The Need series has been a guilty pleasure of mine since book one due to the highly entertaining dialogue, the very unique characters and story line C...more The Need series has been a guilty pleasure of mine since book one due to the highly entertaining dialogue, the very unique characters and story line Carrie Jones created. After all, pixies aren't a paranormal creature I see a lot in the YA genre. Couple that with the use of Norse god mythology and you have a truly original series. All that being said, I do not think this was a strong conclusion, but I did still enjoy myself along the way.
Sometimes what I really dislike about reading a series while they are still being written is the lengthy waits. By the time I get to the next book, I can barely remember who each character is or their background. This is especially frustrating when the novel picks up directly or shortly after the last book ends. But Jones handles that fairly well with small recaps on the important info that happen in the previous novels. So even if it's been a year or more since you've read Entice, rest assured that you will most likely be able to keep up just fine.
Endure opens with Betty still missing and Nick still not very accepting of Zara being a pixie. It's a trying time for her and she has her share of FML moments, but I never thought they were over done. I think everyone is entitled to their own pity party when your boyfriend can stand the sight (and smell) of you. Zara and the gang have a lot on their plate in Endure since Frank is causing even more trouble trying to bring an end to the world. And then there is Astly, who Zara isn't entirely sure how she feel about. But unlike other heroines, Zara pushes her personal feelings aside to deal with the real matter at hand -- saving the world. I loved that about her because for once we have a heroine that realizes they have a job to do instead of moping around crying about her love life. But this comes as no surprise to me as I have always loved Zara as a main character. She's smart, compassionate (yet not to the point of having no self-preservation), and hilarious.
Still, there are a few things that irritated me a bit:
Nick -- I really don't know what happened to his character over the course of this series. But I don't like it. To put it bluntly, he was an ass in Endure. Straight up. Zara went to Valhalla to rescue him. She changed into a pixie for him, which she was strongly opposed to at first, and what does the little prick do? He completely shuns her because she is different. Later in the novel, a situation arises where she becomes human again and he has the nerve to show interest in her! Thankfully, Zara is a smarter than the average bear and does not accept his advances.
The Norse mythology -- It went right over my head. At first it was interesting in the pervious books because it's not often done, but it got more and more complicated. This book is only 262 pages and I don't think that was enough time to properly explore it fully. Somehow Zara is the key to stopping the apocalypse by freeing Loki, but then she's not supposed to free Loki because that actually starts the apocalypse?? I was very confused. I don't even think the characters knew what they were talking about. In fact, it's pretty clear they didn't considering the Norse gods were always correcting them on their information. Their response?
It seemed like a rather convenient excuse to explain away things that aren't fully explained in the first place. Don't get me wrong, I think it's pretty accurate for modern teens to find out everything they need to know from the University of Google. But it's another thing entirely for them to fully believe everything they read as much as was done in Endure. It was like:
"Oh noz! How do we stop the apocalypse?"
*fires up Google*
Go on and push it. I know you want to...
The Ending -- It really felt like Jones was just on a mission to hurry up and end the series. Overall I'm happy with the ending, but not the process in which it arrived there. But I really believe that it mostly comes back to things being a little too convenient for Zara and her friends.
However, even with those issues and not fully understanding the how everything connected together, I still was able to enjoy the novel. As for who Zara ends up with, well, let's just say I think fans will be very happy with the outcome. I know I was. ;)
ARC was provided by Bloomsbury via NetGalley. Thank you!
***Please note: It's been a while since finishing this book and I did not include many details in this review.
Initial thoughts after finishing the bo...more ***Please note: It's been a while since finishing this book and I did not include many details in this review.
Initial thoughts after finishing the book:
Somebody get Stephenie Meyer on the phone because this is how you add onto a trilogy without completely screwing your characters over. This is how you make a semi-insta-love relationship awesome. This is how you end a love triangle. And this is how you write a freakin' book!
4 stars seems too low and I think I love Iron Queen a little more (which I gave 5 stars). So actual rating is more like 4.5 stars. Full review to come!
Thoughts after some time had passed:
Wow, I can't believe I'm saying this, but this book didn't hold the same magic as books 1-3. Don't get me wrong, I still really enjoyed it, which is why I think it belongs with my 3.5 star books.
I am an Ash girl through and through. You cannot begin to imagine how excited I was to receive this as an ARC from Netgalley! I seriously did a major happy dance.
In this installment, we find Ash set out on his final adventure: to travel to the End of the World to find a soul. Without one, he will never be able to step foot in the Iron realm. Besides Puck, Ash finds himself accompanied by a few surprise companions and of course, the Cat. This book seemed to be slower paced that the others, focusing mainly on a lot of character development. I think it's fair to say by the end of the book you will know as much about tAsh as you did about Meghan. And that's saying something considering she had three books in her POV and Ash has only one.
I gobbled this book up, attempting to savor every moment. As usual, the banter between Puck and Ash was awesome. Julie never disappoints with her character dialog. In this book we really got a chance to have a deeper understanding of Ash *and* Puck, which was a really nice bonus. We learn more about Ariella's death and Ash's vowel. We also get a chance to see just how much Ash loves Meghan. And he truly does since he travels to the End of the World for her. The world building was once again awesome. You could easily picture the scenes described.
So, why was I not feeling the magic as much? I think a big part was because I really missed Meghan. I didn't realize how much she shaped Ash as a character in this series until she wasn't a major player. She does make some appearances in this book, but this is virtually *Ash's* book, told by his POV.
The ending was a happy one, but I think I prefer the ending in The Iron Queen instead because it was just a very emotional ending. The Iron Knight did have me tear up a bit, but The Iron Queen opened the flood gates.
So, if you loved the Iron Fey series definitely give The Iron Knight a go!
*Sigh* Do you know how you are really excited about a book and you have this feeling you are going to LOVE it. But soon as you start reading it you sta...more *Sigh* Do you know how you are really excited about a book and you have this feeling you are going to LOVE it. But soon as you start reading it you start to wonder if you have received the same copy as others who fell head over heels in love with it? Well, that is exactly what Wildefire was for me. I have a confession. I totally fell for the hype with this one. I really wanted to love this. Even when I felt like giving up halfway through, I continued on in hopes that it would get better. But, alas, for me, it did not. Did I hate it? No, that wouldn't be fair. Saying I hated it would put it on the same pathetic shelf along City of Fallen Angels and Marked and Wildefire wasn't *that* bad. But, was I disappointed? Immensely.
I gave this book 2 stars because while I didn't really like it, there were a few things I did like. So, I'll start at the good.
One of Wildefire's best qualities was the diversity of ethnicities. In the beginning, I'll admit I had trouble keeping up with who was who. The plus side to this is that it caused me to Google images of people from different cultures to get a better visual picture in my mind.
Ashline and her sister Eve are both Polynasian
Ade is Haitian
Rolfe is Scandinavian
Lily is Japanese
Raja is Egyptian
Ok, so don't laugh. *snicker, snicker* But as I was reading this book it kind gave me flash backs to Captain Planet.
GIFSoup We're the Planeteers! You can be one too! 'Cause saving our planet is the thing to do!
Other than the diverse cultures, I found the banter between the characters funny and entertaining at times. But, it was hard to determine who was speaking unless Knight told me who it was. Every character was snarky and it seemed like their personalities often times just blended together.
And that is pretty much where my warm fuzzies for this book ends. Ready for the bad? NOTE: This part may contain spoilers.
Our story begins with Ashline Wilde in a confrontation with a classmate over a boy. At first, I really liked her. I thought she was spunky and a strong MC. However, that image of her quickly died as the novel wore on. But before we even get to her, let's start off with asking why the Principle was just standing around in the first scene of the book with a student sprawled out on the ground unconscious? Hmmm? He might as well have stayed in his office for all the good he did. I don't care that he was scared of Eve, can we at least help the poor girl up?! If you are wondering if this book has more of these irritations, the answer would be, "Yes, yes it does."
