3.5 stars Fireborn is not my first book by Keri Arthur, but it’s the first one I truly liked. It’s neither paranormal romance nor urban fantasy in thei...more3.5 stars Fireborn is not my first book by Keri Arthur, but it’s the first one I truly liked. It’s neither paranormal romance nor urban fantasy in their purest form, but a successful blend of the two, with strong UF elements and plenty of romantic interests.
Emberly Pearson, our heroine, is a phoenix, which is certainly new and interesting in both these genres. She is basically immortal. She burns once every century and is reborn from the ashes, free to continue her existence any way she pleases. With each new rebirth she is destined to fall in love just once, but never with Rory, another phoenix and her counterpart, who keeps her grounded and alive.
The thing with me, however, is that I’m a one-man-one-woman kinda gal. I don’t do love triangles, squares or any other shapes or forms, I don’t do multiple love interests and I most definitely don’t deal well with jealousy. It is, therefore, too bad that I constantly get jealous on behalf of my characters. So when my heroine has one counterpart she doesn’t love romantically but has to have sex with in order to survive, one lost-but-never-forgotten love who abandoned her because of said counterpart and one hot, practically irresistible silver-tongued fae vying for her attention, I’m bound to get more than a little uncomfortable. But that’s just me.
The urban fantasy elements however, are very well done, and the plot is extremely tight. Keri Arthur is a seasoned author, and her vast experience shines from every page. She never once loses control of her many characters or her plot and she knows exactly how to steer the reader through her rich and complicated world.
And let me tell you, with vampires and werewolves out in the open and plenty other creatures still hidden from the world, Arthur had a lot to keep track of and it’s very fortunate that she was up to the task. I loved seeing this dark side of Melbourne and I’ll enjoy going back to it every single time. I just hope the romance will be more focused in future installments.
For decades since the World War II, the name Adolf Hitler has been synonymous with monster all over the world. But to 17-year-old Gretchen Muller, Ado...moreFor decades since the World War II, the name Adolf Hitler has been synonymous with monster all over the world. But to 17-year-old Gretchen Muller, Adolf Hitler is simply Uncle Dolf, protector, substitute father, a great leader and a kind, gentle man. If he wasn’t, why would Gretchen’s own father jump in front of a bullet to protect him? Why would this somewhat strange Austrian take Gretchen’s entire family under his wing?
We must keep in mind that Blankman portrays Germany in 1931, before the Third Reich, when Hitler’s intentions were still hidden behind clever rhetoric and only those closest to him had any inkling of the monster he truly was. Beatings and political assassinations were done covertly, and this young girl had nothing but the word of a trusted family friend to help form her opinion of the world.
The Gretchen we meet at the beginning of this story is a follower, a brainwashed creature, Hitler’s golden pet. Even though she wishes to become a doctor, she isn’t used to thinking for herself because, as Hitler likes to point out, a young girl’s brain is like wax, soft and pliable, ready to be shaped at any man’s will. But as things around her stop making sense and even her father’s heroic death comes into question, Gretchen has no choice but to discover the very dangerous truth and find her own independence in the process.
Through it all, she is accompanied by the most unlikely of allies, a young Jewish journalist named Daniel Cohen. All her life, Gretchen’s been taught that Jews are filthy, evil and subhuman, but there Daniel is, kind, smart, outspoken and entirely too pleasant to be anything but a real, warm human being, just like Gretchen herself. As the two form a very tentative friendship, Gretchen starts seeing the world through her own eyes for the very first time, and she is terrified of what she sees.
The Prisoner of Night and Fog is an extensively researched novel. In fact, not many novels come with an author’s note and a bibliography attached. Having done the research myself once upon a time, I am quite familiar with pre-WWII German history myself, and Anne Blankman did her job well. Everything from German educational system to the personalities of Hitler’s elite is accurate and well presented.
On top of it all, Blankman explores psychopathic personality disorder, not only through Hitler, but through Gretchen’s brother Reinhart as well. It is easy to see how people like Reinhart became The Fuhrer’s most trusted soldiers, following age-old rule that like calls to like.
Even those with superficial knowledge of the time period will easily recognize the impossibility of Gretchen’s situation, the slim chances of survival for her and Daniel both. It is almost impossible to see a satisfactory ending for these characters, knowing what we know of Hitler’s rise to power. Blankman counted on this feeling of dread that inevitably rises and used it to this story’s best advantage. The end result is one of the best books I’ve read in ages, with the potential to win both prizes and the hearts of readers everywhere.
Although I routinely go out of my way to avoid contemporary fiction (especially the so called issue books), I can, off the top of my head, name at lea...moreAlthough I routinely go out of my way to avoid contemporary fiction (especially the so called issue books), I can, off the top of my head, name at least five that made me want to curl up in a fetal position and cry my little heart out. Which, make no mistake, is a very good thing. They are the books I don’t hesitate to recommend to teens and adults alike, books I admire even though they make me extremely uncomfortable. Because, in the rare event when I do decide to pick up an issue book, I want it to shake me to the core, make me thing about things I’d rather ignore and force me to acknowledge the potential ugliness of the world.
