Confession time: I'm partial to the occasional trashy, chick-lit novel. You know the ones I mean. Those meaningless dramas where everyone sleeps withConfession time: I'm partial to the occasional trashy, chick-lit novel. You know the ones I mean. Those meaningless dramas where everyone sleeps with everyone and everyone betrays everyone and you are not required to think too hard. So when people were calling this a "futuristic Gossip Girl", that honestly didn't bother me. GG is an old guilty pleasure. Also, Chuck + Blair 4ever.
On the other end of the call was Atlas, her brother - and the reason she never wanted to kiss anyone else.
I don't care that he's technically her step-brother; my issue with incest extends way beyond genetic factors. I don't mind when it appears to show abuse or is portrayed negatively, but I got the distinct impression that it's actually supposed to be sexy in this book. And I'm sorry, but I don't buy into the "consenting adults" argument for incest, or the comparisons with homosexuality. As Saletan's Slate article says:
Homosexuality is an orientation. Incest isn't. If the law bans gay sex, a lesbian can't have a sex life. But if you're hot for your sister, and the law says you can't sleep with her, you have billions of other options. Get out of your house, for God's sake. You'll find somebody to love without incinerating your family.
It was a huge issue for me in a novel that could have easily been some mindless entertainment. McGee considers many different aspects of what the year 2118 might look like, from technology to global warming to designer babies. On top of that, it's a diverse book, as well as just a very interesting and rather... dazzling idea. Imagine a future where Manhattan literally becomes a vertical city in an enormous skyscraper; the extremely wealthy partying and getting high on the top floors.
But I just don't want to read about siblings making out. I read to the end to find out who falls from the tower in the prologue, but I seriously considered not finishing it the moment Avery and Atlas lock lips. There are a lot of characters in this novel, all being young, stupid and scandalous, and I honestly quite enjoyed reading about their superficial lives, but I won't be returning for the sequel. That kind of "romance" is just not my thing.
Oh god. It's like every bibliophile's wet dream came true. This book can't possibly be as good as it looks, can it? I tried to read the reviews but I
Oh god. It's like every bibliophile's wet dream came true. This book can't possibly be as good as it looks, can it? I tried to read the reviews but I only got a 'B' in high school German and that was eight years ago. Screw it, I must find out!...more
“Stories twist and turn and grow and meet and give birth to other stories. Here and there, one story touches another, and a familiar character, somet
“Stories twist and turn and grow and meet and give birth to other stories. Here and there, one story touches another, and a familiar character, sometimes the hero, walks over the bridge from one story into another.”
I think we need to clear some things up about this book.
This is just my theory, but I'm pretty sure something like this happened: Due to the popularity of fairy tales and retellings in American YA, publishers have been scouting out the next bestseller - both among upcoming manuscripts AND in books already published. They found this book, which is written with certain fairy tale elements, and they rebranded the hell out of it for the market.
Look at that gorgeous cover! And that title! How easy it was to turn that title into something that screamed "fairy tale retelling" without doing any extra work.
But it's not a fairy tale retelling. It's just not. I can foresee all the people bypassing the blurb and hoping for the next Cinder or Cruel Beauty, and this book just isn't anything like that. It's historical fiction - downright weird historical fiction, to tell the truth - and retells the Russian Revolution with allusions to fairy tales and a lot of strange metaphors.
Sedgwick is actually one of my favourite authors. He isn't afraid to do something new and completely different. I get the impression that he sits down to write interesting and unique stories with no thought for what's trending right now or what genre he's going to fit his stories into. Midwinterblood was wonderful, The Ghosts of Heaven was one of my favourite books of last year, Revolver shouldn't be so damn good, but it is.
This one, though, wasn't one of my favourites. I quite liked it in the beginning because MS just sets the scene so well. I could feel the cold of the Russian Winter penetrating the heat of the L.A. Summer I'm currently sat in. I liked the way he told the story of the Russian Revolution almost like it was a fairy tale - it felt magical; strange.
I also really like when stories reveal small, mostly-unknown pockets of history. Sedgwick's protagonist is Arthur Ransome - a real life author of the Swallows and Amazons series and the author of several books on the Russian Revolution, including The Crisis In Russia and Six Weeks In Russia In 1919. I had no idea there was a link between Ransome and Russia until I read this book.
