March 5, 2014: Second attempt at reading this. My original review is here. Wish me luck!
April 6, 2014: Well, I finished it this time. I did not love i...moreMarch 5, 2014: Second attempt at reading this. My original review is here. Wish me luck!
April 6, 2014: Well, I finished it this time. I did not love it, but I see reasons why people do. I may write more here later.
April 7, 2014:
I spent part of the night stewing about this book. Frakking self-important book! Frakking non-existent ending! Frakking shrike!
Hyperion is a lot like a science fiction Canterbury Tales. (Granted, Canterbury Tales is a classic, so this may totally be your thing.) Seven pilgrims are on the way to see the big, bad shrike—who may or may not be a godlike entity, but who definitely likes to murder people and impale them on his steel tree. During the trip, each pilgrim tells his (or her) story about why he (or she) is on the pilgrimage. All of the stories were long; all of the stories were fascinating; and most of the stories rambled on until I was past bored.
The one story I loved was about a scholar and his daughter, who suffered from a unique illness; their story touched my heart and made me pull for him. A second story, about a priest, provided a reasonable enough explanation about why the priest wanted to see the shrike. I continue to believe that the remainder of the pilgrims are cray-cray for wanting to see the shrike and should probably turn around, save themselves, and go the heck home.
Did I mention there's no ending to this book? I sat through all these rambling stories. And at the end of the book, they're finally about to meet the shrike. Are you frakking kidding me?! I'm fuming.
Even though this book frustrated the heck out of me, I get why it's so popular. It's fascinating and dark, and the world-building is astounding. I'm itching to know what happens. But I can't promise to read the next book.(less)
My five-star rating is based on the assumption that the information presented in this book is accurate. I don't know enough about magic to judge this...moreMy five-star rating is based on the assumption that the information presented in this book is accurate. I don't know enough about magic to judge this for myself. Based on that assumption, in my opinion, this is a great reference for anyone who has experienced a string of misfortunes and is open-minded about the existence of hexes.
There's some guidance here about how to determine whether you've been hexed: what to look for, what tasks may be performed to test for hexes, and what circumstances indicate lack of a hex. There's also guidance about how to remove hexes and how to deal with psychics so you don't get cheated when it comes to determining whether you have been hexed and, if so, removing the hex. Should you determine that your misfortune is not the result of hex after all, there's also some guidance about how to deal with negative energy that may be causing your misfortune.
Overall, I found this to be a great reference for the lay-person. It uses understandable terms and presents logical steps for approaching the problem. Most of all, I appreciate the general focus of the book on, first, determining whether a hex exists before addressing it. A less cautious author might have jumped right into how to remove hexes, but the approach taken here seems more trustworthy.
Thanks to the publisher for the free review copy, provided through NetGalley.(less)
When the story opens, we find the main character, Em, held captive in a cell, staring at a drain. This may sound dull,...moreI thoroughly enjoyed this book.
When the story opens, we find the main character, Em, held captive in a cell, staring at a drain. This may sound dull, but I found the tension to be wonderfully done. As captive, held in a dark room, Em found something to obsess about. It was dark and psychological, and I was immediately hooked. Then she finds a message that a prior version of herself left for her, saying she has to kill him.
Em goes back in time to do as the note says. I figured out pretty much right away who Em goes back in time to kill, but that's fine. I don't think it was meant to be a big secret. I was still invested in the story and in watching it unravel.
You won't find any Mary Sues here. Em was conflicted every step of the way. She was a good person, on a mission to do a bad thing. I found her struggle with her task to be both believable and compelling.
This book had just the right amount of romance--enough that I could latch onto it and root for it, but not so much that I got frustrated with the emphasis on romance as opposed to important, world-saving tasks. I found Em's love interest, Finn, to be likable in both his past and future selves. He was loyal and considerate, but tough enough to give Em a kick in the pants when she needed it.
I will admit though: On a couple occasions, I referred to Finn in my head as "cool Peeta." He has some similarities to Peeta from the Hunger Games, but I liked Finn better. Finn and Peeta are both blond, and both play sidekick to their love interests. But Finn was plenty kick-ass on his own, hence the "cool" label even though I found myself comparing him to a character in a different book.