Faking Normal isn’t one of those books.
Admittedly, I did finish it more or less in one sitting, which would usually mean that I enjoyed it greatly. But you see, I shouldn’t have been able to breeze through a book about two severely damaged teens. I should have felt the need to stop and distance myself at some point, as I so often do. A book like Faking Normalshould have been emotionally overwhelming, but instead, I more or less flatlined.
Even after many hours spent thinking about it, I cannot quite pinpoint what it was about Faking Normal that rubbed me the wrong way. Techinically, Stevens did everything right. Her writing is almost flawless and her pacing superb. I adored Bodee, the wonderful Kool-Aid Kid and there were times when I did feel Alexi’s pain, although not as often as I’d have liked. I think it was mostly Alexi’s attacker that bothered me. His reactions and overall characterization simply didn’t ring true.
The mystery surrounding Captain Lyric added a much needed touch of normalcy into this heavily burdened story. I believe it to be a calculated move on Stevens’ part, designed to constantly remind the reader that Alexi is indeed a very young girl, and in that, it was successful. But the identity of Captain Lyric wasn’t a mystery for the reader at all. Looking at him from this side, there was really only one possible solution.
The understated beauty of Courtney’s Stevens’ prose isn’t likely to disappear with a change of topic, which is why I won’t hesitate to read and even pre-order her sophomore novel. She undoubtedly has enormous potential. I wonder where she’ll take us next.
Sweet Damage is a compelling New Adult mystery with a distinctly gothic feel. I was new to Rebecca James' work so the quality of her storytelling took...more Sweet Damage is a compelling New Adult mystery with a distinctly gothic feel. I was new to Rebecca James' work so the quality of her storytelling took me completely by surprise. She is a master at building suspense to almost unbearable levels and leaving her readers terrified of their own shadows.
In other words, this woman scared the living daylights out of me.
In addition, good male narrators are hard to find, and Tim is far better than most. His voice isn't particularly strong or particularly memorable, but it's easy to slip into. Even though he is at times extremely unsympathetic and frustratingly weak, his numerous flaws make him seem more human and far more approachable, which allows readers to effortlessly slip into his skin. We've all known a Tim at some point: the not-quite-boy-and-not-quite-man, determined to avoid responsibility at all costs. He pines for his ex-girlfriend, a manic pixie dream girl type, not because she's especially lovable, but because she makes him feel wild and unrestrained.
In his effort to avoid the dreaded real life, he ends up living with the agoraphobic, recently orphaned Anna in her mansion. On the surface, Anna seems weak and vulnerable, but inexplicable things tend to happen to people around her, things that can’t just be explained away. After some very strange events and a few sleepless nights, Tim has to wonder whether Anna is unstable enough to hurt herself, and possibly even him.
Sweet Damage was so skillfully planned and constructed that it kept me guessing to the very end. I had no idea what might be the story behind Anna’s strange self-imprisonment, but I knew it must be awful beyond belief. I also couldn’t even begin to guess who was to blame for her situation, and while I had my doubts, none of them turned out to be correct.
Sweet Damage is frightening, fascinating, frustrating and so incredibly good. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it seems that when it comes to Aussie writers, wonders never cease.
Rosamund Hodge’s debut novel, Cruel Beauty, is a bold and imaginative retelling of Beauty and the Beast. With this highly ambitious book, Hodge attemp...moreRosamund Hodge’s debut novel, Cruel Beauty, is a bold and imaginative retelling of Beauty and the Beast. With this highly ambitious book, Hodge attempted to take the wildly popular retellings one step further, mostly by making the connections between Cruel Beauty and the original story very loose, and wrapping what was left into much violence and darkness in her richly imaginative world. Consequently, we’re left with no more than a few vague similarities between Beauty and the Beast and Cruel Beauty, just enough to justify calling this a retelling at all.
Nyx, for one, is nothing at all like Belle. She is hateful and stubborn, quick to lash out at those she should aim to protect. I suspect some readers might find her less than endearing, and that’s putting it mildly, but I wasn’t troubled by her anger or her actions. In fact, her rage was the only thing about her I was able to fully understand, the injustice of her life from the moment she was born a constant burning sensation in my throat. It was obvious that Hodge strived to make her characters endlessly complex, but Nyx is the only one with whom she actually succeeded. The secondary characters, Nyx’s father and aunt in particular, were two-dimensional, archetypal and utterly predictable.
There’s no denying the lushness and elegance of Rosamund Hodge’s prose. Her writing is a thing of beauty, atmospheric, gorgeous and alluring. Yet oftentimes, the tenor of the prose prevented me from immersing in the story or caring about the characters. While I enjoyed her words, put together so prettily, I also found them to be emotionally sterile. Nothing about them felt real or emotional or visceral or true. Dark, twisted and beautiful Cruel Beauty may be, but emotionally, it leaves a lot to be desired.