Let us continue our discussion of Ash. I spent most of the novel asking questions that Ash should have been asking herself. It was quite frustrating. For example, it seems she just accepted her sister's weird powers in the beginning before she even knew what she herself was. I didn't find that very realistic. She didn't even question it. Another example would have to be the love interest, Colt. First off, any book that proposes insta-love with me already gets on my bad side. I don't have an issue if there is a mystery or reason clearly behind it and the MC actually *questions* it (that's the key point here). But, it was like, they meet in a bar one night and he is completely captivated with her. Ok-tay, fine. I can get with that. But then he shows up randomly at her tennis practice (major stalker vibes). To giver her credit, a day or so later she does ask him why he is so interested, but he gives her the most creepy, stalker answer ever. He borderline tells her, she has given his life new meaning and she just accepts it and decides to go out on a date with him.
As for the other characters in the book, I didn't really connect with them. I would have liked to see what happened to make Eve the way she was. What was the catalyst to her wild behavior? The rest had relatively small parts. I thought we would see more of them considering their whole mission to save the world and all. But there was no saving. Not even a small attempt. The book compromised of classes, shopping, visits from psycho big sis, a date and school dance. Oh and what the hell! Let's throw in a fight scene at the end.
OK my biggest beef with this book: (huge spoiler) (view spoiler)[Why didn't Raja bring Rolfe back when he died? I don't understand that. (hide spoiler)]
The cliffhanger was OK. I kinda figured it was headed in that direction. I will check out the next book in the series because I'm curious to were Knight is planning on going with all this. This series has a lot of potential. It would be wrong to give up so soon.
ARC was received through Simon and Schuster's galleygrab program.
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When I first found out Kagawa was journeying down the vampire path, I was nervous. I mean, vampires have been written about ov...moreActual rating: 3.5 stars
When I first found out Kagawa was journeying down the vampire path, I was nervous. I mean, vampires have been written about over and over in the YA world and I wasn't sure what could be added. I had imaginary conversations, pleading with her, "Julie, are you sure you wanna do this?" And in all her awesomeness she pretty much told me, "Steph, chill. I got this." Do you know what I love about Julie Kagawa? I love how she can take a completely overused paranormal creature like fairies or vampires and create a whole new spin on them. Just when I was starting to lose faith in the Children of the Night, The Immortal Rules comes along and makes me rethink everything I thought I knew about vampires.
The Immortal Rules tells the story of Allison Sekemoto living in a future where most of the human population was killed by a disease called Red Lung. But that's not the only problem. Vampires now rule their world and have caused the human race to become their pets, scavengers, and monsters themselves. And let's not forget about the Rabids that stalk the earth just waiting to take a bite or two out of a human. Allison hate vampires, but when faced with the choice of death or becoming that which she has always loathed, she chooses the latter. When she flees from New Covington, Allie runs into a group of humans. She decides to travel with them, hiding her true nature from them as they travel searching for Eden (and yes, there are Christian themes in the book), a human city not ruled by vampires. She's always thought being a human was hard, but she quickly learns that being a vampire isn't exactly a walk in the park either, especially when you're wanted.
The best thing I loved about The Immortal Rules were the vampires. These aren't the cute sparkly vamps that try their hardest, fighting their nature, by feasting off animals instead of humans. Oh, no. These bad boys are vicious killers, just like unlike 'em! It is made very clear early in the novel that vampires have to drink from humans in order to survive and that one day Allison would kill a human no matter how hard she tried not to. Hell to the yeah. Real vampires! They're back!
That's what I'm talking about!
I also really enjoyed the creativity in this novel. Do you know what happens when Underworld and The Forest of Hands and Teeth have a baby? The result, if you didn't guess, is The Immortal Rules. It was a really cool mix of both flesh-eating, zombie-like creatures and bloodsucking vamps, surrounding poor, defenseless humans. Kagawa wasn't afraid to kill her characters off and show Allison some tough lovin'! I really hate when authors attempt to give every lovable character in the book a "hall pass" from death. The impact of the scene and story usually suffer, but not here. People died, viciously. Such is the way of the circle of life.
My biggest and only issue with the book was the extremely slow first half. It just felt like it dragged on and on. I just wanted to bang my head against a wall. And because of that, I can't give this book 4 stars. However, where the beginning was boring (to me at least), the second half makes up for lost time. Because this is another thing I love about Kagawa: Her action scenes and endings are kick-ass. I was getting major Underworld vibes from Allison and it was awesome. Every time she cut someone's head off, I got ridiculously giddy. I'm not lying when I say the second half saved this book.
Characters: In the beginning I really disliked Allie. She and I weren't getting along very well because she had an attitude and personality that gave Oscar the Grouch a run for his money. I get why she was like that, but that didn't mean I had to like it. Thankfully, by the end of the novel, I did end up connecting with her. It was very subtle and snuck up on me. Of course, it didn't hurt that she was a badass, katana wielder either. "Useless," she was not! Kick some ass, she did. Lol. Okay, I'll spare you with my Yoda talk, but seriously the second half was a lot of fun.
Zeke, the love interest, was just okay for me. He was very sweet, caring, loyal, all those things you love to see in a person. While I did like him, I feel like I need to see more of him it the next book before I make up my mind.
Kanin (P.S. was that derived from "The land of Canaan?"), Allie's mentor was my favorite character. We didn't see a lot of him and that made me a bit disappointed, but things are looking up for more page time in the next novel.
So overall I did enjoy the novel and I'm looking forward to book two. It looks like Kagawa is planning on kicking it up a notch, so she can count me in. ;D
*A note on the cover: DISLIKE! Allison is of Japanese descent. Thus, the girl on the cover disappoints me for obvious reasons. -_-
Oh, geez this is awkward. I've just finished Destined and can't find a single thing to say about it because it's not very memo...more Actual rating: 1.5 stars
Oh, geez this is awkward. I've just finished Destined and can't find a single thing to say about it because it's not very memorable.
No wait. It's all coming back to me now. Mmmmmhmmmm. Let me get my glasses for this one.
Ah, that's better. And yes, there will be spoilers.
I'll be honest and admit that the Wings series has been of a guilty pleasure of mine. It's not the best written book I've ever read or the worst for that matter. But it had a level of entertainment that kept me around till the end. At least that's what I tell myself because as I dove into Destined I just couldn't help but think how incredibly boring it was. And that greatly disappointed me since I was just looking for a light, fluffy read. Instead I was left with a story cornier than a box of Kellogg's cereal.
So very, very corny.
So the plot is a simple one. We all knew based on the ending of Illusions that Yuki would eventually escape with Klea and go after Avalon. She also happens to have an entire army of trolls ready to bust the doors down. That leaves David, Laurel, Tamani and Chelsea to race to Avalon and warn everyone. Fantastic. It was a fine beginning with promise. Unfortunately, that promise died when we are introduced to the biggest cop out I've read in a long time. Jamison asks David to fight against the trolls using Excalibur. It was truly a Disney movie moment. I knew at that moment it could only go down hill from there.
"David, with the name of Kings," Jamison said formally,
"It's time to discover if you are the hero Laurel has always thought you to be. Will you join us in defending Avalon?"
It seemed that they were *thisclose* to breaking out in song and dance. Then David had his Sword in the Stone moment and was told nothing could hurt him while he wielded Excalibur. And I do mean nothing. If someone were to strike him with a sword, it would conveniently miss him. Or if someone were to shoot him with a gun, the bullets would just drop in front of him. Not even poisonous AIR could harm him.
David had no previous fighting experience, but all he had to do was swing the sword and trolls would just die on the spot. He went all deus ex machina throughout the entire book.
And that's when I lost all desire to finish the book.
Everything was was just too carefully placed and never felt organic to me. The Queen orders Jamison to stay out of the fight, but when she finds out he's disobeyed her she doesn't do anything. Jamison gets taken out during the battle early on and forced to rest, but when the gang goes up against Yuki, he appears out of nowhere ready to assist. Speaking of Yuki, she turned out to be the biggest disappointment of them all. She supposedly has the ability to kill other fairies or at least be really powerful. But she was pretty much useless.
Of course with any battle there are deaths. I feel the impact of a character death is at its greatest when I actually care about the character that's dying. Duh, right? Well, there are two characters who are killed that the reader is familiar with, but I never really felt any kind of sadness for them. Laurel and Tam cared deeply for them, but they weren't around enough in the previous books for me to grow an attachment to them. They were expendable characters.