I think it's a given with a serious time travel story that there will be paradoxes. All Our Yesterdays does a solid job of laying the groundwork with respect to how paradoxes are handled. And this groundwork starts early in the story, which adds some credibility to the resolution of paradoxes after the book's conclusion. I appreciate that.
An excellent book. One of my favorite reads of 2013! I'll be looking for more work by Cristin Terrill.
My thanks to Disney Hyperion for the free review copy.
A couple little things seemed a bit too easy, but they didn't affect my enjoyment of the novel. So I'm adding them to my review only as footnotes.
1. Finn was able to set the time machine to show a false date because he "knew a code." As a former programmer, I have yet to see a standard code that can simply be entered into an unknown program (specifically, a program heavily guarded and which must therefore have some kind of digital security, having been built by a genius and all) from the graphical user interface, in the span of only a few seconds, to make the program provide false information. A little farfetched.
2. There's a lot of chatter about how time is sentient and resolves its paradoxes. The characters were willing to go back in time and kill someone, thus creating a shit-ton of paradoxes (which would be resolved by sentient time), but they had to wait until a certain date because any date prior to that would create too big a paradox. This seemed like a bit of a cop-out way to pick a date that would create some sense of urgency, as opposed to, say, killing the guy two days earlier in a more relaxed timeframe.
3. I'm not convinced the time paradoxes created in the climax scene would have resolved themselves the way they did. But I guess there were a lot ways that could have gone.(less)
My book of the month discussion/argument with Kenya Wright, Megan D. Martin, and D.T. Dyllin (wherein Megan and D.T. are wrong) about the Opportunist:...moreMy book of the month discussion/argument with Kenya Wright, Megan D. Martin, and D.T. Dyllin (wherein Megan and D.T. are wrong) about the Opportunist: http://www.fantasyfloozies.com/2013/0....
This is the June book of the month to be featured on my blog. It's not one I would have picked for myself.
I wasn't particularly a fan, but I do understand why a lot of people like it. For me, both the main characters were selfish jerks, and their backstories didn't come close to accounting for their flawed choices. All their problems would have been solved if they'd been honest with each other. I couldn't root for them because I didn't like them. They showed little respect for their relationship throughout, so I couldn't bring myself to care.
Vicious was so incredibly refreshing. It was everything I hoped it would be.
When the story opens, Victor and his buddies are digging up a grave. And t...moreVicious was so incredibly refreshing. It was everything I hoped it would be.
When the story opens, Victor and his buddies are digging up a grave. And their task has something to do with getting Eli's attention. As far as I'm concerned, a story that starts like that--death and mystery right from the start--skyrockets my expectations. And, lucky for me, it never disappointed.
Victor and Eli both became EOs (ExtraOrdinaries) when they were best friends in college, thanks to some dangerous experimentation they performed on themselves. Years after college, they are on opposite sides. In a way, it's a classic story--two friends who become enemies. One of them is viewed as a hero, and the other wants to take the hero down. What's wonderful about this story is that neither is a hero. They have their own agendas, and they'll get rid of anyone who tries to stop them.
By the end of the book, I knew these main characters. I understood them. Eli: the one who thinks he's on a mission to save the world from EOs. And Victor: who has his own reasons for trying to stop Eli. You know that saying about how "power corrupts"? How about the one saying that great power means "great responsibility"? Well, both of these men feel they have responsibilities, and both are thoroughly corrupted. The result is something dark, and twisted, and beautiful.
I will almost certainly pick up another book by Schwab.
Footnote: Some folks have this shelved as young adult. This is not a young adult book--not even a little. It's not a new adult book either. There are some scenes that take place while the main characters are in college, but even those few scenes have an adult vibe to them.(less)
This is not a bad reference, but I wouldn't recommend reading it cover to cover. Maybe hit the table of contents and view the topics that seem worthy...moreThis is not a bad reference, but I wouldn't recommend reading it cover to cover. Maybe hit the table of contents and view the topics that seem worthy of your time. There were many topics that address issues beyond my control, and many others just aren't relevant to me personally.(less)
The Emotion Thesaurus contains some opening material about characterization, showing versus telling, and using this thesaurus as inspiration and apply...moreThe Emotion Thesaurus contains some opening material about characterization, showing versus telling, and using this thesaurus as inspiration and applying it naturally to characters and their surroundings. This opening material is nothing particularly new or ground-breaking, but I see how it's necessary--sort of a why-you-need-this-book combined with a disclaimer.
