- It was dull as dirt - It was waaaaaaaay too long - I was so tired of the angst, no matter how justified it was - RoReasons why I didn't like this book:
- It was dull as dirt - It was waaaaaaaay too long - I was so tired of the angst, no matter how justified it was - Rowan is overrated. There, I said it. - I fell asleep listening to the audiobook over 15 times. 7 alone for the last 10%. - The chapters with the witches felt SO POINTLESS. (BTW, the king outlawed magic, but witches are okay? dafuq? Oh well, I don't care.) - I feel like each book follows the same plot: Celena trains. Celena fights with cute guy. Mysterious monster is killing people. Celena kills monster. Fin.
My original review for this book consisted of the following statement:
Ugh. So boring.
And for some reason those three words have kinda pissed peeps off My original review for this book consisted of the following statement:
Ugh. So boring.
And for some reason those three words have kinda pissed peeps off and landed me in some hot water elsewhere. But no matter. I feel like enough time has passed for me to give my true feelings.
So here they are:
This book is mediocre. There's nothing special about it. Nothing groundbreaking is contained in its pages. In other words, it's average. And that's what a 2 star rating for me is. I'm one of those reviewers who actually goes by the Goodreads ratings. 2 stars means I liked it, but it wasn't awesome. It also means I can see why others liked it. What it doesn't mean is that the book has no redeemable qualities or that your love for it is misplaced. I also want to point out that I really like Sabaa Tahir and have had the wonderful opportunity to meet her in person. She's truly lovely and I'm happy her novel has done so well. So take several seats if you've come here to troll me. Good day, sir.
So anyway, now that that's out of the way, back to An Ember in the Ashes.
Sometimes the problem with being a book blogger is that I know too much. Publishers love getting bloggers involved in campaigns to help promote their books because it's a fantastic way to generate hype and buzz for a title. Unfortunately for me, this sometimes means books are overhyped BEFORE I even get an ARC, let alone a finished copy. So the expectations I had for An Ember in the Ashes were ridiculously high and probably impossible to meet.
I think my primary issue with An Ember in the Ashes is that it bit off more than it could chew and, therefore, only began to scratch the surface. The halfway developed characters made for uninteresting, multi-POV narration. Even though I listened to the audio version, it only mildly helped the situation. And usually when I run into characters who aren't fleshed out completely, there's the plot to compensate, but not even that worked for me because everything moved at a snail's pace with no clear indication which direction the finish line lay.
Laia's role as a rebel was probably my least favorite aspect of the novel. Not only was she absolutely dreadful at it, but the rebels seemed shocked to find Laia hurt on a number of occasions. Things like this was worthy of an eyebrow raise because Laia was attempting to spy on the most dangerous person in the story, The Commandant, knowing that their previous spies were tortured and killed. So why are Laia's bruises a surprise?
Elias' POV was no better, to be honest. He spent most of his time mulling over his constant mommy issues and romantic feelings for his best friend. So basically, it was a lot of wangst that I could have done without. Also, he pulls a bit of a dick move that momentarily made me saw red. Not to mention Elias' character arc seems to revolve around a Prophecy and I'm just kinda over that in YA right now.
Still, since this is a 2-star review, there are some things that I did like.
- The commandant was a fantastic character. Deliciously evil and sadistic in all the right ways. She seemed to remain the most consistent and interesting throughout the book and I found myself enjoying scenes that she cameoed in.
- Elias' best friend, Helena. Even though I didn't exactly care for the romance, I enjoy the tension it created and that it caused his best friend to have more page time. She was such a badass and I loved her. Also, I started seeing some forms of a love rhombus and oh god please don't.
- The battle near the end was a surprise I did not expect. Tahir ended up killing off a few side characters I didn't realize I actually cared about. The audio narration was especially wonderful during that part.
