Well, well, those Strange Chemistry people just keep throwing these little gems at us! It’s the only imprint that has yet to disappoint me in any way...moreWell, well, those Strange Chemistry people just keep throwing these little gems at us! It’s the only imprint that has yet to disappoint me in any way and Cracked is another one of their successes waiting to happen – funny, thought provoking, surprising and surprisingly heartbreaking, it is a great beginning to what promises to be a fabulous new series.
So many YA authors avoid taking risks at all costs, choosing to rely on tested recipes and roads well-traveled instead, but Eliza Crewe cannot be counted among them. The opening scene of Cracked, with Meda in an asylum preparing to eat the soul of a vicious murderer, sets the tone for the rest of the book. Cracked is bold and daring and above all, different, all due to Meda’s distinctive voice and her moral ambiguity. Meda has hardly any redeeming qualities. She is blood-thirsty, self-centered and just a tiny bit evil, but somehow Crewe made her likeable anyway so that, even when her actions make us cringe, we can’t help but laugh at her antics and her witty comments.
I’ve always known I’m a monster. My skin is as tough as sheet metal, my bones are almost impossible to break. I can run faster and jump higher than any Olympian. My strength is unreal. And let’s not forget, I eat people…
Crewe has the teen language down to a T, which gives Meda’s voice additional authenticity and spark. She cannot be mistaken for an older character, and her sarcasm combined with the typical teen wit and sharpness give her an original voice that will cause you to laugh yourself into stitches.
Demons and Templars aren’t new in YA, but Crewe offers a slightly different take. Although just a touch too juvenile at times, the worldbuilding is well structured and rich enough to give the story a very distinctive flavor. Cracked hides quite a few surprises along the way, things I never saw coming and some I suspected but was unsure of. In addition, Crewe has a talent for making pretty standard characters seem new and fully fleshed-out. All this makes Cracked a must read; while it doesn’t offer astounding depth, the entertainment value is practically immeasurable.
Eliza Crewe is a promising young writer who dares to take risks, already a force to be reckoned with. Read Cracked, and then join me in comfort-eating muffins and desperately begging for the sequel. Not because Cracked ends with a cliffhanger – it doesn’t – but because it’s just so darn fun.
All my ratings have been pretty high lately, mostly because I choose very carefully what to read next. I value my time too much to purposely read book...moreAll my ratings have been pretty high lately, mostly because I choose very carefully what to read next. I value my time too much to purposely read books I know I won’t like. So what on earth possessed me to pick up this book after the Half-Blood debacle, I have no idea.
Most of my friends loved Obsidian and I respect that, I really do. I can even see why, the ingredients are all there: a gorgeous, mean guy and a plain, book-nerdish girl, a love-hate relationship between our protagonists, hero’s perky sister that becomes the heroine’s best friend, the evil ex-girlfriend that spits fire every time our heroine gets close, two clueless friends and a mostly absent single parent… need I go on? However, even when you figure all this out, Armentrout finds a way to sneak up on you. Every now and then I’d lose myself in a funny piece of dialogue or an especially steamy scene, but it wouldn’t take long for me to remember what I was really reading and why it was making me so mad. But let’s start at the beginning.
Three years after the death of her father, Katy’s mother decides that it’s time to move on and that, in order to do that, they need to sell everything they own and move from sunny Florida to a town of about 500 inhabitants in the middle of nowhere, West Virginia. On her first day in the new house, Katy meets her next door neighbors, twins Dee and Daemon. While she and Dee instantly hit it off, Daemon acts like a total jerk and makes some cryptic comments about ‘Katy’s kind’. He is, of course, absolutely gorgeous (Ohmigod, he’s so gorgeous, how could he possibly be attracted to plain ol’ me? I must be imagining things.), and very mysterious. As the time passes, Kat starts noticing that something is not quite right with the way Daemon, Dee and their friends are behaving, and then he saves her from an attacker and well… you know the rest.
Apparently, aliens are the new vampires. No, seriously. Daemon is Edward 2.0 – a moodier, meaner and prettier version of our dear Mr. Cullen. To be honest, this entire book is just another Twilight rip-off. Not flat-out stolen like Half-Blood, but not that far, either. That alone wouldn’t really upset me much since it's not the first and it certainly won't be the last, but what I found unforgivable was that Armentrout felt the need to make fun of Twilight while writing the exact same story.
And when he spoke, it wasn’t out loud. It was in my head. This is what we look like. We are beings of light. Even in human form, we can bend light to our will. There was a pause. As you can see, I don’t look like a giant insect. Or… sparkle. Even in my head I could hear the disgust on that last one.
See? So rude. It’s true that Daemon doesn’t sparkle, but he IS made of light. Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, you should kick pot’s ass.
I’m sure this book will have many fans, but I’m afraid my short and turbulent relationship with Ms. Armentrout is now over.