Another reviewer noted that with everything that was going on, and there was a fair amount of action, it actually felt like nothing was happening. I've been pondering how that's possible and I believe it's because there didn't appear to be much anticipation or build up to any of the scenes. At least I didn't feel any. I just went through the motions of finishing the book to be able to say I completed the series. There was exactly one part where I felt a twinge of emotion and it's where Tamani thinks he sees Laurel die and goes off on his own to kill Klea or be killed by her. But before those feelings get a chance to develop, Laurel goes running after him. End scene. That left me so angry!
Then my biggest pet peeve about YA novels starts flying around left and right. The whole, "I can't live without you!" trope. I really hate when that's used because it gives off the appearance of teens ready to end their life over a boyfriend/girlfriend. They're in the midst of a battle for Avalon, saving other fae's lives, and they start wondering why they would bother if the other were to die. Ummm... because your friends and family are still in danger?!
Then we get to the ending where there is a deadly toxin seeping into the land and killing Tamani courtesy of Klea. It's up to Laurel to save not only Tamani, but all of Avalon. And she's all:
"She wasn't sure if it mattered if the toxin infected her. Was her life worth living without Tamani? Was the risk worth one last kiss? One final embrace?"
So, you're just going to forget about Avalon then?
"He had to be alive. She wasn't sure if she could live another moment if he wasn't with her. What did any of this matter if, in the end, she was too late to save Tamani?"
Whew, sorry about that. I started seeing red again.
The ending was your typical "... And they lived happily ever after" in true Disney fashion. In hindsight, there were casualties, but none that anyone cared about (I find it interesting that Tamani never went back to check on his niece after she lost her mother! O.o Laurel was more important, I guess.). The only thing that mattered is that Tamani got to be with his one true love forever and ever. The end. Lame.
So, I guess if you enjoyed the first three books, you'll probably enjoy this one to some extent. But for everyone else, I wouldn't go into this one expecting much. Overall it was a big ol' pile of MEH.
ARC was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss. Thank you!
Oh, Cynthia Hand, how could you do this to me? I feel like this book should come with at least a warning....more Hallowed is out! I can't wait to re-read it!
Oh, Cynthia Hand, how could you do this to me? I feel like this book should come with at least a warning. Something along the lines of:
WARNING: This book may cause readers massive amounts of fangirling/fanboying. Do not be alarmed if you encounter symptoms of swooning, emotional instability, and immediate depression after reading.
Yeah...cause that's exactly what happened to me. Many of you may remember that I expressed in my Unearthly review how I was initially reluctant to read this series. Angel PRN books seem to be the worst of the worst in YA literature. So you can imagine my happiness when I come across this gem of a series. If there were ever a reason needed as to why I voted for Cynthia Hand's Unearthly as Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction, it would be Hallowed. If you were thinking that Hand couldn't do it again, you were wrong!
First off let get this off my chest because it's seriously bothering me:
"This beautifully woven tale will appeal to fans of Lauren Kate, Becca Fitzpatrick, and Aprilynne Pike."
Excuse me while I hurl. Are you kidding me? Stop it. Please. Do not lump this series in with those sorry books. Hallowed, for starters, has a plot. The characters have real depth. The love interests aren't trying to kill Clara. What it should have said was: "For fans of real YA PNR literature." *Breathes* Okay. /end mini rant.
I think it goes without say that I loved this book. I stayed up past 4am to finish this it. Once again, I could not have predicted the outcome! There are so many plot twists and mysteries revealed and it's not what you would expect at all. And I have a sinking feeling that Hallowed is sure to upset quite a few fans...
If you think I'm going to sit here and feed you spoilers, sorry kids, not gonna happen. However, I can tell you some of the things I LOVED about Hallowed:
The character development Fans will be happy to know that we do indeed find out more about Christian, Clara's mom, Angela, Jeffery's purpose and last, but certainly not least, Tucker Avery. *Cues the swooning*
Clara's mother definitely sees more development. And at first I found myself really irritated with her for keeping secrets, but by the end of the book, I couldn't bring myself to be angry at her any longer. We were left with so many unanswered questions at the end of Unearthly, mostly thanks to Clara's mom, but rest assured, many are answered. And of course, with more answers we get even more questions.
The love triangle I'm sure you saw that coming, as did I, but here's the thing: I liked it. I usually hate love triangles because I find them a bit played out and predictable. But it worked so well in Hallowed. This probably has something to do with the fact that Hand wrote these characters so well. Their relationships are very believable and heartbreakingly realistic. We see a whole other side to Christian and Tucker. It's rather easy to love them both because they both care deeply for Clara and respect her. There are no semi-abusive love interests here. How about that? ;)
The prose, the pacing, and the plot I never thought I could come to love the use of present tense prose, but I felt it was so perfect. We are really able to connect with Clara on another level because of that, especially everything that she goes through in this book. And she goes through a lot. The simple sentences and Clara's ramblings really helped me feel everything Clara felt. The pacing was a bit slower in this book than the last, but again, it works so perfectly. Hand gives us the opportunity to let it really sink in. The pacing just goes hand in hand with the plot, which too is very subtle. At first you become eager to get to the end, but you will come to dread it. So beautifully written.
The dialog Cynthia Hand, you are so slick and I love you for it. Those Twilight burns you put in there? Oh, yeah, I think you know how brilliantly awesome that was.
Before I moved here, I never got the whole love-triangle thing. You know, in movies or romance novels or whatnot, where there’s one chick that all the guys are drooling over, even though you can’t see anything particularly special about her. But oh, no, they both must have her. And she’s like, oh dear, however will I choose? William is so sensitive, he understands me, he swept me off my feet, oh misery, blubber, blubber, but how can I go on living without Rafe and his devil-may-care ways and his dark and only-a-little-abusive love? Upchuck.
Yup, that's pure win right there.
The ending It was so heartbreaking. Clara just didn't get a break in this book and I felt for her so much. I just wanted to hug her. And at the end I felt like I needed a hug. Hand, you had me crying at 4am! I can't believe you went there in this book!! I mean, seriously, I was having a fit over here:
Disbelief: "NOOOOO!! She did not just do that! NOOOO!"
Depression: "How will I survive until 2013? I'm doomed. Doomed, I tell ya."
Cynthia Hand tore my heart out and made me eat it...
There are so many great things about this book. How Hannah manages to cram them all into 272 pages is just amazing. After falling in love with Invinci...more There are so many great things about this book. How Hannah manages to cram them all into 272 pages is just amazing. After falling in love with Invincible Summer I was excited to read this. It's the first LGBT novel I've ever read so I didn't know what to expect. All I can say is that I loved it.
This book takes place during the Beltway Sniper Shootings, almost exactly a year after 9/11. The story follows Craig and Lio while they deal with the aftermath of the terrorist attacks and the current threat.
I remember exactly what I was doing September 11th, 2001. I was in 8th grade in my science class waiting for the bell to ring. I hated that class. Except that day, the bell rang and my teacher told us to stay put. Over the next hour, the PA system received an extensive workout when student after student was called down to he office to go home early. My teacher looked scared, but they weren't allowed to tell us anything or allow us outside of the classroom. Thankfully, my classroom was located right above the main entrance to the school and I was able to see loads of parents running in and out the school. I seized the first opportunity to yell out the window and ask a man what was going on while my teacher wasn't looking.
Me: "Hey! What's going on?"
Man: "They are attacking the U.S.!"
Me: "WHAT?! WHO?!"
Man: "I don't know. They hit New York and The Pentagon."
My heart literally sank. My first thought was, "OMG. My father." I ran from that classroom to my mom's (she worked at my school) and she immediately told me, "He's fine. He didn't go into work today."
I have never been so scared in my life.
And then the Sniper Shootings started one year later. My school cancelled all outside activities. Maryland lived in fear of white vans. I asked my dad not to go to work every morning. In hindsight, that was actually an unrealistic fear, he would be fine traveling to D.C. But we were scared. It was a scary time. Even though I didn't live in Montgomery or Prince George's county, we all knew it was just a 35-40 minute trip up the beltway for it to happen in our county, our neighborhood.
Hannah, you rock. I felt it.