The romance was certainly the part I liked best, Nyx’s moral dilemma making it more interesting and real. My failure to connect with Nyx took away some of my reading enjoyment, but seeing as I liked the Gentle Lord immensely, I found him and their relationship to be the saving grace of this book.
I still haven’t managed to find a retelling I actually liked, so do take my opinion with a grain of salt. I went into this because I was promised lush, atmospheric prose, and that’s what I got, so I shouldn’t complain too hard.
Sometimes it’s nice to start a book knowing exactly what to expect: good parts, bad parts and all. The Naturals is a pretty simple, straightforward bo...moreSometimes it’s nice to start a book knowing exactly what to expect: good parts, bad parts and all. The Naturals is a pretty simple, straightforward book. A single review should tell you pretty much everything you need to know about it, and you should be able to judge right away whether it’s something you’ll enjoy.
It is part murder mystery and part teen love triangle drama, so I think it’s safe to say there’s something in it for everyone. Personally, I can’t stand love triangles at the best of times and I thought this one was particularly badly executed, but I’m certain that the readers who usually enjoy them will feel differently and get very invested in the romance, one way or the other.
For me, the serial killer part was part was what saved this book, a least in part. Nothing could quite make up for the torturous and rather pointless love triangle, but I was completely captivated by the mystery and I failed to guess the identity of the killer until the very end. I don’t usually appreciate chapters from the killer’s point of view, although they are inherent to the murder mystery genre, but in this case, I felt they were done remarkably well.
It’s extremely hard to determine whether The Naturals is a paranormal book or not, and yet, I am inclined to think not. The talents these kids have seem to be precisely that – extraordinary talents, but all within range of realistic human capacity, or just beyond. Instead of being bothered by this uncertainty, I found it refreshing and rather intriguing, especially Leah’s lie detecting abilities.
The narrator, Amber Faith, has one of those soft, indistinct voices that are pleasant enough, I suppose, but don’t really stand out in any way. She struggled a bit with voice characterization, especially for male characters, but overall, she falls somewhere around the middle: nothing about her narration rubbed me the wrong way, but I wouldn’t rush to buy a book narrated by her.
All in all, I don’t regret spending 8 hours listening to this book and I’ll likely even pick up the sequel once it becomes available, but while The Naturals was an entertaining read, spectacular it was not.
One should really be able to trust a blurb by someone as brilliant as Elizabeth Wein, but apparently, that’s really not the case. Sekret is a book tha...moreOne should really be able to trust a blurb by someone as brilliant as Elizabeth Wein, but apparently, that’s really not the case. Sekret is a book that held so much promise, with a story about young psychic spies in Soviet Russia blackmailed into working for the KGB. And yet somehow, it ended up being my biggest disappointment of the year so far, made even worse by my extremely high expectations.
I can’t really fault Lindsay Smith or the publisher for false advertizing. We were promised a story about psychic spies in a very interesting historical setting, and that’s exactly what this book is. What’s more, it is clearly extremely well-researched and even thrilling, at least at first.
The problem, for me, was the emotional aspect of this book. Sekret reminded me of a delicious treat tightly wrapped in cellophane: I could see, but not touch or smell or taste or feel in any other significant way. When I try to pinpoint a reason for it, it all comes down to Yulia. Sekret desperately needed a stronger, clearer heroine, someone with far more character and strength. She should have been the light leading us through this horrible and dark story, but instead, we ended up blundering in the dark right alongside her.
So unlike Elizabeth Wein, who says that this beautiful novel left her aching, I was left severely disappointed, hoping that this young author with so much potential might do better next time.
3.5 stars Like every satire ever written, No One Else Can Have You is destined to polarize readers. I doubt there will be people with lukewarm feelings...more3.5 stars Like every satire ever written, No One Else Can Have You is destined to polarize readers. I doubt there will be people with lukewarm feelings for this book. Either this type of dark humor is something you enjoy or not, but either should be clear after only a couple of pages.
Through Friendship, Wisconsin and its colorful inhabitants, Hale cleverly points out all the shortcomings of a small community. Her criticism is as sharp as it is funny, and she spares no one in the process: not the protagonist, not the grieving parents, not the war hero, and certainly not the victim herself. To Hale, everything is fair game, and that’s precisely what makes her prose acceptable and entertaining. Had she been picky with her disparagement, the value would have been lost, but her tone remains unchanged whichever way you look.
Like everything else, the murder mystery is designed to both entertain and ridicule the small town mentality. Everyone involved in the investigation is basically a blithering idiot and the only two people with a modicum of sense are Kippy and Davey, Ruth’s older brother, just returned from a tour in Afghanistan. Davey has secrets he’s doing his best to hide and the entire town believes that he suffers from PTSD, so the fact that he’s the sanest one around is plenty ridiculous all on its own.