3.5 stars I don't like being the first person to review a book at all! But here it is: For a debut, self-published author, Zachary Rawlins is pretty dam...more3.5 stars I don't like being the first person to review a book at all! But here it is: For a debut, self-published author, Zachary Rawlins is pretty damn good. In fact, he’s better than a lot of experienced authors with big publishing houses behind their backs. With just a little more work and a good editor, this book could turn into pure gold.
Rawlins’s world is very complicated. Here’s my attempt at explaining some of it: The secret supernatural community known as the Central is divided into cartels, of which only two are important: the Hegemony and the Black Sun. In theory, students of the Academy aren’t allowed to declare for a cartel until they complete their second year (unless they were born into one - which is rare), but in reality, they often choose their way much sooner.
Most of the students come from normal families. The Central does secret screenings at public schools and singles out everyone with the ability to control the Ether. But the Talent itself isn’t enough, so upon their arrival at the Academy, they need to have nanites introduced into their system. The nanites allow them to use their abilities, but they also make them stronger, faster and very close to immortal. Not all students have the same power: there are empaths, telepaths, pyros, and just about everything else you can think of.
After the Academy, students become Operators in the cartel that chose them, depending on their ability, but the very best usually opt to become Auditors, who are supposed to be neutral and in charge of keeping the cartels in order.
So that's pretty much it. It's not an easy world to explain. However, worldbuilding isn’t what I loved most about The Academy, the characters are. I’ll mention just a few of them: • Alex Warner has just arrived at the Academy, but he is by far the most powerful of them all. All the cartels want him, but as soon as he picks one, the others will do their very best to kill him. • Mitsuru is a hundred years old, but she looks no more than nineteen – that is, until you notice her red eyes. She is a Black Protocol user and her mind had been reengineered as a logic processing engine, allowing her to become a field strategist, but making her more machine than human in the process. She has no emotional attachments. Probability fields and bloodbaths are all she cares about. • Alice Gallow is an Auditor and a Black Protocol user who forgets things every time she uses her powers. She is close to invincible, but she spends all her free time writing and reading hundreds and hundreds of diaries. She is also a bloodthirsty psychopath. • Anastasia Martynova is the scion of the Black Sun cartel. Introducing nanites into her organism stopped her growth completely. She looks no more than thirteen, wears a lot of black lace and never leaves her room without a parasol, which usually makes people underestimate her, but she is a power player, perhaps the most deadly one around.
I’ll be the first to admit that you need a certain amount of patience to read The Academy. For one, it is far too long: if printed, I'm sure it would have more than 500 pages, which means that there are quite a few unnecessary chapters you need to go through to get to the good ones, but since the good ones really are jaw-dropping, I think it’s well worth it. My other problem was with parts that reminded me to much of a well known movie trilogy. I’ll just give you a short example and let you draw your own conclusions: The rifle was firing at full auto, but the acceleration of Mitsuru’s protocol was such that she heard each individual shot, and she saw the flare of hot gas that punctuated each shell’s ignition. She fell forward, under the arc of bullets that plodded toward her, and then rolled, her perception so agonizingly acute she could see the wake of distorted air the bullets left behind.
In my opinion, The Academy is not a YA novel. The fact that most of it happens in a school can be quite misleading. It is very violent, far too complicated and it doesn’t follow any of the usual patterns.
You can buy The Academy ebook for $0.99 or $2.99 on Amazon, depending on your location. If you like violent, unpredictable, action-packed stories, you’ll probably enjoy it. The second book, The Anathema, will be available January, 2012. I can't wait to read it. In fact, I want it right now!!! Do you hear me, mysterious Zachary Rawlins? Write faster! (less)
This is another fine example of why you should never judge a book by its covers. The cover is beautiful and that’s what got me into trouble...more1.5 stars!
This is another fine example of why you should never judge a book by its covers. The cover is beautiful and that’s what got me into trouble… again!
Of all the terrible and frustrating characters on this planet, Shay McGuire is by far the worst. Sick Girl, as she likes to call herself, is incredibly selfish, self-centered, out of control and plain stupid. I’m not sure if the authors intended for her to be that way, but somehow I doubt it.
Ok, here’s the story: Shay was born with a rare, or rather unique blood disorder. Her stepfather, Martin, is an expert in leukemia who abandoned his work so he could focus all his attention on finding the cure for Shay (or so he says). One day, Martin gave Shay a transfusion that actually made her feel better. After a lifetime of feeling weak and exhausted, Shay suddenly had the strength to do whatever she wanted. So what did she choose? Drinking, acting out and risking her life every chance she gets.