All in all, it's not terrible, but also not knock-your-socks-off-amazing either. I don't feel invested enough to read the sequel since I found this one to be such a chore to get through in the first place. However, if I start seeing whispers of a Laia and Helena ship starting to form in book two, I might just need to rethink everything I thought I knew. ...more
I went into We Were Liars one cocky son of a biscuit eater, feeling above it all right from page one. I'd seen this book talked about so heavily by otI went into We Were Liars one cocky son of a biscuit eater, feeling above it all right from page one. I'd seen this book talked about so heavily by other bloggers and how some never saw the twist coming or how others totally saw that twist coming. All the while, I was sitting on the sidelines with my shades on, posted up with my arms folded, saying, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Hot potato." That's not to say I didn't want to read this book, because I did. I even had an ARC sitting on my shelf for the longest time, but due to a lot of the hype, I kept putting it off. Plus, I'm one of those people who usually can easily figure out a plot twist and I didn't want to dive into something where a lot of people already mentioned figuring it out.
But one thing did nag me a little in the back of my mind was that my Bookish Twin, Blythe from Finding Bliss in Books, LOVED it. I highly value her opinion when it comes to books, because we almost always agree. So when I happened to get my hands on the audiobook, I thought, "What the hell? I was supposed to read and review this anyway, right?" Let me tell you... WHOA.
***First off, I just wanna say that I don't know how the print compares to the audio and that it's possible I loved the book more than others because of the excellent job of the narrator. I can see how the fragmented sentences could be a pain to read, but this might be one of those cases where it sounds better out loud. That being said, I if you haven't read this book, possibly check out the audio version first.***
Anyway, I was feeling very blasé about the first half. It felt like a really random story about a rich, white girl and her white girl problems, crying her white girl tears and I felt myself unsure about what the point of it all was.
And maybe that makes me sound extremely heartless, but I couldn't relate to the main character (no, I'm not even going to tell you her name because I want you to go in blind). But somewhere along the lines, I started to become intrigued with the story because it became this strange, wild thing that I couldn't piece together.
Lockhart uses a very odd narration with fragmented sentences and strange descriptions, but I thought it was beautiful and unique. It added a very creepy layer on top the the existing oddness. It makes you question the main character, her account of the incident and the entire book. She's not very reliable and has the habit to cut off mid-sentence. I'm not sure if that was used as a way to distract the reader or if it was to used to make us question her sanity. Maybe a little bit of both. Either way, it worked on me.
As things started to heat up and I reached the cusp of the climax, the narrator's voice increased in intensity. She began talking faster, became very emotional, then suddenly on the verge of tears!
And I started thinking to myself, OH GOD NO. WHAT IS HAPPENING.
And then IT was revealed and I was all, "WHAT IS THIS LIFE? I REJECT EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS ENDING. NOOOOOOO!!!!"
So, naturally, I had a good cry and needed someone to hold me.
I know this review might not be the most helpful in the world, but it's true what everyone says about We Were Liars. You should absolutely go in blind, with no expectations and let this book take your feels as it sees fit. If you are a fan of psychological thrillers like Stephanie Kuehn's Charm and Strange or Complicit, than this one may be up your alley. I'll be here to hold you when you're finish.
One of the biggest reasons for me wanting to read 3:59 was because it took place in a location very familiar to me. Like many Actual rating: 1.5 stars
One of the biggest reasons for me wanting to read 3:59 was because it took place in a location very familiar to me. Like many other readers, when I hear about a book that's set in my state or near my hometown, I feel this incessant need to read it by any means necessary. Unfortunately, 3:59 proved to be one big fat disappointment.
The book follows science wiz Josie Bryne who starts having dreams at 3:59 of a girl who looks just like her. As her own life begins to fall apart around her (she finds her boyfriend and best friend sleeping together, her parents divorce and she loses her job), she desperately wants the life she catches glimpses of when she sleeps. The girl Jo seems to have everything Josie wants: A perfect boyfriend, happily married parents and a perfect life. But when she finally gets the opportunity to cross over to Jo's world, she learns things are far from perfect.