Despite the quirkiness that is, on occasion, exaggerated and annoying, Hale strikes just the right note with her secondary characters. The people of Friendship, few exceptions aside, are funny and instantly lovable, in that entirely unrealistic, unbelievable way. Kippy’s dad in particular has no trouble finding his way into the readers’ hearts, with his silly nicknames and his unrelenting support.
While I strongly recommend reading a sample first, just to see if this is something you might enjoy, I think everyone should at least give this one a chance. It’s a novelty, a breath of fresh air in an overly saturated market, and as such, it’s worthy of attention.
1.5 star Oh, how deceiving looks can be! (I just love being overly dramatic sometimes, don’t you?) With the cover and the blurb as impressive as these,...more1.5 star Oh, how deceiving looks can be! (I just love being overly dramatic sometimes, don’t you?) With the cover and the blurb as impressive as these, Drawn can easily pull in even the most skeptical of readers – and in my case, it did. Everything about this book looked right on the surface. The cover is alluring, the premise so very intriguing, and the short graphic introductions to each chapter promised a unique reading experience. However, it soon became clear that Drawn is nowhere near as good as I was hoping it would be. Instead, it is slightly amateurish novel that may appeal more to middle grade readers.
How many fabulous, but poorly executed ideas can you think of right this second? I bet I could come up with at least a dozen off the top of my head, and yet very few have had such promising beginnings and have ended up disappointing me to such extent. The protagonist, Sasha, is a human lie detector – her voice can make anyone say what they’re thinking out loud. Because of her talent, Sasha lives a very lonely life. Her parents abandoned her when she was a baby and she moved from home to home, friendless, until she was assigned to a female FBI agent who took care of her and used her to solve cases.
Considering Sasha’s unique ability, the mission she was sent on in Drawn, and by the CIA, no less, seemed ridiculously easy and entirely unnecessary. Her job was to infiltrate a group of graffiti artists and uncover the identity of the infamous Kid Aert, and how convenient that the daughter of Sasha’s handler – a girl who befriended her despite constantly blurting out embarrassing truths around her – was already a part of said group. Of course, as she befriends this group of French artists, Sasha ends up with an internal conflict – do her job like she’s always done, or protect the only friends she’s ever had?
The attempt to build Sasha into a complex character, bitter for being abandoned by various parental figures and constantly used by the government, failed spectacularly. Not for a second did I feel her loneliness and insecurity as I was undoubtedly supposed to. Instead, she came across as unapproachable and somewhat obnoxious.
As a general rule, I try to find at least something positive to say, and in this case, it would probably be the setting, except for all the errors it brought with it. Sasha’s assignment takes her to Belgium, a country we don’t see much of in YA, which I’d normally be thrilled about. However, although I don’t speak much French, even I could notice all the language disasters – the kind of errors Google Translate would do.
To make the long story short – I can’t, in good conscience, recommend Drawn to anyone. This is not Gray’s debut, but it certainly reads like someone’s first high school attempt at writing a novel, and I think we can all agree that those should be kept hidden.
After Kim Curran’s original and highly entertaining debut, Shift, my expectations for the sequel were pretty high. I read both books back to back, but...moreAfter Kim Curran’s original and highly entertaining debut, Shift, my expectations for the sequel were pretty high. I read both books back to back, but a significant improvement was easily noticeable. She has matured as a writer from one book to the next, and although Control had its problems, it’s a read I’d never hesitate to recommend.
In Shift, Scott discovered that he has the power to change any decision he’s ever made. In other words, he’s a shifter. But the power is far more dangerous than it seems because even the smallest change can have catastrophic consequences. What’s more, his power won’t last forever – the ability to shift is limited to teens. Once Scott reaches a certain age, entropy will set in and he’ll be just a regular person once more. Through it all, he has the help of a shifter girl, Aubrey. She was the one who helped him adjust to his new life as an agent of the ARES, and – to Scott’s never-ending astonishment – she seems to like him just as much as he likes her.
At only 15, Aubrey is intelligent, talkative and energetic, true force of nature. Both books are told from Scott’s point of view, but although we only see her though his eyes, Aubrey is no less of a protagonist. For Scott, she is the only constant in his otherwise turbulent life, something to hold on to in the ever-changing realities.
Male voices are so difficult to get right in YA (a teen boy’s mind is a mysterious thing indeed), but Scott’s struck me as very authentic. Both Scott and Aubrey were extremely mature for their age, but it never really seemed odd considering the amount of power they wielded and the type of job they did. Each of them was burdened with so much responsibility that it’s no wonder they talked and acted like 30-year-olds.
The plot in both books is downright excellent and Curran leaves her readers no time to breathe or relax. Scott and Aubrey face true horrors on every turn. The only letdown was their final encounter with the villain in Control. This person had been terrorizing and manipulating shifters for decades, and yet Scott handled the situation so easily, it was almost ridiculous. Aside from that, Shift and Control are amazing and compulsively readable.
