder (because what ghost story would be complete without murder?). Stevens really shines when writing her characters. Every turn of the head, every blink of the pale eye is all done with something in mind. Nothing is by accident. The absolutely descriptive flow of writing to describe each character and event had them standing out in my imagination as no television ever could. Amanda Stevens paints pictures with her words. The plot was heart-racing and I couldn't put it down. At one point (at 1am...), I HAD to put it down before I passed out, and I was about 60 pages from finishing. I could hardly sleep, I was so excited to find out what happened next! I highly recommend this to anyone who loves mystery and/or paranormal fiction. I especially recommend this if you have read and enjoyed The Restorer. Stevens is simply one of the best writers out there.(less)
Can someone tell me why I waited to read Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi? Because I can’t figure it out. My...moreThe review is also posted on The Bawdy Book Blog
Can someone tell me why I waited to read Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi? Because I can’t figure it out. My jaw hit the floor so hard with this one, I think I gave myself a bruise!
The dystopian genre is flooded with authors eager to get their hands into the popular genre, but very few successfully stand out. Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me manages to reign high above the masses with its beautiful, unique prose, enthralling me page by page until the very end.
Juliette’s been kept in a ward for the crazies for the last three years. She thinks she might be crazy, but she knows she’s a murderer. She’s led an isolated life: from a young age, no one has been able to touch her. This means no hugs, no casual affection from her parents, no impulsively helping strangers on the street. Because her touch is lethal. Her touch…can kill.
Shatter Me is not what I expected it to be. I thought I’d be getting another dystopian, where society has crumbled (check), a new government has formed (check), and that new government heavily imposes its will on its citizens in the name of “good” (check). And I did get all of that. But I got SO. MUCH. MORE.
While Juliette thinks her ability is a curse, others with an agenda think her ability is a gift they can use to further their own plots. And yet there are others who would like to see her join a revolution. And she has to choose between what she thinks is right and what she wants. Essentially, both sides want to use her. But what does she want?
I loved Shatter Me so much. Mafi writes the characters with such vivid detail, even from a first-person point-of-view, that it’s impossible to not like even the most vile villain. This isn’t just a story about Juliette; it’s much bigger than her. It’s about how being different doesn’t equate to being dangerous; it’s getting to know who you are; and it’s overcoming self-doubt. All of the characters – and I do mean ALL – are very well written and a good balance to Juliette’s slight insanity (because let’s be honest: she’s been locked up for three years in solitary confinement. Who wouldn’t be a little insane after that?). Adam, who starts out as her “cellmate” is loyal and honest and good. It’s hard not to love him. Warner is devious and powerful and bad. It’s hard not to love him. In a sense, Adam and Warner are two sides to the coin that is Juliette. I think – well, I won’t tell you what I think, because it’s a bit spoilery! But dang!
Mafi’s writing is exquisite. I was startled to find a lot of strike-throughs in the beginning of Shatter Me, but I found that it creates this deranged pace to start out the book that makes you read and flip faster and faster, and sheds light on just how broken Juliette is. And it shows just how far she comes in the novel. Mafi’s prose is just simply beautiful, though, almost like music coming off the pages. She’s leant a unique voice to her main character that is unmatched by any other I have read and… I want to read more.