But, after the magical, atmospheric opening where MS retells the fall of the Tsar and the rise of Lenin and Trotsky, the book loses its magic and becomes a dull tale about Arthur as a young journalist and writer. Russia, the Russian revolution, the rise of communism, fairy tales and metaphors... all of these things are interesting, but it just wasn't that interesting to read about a boring British journalist.
Some fantastic ideas here and some interesting metaphors, but definitely not Segdwick's best work, and definitely not the fluffy fairy tale retelling it appears to be.
Every girl with eyes loved Fenrin. But I was not like those prattling, chattering things with their careful head tosses and thick, cloying lip gloss.
Every girl with eyes loved Fenrin. But I was not like those prattling, chattering things with their careful head tosses and thick, cloying lip gloss. Inside, buried down deep where no one could see it, was the core of me, burning endlessly, coal black and coal bright.
Oh sweet Jesus, get over yourself. Did that quote really come from a narrator we're supposed to take seriously? Of all the things I expected from this book, a super emo, extremely slow, Twilight-esque story was not one of them.
I'm not just throwing the word "Twilight" around. For most of this novel, the obsession with the ethereal Graces reminded me of the obsession with the Cullens. The story is about the female narrator being the new kid in town and attending a school where everyone is obsessed with the gorgeous, weird Graces - Rosalie, Edward and Alice Thalia, Fenrin and Summer. For some reason, they allow River into their tight-knit little circle and invite her to meet their equally stunning and strange parents. Turns out they might be witches.
Okay, well firstly, it's boring. There is literally no plot for the vast majority of the novel and it all builds toward what I guess was supposed to be a twist... um, well, I saw that coming a mile away. The first 250-ish pages are made up of River going on and on about the Graces, especially her love for Fenrin and shallow friendship with Summer. There's also some chanting and "spellwork" that may or may not be real. Oooh.
You see, that's the real problem with this book and Anna already said it: there's no atmosphere. It tries to be so deep and meaningful with all the emo dialogue like:
“I can stop pretending when I’m alone.”
"The thing is, " he said softly, "we're all going to die." "Yes." "But the first time you really realize it... how do you get over that?"
But I just can't take it seriously. None of these characters, none of the plot, is deep and mysterious enough to warrant those conversations. It just made me roll my eyes. The author clearly wanted to write a dark, deep novel about three mysterious teenagers, but we've been left with a silly, predictable high school drama about a goth, a hippie and a hipster.
I neither liked nor was interested in River. Her disdain for other girls in the novel - she even refers to them as "things" - made my blood boil at times. It's all part of the package that is her character - someone who believes they're just so much deeper than everyone else. This is how she describes another girl:
She wore big, fake, gold hoop earrings and tiny skirts, and her voice had a rattling screech to it, like a magpie’s.
I foresee the "twist" being used to explain away a lot of things, but I'm not playing. Even forgetting how obvious it was, it didn't make up for the slowness and the annoying cast of characters. The novel gives very little up in an attempt to be mysterious so that the author can pull back the curtain to reveal... Muahaha. But the "suspense" is so forced that I was cringing.
Personally, this kind of book with flat, cliched characters, "oh, what is this universe?" dialogue and little-to-no plot does not work for me. But according to my arc, I'm in the minority, because this emo mush has already been translated into at least five other languages. Maybe girl-on-girl hate sounds classier in French?
“Now, listen, Miss Howel. I’ve never seen another girl who could do what you’ve done, and I’ve searched for four years. I’ve never met another sorcer
“Now, listen, Miss Howel. I’ve never seen another girl who could do what you’ve done, and I’ve searched for four years. I’ve never met another sorcerer who could burn and walk away unscathed.”
Maybe five or so years ago this book stood a chance. But, come on, there's not a single thing in A Shadow Bright and Burning that we haven't all seen before.
Limited world-building and a plethora of potential love interests fuel this derivative Victorian fantasy. It begins with a familiar premise: an orphaned, mistreated girl called Henrietta lives a miserable existence until she is discovered by a sorcerer who claims she is a prophesied chosen one. He whisks her out of the life she has known and takes her to train her powers with other sorcerers.