Another thing I feel the need to mention: I. Do. Not. Appreciate. Cliffhangers! Ending your book with a cliffhanger is a sure way to ruin the whole thing for me. While Shift has a nice, clean-cut ending, Control ends with a huge pile of mess at Scott’s door. It’s a good thing a third book was recently announced, or I’d be tempted to pull my hair out. Or well, someone’s hair at the very least.
Cliffhanger or not, these books are a much needed breath of fresh air in YA. If originality is what you’re after, pick up a Strange Chemistry title and give it a try. It’s quickly becoming my favorite and most reliable imprint. These days, it’s enough to see their logo to know that I’ll thoroughly enjoy a book. Kim Curran’s series is no exception.
Nightlife is a book that has a lot to offer, but it’s also filled with flaws. I will certainly point out at least some of those flaws, but I’ll never...moreNightlife is a book that has a lot to offer, but it’s also filled with flaws. I will certainly point out at least some of those flaws, but I’ll never tell you that the book isn’t worth reading, because it is. The positives outweigh the negatives, and overall, Nightlife offers an enjoyable experience, as much as the horror genre can.
One can’t ignore the fact that Nightlife is poorly structured and often slightly amateurish. There are far too many points of view, which quickly becomes terribly distracting and prevents readers from immersing themselves into the narrative. The first part is composed of one scary scene after another, most of them, of course, told from different perspectives, thus denying the reader a chance to make a proper connection with any of the characters. Later in the book, the additional POVs slowly vanish, or their number dwindles, at least, leaving only Beth and Jack to tell the story.
Starting with multiple points of view and then settling into two is a rather odd choice. Generally, multiple narrators and third-person narrative mode is my least favorite option, but I can get used to it if done well and consistently. In this case, however, it was almost like Martin started one thing, and then changed his mind halfway through.
I rather liked Beth. Her strength and independence, determination and the slightly superior attitude are all qualities I look for in a proper heroine. But the fact that I liked her as much as I did only made the additional POVs more jarring. I wanted more time with her, a chance to learn more about her, but her story kept being interrupted by unnecessary gruesome scenes.
Martin’s take on vampires is entirely different from everything I’ve stumbled upon in other books and movies. He portrays them as gorgeous, irresistible and evil predators, but there’s so much more to it than that. It’s a pity he only revealed their true nature in the very last part of the book. Knowing exactly what they are from the start would make this book far more terrifying. Mindless evil with no nuance whatsoever is rarely truly frightening to me, often I find it more cartoonish than anything else, which seemed to be the case here, until the truth came to light.
When it comes to books, I am rarely this conflicted. I either like something or I don’t, but with Nightlife, the decision is much harder to make. There are some very good and original parts, and there are some sloppy and poorly thought through parts. In the end, I believe the good parts prevailed, but I fear that not everyone will feel the same.
Robin Wasserman sure knows how to scare a person half to death. As I read The Waking Dark, the evil that jumped at me from every page constantly threa...moreRobin Wasserman sure knows how to scare a person half to death. As I read The Waking Dark, the evil that jumped at me from every page constantly threatened to overwhelm. This isn’t a book you can finish in a day, it is simply too intense, demanding and sickening at times. Even readers who are fairly desensitized like I am might find themselves troubled by the events described.
It’s obvious that Robin Wasserman owes a literary debt to Stephen King – she even thanks him in the acknowledgements. That slowly rising feeling of dread King is famous for permeates every page of The Waking Dark, making it a far better novel than Wasserman’s previous work, The Book of Blood and Shadows. Although perhaps just a tad too long, The Waking Dark is extremely well structured and excellently paced, with a story that refuses to be left behind and forgotten.
For the people of Oleander, pure evil – or devil, if you will – is not a matter of belief at all. It’s simply a matter of seeing it in someone’s eyes… or even in the mirror. Good people commit unspeakable atrocities at every turn – the very worst part of everyone’s nature has suddenly come out to play. Clearly Wasserman doesn’t pull back punches just because she writes for teens. Her characters may be no more than seventeen years old, but they both suffer and commit horrible acts of violence. And yet, that’s not all that defines them; we see the best and the worst in most of them.
I’m not usually a fan of multiple perspectives, but in this case, the more characters I got attached to, the more people I had to fear for. Although I didn’t spend much time with them individually, each of the character was extremely well-rounded, with his or her own set of difficulties and issues. Caring for their individual fates, as well as the well-being of the entire town, happened to be much easier than I’d originally assumed.
The Waking Dark is an unexpectedly twisted read that reminds of Stephen King’s best works. I strongly recommend it, especially as a Halloween read. Just make sure to read it somewhere safe and warm, with all the lights on.
Once again I fell prey to a pretty cover. I just never learn, it seems. I’ll try to make this rant review as short and clear as possible. Plea...more1.5 star
Once again I fell prey to a pretty cover. I just never learn, it seems. I’ll try to make this rant review as short and clear as possible. Please don’t hate me if I don’t succeed.