Craig: Craig is black, sensitive, and loves his animals. You can't help but to love this guy. He over analyzes everything, but I didn't find it annoying. He was simply endearing. I wanted to hug Craig every time he cried. I loved his "voice" in this book. He thinks in run-on sentences. And you would think it doesn't makes sense, but there is something about Hannah's prose that makes it perfect.
Lio: Lio is a quiet, cancer surviving boy. It's too bad he doesn't talk because, man, this kid is funny. Thankfully, the PoV switches back and forth between Craig and Lio. I'd venture to say, he provided most of the comic relief in this book.
A few funny quotes from Lio: "I hang up because I sound like a jackass and that shit needs to end."
"He's babbling on about his first date, and his first car he drove to go pick her up. And how in his day they didn't have these fancy electric car window openers, you had to crank them down by hand. God, I want to crank my head off right now."
"Maybe she doesn't have any friends? At least that's something we have in common. That can be our conversation starter. Too bad I'm the official conversation finisher."
"I'm not even sure if there are any fabulous Jew or homosexuals at our school, but rest assured that if there are, I will find them. By Friday they will be my babies. Mark it."
"Plus, I'm a tough little son of a bitch, and don't you forget it."
SIDE NOTE: Lio seems to be the only character who realizes that they are in Maryland and not D.C. For whatever reason, I really appreciated this. Perhaps its just my Maryland pride (Go Terps!).
What's interesting about both boys is that regardless on how 9/11 screwed them up, they were not initially afraid of the sniper shootings. Craig essentially thinks he is invincible as many teenagers at his age do. He just doesn't believe he will get shot because he is *Craig*. Lio, on the other hand, counts on statistics, believing it is almost impossible that it will be him that gets shot. In fact, he measures tragedy simply by the amount of deaths. At first, I couldn't understand this logic. I mean, I was *scared* and I didn't even live in that county.
However, as the novel wears on and their relationship grows their perspectives change. Craig fears for Lio because he realizes anyone at anytime could get shot regardless of who they are or how invincible they feel. Likewise, Lio fears for Craig because he realizes you can not measure a tragedy by numbers. A life is a life and when it happens to you, it is 100% every time.
Beautiful. Craig is left so broken after his last boyfriend, Cody, went nuts and treated him badly. He struggles with allowing himself to heal and allowing himself to give away his heart to Lio. At the same time he is afraid of breaking Lio. Lio fights for Craig. He is much stronger than Craig gives him credit for at first. Hannah wrote this so well. She had my heart breaking in all the right places.
It flowed so well. Little things like words repeating three times reminiscent of the title (ie, "Lio, Lio, Lio" or "maybe, maybe, maybe") added charming character to the novel. Craig thinking in his choppy run-on sentences and Lio's short fragments were perfect. I found that very special and realistic because honestly, who speaks in complete, full sentences in their head? It was perfect and helped me get the full impact. Even though Craig seemed like a jumbled mess of words he somehow never said too much. And though Lio didn't like to talk, somehow his short phases were so profound they hit home every time.
I feel so honored to be able to read this a full year before it comes out. But you can bet your bottom dollar I will most definitely be purchasing a copy when it hits shelves April 17, 2012. And so should you.
ARC was received through Simon and Schuster's galleygrab program.
I was really, really excited to read Ashfall. I've been devouring dystopian novels left and right recently. I'm always itching...more Actual rating: 3.5 stars
I was really, really excited to read Ashfall. I've been devouring dystopian novels left and right recently. I'm always itching for my next fix. Seriously, I think I have a problem at this rate, I might just have to check myself into some sort of program. Ashfall is a bit different from the current slew of dystopian novels. For one thing, it is written from a male PoV. These seem to be in slow supply these days, sadly.
Ashfall tells the story of 15 year-old Alex traveling from Cedar Falls, Iowa to Warren, Illinois after the supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park unexpectedly erupts.
Let's pause for a bit:
If you are like me and didn't really pay close attention in school about volcanoes, or skipped science class, or slept your way to graduation (view spoiler)[(hide spoiler)], you may be asking, "What is the likelihood of a supervolcana erupting without notice?" And I would tell you, "How should I know?" But thankfully, this discussion was hashed out over at Anila's review in the comments for your viewing pleasure. Mike Mullin was even kind enough to pop in and answer a few questions.
Back to the review:
So, what happens when a supervolcano erupts? How much damage does it cause? It causes tons of damage! I have to give it up to Mullin because he did some serious research for this book. Alex was able to hear the volcano erupting for days and he lives over 900 miles from it. Enough ash to cover a car on the street fell in his state. Animals died from breathing in the ash. People were starving from lack of water and food.
Alex couldn't walk on it, so his journey is done primarily on skies. On his way to Warren, Illinois, Alex encounters some true crazies. BUT Alex knows Taekwando! Until the eruption he has never had a reason to use his skills against a person for survival. But as we all know disastrous situations have a tendency to bring out the worse in a person. As a scared kid, he is forced to used his skills in the beginning. However, as he grows throughout the novel he does not hesitate to do what he needs to. I found myself shouting: Truly, I promise, I'm not a violent person
Ashfall was very realistic in depicting the populace's reaction to the eruption. At times it was really graphic. This book had the ability to make me feel ashamed of the human race at times.
The one negative I can think of, that ultimately is the reason why it did not receive 4 stars, is that a good chunk on the beginning felt slow to me. The book opened strong and I was really happy to see that, but hit a small plateau.
Alex is at one point traveling on his own for days. As a result, there are pages upon pages of inner dialog. But I persisted! Thankfully, the book picks right up after Alex meets Darla. One thing I really loved was that Alex and Darla were neither over powerful or weak. The characters, settings and situations were all very realistic.
There is a bit of romance in the book and I think it was very well done. It was a breath of fresh air to see romance brewing from a male PoV. I read one review where they say all Alex does is think about sex. He does think about it, but I don't think it was an unreasonable amount. You can really tell how much he cares for Darla.
For a first time author, this wasn't bad at all. So, if you are into Dystopian novels, you should check out Ashfall. I know I'm really looking forward to the sequel.
More reviews and more at Cuddlebuggery Book Blog.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Ultraviolet was such a pleasant surprise! I've been thinking about this review for a few days because it's hard to say something about it without givi...more Ultraviolet was such a pleasant surprise! I've been thinking about this review for a few days because it's hard to say something about it without giving too much away. It's one of those books that you just have to go in knowing absolutely nothing. So, I will try my best to keep this short and sweet. :)
Ultraviolet is about a girl named Alison who ends up in a mental institute after she has a psychotic break, during which she confesses to murdering a fellow classmate. What makes this book so cool is that she has synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon, which allows her to see sounds and taste colors.
The way Anderson wove this beautiful story had me mesmerized. I fell in love with the way Alison described the world in her senses. I seriously felt like I was watching the Aurora Borealis while reading Ultraviolet.
The plot was solid and left the reader to catch up to the mystery surrounding her classmate's death. I really enjoyed that because it added to the suspense. I will say that the plot twist was a tad predictable. There was quite a bit of foreshadowing going on, so it wasn't hard to see where things were going. BUT that did not stop me from really enjoying this book and the ending did surprise me.
Things were tied up nicely in this book at the end, but in this case I'm really hoping there will be a sequel. And I eagerly look forward to any other books from R.J. Anderson!
I am extremely disappointed with this book. It held so much promise with the story of souls being reincarnated, dragons, sylphs, and a utopian society...more I am extremely disappointed with this book. It held so much promise with the story of souls being reincarnated, dragons, sylphs, and a utopian society! Doesn't that sound awesome? And that cover! It's simply gorgeous! Well, you know that age old rule, "Don't judge a book by its cover?" I should have listened to it. -_-
Ana, our protagonist, lives in a world where once you die you come back reincarnated in another body. Everyone always comes back, except on one night when the Temple flashes black and the soul, Ciana, dies. Five years later a baby girl is born and everyone is expecting it to be Ciana. Instead, Ana is born and is the first Newsoul. Ana's father seemingly abandons his family, while her mother leaves the city, Heart, out of embarrassment. Ana is kept away for eighteen years and mentally and physically abused by her mother, Li. Li blames Ana for replacing Ciana and she along with others call her the Nosoul. So, on Ana's eighteenth birthday she sets out to the city of Heart to find out why she was born.