Almost everything is borrowed from other series. Harry Potter being the obvious example, but there's some Mortal Instruments/Infernal Devices in there too, as well as others. The magically warded secret area of London called "London Proper" is reminiscent of Diagon Alley, and Rowling's influence rears its head again when Rook knows dark magic is coming because his scars hurt.
The author could have avoided this by developing her own take on both of these, but everything is skimmed over. Very little is explained. Much of this world remains a mystery to me even after finishing the book. When we do get some background information on the world, its history, and its magic system, it comes in the form of forced, unnatural conversations. The characters are clearly only discussing it for the purpose of educating the reader and it feels so out of place.
There's hints at attraction with at least three of the male characters. Though the Mary Sue heroine is adamant that she is unattractive and that everyone is DEFINITELY NOT in love with her, evidence abounds to the contrary. Other characters can see that Rook is in love with Henrietta but "Omigosh, no!! They're just friends!" even though she describes him like this:
Granted, Rook was attractive, with sharp, elegant features and blue eyes. His hair was still the same flaxen down it had been when we were eight. He looked like a poet or a gentleman, I’d always thought, even if he was only a stable boy.
The book just doesn't do anything new. Even the attempts to put a new spin on the super special "Chosen One" trope result in a spin we've seen several times already.
And I simply couldn't find anything to read for. The book moves through a cycle of Henrietta practicing her magic in repetitive elemental displays, flirting with one of the boys, and doing something dumb. By the latter I mean that she always finds a way to rush into any magical attack, against the orders of the most powerful sorcerers.
I guess if you're still not over the whole "special chosen girl fights monsters and flirts with boys" thing, then this could work more for you. Me? I'm tired of it.
Also, one last minor thing: every sorcerer gets a stave, which is basically a big magic wand, and their magic is tied to it. Losing it is VERY BAD. However, if you want me to appreciate the seriousness of losing one's stave, don't name it Porridge.
“The pain of losing Porridge, the mere idea of it, threatened to crush me."
There are many thoughts running around in my head about this book and it's hard to decide how to write a reviI seem to be in the minority on this one.
There are many thoughts running around in my head about this book and it's hard to decide how to write a review without sounding completely insensitive. If this were a real life account of a rape survivor, then things would be different. Every survivor has their own story to tell, each equally valid, and they don't owe anyone an interesting, convincing account of it. Fiction, though, is a little bit different.
I've read many books about teenage girls who were raped, from the classic Speak, to last year's harrowing tale of how a girl is let down by everyone around her - All the Rage, to the recent book about a girl with a strong support network - Exit, Pursued by a Bear. These books are incredibly important for fostering discussion about rape, its aftermath, and the way we treat rape victims. The Way I Used to Be, however, adds nothing but more paper to the pile.
It's about another white girl living in a white world, who is raped and proceeds on a downward spiral towards sex, drugs and self-hatred. The novel's major selling point is that it looks at the aftereffects of rape over four years - freshman year, sophomore year, etc. - and yet this opportunity is wasted on a story lacking any real depth.
Though it promises a look at a rape survivor over time, it instead skips important plot points that shows the gradual downslide (like when Eden started calling her parents by their names and not "Mom" and "Dad"), preferring to skip to the angst.
Rose wrote a great positive review for this book and I just wanted to borrow her comparison to Ellen Hopkins. Hopkins is a much-loved author, but after liking one of her books, I soon started seeing them as torture porn. And I still think Hopkins's stories and characters do not have any depth, do not explore new areas or challenge you to think - they are one long misery ride through increasingly atrocious events (rape followed by drug abuse followed by their mom dying...). This book is a bit like that.
The Way I Used to Be is four years, 380 pages, of one unfortunate event after another. Eden is raped, her parents give her shit, her brother turns against her, she constantly freezes and break downs, her friends just don't get it, she starts sleeping around to distract herself, she gets called a slut and whore...
And here is where I risk sounding insensitive. Because how dare I suggest that Eden goes through too much negative shit? Shouldn't this book show the horrible reality? Yes! Absolutely, yes! It should. But a series of terrible events does not make a good book.