The story is very unstructured and immature, and the narrative technique is a bit odd, which is a euphemism for messy and poorly thought through. At first, the focus switches between two groups of teens from one chapter to the next, but as they get separated, the number of perspectives increases. Instead of focusing on the groups (not POVs in the usual sense) we get short chapters from Alec’s, Jack’s and Aubrey’s points of view. I suppose this was meant to help accelerate the pacing somewhat, but what it really did was stop me from connecting with any of the characters. The only one I felt even remotely sympathetic towards was Jack, but even that wasn’t enough to keep me engaged.
And yet, if there is a main character in this mess, it’s Aubrey, not Jack. And Aubrey is one of the whiny ones, insufferable and utterly self-absorbed. She does come to her senses later in the story, but by then it’s far too late.
In the beginning, while the two groups are still together, the second group of teens (Alec, Laura and Dan), commits unspeakable acts of violence without any real reason or justification. They are supposedly terrorists, but terrorists always have strong motivations that make sense to them, if not to us. This was just a group of teens with superpowers going around killing people and causing natural disasters for no apparent reason other than because they can. I really wish this had been done differently. Terrorism is something we all have to live with to some degree and the psychology of it, the motivations of these terrorists is a great foundation for a book. Approaching the subject this superficially is disrespectful and somewhat insulting. No author should write about such serious matters thoughtlessly and immaturely.
The treatment of the teens in Blackout, aside from being awfully unrealistic, was obviously heavily inspired by concentration camps in World War II. The shower scene reminded me so much of The Schindler’s List, except that Wells completely failed to address the psychological aspects of being stripped naked and forced to wash with a group of people. Regardless of whether the showers are harmless or not, the entire experience is hurtful and very degrading. And yet Wells just skips right over it like it’s the most normal thing in the world.
And how likely is it that the government would lock up every single teen in the country overnight? Where are the parents? Where are the human rights groups? Perhaps it’s silly to complain about credibility in a book about kids with superpowers, but this entire thing bordered on ridiculous.
I will now end my rant because I see no point in tormenting you guys any further. I think I’ve made myself pretty clear, but in case I haven’t, here’s my recommendation: don’t waste your time and don’t be fooled by the gorgeous cover.
Precinct 13 is a nifty combination of urban fantasy and police procedural, quite a pleasant surprise for someone who adores both like I do. Running fr...morePrecinct 13 is a nifty combination of urban fantasy and police procedural, quite a pleasant surprise for someone who adores both like I do. Running from her old life, Alex gets a job as Hughes County medical examiner and becomes even more involved in the very thing she fought so hard to run away from – anything and everything supernatural. On her new job, she is forced to work with Precinct 13, a special police division in charge of all paranormal crimes. Alex questions everything about this, especially her own sanity, and her voice is what makes Precinct 13 a truly interesting read.
While the plot isn’t exactly original, the main character certainly is. It’s not often that we find heroines who truly question their sanity for seeing/believing in the supernatural, to the point of seeking medical assistance and agreeing to take heavy medication. Following doctor’s advice, Alex also runs from her beloved boyfriend Valentine because he tends to encourage her explorations of the paranormal, which Alex believes to be catastrophic for her sanity. The romance is a bit odd, perhaps, but that only makes it all the more interesting. Valentine is as mysterious as they come, and Alex is unsure whether she should trust him or stay as far away as possible from him.
There’s nothing to suggest that a sequel will ever be published, which is a shame, in my opinion. These characters have heaps of potential that could have been turned into a great urban fantasy series, and we’re always in need of those.
Why did everyone fail to inform me that Mind Games happens to be a duology? How cruel are you people? I was absolutely convinced more was yet to come,...moreWhy did everyone fail to inform me that Mind Games happens to be a duology? How cruel are you people? I was absolutely convinced more was yet to come, at least until I reached the last page and put my googling skills to good use. The sisters have found a place in my heart and I was devastated to learn that the time has come to part ways with Annie, and especially Fia.
From what I’ve noticed, Kiersten White seems to be a pretty polarizing author. People generally either love or hate her books and it mostly comes down to her writing style. Some find it bold and some find it too peculiar. If we somehow forget Supernaturally and Endlessly (and please, let’s), I think her books always push boundaries and that her writing is just interesting enough to be worthy of admiration.
Like Mind Games, Perfect Lies is divided between two narrators, Fia and her sister Annie. The sisters are mostly separated in this book, which makes their two points of view even more important. Even though they’re not together, their bond is extremely strong and they work hard to protect each other, no matter the cost. Fia is determined to keep pretending that she killed Annie, and Annie refuses to hide if that means staying away from Fia.