That all sounds really interesting, right? So, imagine my surprise when the majority of the book Ana isn't researching her past or digging into mysteries of the Temple, but instead playing the piano with the love interest, Sam. Most of the book revolves around their relationship. And while I really liked how it was not an insta-love situation, it completely distracted the book from the actual plot. In fact, you barely even know more about any other characters besides Sam and Ana. This book had a lot of potential and up until about 80% of the book, I was okay with giving this book 3 stars in hopes that the ending would save the rest of the book. It did not.
Let me break this down for you:
The entire book is the romance. Do not let the blurb fool you. Ana is rarely doing anything to find out more about her past. When she first leaves her mother's cottage she gets attacked by a Sylph and nearly drowns. However, Sam, a thousand-year-old soul, just happens to be camping nearby and saves her. From then on out their relationship consist of music lessons, almost kisses, and awkwardness. It was clear that they did like each other, but it is not clear what the romantic conflict was. Was it their age difference? What the people of Heart might think about them? It almost seems as if Meadows purposefully kept them apart just to add romantic tension because most of the time nothing is happening. What really irked me was the choppy dialog between Sam and Ana. Ana is always "almost" catching Sam's facial expression or "too slow" to see his true emotions:
Something flashed in his eyes, but I was too slow to fully see it.
...as well as a dozen other emotions flickering across his face too quickly to read.
His gaze stayed on mine, like there was something I was supposed to read in his expression...
...and when he glanced at me, some indecipherable expression crossed his face.
He caressed the keys again, some strange expression crossing his face. Or— It was hard to tell. I still couldn’t interpret his expressions well.
His expression was impossible to read in the dark.
He closed his eyes and again, I wasn’t fast enough to comprehend his expressions.
He faced me again, but it was too dark to see the subtleties of his expression.
And on and on it went. Ana didn't know what was going on and neither did I. For most of the book I remained in the dark about why Sam even liked Ana. You like each other, I'm not sure why, but I get it already! They became so annoying that I just wanted to grab their little heads like so,
and make them get it over with already.
However, what really got me was how Ana just turned a blind eye to things Sam did. When they first met he told her his birthday was the same day as hers, but later she finds out his birthday was a few weeks before hers:
I glanced at Sam; he’d said we shared a birthday, hadn’t he? Why would Meuric say something different?
Indeed, Ana. Why would he lie about that? And she never confronts him about that. Then when they get to Heart, Sam becomes Ana's "guardian" and teacher and resides in his house. She notices that he sneaks out every night and never confronts him about it. She often finds him talking about her behind her back and when she does confront him he pretty much says, "I'll tell ya later." Ummm...Whhhaaaattt? But he never actually tells her later. So once again, I'm lost. Not to mention often times I couldn't even tell who was speaking due to choppy dialog.
The World Building or lack thereof:
We are told that there are one million souls that are reincarnated over and over when they die. It is also mentioned that the Council monitors who can have children to not mess with the gene pool. We aren't really told how this works and it bugged me the entire time I was reading. It seems that the souls are asexual beings that can come back as male or female each lifetime. So, I guess you could be Billy's mom in one lifetime and 10 lifetimes down the road Billy might be your mom? Except by then, Billy would be a Susie. And perhaps in the next lifetime she's your lover? Sam has a best friend that is his sometimes lover. Sam owns women's clothes because he has been a woman in other lifetimes and he lends these clothes to Ana to wear. For whatever reason, this seemed awkward to me. There was also the question of where the other people who didn't reside in Heart live? We are led to believe living outside of Heart is very dangerous because of the dragons, sylph, ect. so how are they surviving? Is Janan their god? What's up with the Temple? There just didn't seem to be any rules to this universe. Can we say, "Back to the drawing board?"
The Plot and The Ending:
Where was it exactly? I should not be flipping through the pages wondering when the climax will hit. One minute Sam and Ana are finally proclaiming their feelings and the next minute dragons are attacking the city. So much time is focused on their relationship that I actually forgot her original reason for coming to Heart. Hell, it sure seemed like Ana forgot. And when we finally discover why she was born and Ciana wasn't reincarnated, I'm like, "That's it?! That's your big reveal?!" The ending just seemed like it was thrown together it an attempt to make me worry for the character's lives. And I didn't. *shurgs* They all could have been eaten by dragons for all I cared by the end.
I haven't been this disappointed in a book since Wildefire and the only reason why this book gets two stars instead of one is because it was interesting and the premise kept me turning pages in hopes that it would live up to the blurb. I will read the next book in the series, but for now it resides on my, "you’re on probation" shelf.
An ARC was received from the publishers for reviewing purposes. This review expresses my honest opinion of the book.
Show of hands. How many of you were worried about Kagawa returning to the Nevernever with a spin-off of an already successfu...more Actual rating: 4.5 stars.
Show of hands. How many of you were worried about Kagawa returning to the Nevernever with a spin-off of an already successful series? *raises hand* I mean, let's think about this for a minute. The Iron Knight concluded and it seemed everything was "happy happy, joy joy," right? But then there were whisperings in the wind of a spin-off and I found myself saying, "What?! NOOO! NO, Julie! I forbid it! Ya hear?!" At the time the saying "Don't beat a dead horse" was running through my head and I was so nervous about this new endeavor. If I'm being honest here, spin-offs usually suck big time. But just like in the case of The Immortal Rules, Julie Kagawa has put me in my place saying, "I got this, YO." And boy, did she ever! The Lost Prince is everything I could want and more. With fresh new characters, cameo appearances and a new evil threatening the Nevernever, how could anyone resist?
Before I begin, I need to get something out of my system.
PUCK!! I LOVE YOU!
What? Don't judge me!
Remember the little boy from The Iron King? Meghan's little brother? Did you ever wonder what happened to him and his family once Meghan had gone off for good with her Ice Prince to rule in the Nevernever as a Queen of Faery? That's just what The Lost Prince does. And let me tell you, Ethan Chase is not what I expected. The years of being tormented by the fey and losing his sister to their world has made him a very bitter and angry person. Honestly, I don't blame the guy. He has to constantly look over his shoulder, attempt to pretend They don't exist so as not to draw attention to himself, push people away so they don't catch the eyes of The Good Neighbors. It's a lot of responsibilities for anyone, let alone a teen boy (and yes, he actually sounds like a teen boy). But this is what he has had to endure all his life hopping from school to school due to "bad behavior." Unfortunately for Ethan, the fey just can't seem to stay away from him and he ends up on a quest to save the Nevernever.
The plot was brilliantly done. The characters were brilliant. This book was >insert any positive adjective here<!!!! But what did I expect from one of my favorite authors? Exiled fey and half-breeds from the mortal world are disappearing thanks to a new breed of fey. Something even worse then the iron fey?! *gasp* I suspect I know exactly who the Forgotten are if I remember a certain scene from The Iron Knight correctly. But even as someone who has followed this series very closely, I have to admit, I have no idea what direction it could possibly go.
The one thing I was worried about most with this spin-off would be comparing the old characters to the new characters. I LOVED the trio in the original series. Meghan, Ash and Puck were the perfect blend of romantic tension, banter and comic relief. And they all do make cameo appearances (Did I mention how much I love Puck?), but this isn't their story. It's Ethan, Kenzie and Kierran's. I really think fans will really enjoy the new trio and it seems like Kagawa has us in for a world of hurt with them too. I mean, I bawled by eyes out so hard with The Iron Queen. Whenever I go back to read that last scene I fall to pieces. But it feels like that could come a lot sooner with The Call of the Forgotten. MY EMOTIONS! Kagawa, stop being so awesome all. the. time! Wait...
And you know what? Even if you haven't read The Iron Fey - which you'd better go do if you haven't *gives dagger eyes* - you could still follow along easily to this story. For those who have been waiting for a certain Cait Sith (no relation to the cat pictured above, of course) to guide you back through the Nevernever, this will merely feel like a continuation from the original series. And you noobs? There are a few rules you must familiarize yourself with: Never make a contract with Them. Show no fear when dealing with the Fair Folk. Don't draw attention to yourself. And as Grim would say, "Do try and keep up." Welcome to Faery.
ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you!
Want to win an ARC of The Lost Prince? Head on over to Cuddlebuggery Book Blog for a giveaway and other fantastical things.
Until the last ten percent of Tempest, I was resigned to giving it one lonely star and, for once, not having even an inkling to pick up its sequels. I...more Until the last ten percent of Tempest, I was resigned to giving it one lonely star and, for once, not having even an inkling to pick up its sequels. I truly believe some people will be captivated with the story Julie Cross has woven together because it's not a bad book, it 's just not a good book either. In all honesty, this is more of a 1.5 star book simply reliant on the principle that it just wasn't for me. However, it really doesn’t fit on my 1.5 star shelf, which is home to some pretty crappy books and Tempest doesn't really deserve to be there among them. Plus, I'm feeling very generous today.
The year is 2009 and Jackson Meyer is your typical college student. He has a beautiful girlfriend named Holly who adores him and an awesome best friend named Adam. He also happens to be the son of a pharmaceutical company CEO, making him an incredibly rich kid. Oh yeah, and he can time travel. He seems to have everything he could ever want until one day mysterious people show up and shoot Holly. Suddenly, Jackson finds himself stuck in the year 2007. As Jackson struggles to find out his way back, he learns truths about his past, present and a possibly disturbing future. What he used to consider a weird ability now seems to have a lot more power over the world's future. Talk about pressure.
Tempest and I got off to a rocky start. First off, I want to say I loved the premise. Time travel is always a difficult topic to cover since there are so many "rules" and loads of possibilities for confused readers. For the most part, by the end of the novel I did feel like I had a pretty good understanding of Cross' universe. However, my issues with this book lie with certain events in the storyline and the characters.
Plot Events: Tempest starts of very quickly with you immediately learning about Jackson's abilities and a few of the rules. In other words, Tempest got down to business. From the blurb, I knew Holly was going to get shot and I knew Jackson would wind up in 2007. What I didn't expect was for it to happen so soon in the story. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but it felt like the story and the plot were taking off before I could connect or care about the characters. When the mysterious men show up in Holly's dorm room looking for Jackson and she's accidentally shot (view spoiler)[and later we find out she dies (the blurb says this much, but I'm hiding this 'spoiler' anyway) (hide spoiler)], I found myself asking, "Wait. Is this where I should care?" Sadly, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. My gives-a-fuck-o-meter was at a steady zero. In any case, that entire scene seemed entirely too farfetched. Who let those people into the dorm randomly? Why would Jackson and Holly's first reaction be to attack the people when all they did was ask a question? I don't understand. 2009 was only two years ago, but I'm pretty sure we weren't attacking people who asked us questions.
But despite my initial turnoff I continued reading and found that I really like Jackson's sister, Courtney. I was a little sad when she (view spoiler)[tells Jackson it was her that normally visits him (hide spoiler)] and it wasn't explored more. That would have been really interesting and added another layer of intrigue. In fact, now that I think about it, I'm not sure what the point was in the whole Courtney sub-plot. Was it to make Jackson a more sympathetic protagonist? Hmm...FAIL. Unfortunately, just when I thought the plot was about to actually pick up, this book gets really corny. When he gets stuck in 2007 he affectionately renames that Holly as "007." Yes, this is a good as any place to *facepalm*. Then, Jackson becomes some makeshift time-traveling CIA agent battling the "Enemies of Time."
It all went downhill for me at that point. I was already have a hard enough time connecting with the characters before Jackson became some super speshul badass agent.
With regards to the time traveling, for the most part I kinda sorta understood it, but when they started getting into "time-lines" and "alternate dimensions," they lost me. When Jackson is stuck in 2007 why didn't anything he do affect the future when he got back to 2009 (view spoiler)[since that was considered a full jump (hide spoiler)]? Add that to the fact that Jackson is constantly jumping from 2007 to 2009 back and forth every few pages, and it gets pretty hard to remember what the hell was going on. The few times where he did stay in one year long enough for me to catch my breath, he is having a flashback to either...you guessed it...2007 or 2009.
The plot was also very predictable. I knew exactly what his dad was hiding. By the time the big plot twist came up I remained unmoved in my boredom.
I think one of the biggest issues with this book is that the characters were underdeveloped. Many times it felt like Cross was so eager to get to "the good parts" that she didn't spend enough time writing believable dialogue and characters.
One part that really bugged me was when Jackson had the conversation with his teacher about dropping out of school and getting his GED. He basically says he's going to drop out and she pretty much goes, "Okay." What teacher would react that way? None that I've had. She didn't even ask him why he wanted to do that:
She laughed again. “That can’t be true. So . . . will I see you roaming the halls soon?” I forced back the disgusted look I knew was about to take form on my face. No way was I going back to high school. “Probably not. I’m thinking of taking my GED, just tired of the whole high school scene.” The waitress dropped off my dinner and I picked up the fork and stabbed a spear of asparagus. “Actually, I gave my dad an ultimatum, public school or GED. He’s leaning toward the GED.” “Public school isn’t that bad. I went to one, and look how I turned out," she said.
Ummm...WHAT? Her reaction is child's play, however, to his father's.
“I want to talk about you dropping out. I understand you have your reasons for coming back from Spain, but at least consider returning to Loyola.”
I'm sorry, who is the parent here? Please consider going back to school? Oh, no, no, no, no. This is pretty much the last time his dad has the "school conversation" with him and Jackson never does go back to school. Anyone else see how unrealistic that is? Please tell me I'm not the only one.
Holly and Adam. Who are these people? The girlfriend and the sidekick. Once again more stereotypes. Can you guess what Holly looks like? She's a blonde haired, blue eyed beauty perfect in every way. You know, like a real life Barbie Doll.
Jackson treats her like crap and she still continues to forgive him and then sleep with him. Nice. That's the perfect message to send to girls. Adam wasn't much better of a character. He was a nerd/geek/>insert any other insult against a computer techy<. We really never learn anything else about him. I don't even remember his last name. SMH. I just love the smell of FAIL in the morning, don't you?
As I mentioned before the dialogue also was unrealistic. The characters are supposed to be 19 in 2009 and 17 in 2007, but they always felt younger to me, especially Jackson. No doubt some parts were meant to be funny, but I never once cracked a smile.
Jackson (he gets his own section):
I was really excited to learn the story is told from a male protagonist, but I quickly discovered that Jackson isn't really a guy. But wait, Stephanie! Julie Cross said Jackson is a male! The author said he is therefore it must be so, right? And to you sheepies I would reply, "NO."
Jackson sounds like he's trying to be a guy, but I never found his voice to be very convincing. Most of the time it felt like he was trying too hard to prove that he did, in fact, have a Y chromosome. For example, there is a scene in the novel where Jackson and Holly are on the verge of having sex and she mentions she's "never done this before." This immediately turns Jackson off for two reasons. One, because he is afraid of hurting her and for this reason:
The idea that she might not enjoy this was turning me in the other direction. I couldn’t remember the last time I had been with a virgin, even just messing around. Maybe never.
Now, in this flashback he was 17 and maybe it's just me, but that statement gave me pause. At 17-years-old he's had sex with so many girls that he can't even remember if any were virgins? Not only that, but he also says the longest relationship besides Holly he'd been in lasted a month (and the girl was out of the country for two of those weeks). How did Britney put it? Faking like a good one, but I call 'em like I see 'em. I know what you are, what you are, baby. Ironically, I read this scene to my husband to gather a male perspective and the first thing he asked was, "This is supposed to be a guy?" Exactly. I may have been able to accept those things if that corresponded with his apparent personality, but it didn't. It's almost like Cross tried to write a character with these stereotypes (I'm a rich man-whore, but it's gravy 'cause that's what boys my age do!) and at the same time make him a sensitive and caring boyfriend to Holly (but I'd never do that to Holly because...because...because...I just wouldn't, okay?). Boy don't try to front. I...I know just *just* what you are-are-are. I suppose we are to assume (hahaha, see what I did there?) Holly sparked this change in Jackson, but there was nothing remotely special about her that made me go, "Okay, I see it." I could never understand what was so magical about her to cause that sort of change in his personality, especially since he was not a very good boyfriend to begin with. You are concerned enough for her to not hurt her during sex, but not concerned enough to not flirt with other girls or deceive her 2007 self into liking you? Womanizer, woman-womanizer, you're a womanizer. Oh womanizer, oh you're a womanizer, baby. So, no. I did not buy their relationship. If anything I was wondering why Holly, who did seem like a smart girl, was with him in the first place.