This sounded like such an interesting concept with it being pitched as Parent Trap meets Event Horizon. I don't even know what Event Horizon is (Okay, so Kat says it's a really scary horror movie. 3:59 is neither of those things.), but Parent Trap (the one with Lindsay Lohan before her life took a decided turn for the worse) is one of my all-time favorite movies. Throw in some sci-fi alternate universe action and I'm totally there. Sadly, 3:59 bares no resemblance to Parent Trap at all and I really need for Harper to stop this whole "Awesome movie/book/concept" meets "Even more Awesome movie/book/concept" thing that they do. Frankly, they are usually so far off and misleading. It's like they're overcompensating for their novels. And let me tell you, there was some serious overcompensating going on for 3:59.
The Writing Style: So I took 3:59 with me one afternoon while I journeyed on the metro to my favorite children's book store. I read exactly 5 pages and had a sinking suspicion that this book was not going to be my thang. The writing style immediately had a very choppy weird feeling that never felt natural or smooth even as the novel progressed. There were inner monologues from the narrator found in between each section of dialogue, making the exchange seem very long. Someone would say something to Josie and then there'd be a paragraph monologue about what she was thinking or a bit of info-dumping. I couldn't help but to wonder what Josie would be doing in these time spans instead of answering the character's question. Was she staring at them while her brain worked to keep up with her mouth? Perhaps.
Flat Characters: I don't think there is a single character in this book that I liked or saw growth from. Everyone remained exactly the same from beginning to end. The narrator tells us that Josie had changed, that she was smarter and stronger, but I never got a sense of any of that. Each character had one trait that they encompassed and that's basically what they were for the entire novel.
The Plot: 3:59 relies heavily on science to explain why things are the way they are. It's supposed to be clearly logical. Josie and her friend, Penelope, are supposed to appear smart. And I do appreciate McNeil having intelligent female protagonists solving the mystery. My problem was that since the science behind the book was so very complex, I had an extremely hard time seeing a high school student (or several of them!) knowing that much at such a young age. Is everyone a physics prodigy and able to keep up with all those formulas? Josie just happens to know more physics than her teachers?
But, okay. Maybe I could get behind this idea if all the science jargon didn't create so many opportunities to info dump. Let's be honest, hardly any readers will know what Josie knows. So whenever Josie and Penelope went off of their science talk, there was conveniently another character in the room asking for the For Dummies version. Look, I am not the kind of reader who is easily impressed with an author's ability to recite Big Science Words. So I need to be able to see some type of explanation, and I never really got that. Instead, I got more questions: Where did the mirror in Jo's room come from despite Josie never having one in her room until she moved it there? Why did Josie only start having the dreams recently even though the connection to both worlds had been open for 6 months?
Then we move on to the actual logical fails 3:59 was filled with. There's this part in the book where Josie and Nick go on a tour of Fort Meade (a highly guarded military facility that houses different government divisions like NSA) where they are given a tour by one of the Directors. Somehow, Josie convinces the Director (because he's attracted to her) to give them a tour of a floor they have no business being on. Somehow, conveniently the halls are deserted. That is so inaccurate, I can't even. Then she conveniently leaves her purse on that floor in the bathroom only to later bat her eyelashes at the Director for his access card so she can retrieve it alone. I understand that this is fiction, but Josie was given way too many free passes in this novel. I don't care if she batted her eyelashes so hard that her eyes got stuck in a permanent twitch, there is no way someone is handing over their security badge at the Fort. And there is no way she would make it back up to that same off-limits floor with no one stopping her. You can't just walk around the Fort unescorted. It doesn't happen for security reasons. Where was the research done here?
But I get it. Sometimes you just have to go with it when it comes to some books (hard as that is for me most times). This book was supposed to be built around scientific logic, so I expected basic common sense rules to be applied in other aspects as well. Clearly, I was asking too much because later in the book, Josie just thinks to ask her father (in the alternate universe) to steal a government laser from Fort Meade. The exchange went ridiculously something like this:
"Hey, daddy? Can you steal that government laser for the highly guarded military facility? I need it. I love you so much! xoxoxo!"
"Anything for you, princess! Shall I pick you up some Burger King on the way out the Fort?"
Are you kidding? For Josie to be so smart, I am actually surprised she thought this was legit a possibility even after her real mother specifically told her to trust no one.