Let me get one thing out of the way: I am in love with Under the Never Sky. Veronica Rossi has woven a tale so intricate and amazing, it is impossible...moreLet me get one thing out of the way: I am in love with Under the Never Sky. Veronica Rossi has woven a tale so intricate and amazing, it is impossible to put down. Rossi's characters in Under the Never Sky are nothing short of stupendous. They are rich and so full of life that you forget they are simply words in a book. Aria in particular is a fabulous main character and I really loved her. She is strong without being over-bearing. She is also incredibly interesting; I often found myself wanting to be in her head MORE. Her growth throughout the book was beautiful and done perfectly. I couldn't find one flaw, but better yet, because it was so well-done, I didn't want to look for flaws. Move over Four, I'M IN LOVE WITH PEREGRINE!! Perry was such a perfect counter-balance to Aria. He had grit, wisdom and he was a fighter. I heart everything about him. EVERYTHING. All of her secondary characters were believable. I even enjoyed the Croven and their sinister bells. Veronica Rossi goes into incredible detail throughout the story, from the differences between the Dwellers and the Outsiders, right down to the different abilities of people, like the Auds and Scires. At one point, she describes the scent of Dwellers to the Outsiders as "decaying" and I was so intrigued. She later answers that question, by way of other incidents, and that just made me love it even more. I was also absolutely fascinated with the landscape, the Realms and the Aether sky. I imagined the Aether looking something like a sinister Aurora Borealis. I don't know if that's what Rossi intended, but that's the miracle of a great book: you get to pick the details for yourself. The world she created was so striking and awe-inspiring that I want to step into the pages, even now. I want to revisit it and see the characters again. This young-adult, science-fiction, dystopian has everything for everybody: blossoming romance, interesting gadgets (I want a Smarteye!), and a beautiful, dangerous landscape in an unknown future. I couldn't have asked for better. The only thing I want now is the next book. Full of passion and adventure, it's a story I will Never forget.(less)
A month later, I'm still blubbering over Shadow of the Wind. That's how amazing it is. It grabs hold of you and doesn't let go. It demands your though...moreA month later, I'm still blubbering over Shadow of the Wind. That's how amazing it is. It grabs hold of you and doesn't let go. It demands your thoughts in exchange of nothing. That's right, it gives you nothing in return, except sleepless nights, shock and a sense that few other books will ever hold a candle to this one. Carlos Ruiz Zafon writes an amazing piece of literature in Shadow of the Wind and the English translation is nothing short of brilliant (although admittedly, I don't speak Spanish, so I can't really compare). It was flawless and beautiful and all of the adjectives in the world cannot describe how I felt about it. I'm years late to this party, but if you haven't jumped on this bandwagon yet, hop aboard. It is simply one of the best books I've ever read.(less)
Even though I 5-starred DELIRIUM, I only just liked it a lot (though in my review, I stated I loved it - I did, but comparatively speaking, I only lik...moreEven though I 5-starred DELIRIUM, I only just liked it a lot (though in my review, I stated I loved it - I did, but comparatively speaking, I only liked it). But I recognized it as the building block to something really, REALLY GREAT. It was still fantastic and Lauren Oliver's world was a captivating one, because what is more interesting than than a world without love? PANDEMONIUM is an "OMG-I-couldn't-put-it-down-to-eat-or-sleep" kind of book. It picks up right where DELIRIUM leaves off, after Lena has crossed over the fence and lost Alex to the guards. So it begins at a fast-paced, somewhat delirious pace... A lot happens in this novel. If you’re hoping for a lot of Alex appearances, sorry for your luck because PANDEMONIUM isn’t about Lena and Alex; PANDEMONIUM is about Lena and how she changes from Lena Holloway of Portland, Maine to Lena of the Wilds who is tough and a survivor. Her character growth throughout the story is nothing short of astounding and Oliver brings her from a somewhat weak girl to an independent woman capable of more than she ever thought possible. Oliver is also a master of the details: Lena’s description of New York City is vivid and descriptive, detailing a drab city devoid of color or any interesting life, as if the cure for deliria nervosa also turned off all the lights, and dulled the paint and vivacity of the Big Apple. NYC has become indifferent. She also perfectly describes the mass hordes of people during events, crowds so thick that even reading about them in the pages made my heart constrict in a slight panic because I’m somewhat claustrophobic. Somehow, I think Lauren Oliver was drawing the reader in just that way. I loved how Oliver has contradictions in PANDEMONIUM, like when Raven tells Lena she doesn’t get to choose how she helps, when the whole point of being outside the walls IS the freedom of choice. The irony of these little episodes was not lost on me. Sometimes it was as if Lena had never left Portland. Speaking of Raven, I really enjoyed all the new relationships and characters that were introduced in PANDEMONIUM. Each new character brings something different to the table, and makes Lena’s story so much more unique and yet still made Lena stronger by herself. So PANDEMONIUM is Lena’s story to tell and she has one. I can’t say I was surprised by the ending; I expected exactly that, but it was how I would have done it. If you have read DELIRIUM and you loved it, then run out and get PANDEMONIUM the minute you can! Even if you didn’t love the first one, I think you’ll still really like the second because it is fast-paced, full of action and - love.(less)
I had to let Divergent stew for a couple of days after I finished it, because it was that good. It is epic, it is fantastic, it is everything you coul...moreI had to let Divergent stew for a couple of days after I finished it, because it was that good. It is epic, it is fantastic, it is everything you could possibly want in a dystopian novel and then some. Divergent comes to us during a time of political unhappiness and it is speculative fiction at its finest. It is the story of a society under the complete control of a government who has divided itself into "factions": Abnegation, Erudite, Amity, Candor and Dauntless. It takes place in our future, although the year is undetermined. Chicago is gated, Lake Michigan is now a brown marsh, having lost much of its water and a large portion of the Windy City lays abandoned.