It honestly felt quite emotionless. Eden exists in a vacuum of her own thoughts (understandable, but it might have made a better third person story) and no other character is developed. Her relationships with her family and friends are one-dimensional and those characters all blend into the background.
I just don't think this book does anything new, or offers a different and interesting perspective. And, given that there are many rape survivor experiences out there still waiting to be told, it's a little disappointing to read this. Many books do what this book does... but better.
Nothing much to say about this one; it just isn't holding my attention. The protagonist is already slipping from my mind and I seem unable to get caugNothing much to say about this one; it just isn't holding my attention. The protagonist is already slipping from my mind and I seem unable to get caught up in the Victorian dances and dresses. Maybe because I recently read the more compelling The Dark Days Club and These Shallow Graves. Or maybe I just need to try again at a different time....more
A decent sequel, even if it is marred by uneven pacing and some problematic misrepresentation of North American history.
With an equally beautiful coveA decent sequel, even if it is marred by uneven pacing and some problematic misrepresentation of North American history.
With an equally beautiful cover and intriguing title, Like a River Glorious picks up where the last book left off. Leah Westfall, Jefferson, and accompanying crew have reached California and set about gold digging on a new piece of land. It's the California Gold Rush and they have the biggest advantage ever - Leah can magically sense the presence of gold. Good times.
However, Leah's money-grabbing uncle Hiram is still on their tale and he's getting closer.
The book counts on our hatred of Hiram to keep us turning pages and, frankly, it works well. A despicable, murdering traitor coming after our heroine is enough to make us care. Which is lucky because, in truth, this feels like exactly the same premise of the first book. Sure, they're in California now. But Walk on Earth a Stranger was about evading and escaping Hiram's clutches, and this book is more of the same.
Thankfully, as I said, Hiram is easy to despise. His cruelty made my blood boil, both in the way he treats Leah herself and his attitude towards the Native American "Indian" slaves he has captured and forced to work. Additionally, the language and setting in the book feel very true the time - it is not difficult to convince yourself you've been taken back to 1849.
Unfortunately, I cringed at some of the messages left lingering after the book's close. If you were one of those people who felt like The Help portrayed white people aiding and sympathizing with African-Americans at a time when such help wasn't being offered, then this book will probably bother you too.
Leah Westfall and her friends are established as the "good" white settlers because they offer clothing to the naked natives, making it somehow okay for them to steal and settle on their land. Not only did it feel like a misrepresentation of history to show white settlers being kind toward the Native Americans, but it is also troubling that, in the end, the Native Americans essentially help Leah and the other "good" settlers to steal the land instead of Hiram and the "bad" settlers. Intended sympathies toward the treatment of the natives get lost under confusing messages.
And I am revealed for exactly what I am - a particularly stupid fish, moving from hook to hook, never learning my lesson.
^This is a pretty good summ
And I am revealed for exactly what I am - a particularly stupid fish, moving from hook to hook, never learning my lesson.
^This is a pretty good summary of the whole book.
I know some people will not like that I tried Glass Sword after being really disappointed with Red Queen, but I've had a lot of luck with sequels lately. My dislike for first books like Cinder and The Winner's Curse turned into love for the later books in the series. So I thought I'd give Aveyard a second chance.
No disrespect intended, but I really do struggle to understand the popularity of this series. Nothing about it is particularly good or compelling. YA fantasy is made up of lots of fluff, but even the lightest of romantic fantasies generally offer some excitement, some pull, even if the world-building is scarce and it is heavily diluted by romance.
This sequel offers nothing like that. The prose is bland and the plot contains a lot of meandering between places and constant repetition. Mare's narrative is tiresome and dull, going over the same thoughts about Cal, Maven and her own specialness. Only the last few chapters contain any real action or story development - the rest of the book shows the characters going from place to place in search of those with special abilities who can help their mission.
The author is too lazy to craft thought-provoking scenes and characters, only ever writing something or someone when it furthers Mare’s mission. Everything feels orchestrated around the super special Mare, none of the characters have their own identity or purpose, which makes it not only boring, but also turns every character into a chess piece, a stereotype, and a trope. Glass Sword introduces many new characters and not a single one of them is memorable.