Then, right after a character is brutally eaten to death by the nox (creatures that haunt the alternate universe and eat people) right in front of Josie and Nick, these fools start making out right there. Things get hot and heavy, Josie has a moment when she realizes she's in love and she reaches up and grabs the dude's severed ankle.
"OMG, I freakin' love this guy I'm making out with!"
"This is so hot."
"Oh, shit. Is that a foot? Gah! How did this body get here?!"
"Oh, right. He just died."
Gag me, please.
It was there 3:59 and I had a strange turn of events. The book went from giving me a lot of these moments:
To where I could barely suppress a laugh:
Honestly, though, I was still being entertained... just not in the way the author probably intended it.
Insta-Love: So as if this couldn't get any worse, this happens:
She'd never felt this way with her ex-boyfriend. This was something different. Something deeper. Even though they had only known each other a few days, Nick knew her better than anyone else, and loved her even more because of it. - Quoted from 3:59 ARC, page 348.
Sure, sure. She's in love with this guy even though they've had maybe a handful of conversations (all of them related to the plot and had nothing to do with actually finding out things about each other), one of which was sparked by him pointing a gun at her. Boyfriend of the year!
I never once felt the connection between the two. They were these character stuck in this situation and randomly, romance was thrown in because, hey, every YA book has to have its romance. (Obviously, that was sarcasm.) But in the end, the romance didn't add anything extra to the reading experience and felt contrived and forced.
Predictability: However, I might have even forgiven all of that if only the entire mystery hadn't been so predictable. I know 3:59 is being pitched as a sci-fi thriller, but I never once felt the urgency because things were so painfully obvious. I knew who the bad guy was, what happened to her parents, who was attacking the humans, etc. Josie is depicted as a really smart protagonist, but again, spouting off science words is not enough if the reader is two steps ahead of your detective. The really sad part is that the mystery wasn't bad at all, but really lacked better foreshadowing and a much tighter plot. If I've already figured out the mystery by 50%, there's really no reason for me to stick around.
Not only was the plot predictable, but the character actions. And this is where I feel good old fashion character growth would have helped. Josie, as trusting and sweet as she was depicted, was, frankly, TSTL. I don't think this was intentional, but when you keep telling the reader how smart your character is, but they continually do really dumb things, it rarely works for me.
To Conclude: In the end, 3:59 didn't live up to my expectations. Had the plot and mystery been tighter, the characters better developed and the romance cleaned up, I would have probably really loved this one. Would I recommend this? My first reaction is, "Eh, no." But I do think if the above doesn't bother you much in novels, you may enjoy this one. I would, instead, strongly recommend checking out a sample to see if the writing style works for you and then abandoning all sense of logic at page one.
1 star because it's not the worst book I've read
.5 star for somehow keeping me entertained despite my frustrations
When I first picked this book up from BEA, I wasn't very interested because I saw the word "witches" and thought, "NOPE, NOPE, NOPE." Even in my revieWhen I first picked this book up from BEA, I wasn't very interested because I saw the word "witches" and thought, "NOPE, NOPE, NOPE." Even in my review policy it states that I don't review books about witches. Why? Well, because of Harry Potter. I didn't want to sit and compare the two and I had a feeling that I would. What made matters worse was the fact that ended up being toted as The Next Big Thing from The Hunger Games to, you guessed it, Harry Potter. So it's a good thing this book was nothing like Harry Potter.