Divergent is narrated in the 1st-person, by Beatrice 'Tris' Prior, an Abnegation faction citizen. The narration is superb. Roth writes it so well, it felt like I was there, walking (okay, running) along side Tris and experiencing everything that came her way.
Each faction has a responsibility to the society; Abnegation cares for the poor and faction-less, as well as runs the council, because they are supposedly incorruptible (I say supposedly because I have my doubts). To be a member of Abnegation, one has to be completely selfless and giving, something I think we struggle with in our lives and society today. Tris has struggled with Abnegation her entire life. When she watches her selfless family members, I think she feels unworthy of Abnegation, or maybe she feels she was meant for greater things, different things. That's probably reader perception.
I don't want to spoil anything for you, so I'll tell you that outside of the five factions (all of which are characterized by a single human trait), is a 6th...possibility. That possibility is Divergent. To find out what Divergent is and what it means, you'll have to read the book!
Divergent is similar to Matched and The Hunger Games in terms of certain story arcs. There is a choosing ceremony, where 16-year-old citizens get to choose which faction they will spend the rest of their lives in. There is plenty of violence and a questionable government that doesn't tolerate resistance (for heaven's sake, Chicago is fenced in!). Plot twists are executed flawlessly, keeping you turning the pages and I cannot wait to find out what happens in book two (oh yes, it's trilogy!). I am absolutely in love with this book and I want you to be, too! If you don't read this book, your life just won't be the same and I SO MEAN THAT. Pick up your copy of Divergent and let me know what you think!
PSA: Have you heard that the film rights were sold to Summit (you know, that little company that brought us Twilight)?(less)
It's rare that an opening line grabs me as this one did. In that one sentence, I was sucked in for the rest of...more"I was nine when I saw my first ghost."
It's rare that an opening line grabs me as this one did. In that one sentence, I was sucked in for the rest of the book. It's also not often that I love a book so much I want to shove it into the hands of the first (possibly unwilling) pair of hands I see and yell, "read this read this READ THIS!" The Passage by Justin Cronin was one of them, The Fever Series by Karen Moning another. It was that good. It kept me up at night, turning pages. I was distracted while helping a friend paint, because all I could think was "I want to get back to my book." In the end, it took me just over a full 24 hours to read it. I simply could not put it down. It has become a member of "The Measuring Stick Books" - books by which I measure all others:
Friend: OMG have you read such-and-such by so-and-so?! Me: Is it as good as The Passage/Fever/The Restorer? Friend: Well... Me: Bottom of the TBR pile.
It made me anxious for its characters, envious of the town's residents, intrigued by the secrecy, frightened by the apparitions and ultimately, wanting to know who the "bad guy" was. Each time I was sure I knew, I found out how incredibly wrong I was. That's how I judge a spectacular author: make me live your book and I'm going to love you, slobber at your feet and ache for your recognition. Stevens incorporated strong characters (both primary and secondary), smooth plot lines and twists so staggering, they made you dizzy. The first-person narrative ('cause you know how I love my first-person) was exceptionally well written, the plot was intriguing and it was entirely a heart-palpitating read. Stevens deftly wrapped together all these wonderful components of a novel and just delivered it to our feet with a big ol' bow. Merry Christmas! I don't care if it's April. I can't wait for the follow-up to this absolutely fantastic book. Amanda Stevens, you rock!
In Blood Oath, Cade and his human handler, Zach, fought a man-made army of zombies bent on murdering the President of the United States. It was fast-p...moreIn Blood Oath, Cade and his human handler, Zach, fought a man-made army of zombies bent on murdering the President of the United States. It was fast-paced, the turns giving me whiplash. The President's Vampire is, dare I say, even BETTER. This is 24 meets X-Files, add a little Bourne Identity on top for good measure. I LOVE IT.
The President's Vampire is everything Blood Oath is and more. It's quick, funny, and engaging and there's passion sprinkled on top, too. I know political novels can be scary for some, but Farnsworth has taken two genres (political thrillers and paranormal) and mashed them together to create a new breed: parapolitical thriller. But what I really love about his writing is that he doesn't get preachy about politics; no, he's simply here to tell a good great story. I mentioned in my review of Blood Oath that the genre is saturated and this is a fresh twist on an idea that has seen everything.