The Ending: (This part may or may not contain mild spoilers)
Two words: Thrown together. I did not understand it at all. The sad part is, I finished the book two days ago and I can barely remember the fine details of it. BUT the one thing I do remember is Holly and Jackson's "It's too dangerous for us to be together! I love you so much, I have to break up with you so the bad guys don't use you as a target!" moment. Look, this plan NEVER works. If it didn't work out for Spiderman and Mary Jane, then it's damn sure not gonna work out for you either.
And of course this book happens to have a major marketing campaign and the rights for a movie, with Summit Entertainment no less, have been optioned. I'm left asking, "Why?" This book didn't make me laugh, cry, or even frustrated. I had zero emotions running through me. I had my 'Dark Knight' face on the entire time I read this.
I've added the next books to my shelf, but if I'm being honest here, I'm not sure if I'll ever read them.
*sigh* Oh, well. We win some, we lose some, right?
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Contemporary is nota genreI usually read. It’s not because I think any less of the genre, but few seem to hold my attention as well as something...more Contemporary is not a genre I usually read. It’s not because I think any less of the genre, but few seem to hold my attention as well as something supernatural or science fiction related. What normally happens is that I’ll get distracted and find myself re-reading the same sentence or paragraph over and over again. That never happened with Wanderlove. Unfortunately, lately I’ve been finding it increasingly difficult for me to find time throughout my day to sit and read. And I felt myself getting angry for not having more time to finish this book. But, in a way I’m kind of happy I read it as slowly as I did because I savored every minute alone with Wanderlove. This book was so amazing, so deep, so beautiful and I’m very happy I stepped outside of my comfort box to read it.
Wanderlove tells the story of Bria Sandoval, an 18-year-old, newly graduated, high school student, as she travels to Central America. At first we aren’t told why she decided to take this trip, but what is clear is that she has given up her art and despite her friends backing out of the planned trip at the last minute, she decides to go alone. It isn’t until she begins journeying with backpackers Rowan and Starling that we are privy to Bria’s layers. It is then that we, and Bria herself, discover how truly broken she is. This book covers a myriad of topics such as emotional abusive relationships, letting go of the past, forgiving yourself, gaining self-confidence, but ultimately, self-discovery.
The Setting and the Plot: I’m not in any shape or form a travel savvy person. In fact, the closest I’ve ever come to leaving the country was a family vacation where we drove to Canada’s Niagara Falls in an RV. I’ve thought about traveling to different countries, but I often run into to same problem: How will I get there? Going anywhere would require either a plane ride or traveling on a boat. Considering my first experience with a plane involved watching a lightning storm over the Chesapeake Bay, I’m not exactly rushing to my airport. Yet, when I think of sailing on a boat I can’t help but to think of this:
*Gives reader a meaningful look* And we all know what happened after that scene…
I think it’s safe to say I’m no Global Vagabond. Regardless of my unrealistic travel fears, I love hearing travel stories. Kirsten Hubbard’s careful descriptions of Central America were vivid, easy to visualize and allowed me the ability to live vicariously through Bria. I could picture the Mayan culture, the jungle, the heat, the rides on the chicken buses, and the bluest waters. From the moment Bria stepped off her plane I could picture it all.
I really loved how the setting went hand in hand with the plot. When Bria first arrives in Central America, she is immediately disappointed in her tour group. Everything is planned out for her from the group’s activities to the food they eat. Once an opportunity to ditch them arises, at first she is apprehensive, but she wants to prove herself to all her doubters back at home that she can do this. Each new location she visits brings back flashbacks from her past describing her reasons for giving up her art and going on this trip. I didn’t realize how engrossed I was with the story until the climax hit and I felt my heart miss a beat. It was easily the best scene for me because it made me incredibly happy and then immensely sad shortly after. Those two extreme emotions back to back nearly did me in. I hope Hubbard is happy… secretly I think that was all a part of her plan. Well done!
The Characters: The true treat for the reader lies with the beautiful drawings found scattered throughout the story all drawn by Hubbard herself. It was interesting because not only does the reader see Bria’s character growth through her narration and actions, but also through her art. At first, they start off very delicate-like as Bria begins the journey. But, as the trip wears on, you can see the art changing, evolving into more complex drawings with more time spent on shadowing techniques and other details. Bria goes from uncertain to a confident renewed person by the end of the novel. You can’t help but to feel sorry for. Yet, at the end I felt proud of her. She’s the type of character you want young girls to read about and learn from.
Rowan, the love interest, too was a lost broken character. Throughout most of the novel he retains his philosophy of Wanderlove, which basically entailed running from your past. And Rowan definitely has a darker past he constantly tries to avoid. There was a certain sweetness to watching Rowan and Bria’s friendship blossom. Hubbard took her time developing it. There was nothing rushed about their relationship because as they fall for one another, they healed each other as well.
Starling was an interesting character. Though she leaves Rowen and Bria early on in the story, she maintains a certain presence too. I can’t really talk too much about her character without giving away spoilers, but she was a crafty one.
The ending: The ending was so very fitting. I love how things are tied up, yet remains open at the same time. One thing you are sure of is that Bria has emerged a new person ready to move forward with her life and finally shed herself of past issues. I was sad when it ended and I have a pretty good feeling I’ll be revisiting this book soon again.
Between the witty writing, beautiful illustrations, and deep messages, Wanderlove is not to be missed in 2012.
ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley. No money or merchandise was exchanged for this review. Kirsten Hubbard is a GoodReads friend of mine, but you can count on these being my absolute, honest views of the book!
Thorne of Glass has a lot going for it. It's packed full of action, mystery, likable characters and fun dialogue. On the flip s...more Actual rating 3.5 stars
Thorne of Glass has a lot going for it. It's packed full of action, mystery, likable characters and fun dialogue. On the flip side, it also has a few tropes that I usually make me want to rip my hair out strand by strand: the love triangle, semi-insta love and predictable plot twists. That by no means makes this a bad book, because despite those annoyances, I was fully engrossed in Throne of Glass.
The Plot and Writing:
While the synopsis may come off feeling a little Hunger Game-esque, let me calm your fears now. It's not. Celaena is a young assassin who begins the book being dragged from her prison in Endovier, a salt mine prison for criminals. She's given a choice to become the king's champion (or lackey) for four years in exchange for her freedom at the end of her service. The catch is she must compete for the "honor" against other criminals. Sounds easy, right? Of course. Then people start dying, ahem, mysteriously!
With that small description the plot sounds like a winner, but I found it to be very predictable. I knew who the villain was and the foreshadowing was not subtle at all. At one point, Maas does try to steer the reader in another direction, but I knew it was just that, a distraction. But regardless, I couldn't deny that it was an exciting read. It's kinda like this: I knew how things probably would end, but I still ended up having fun along the way.
Even with it being a little over 400 pages long, it certainly doesn't read like that. The narration is set at a good pace and flows very nicely. The only thing I have to say about the writing style was that at times it felt a wee bit cheesy. There were a few lines like "Oh and she simply adored..." or "Oh how she loved candy!" that made me cock an eyebrow, but thankfully they were few and far between.
There's nothing I love more than a strong female character who speaks her mind and gives an entire male cast of characters a run for their hard-earned, cash money. Throne of Glass is being marketed as the teen girl version of Game of Thrones. Now, I've never read the books or seen the TV show, but I've heard enough about the depiction and treatment of woman in that series to say it's probably not for me. However, this is where Throne of Glass excels. Not only does it present a strong female MC, but a another secondary character, Nehemia, who also happens to be a person of color. Oh, yes, you read that right. No, ridiculous, over stereotyped, token character here! Because you know, if there is one thing that irritates me the most, it's misrepresentation in YA novels. But that didn't happen here. Nehemia is strong, incredibly smart and underestimated (of course) by everyone at court because of her nationality. Their mistake! I pity the fool who finds their self on the other end of her staff. It won't be pretty. Beautiful chaos. I'm hoping we get to see a lot more of her in the series. ;D
As for Celaena, well, she and I had this love/hate relationship going on. I find it really interesting and smart for Maas to create a character who is almost the opposite from what her society expects of her. They expect a proper lady, who never swears, has proper manners, reads poetry, quiet, ect. But Celaena is none of those things. Early on it's established that she dislikes the social expectations and makes it a point to use profanity and to embarrass the man folk with her readings of "Sunset's Passions". Seriously, she was owning these guys left and right.