As impossible as this may sound, Fia is crazier and more vulnerable than ever. Separated from her sister, she only has James to rely on and she clings to him with all her might. James, being his usual morally dubious self, plays seven different games at once and no one quite knows where his loyalties lie. Fia got under my skin in Mind Games, but she flat-out broke my heart in Perfect Lies. She was lost, confused, scared, possibly more aggressive than ever – a wounded animal with nowhere left to run. From the start, I had the distinct feeling that she’d given up on herself, having achieved her only goal, which was to keep Annie safe. Her apathy made me hurt so much I almost couldn’t stand it.
”Do I look like I need protection?” I hold out my hands, one with streaks of blood on it, and give him my best crazy crazy crazy crazy grin. “You know, I like Dmitri. I crippled him, but I like him.”
Compared to Fia, Annie has always seemed almost bland. She does spread her wings a little bit in Perfect Lies when she’s forced to stop cowering behind Fia and to finally take some responsibility for her own fate. There is finally a romantic interest for her too, but like everything else with Annie, it’s pretty complicated and a tiny bit frustrating.
If there’s one thing that bothered me in Perfect Lies, it was the messed up timeline, the constant jumps back and forth in time, chapter after chapter, until I lost track of what had happened and what was yet to come. I suppose this was done to build up tension, but, while good, the idea wasn’t thought through. Instead of achieving the desired effect, it made me feel more than a little lost at times.
The ending, I must confess, was left a bit too open for my taste. If there was ever a book in desperate need of an epilogue, it’s this one. As it was, I can’t say I was satisfied with how things were left, and I even felt a bit cheated.
Be that as it may, I nevertheless strongly recommend this duology (!) to fans of peculiar stories and even more peculiar writing.
Holy cliffhanger, Batman! Darynda sure knows how to end a book with a jaw-dropping moment. It may take my poor heart a good long while to recover from...moreHoly cliffhanger, Batman! Darynda sure knows how to end a book with a jaw-dropping moment. It may take my poor heart a good long while to recover from this one, but seeing as the next book comes out in October, rest assured, recover I will.
At this point, picking up a new Charley Davidson book feels a lot like coming home after a long and rather painful absence. Darynda’s characters have such strong personalities that it’s almost too easy to imagine them having lives beyond these pages. Getting a glimpse of their hilarious existence is very much an honor and a privilege.
It’s not all sunshine and roses, though. Truth be told, Sixth Grave seems to be a bit of a rush job. I was disappointed by the lack of structure in this plot, some conversations that lead absolutely nowhere and more than a few loose ends. I realize that unfinished storylines can be expected this late in the series, but some of them seemed forgotten rather than left purposely for later installments. It’s not something Darynda normally does and while I enjoyed Sixth Grave overall, I felt just a little bit let down.
Be that as it may, the fact remains that this is a series one can count for fabulous entertainment, sizzling hot romance and too many sidesplitting one-liners to count. Charley herself takes few things seriously which makes her different from every other UF or PNR heroine out there.
I’ll keep this short because, at book six, there’s little to say I haven’t said before: the Charley Davidson has hordes of fans for a reason. I suspect Darynda Jones might have a hard time moving on from this series because there’s too much of her in Charley, but as long as she’s writing these, there’s not much to worry about. If making people laugh and swoon at the same time were a sport, Darynda would be a multiple Olympic gold medalist.
For the longest time, whenever someone reviewed one of Sarah Dessen’s books, I had to start my comment with the words “I’ve never actually read anythi...moreFor the longest time, whenever someone reviewed one of Sarah Dessen’s books, I had to start my comment with the words “I’ve never actually read anything by her before…” and to be honest, I was getting tired of it. So when an audiobook came my way, I decided to change that once and for all.
You all know that contemporary YA makes me uncomfortable at times, even when it’s not about something I can easily relate to. To make matters worse, The Truth About Forever hit too close to home, but instead of abandoning it like a coward I usually am, I kept listening… and I soon found myself wanting to hug it and run away from it at the same time.
Like Macy, I know all about being that girl whose dad died. The weight you carry when you lose the most important person in your life is as familiar to me as my own skin. Therefore, feeling her struggle was easy for me and I especially understood her need to tiptoe around her mother, trying to avoid hurting her at all costs.
It was clear right from the beginning that Macy’s relationship with Jason was based on all the wrong things. It was convenient, isolating and passionless, not something a sixteen-year-old girl should be in permanently… or at all. Right from the start, I saw Jason as just another integral piece of her coping mechanism, and as such, he didn’t invoke any kind of emotional response for me, except mild annoyance and maybe a bit of pity.
Enter Wes, a normal boy with his own problems and a kind soul. He and Macy start a tentative friendship and, through an ongoing game of Truth, open up to each other. Suddenly Macy finds herself talking about things she’s never talked about before, and the experience is liberating. Theirs is an extremely slow-burning romance, and the emphasis is always on their friendship, although it doesn’t hurt that Wes is as gorgeous as they come.
The Truth about Forever is, in some small way, a love story. But more than that, it is a story about friendships and grief, about learning to communicate when staying quiet is the safest thing to do.