Upon finishing Half Bad my first thought was, "HOLY SHIT!", so I went to Goodreads to see what everyone else thought. It's interesting to see how split most people are on this book, and it's not hard to understand why. The enjoyment of Half Bad is going to largely depend on your ability to adapt to the writing style. How do you feel about second person? How do you feel about first person? How do you feel about flipping back and forth from those two different point-of-views? If you answer is, "I can dig it!" then let's roll through the meadows together as I wax poetic about how awesome this book was. But if you answer is, "I hate it, I hate it, I hate it," then Half Bad might not be your cup of tea and I've got only one thing to say to you:
Half Bad is brutal and spares no punches as we are introduced to the main character, who lives in a cage. A cage. Immediately my interest was piqued. I knew this was a good sign for me because I'm the kind of reader that struggles with most book beginnings. However, the perils that Nathan endures really horrified me, and as terrible as it sounds, I couldn't stop reading about it. There's nothing bright and sunny about Half Bad and the majority of it involves Nathan being ridiculed or tortured from a very young age because his father is the most hunted black witch. And so Nathan grows up alone in the community of white witches who despise him. He desperately wants to be accepted and not judged purely on his parentage, but no matter how hard he tries, the Council of White Witches continue to send restrictions:
-Any contact Nathan has with a white witch has to be reported -He goes to the council for yearly assessments, where he is questioned about the father he's never met -He can't have his Giving Ceremony with out permission (Think: Rite of Passage for Witches) -He can't travel anywhere without first having permission
It gets pretty ridiculous with the amount of rules place on a child, but the Council has their prejudices, and it's clear they don't plan to let up. Nathan, who's only freedom included traveling to Wales every once in a while, refuses to ask permission for travel. Yet, his half-brother (a white witch), who genuinely cares about him, begs him to reconsider. That scene was one of the saddest in the book for me.
Later that night, when I am getting undressed, Arran has a go at talking to me. I guess Gran has asked him to try. He says I should "rethink," "perhaps ask permission to go to one place in Wales," and some other stuff like that. Adult stuff. Gran's stuff. I just say, "Can I have permission to go to the bathroom? Please?" He doesn't reply, so I throw my jeans on the floor, get on my knees and say, "Can I have permission to go to the bathroom? Please?" He doesn't reply but drops to his knees with me and hugs me. We stay like that. Him hugging me and me still stiff with anger at him, wanting to hurt him too. After a long time I hug him back, just a little.
But somehow in all the abuse, Nathan finds a little happiness in a girl named Annalise. Their romance was both short and sweet, and inevitably would fail since it's forbidden for white witches to fraternize with black witches. (I want to take the time to point out that this is NOT a Paranormal Romance.) Sometime later, he ends up living in a cage outside.
The writing, as I mentioned before, flips back and forth from second to first person in the beginning, but tapers off and settles on first person present tense. I personally loved it because it's so different from other books. In fact, I don't think I've ever read a novel with second person that wasn't a Choose Your Own Adventure. I felt like I could really get into Nathan's mind and understand how he felt. It also made certain scenes more intense because it forces the reader to imagine themselves in his situation. So imagining my hand being burned off from acid wasn't fun, but different.
Kat and I happened to be reading this book at the same time and had similar thoughts about it being difficult to read at first. It was very depressing in the beginning to see a child being mistreated and tortured. I don't often encounter that in most of the YA novels that I've read. But it does remind me of the same feelings I felt while reading The Hunger Games in that respect. The scenes don't fade into black, Nathan screams throughout some of them and they just felt very visual and hard to process at times. I'm not a reader of horror novels nor a watcher of scary movies that have a lot of violence, so my tolerance level for this might be low. However, I do think those scenes are where Green truly shined. Plus, they'll make for a great movie.
When I went through and read a few reviews, some mentioned the implications of race since Nathan is a black witch being persecuted by white witches. It's interesting because I never really thought about it that way. Looking back, I suppose it is there. The black witches and white witches are different races in a way, but I viewed it more playing on the long accepted mythology that black witches were evil and white witches good and simply putting another spin on it. In any case, I wasn't offended by anything intentional or unintentional.
Strangely enough, even though Half Bad is about witches, there's not much magic in it. There are a few instances where there are spells mentioned and used, but the vast majority boils down to witches making potions. There are no wands or cloaks or three-quarter platforms. I think this was smart, otherwise, would we see a lot of comparisons between Half Bad and Harry Potter floating around. As far as I can tell, they don't have anything in common besides the same paranormal creature.