And Mare alone cannot carry this story. If, perhaps, her character had been so strong and interesting that it didn't really matter about the one-dimensional other characters, then maybe this book wouldn't have been terrible. But Mare is neither a likable character, nor an anti-heroine that demands your sympathy anyway. She's an immature, often stupid, mess.
Mare blends in with a sea of forgettable fantasy heroines. Even her flaws are not portrayed as such; her first-person narrative so self-obsessed. She's arrogant; always concerned with her own power and mission. She's selfish; often forgetting her family even exist and rarely expressing emotion befitting the situation. If you enjoy reading about super special heroines, stick with Throne of Glass. If you'd rather read about a fascinating and morally questionable anti-heroine, then check out The Young Elites.
For everything you could possibly be looking for, I can suggest a better book/series than this one. Unless you are actively seeking poor writing and boredom.
The late dose of action couldn't save the book, nor could the ending that is more cliffhanger than resolution. It is a boring, derivative fantasy that only stands out from the crowded genre when it sits dazzling prettily on a bookshelf.
This book is almost impossible to rate. Take my 3 -star rating lightly, because it does not even begin to sum up everything I felt about this differenThis book is almost impossible to rate. Take my 3 -star rating lightly, because it does not even begin to sum up everything I felt about this different, imaginative, weird romance.
I call it a "romance" out of the human need to categorize, but it truly doesn't sit well in any genre. It has paranormal and sci-fi elements, as well as what feels like touches of magical realism - all blended together around a complex love story with diverse characters.
Let me emphasize that once more - The Love That Split the World is a book rich with diversity, feminism, sex-positivism and just good old beautiful writing. The author chooses her words carefully, painting a gorgeous and vivid picture of both the Kentucky setting and this delicate time in Natalie Cleary's life.
Brimming with Native American stories, culture and mythology, the book whizzes along with a magical energy. It is full of many short stories (and through them - life lessons) told by the mysterious "Grandmother" who sometimes visits Natalie at night.
Who is Grandmother? A Native American messenger? A religious apparition? Or merely a figment of Natalie's imagination? Only time will tell.
Natalie is a particularly likable and wise character; she is quick to point out slut-shaming and refuses to see her ex's new girlfriend as her enemy or, indeed, anything other than a human being. On top of this, her mental state plays a large part in this book, asking a question I have personally always loved - supernatural or psychological?
Fantasy and psychology live side by side here, prompting the reader to constantly wonder just what is real and what is imagined.
Given my 3-star rating, you've probably been waiting for it and here it is - the BUT. Well... this book might be a great many things, but it is first and foremost a romance and relies on your attachment to said romance to effectively tell the story. And it breaks my first two rules of writing romance novels.
1) Instalove. Like wow, bang, whoosh, I just met you and this is crazy, but let me talk about your beautiful eyelashes kind of instalove. Romances where emotions are plucked out of midair and built upon gorgeous looks just leave me feeling so cold.
2) You so pretty. Sentences that become paragraphs that become pages about how Beau is a physical work of art.
"His biceps are roughly the size of my head, and his eyes look like summer incarnate, and he has two little dark freckles on the side of his nose, and a mouth that somehow manages to look like a shy kid’s one minute and a virile Greek god’s the next.”
*snores* I just don't care that much about beautiful people. And I especially don't need to be reminded over and over again how good-looking they are.
If you can look past the instalove and eye roll-worthy romance moments, then this really is a beautiful book. Unfortunately, so much rests on the romance that it's quite hard to do.
“Do you like to hunt for beehives?” my mother asks.
Those bees led us to the shade in the foothills of the mountains. We discovered their hive in the
“Do you like to hunt for beehives?” my mother asks.
Those bees led us to the shade in the foothills of the mountains. We discovered their hive in the middle of a stunted poplar, growing in a secluded grove protected by sharply rising cliffs at the edge of the meadow.
“This has been one of the best days of my life,” Shava says. Every head turns toward her; this statement is so strong. Shava meets my eyes and her smile is somehow odd. “I’ve seen so many bees but never really seen them—never seen how they live.”
Ivory and Bone does not merit an angry, ranting 1-star review. It honestly doesn't evoke that much emotion. In fact, the book's greatest crime is how exceptionally boring and forgettable it is.