Just so we’re clear here: was I supposed to sympathize with the girl who used her illness to behave like a complete brat? Was I supposed to feel sorry for this girl who kissed her best friend’s boyfriend the first chance she got, a girl who takes everyone for granted and treats people who care about her like trash? Because if I was, it SO did not work out that way. I’m one of those people who can’t like a book unless they can connect to the main character and that didn’t happen here.
And Gabriel is just so old! I’d never before been bothered by the age difference in paranormal YA, maybe because they all at least tried to behave like teenagers and it wasn’t so obvious. But Gabriel keeps pointing out that he’s more than 400 years old and he even acts like it. I kept thinking: b-b-but she is 16 and immature!!! What can you possibly see in her?!
Unfortunately, I have no choice but to read the sequel so you can expect another one of these rants reviews in the near future. (less)
Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later: an Aussie YA novel I didn’t enjoy at all! In fact, if not for my two wonderful readalong partners who ma...moreWell, it was bound to happen sooner or later: an Aussie YA novel I didn’t enjoy at all! In fact, if not for my two wonderful readalong partners who made the experience not only bearable, but extremely fun, I would have given up after a hundred pages or so.
Ava’s parents are supposedly very liberal, and her girlfriend Chloe has an owerpowering personality. Together they’re pushing Ava into an alternative lifestyle she secretly hates. Oddly enough, all Ava wants is to wear pink and sing in a musical. She decides to move to a new school, where she plans to find a way of joining the in crowd, or Pastels, as she calls them. However, that doesn’t turn out so well for Ava. Instead of getting the role she wanted in the school musical, she ends up working with the stage crew, a group of misfits led by a boy named Sam. She ends up balancing three different lives and three different personalities, none of which are compatible with the others.
Characterization is where Wilkinson failed spectacularly. Having read A Pocketful of Eyes first, I knew that she was more than capable of creating more interesting and complex characters, which is why I have to conclude that she did this on purpose. But why? Every character in Pink is a walking stereotype: we have Ava’s intellectually snobbish girlfriend Chloe, playing the role of a lesbian feminist; Ava’s parents, so obsessed with being tolerant that they end up not tolerating anything mainstream; Alexis, the shallow blonde, perfect in everything she does; a gay friend, a secretly gay friend, a friend embarrassed by his rich parents, and in the end, Ava herself, completely devoid of personality.
Ava is one of the most self-centered, infuriating characters I’ve ever stumbled upon. The series of disastrous decisions she made in such a short period of time nearly drove me insane. Stories about personal growth by definition introduce a character that makes poor choices at the beginning, but finds a way to redeem himself/herself by the end. After one particularly bad decision, I’m afraid Ava reached the point of no redemption in my eyes.
Unfortunately, I doubt that I’ll be reading any more of Wilkinson’s novels. After reading two of them, I can honestly say that she’s not an author whose work I enjoy. (less)
487 pages of pure torture! What Alice Forgot was not at all what I expected. That should teach me never to read a book that hasn’t been rated by at le...more487 pages of pure torture! What Alice Forgot was not at all what I expected. That should teach me never to read a book that hasn’t been rated by at least one of my trusted friends. You see, I thought this would be a well written, intelligent, heartwarming story about a woman who loses ten years of her life, but finds some other, maybe even more valuable things instead. Obviously, I was very wrong. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t normally mind reading the Aussie version of a Maeve Binchy novel, but I DID mind reading a boring Aussie version of Tara Road.
In the beginning of What Alice Forgot, Alice is lying on the gym floor (Gym?! What's she doing in a gym? She hates that sort of thing!), surrounded by strange people who are asking all kinds of silly questions. The whole situation is pretty surreal since Alice has no idea how she got there in the first place! However, it takes more than that to upset her these days: she is only 29, she has a new house, an amazing sister who also happens to be her best friend, a baby on the way and a husband who tells her things like: “Don’t be ridiculous, you goose, you know I’m bloody besotted with you.” when she’s feeling insecure. One of them will surely arrive soon to take care of her. Now, if only these people around her would stop acting like they know her! The person they’re talking about can’t be Alice, because Alice is not having her 40th birthday party in a few days, she is not obsessed with exercise, she doesn’t have three children and she most certainly isn’t getting a divorce any time soon! Why would she? She and Nick are so happy together! Only half an hour later she’s in a hospital, her sister refuses to answer her calls, Nick is yelling at her from Portugal and a strange boy is calling her Mum. She has carelessly misplaced a decade of her life!
Sounds interesting, right? Yes, I thought so, too. Maybe it would have been if Liane Moriarty knew when to stop. 250 pages would have been more than enough for this story, the other 237 were completely unnecessary. I could go into details, but the thought of wasting another minute on this gives me a headache. I was just checking the other ratings for this book. It has 4.02 average rating so I guess that makes me the odd one out for wanting to give it one star. I only added the other one for those few laughs Moriarty managed to squeeze out of me.