"By the Wyrd! Do you actually read this rubbish? What happened to Symbols and Power and Eyllwe Customs and Culture?" She finished her drink, the ginger tea easing her stomach. "You may borrow it when I'm done. If you read it, your literary experience will be complete. And," she added with a coy smile, "it will give you some creative ideas of things to do with your lady friends."
I mean, can we all say, "In YO face."
"Here's a lesson for you, Weapons Master," she said, stalking past him. "Give me real men to fight. Then maybe I'll bother trying."
And her witty lines only get better and better from there. But of course, with all the pwning going on, she had her faults with being arrogant. Very, very arrogant. And that is where the hate comes into play. She was just too good and from the very beginning I knew Celaena would triumph because she is depicted as slightly Mary-Sueish. She's a well known assassin that can seemingly not be defeated and all man-folk fawn over her left and right. And that bothered me because it felt like there was so much more to her.
The Triangle of Love:
I was warned that this book contained a love triangle and this alone is enough to make me cringe. There are very few love triangles that I love and unfortunately this isn't one of them. When Celaena arrives at Rifthold she is drawn to both the Captain of the Guard, Chaol Westfall, and the Crowned Prince, Dorian Havillard. Oddly, it's not because the characters aren't likable enough together and it's not even the fact of one of the love interests treating her wrongly. The problem I had was Dorian and Celaena's attraction. Most of the time it felt forced, awkward and contrived. I couldn't understand where they had the time to get to know each other long enough for her to stop hating him BEFORE she started liking him. There was even a scene where Dorian promises Celaena that he won't kill one of his new pups that he deemed untrainable. And she goes, "You'd do that for me?" I swear I could FEEL her eyelashes batting at him at that very moment. I think that was supposed to make me like Dorian, but all I could do was roll my eyes.
Contrastingly, Chaol's seemed like a much more developed and realistic relationship, if you even want to call it that. But their feelings felt more organic. Side note: I don't know if this is even considered a love triangle yet. It reminds me of the whole Jacob vs. Edward. We all knew Bella would pick Edward in the end. Was Jake ever a real contender? I think not. But from what I hear from readers of the original story on Fiction Press, Celaena had quite a few suiters. It'll be interesting to see how Throne of Glass deviates from its roots. So, I suppose we will just have to wait for future installments to find out.
All in all, though it was not what I was expecting, I still enjoyed Throne of Glass. I really believe it will appeal to many young girls and I'm happy to see great examples of strong female characters in a YA novel. It feels like the sequel can only get better from here based on that ending (no cliffhanger, thank goodness!) and I, like many others, eagerly await book two.
ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you!
It's official. Mermaids are the new "angels" of the Paranormal Romance genre. The is the second mermaid book I've read and I'm less than impressed wit...moreIt's official. Mermaids are the new "angels" of the Paranormal Romance genre. The is the second mermaid book I've read and I'm less than impressed with these sea creatures. Incidentally, Of Poseidon happens to be worse for me than Lies Beneath.
Of Poseidon tells the story of Emma, a girl who possesses a few Syrena (mermaid) traits, and Galen, a Syrena prince, who attempts to unravel the secrets of Emma. It's discovered that she has the Gift of Poseidon (think Dr. Dolittle at the aquarium) and that she may be the key to pass on the Gift to future generations. The problem arises that Emma can't change into her Syrena form causing Galen to spend more time with her training her. You know what happens next: they fall deeply in love.
I was really looking forward to starting this book for two reasons: 1) The cover is stunning and 2) The blurb mentioned it was a mermaid tale told by both Emma and Galen's PoV. I usually like books that feature duel point of views, but in this case I didn't because it switched back and forth from 1st person (Emma) to 3rd person (Galen). That stylistic choice felt choppy to me. But despite that, I did find the dialogue humorous at times.
"Maybe you can talk to donkeys, too," Dr. Milligan smiles. Emma nods. "I can. Sometimes Galen can be a jackass."
And that's about all I liked about this book. (See, I'm not that heartless!) Unfortunately, the bad REALLY outweighed any good this novel had and it all started with Chloe, Emma's best friend. Now the beginning of the novel opens up with Emma and Chloe in Florida on vacation before school starts and I was surprised to see that Chloe was black. I had a huge smile on my face and I thought, "Wow! Diversity!" That was until Chloe was described as having a weave and fake nails... and (view spoiler)[she dies in the 3rd chapter (hide spoiler)]. D: The smile slid of my face and my happy cat died. I have a HUGE issue with how African Americans are portrayed in YA novels, if we even make it into a YA novel in the first place. This is the same issue I had with The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, where they minority character was so heavily stereotyped I wanted him to die a slow painful death. Same with Chloe, whose only purpose was to create a sad and lonely heroine. Are there black girls who have weaves and wear fake nails? Sure. But that is the easiest cop out when it comes to creating a black female character. I half expected her to bust out and start "doin' the Dougie" on the beach.
I still have no idea how to do that dance.
Chloe wasn't the only character I had issue with. I also really disliked Galen. He's your typical YA male love interest. He's so good looking it hurts to glance at him, females tripping over their panties to give him their numbers, and if he smiles at you: instant orgasm. He was also a controlling douche bag slinging Emma around like she was a Raggedy Anne doll. He always tries to tell Emma what to do and where to go, giving her no choice. There is even a point where he tells her she is going with him to Florida and he already arranged everything including getting permission from her mother. He stalks her and threatens another guy she dates. And I was okay with giving this book 2 stars until he started thinking thoughts like these:
"He scours his memory for a sweet-natured Syrena who would take care of him, who would do whatever he asked, who would never argue with him."
But I really can't expect much for him given how poorly females are treated in this book. I'm not sure what the obsession is with women's uteruses these days. Please don't get me started on the US, but this is YA fiction. Can't I escape the madness in my fiction? No, apparently not. The female mermaids have almost no choice who they want to marry. When a male Syrena turns 18 he searches for a female "whose company he will enjoy and who will be suitable for producing offspring." Great. Just great. So, female Syrena are only worthy if they can produce offspring. Here that girls? Your worth is dependent on a working uterus! Otherwise you are unsuitable!
Galen's own sister, Rayna, spends half of the book angy because she was married off to a Syrena without her knowledge. Yes, that's right. She wasn't even present at the ceremony! Oh, but don't worry she had the option to break off the marriage. Unfortunately for her, the King would probably deny her, so no real rights at all! But what really irked me was when she saw him kiss another girl, she instantly decides she does love him and they go off to an island to mate. -_-
Emma is no exception to this "rule" either. Since she is so speshul and has the Gift of Poseidon, she is (view spoiler)[destined to marry Galen's brother and produce offspring (hide spoiler)]. Galen conveniently keeps this from her the entire book because she really has no say in the matter. Women's rights over their marital status? Their bodies? Their children? Their futures? What's that?
Along with the issue of women, the book has a ton of other problems. For example, somehow Emma can talk underwater while she is holding her breath. That makes no sense. She has to hold her breath. How is it possible that she is talking? Emma's mother was also a strange one. She is crazy overbearing and pesters Emma into admitting Emma and Galen are dating. But here is the thing: they weren't. She's very, very strict, but just allows Emma to go anywhere with Galen. That didn't match up for me. I would tell you why it makes zero sense, but it would spoil the entire book. Speaking of which, the plot twists are extremely predictable. I knew how the book would end in the second chapter. There's no anticipation, no mystery. Just incredibly slow characters. That is pathetic.
I was really looking forward to this book and was excited to get approved for the galley, but another mermaid tale bites the dust.
1 star for an interesting premise. .5 star for the lulz it afforded me.
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