The President's Vampire picks up some time after Blood Oath; Cade and Zach have been working together for a little while now and know each other that much better. Cade is still under oath to protect the United States and its President from otherworldly (and sometimes worldly) threats, and does so with a kind of unwavering loyalty. Cade doesn't question; Cade sees the world in black and in white. He is lethal and dangerous, yet he regrets the very thing he is, which drives his loyalty. I wonder if he would still do the job without the blood oath he swore? I really love Cade's character, because he is so different from the vampires we get in most novels today.
What I especially liked about Cade in the second novel isn't that we see more of his strengths; we also get to see his weaknesses. Farnsworth's vampires are not all-powerful. They don't glitter in the sun, they are not red-headed sharks in the water, and yes, they require sleep. Even Cade has his limitations, and I like seeing a strong protagonist portrayed in such a fashion, without compromising the integrity of the book. I liked Zach in Blood Oath. He was self-important and a complete ego-maniac in the beginning of the first novel, something Cade made sure to stamp out, but his incredulousness at his situation was hysterical. As in, "you must be kidding, right?" No, Zach, we're not kidding. Now sack up! We still get a little bit of that in The President's Vampire, however, there is also an air of acceptance, or at the very least, simple resignation. He's a quick-thinker though, and I enjoyed reading every single scene with him in it. I even laughed out loud when he began thinking with his "other brain" in particular. Everyone is susceptible to that, even the most "hardened" secret agent.
The other characters in The President's Vampire are also well-done. Graves and his team, from The Shadow Company, especially, were incredible. The shadow-men in the hats gave me the creeps, and Graves kept me guessing until the end. All in all, they were the perfect villains, because they had an agenda as a group and individually.
I can see how Farnsworth is going to build this series: each book will have a new paranormal entity to fight. Blood Oath was zombies; The President's Vampire is Snakeheads. But Farnsworth manages to humanize both atrocities by making them mad-made creations. Fortunately we have Cade around to squash them. Farnsworth's world-building is spot-on. He's taken our world and placed a paranormal "film" on top of it. It's as if two different dimensions exist and the general population doesn't even know it. Plenty of historical references and figures make cameo appearances throughout The President's Vampire, much as they did though Blood Oath (although I wonder if the author gritted his teeth when Osama bin Laden was killed shortly after publication of the second book?). I find myself wanting to wander into the District to find the secret passages under the Mall and the Reliquary under the Castle. Do these places really exist? What does our government really hide from us? I have to ask: Chris, is this real? Tell me now so I can go buy myself a little island!
I loved The President's Vampire; in fact, he may be my favorite vampire. I highly recommend this series if you haven't read it yet.
Good gracious! The hype surrounding Wither by Lauren DeStefano is spot on. After months of seeing review after review and hearing other bloggers talk ab...moreGood gracious! The hype surrounding Wither by Lauren DeStefano is spot on. After months of seeing review after review and hearing other bloggers talk about how great this Dystopian novel is, I HAD to purchase it and read it for myself, because I can't resist a good dystopia. And OMGoodness did it give me everything I wanted and more. Purely magical, I tell you! In Wither, society has succeeded in vaccinating for every known disease, creating a generation that is incapable of becoming ill. They are truly immune to every virus, sickness, and cancer. They don't even contract the common cold. They have the perfect immune systems. So everything is hunky dory, right? Wrong. Their children, and their children's children are unable to live past a very young age; 25 for males, 20 for females, leaving all future generations a very short span of time to, for lack of a better word, breed. And breed they must, or civilization as they know it dies with them. I LOVED Wither. I loved everything about it: the descriptive and fluid writing style, the characters, the world-building. DeStefano does an excellent job in building this future world where we've done something incredibly wrong and our future generations are paying for it dearly. It is 100% completely believable, and the author really makes you feel as if you can step right into the pages. Her characters are wonderful. Rhine, the main character is unique and beautiful but still tough as nails and just as sharp. Everything she does is with a purpose and DeStefano writes her so incredibly well that you can't help but love her. Her sister wives are lovable in their own ways, as well. Jenna, older and wiser in many, many ways, thirsts for knowledge and lives for the day she sees her sisters again. Cecily is impetuous and demanding but as a reader, you can't help but be exasperated by her and still love her at the same time, as you would a small child. I even liked the "villains" in this story because DeStefano doesn't create a villain just to have one. Nope, she gives them a purpose in those pages, a goal they move towards, so you have a hard time hating them even though deep down, you really do. She has perfected the villain. I don't want to name them because if you haven't read it yet, it could spoil it for you. Everything about this book is wonderful and if you havent read it yet (but really, who's left?) you need to. Wither is nothing short of amazing and I can't wait for her second book in the Chemical Garden series, Fever!(less)