The narrator, Stina Nielsen, is excellent. Her voice is calm and soothing, and she avoided bringing unnecessary drama to the story. There were times when her voices sounded just a tad too old to belong to a 16-year-old girl, but that’s a minor thing that can easily be overlooked. I admit there were times when I wanted to drop the audio and just read the rest because 12 hours is a very long time to spend listening to a fairly uneventful book, but I’m glad I didn’t give up. It made the final part so much more rewarding.
Sarah Dessen and I have just started our adventure, and I still need to read something by both Sarah Ockler and Sara Zarr or you people will come at me with pitchforks. But there’s no need for extreme measures. I promised, didn’t I?
On the surface, Rush has everything going for it: a great cover, an excellent idea, a promising beginning and a pretty decent pacing. These are all th...moreOn the surface, Rush has everything going for it: a great cover, an excellent idea, a promising beginning and a pretty decent pacing. These are all things that stay true until the end. But along the line, other things crawl in between them – things like love triangles (rectangles, really), best friend drama etc. and they ruin the fun just a little bit.
However, that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy Rush – it is perhaps one of the most appropriately titled books I’ve ever read. Everything but the middle part brings a rush of excitement, an adrenaline surge that forces you to turn those pages as quickly as humanly possible. These kids travel through time and space to battle aliens – the ugly, telepathic Drau that want to take over our planet and drain it dry, and all that in a setting that is purposely made to look and function like a video game. What could be more exciting than that?
Rush opens with our heroine, Miki Jones, running to save a deaf little girl from an oncoming truck and getting hit in the process. A mere second later, while her body lays broken on the ground, she gets pulled to a clearing where four other kids await… including Luka Vujic, a boy from Miki’s school. They tell her she’s been drafted to fight the Drau and that she’ll occasionally get pulled from her regular life to go into battle with the rest of them.
Miki Jones stands out in more ways than one. She lost her mother when she was fourteen and she and her father struggle with their grief in very different ways. While her father drinks himself to sleep every night, Miki desperately wants to control every aspect of her life. She is no shrinking violet, though. When she gets pulled into the game, she takes some time to adjust, but once she does, no Drau is safe from her. Eight years of kendo guarantee her physical readiness, but her bravery and adaptiveness come from a different place altogether. Even more importantly, Miki’s steel spine doesn’t mean she’s emotionless; she experiences pain and loss and grief just like everyone else, but she never wallows in self-pity. Moments of insecurity come and go, but each of them leaves Miki stronger and readier to face life, both in the game and outside of it.
When Miki gets pulled the first time, she is understandably relieved to find someone she knows already there, but Luka is not the one who steals all her attention, as much as he’d like to be at first. No, that honor belongs to Jackson, the team’s unofficial leader and a strong believer in the tough love approach. The love triangle does rear its ugly head (two of them, actually) but it is never fully developed. It is always clear whom Miki wants and even the other boy loses interest after a while.
Whatever problems I had with Rush at first were neatly taken care of in the second half. The dreaded love triangle was gone, Miki was fiercer than ever, and the action was just amazing. It took me a while to process this book, but I can honestly say it left a strong impression on me. As far as I’m concerned, the second book can’t come soon enough.
2.5 stars Does everyone remember Dolores Umbridge and that wicked quill of hers? Of course you do, why am I even asking? How could you not remember poo...more2.5 stars Does everyone remember Dolores Umbridge and that wicked quill of hers? Of course you do, why am I even asking? How could you not remember poor Harry writing in his own blood. Well, I need Professor Umbridge right about now, only instead of I must not tell lies, I’d like her to force me to write I must not believe the hype. A few pages, a nasty scar, and voila, I’d be fully reformed.
While I’m ready to admit that The Collector has a lot going for it (its laugh-out-loud humor being number one on that list), I don’t think the good outweighs the bad, I’m afraid. Dante Walker, collector extraordinaire and ultimate bad boy isn’t nearly as charming as I’d been lead to believe. He is, at times, hilarious, I’ll give him that much – but that kind of thing loses its shine quickly, and what remains is just another bad boy with a good heart, waiting for the right girl to come along and save him.
Nevertheless, this could have been quite entertaining if not for Charlie’s physical appearance at the beginning. It didn’t bother me that she was unattractive, but that she needed to be unattractive in order to emphasize Dante’s later transformation. Everything was depending on him accepting her for who she was – and who she was was exaggerated to the point of being ridiculous. All the squealing, the crooked teeth, the awful skin, the limp… I mean, really? Did Scott have to go to such extremes? And then, of course, just as Dante finally noticed her inner beauty, the ugly duckling became a swan, so no self-sacrifice on his part was necessary after all. Ugh.
Truth be told, paranormal romance is never my first choice, or my second… or my seventeenth, really, but I wanted to like The Collector more than I actually did. As it is, I won’t be continuing the series unless other reviewers somehow convince me using their evil mind tricks. It’s been known to happen, you know. :)