As much as I loved the narrative and premise, I do agree with other reviewers that mention the second half isn't as strong as the first. This might have something to do with how violent the first half is, and therefore, a lot more engaging to read. I don't know if that's the right word, but the first half is definitely more interesting. However, I still enjoyed the second half because if the book had been filled entirely of violent torture, I don't think I could have continued reading. The second half mostly involves Nathan, newly escaped from the Council, searching for a black witch named Mercury who can give him his three gifts on his 17th birthday.
The ending took me by surprise due to the reappearance from a certain character. I'm not sure how I feel about it, but I am eager to continue this series. Do I think it's the Next Big Thing? Who knows. But it's a damn good book.
ARC was provided by the publisher for an honest review.
This is going to be one of those rare times where my rating isn't very indicative of my personal feelings of the quality of a novel. (Savor this momenThis is going to be one of those rare times where my rating isn't very indicative of my personal feelings of the quality of a novel. (Savor this moment because I don't see it happening too often.) Here's the thing about Neptune's Tears: if you are a veteran Sci-Fi reader, chances are it will be lacking in complexity for you. However, if you are a noob to the genre or a younger reader or a reluctant reader, this novel may be perfect for you. Unfortunately, I don't fall in the latter category and I don't think I'm a part of the target audience for this book, but I can still see a lot of redeemable qualities for Neptune's Tears.
- The writing isn't bad at all. Even though I mentioned I think this book would be great for younger readers, I didn't ever feel like Waggoner was talking down to the reader. This was especially evident with the science she used to set her world up and the descriptions. The world is described in a clear manner without info-dumping on the reader.
-Neptune's Tears features a diverse group of characters. One thing I really love is when a book has other nationalities or cultures present. So many times in YA lit it's the usual all white cast with the occasional token character. But this book takes place in London and has a variety of nationalities present. In fact, the main character even travels to Indonesia later in the book. It's apparent that Waggoner wanted her book to be more of an accurate representation of the world in the future, and the best way to do that was to actually include the rest of the world.
- The plot moved along swiftly and the twist wasn't predictable. Looking back at my reading experience, I'm a little surprised that I didn't see the plot twist. There were a few times when I wanted to DNF Neptune's Tears, but I was very interested in seeing what David's big secret was, so that kept me reading until the end.
What didn't work out for me:
- The pacing was entirely too fast. There were times when I long stretches of time had passed by, but I didn't realize it because the story moved at such a rapid pace. This caused the most issues with the romance. One minute Zee and David are meeting and the next they are falling in love. At first, I thought it was insta-love and I HATE insta-love 99% of the time, but then I realized a few months had gone by later. I felt like the book could have used better transitioning and been smoothed out more in that department. Also because the pacing was so fast, there were pages where it should have been interesting but weren't because the scene felt like it was stuck on a weird Fast Forward type setting. It was like I was skim reading a book without skimming. That, in turn, led to boredom.
- The world building wasn't very complex. This is a personal preference, but in order for me to be fully sucked into a world, I need a lot more details. Neptune's Tears gives the reader the basics, but I don't feel it fully tapped into its potential. I would have liked more info on what it meant for Zee to be an Empath. How did this skill emerge in the future world? (Speaking of the future world, I would have like more info on that in general.) If falling in love was so discouraged if a person was an Empath because it negatively affected their job, why was Zee and David's relationship seemingly the exception? There was so much that was left unsaid and the author generally stuck to things that only pertained to Zee. And that would probably be fine for some readers, but I require a little more.
- I couldn't relate to the characters. I'm not sure what it was, but these characters did nothing for me. I think this might go hand in hand with things not being as fleshed out as I usually prefer, the characters included. Everything was strictly on a need to know basis as it pertained directly to the story and plot with very little wiggle room. I never really felt I got a good sense on who Zee was as a person. What were her likes besides her job and David? What did she like to do for fun? For me, there was no real substance. There were simply these characters and they live in this world and, oh hey, here is the plot. Bam, wham, thank you, Sam.
The bottom line? I really believe this novel could have used an extra 100-150 more pages and if things had been more detailed, I could have really loved this one. That being said, I do think Neptune's Tears would be perfect for reluctant readers. It's short, has a decent plot and not overly complex.