It's a bold premise: a Pride and Prejudice retelling set in the Neolithic era (the later part of the Stone Age, or around 10,200-4,500 BC) with genders reversed. A challenging concept for any author, and sadly, Eshbaugh doesn't do it that well.
Anyone seriously on the lookout for an Austen retelling won't find it here, except in the very basic sense that there's a romance and a silly misunderstanding. I can guarantee that anyone coming to this book unaware of the supposed P&P aspect will fail to make the connection. "Retelling" is a marketing buzzword these days - that is all.
It must be incredibly hard to write a modern novel set in the neolithic era, so kudos to the author for trying. But the reality is that the plot (can we even really call it that?) is so freaking slow. Their lives are made up of hunting, extracting honey from bee hives, and locating medicinal plants. Maybe it is realistic, but it's not compelling.
When another clan arrives in Kol's life of hunting and gathering, he is instantly obsessed with Mya - an instant crush that never excited or interested me. The novel is written from Kol's POV and is addressed to "you", meaning Mya. This was actually a major selling point for me - I thought it sounded great - but it's a dry, awkward narrative and makes the storytelling difficult in parts.
While the drab daily events are convincingly neolithic in nature, the conversations are not. Again, I appreciate how hard this must be, but it was particularly jarring to be pulled out of the story by language that felt very modern. Perhaps it is possible that this kind of story simply doesn't work.
The slow beginning and middle does eventually give way to a rather chaotic climax, but it proves once again that fast pacing doesn't always equate to an engaging story. It felt messy, and by that point, I had already slumped too far into not caring to pull myself out.
Slow, dull, and lacking in general personality and charisma.
2 1/2 stars. I feel really conflicted about this one.
When We Collided tries to be both an honest account of a girl with bipolar disorder AND a love st2 1/2 stars. I feel really conflicted about this one.
When We Collided tries to be both an honest account of a girl with bipolar disorder AND a love story. Unfortunately, while it excels in the former, it fails in the latter, turning what could have been a thoughtful contemporary into an unnecessary romance.
It's such a strange book and I'm puzzled as to why the author thought it should be a romantic story at all. Especially with a dual narrative, only half of which feels particularly meaningful. For me, there could be no doubting that this was Vivi's story. The author tries to create an interesting story for Jonah so he doesn't become another manic pixie dream boy, but his "voice" pales in comparison to Vivi's and it was hard to be drawn into his story.
Maybe this seems a little harsh, and maybe it was the lack of narrative charisma in Jonah's chapters, but Jonah's family issues and money/business problems were just not that interesting.
And then there's the romance founded on instalove:
“When I met Jonah Daniels yesterday, there was a magical shift in the trajectory of my summer. He’s the ring to my Frodo, the wardrobe to my Lucy Pevensie. His presence in my life sets me on my journey, and I can feel it, a vital mission pulsing in my bones. Here is a boy who needs me."
Where was the chemistry? The build? The tension? Why did they just seem to know as soon as they met one another? This kind of romance is really boring to read about. I never came to see them as realistic romantic partners, which is probably why (view spoiler)[the ending had no effect on me. (hide spoiler)]
The book works far better as a study of a teenage girl with bipolar. It's not a pity party either, Vivi is realistically portrayed as a difficult, hyperactive and often annoying person. I think some people will struggle to find sympathy for her, especially because even her "normal" personality is quite over-the-top and she talks in a way that's a little annoying:
“And thank you especially to Jonah for the most beautiful meal I’ve seen in ages. I swear to the Man in the Moon, if it tastes half as good as it looks, I’m going to come meowing back at your front door for table scraps.”
“I’ve always fixated on the things I want in my life - paint palettes and sumptuous fabrics and star-flecked skies and dancing on my tiptoes and the smell of jasmine."
Her very exaggerated personality - full of floaty, artistic descriptions - contrasts with Jonah's bland normality and inherent niceness, making his perspective even less compelling, and hers even more overly enthusiastic.
Still, I liked that Vivi's illness wasn't used to emotionally manipulate the reader and I thought her descriptions of depression and her state of mind whilst taking medication were excellent. The author's note made it clear that depression is something personal and important to Ms Lord, so yet again I have to wonder: why choose to wrap it up in a romance?
Some good parts, but it could have been so much better.