The bulk of of the text is made up of sections dedicated to many different emotions, where each section includes a list of ways to display the emotion. This is a pretty awesome and unique reference manual. I've been looking for books about facial expressions and body language, and this fits the bill, while also being directed toward writers.
I expect I'll keep this handy during my editing process.(less)
It took me a while to get into Destiny Gift. In fact, there were a few times in the first half of the book that I seriously considered putting it down for good. Eventually, though, it did begin to grab me, and I'm glad I finished it. I'll even admit that when my Kindle hit 100%, I was a tad disappointed that the story was over—and I mean that as a good thing. This wasn't a cliffhanger. It was more like a complete volume of a larger set of volumes. Some threads of the plot were concluded, but bigger issues remained. I may pick up the next book just to see how it all turns out.
Let's talk about things I disliked:
As I said above, the beginning was slow. Nadine is in college and has recurring dreams about a cute boy, who she suspects she might be in love with—even though he doesn't exist. She spends a good bit of time thinking about this imaginary boy. Then she meets another cute boy, a bad boy who's dark and intriguing and seems to like her. Nadine makes plans to go to a party; she goes to work; she goes to school events...You see where I'm going with this? I just wasn't interested in any of that.
The world-building was also a problem for me. Nadine's world is a mess of darkness, danger, and giant bats. Her school is enclosed with security guards around the border to keep the students safe. Only...I didn't see much of the danger. It was mostly talk and dreams and memories. I just wasn't convinced that the world had gone to crap. The one exception to this was that I experienced Nadine's being attacked by some bats—only the scene just left my wondering why the bats never followed her onto campus. Sure, there's a gate around the campus, but a gate can't keep out bats.
What I liked:
Nadine's visions aren't always about the boy she might be in love with. Sometimes, they're about gods and goddesses fighting. I guessed what this meant well before Nadine did, but I still enjoyed the journey as she figured it out. Toward the end of the book, the action really picks up with some chase scenes and torture. This was much more down my alley than going to school and work and dreaming about boys. I was intrigued.
There was solid sexual tension between Nadine and the bad boy. I liked him and wanted him and Nadine to get together.
Overall, I ended up enjoying Destiny Gift. I recommend it for paranormal romance readers, especially those who are into young adult and new adult. There weren't any sexy times here, so even though it's labeled new adult, I wouldn't suggest going into it looking for all the hot sex usually associated with that genre.(less)
I had some likes and dislikes about this book, but overall I enjoyed it very much.
In urban fantasy, I generally expect to see supernatural being...moreI had some likes and dislikes about this book, but overall I enjoyed it very much.
In urban fantasy, I generally expect to see supernatural beings dropped into the world I know. In this case, what made it special was that the supernatural being were so wild. The Others weren't humans who happened to be supernatural. They didn't think like humans. They didn't follow human laws. I loved this about them.
For example, the Wolves had a difficult time maintaining their human forms at times, since the Wolf form was more natural to them. As a Wolf, when he let his guard down, Simon wanted to play games like chase and tug. This was a cute side of Simon and really emphasized his animalistic nature.
On the darker side of being a Wolf, Simon and his pack also had no trouble tearing human intruders apart and eating them. I loved that just when we were beginning to see Simon soften towards Meg, we see him asking one of his men to save him a human's heart to eat. This showed so clearly that Simon was not human, even if he could potentially have a relationship of some kind with Meg.
Mary Sue alert! Meg is a cassandra sangue, also known as a blood prophet. As a result of her upbringing as a blood prophet, she's also an innocent who has gaps in her knowledge about the real world. As she learned to operate independently, she'd often make choices that were at odds with others' expectations. We repeatedly get the same reactions to these choices over and over again: other people are initially angry or confused—and then they see how right and perfect Meg is after she explains herself. It got old. And I would have liked to have seen Meg make a bad choice at some point, since that's expected when learning a whole new world.
Occasionally, entire scenes were dedicated to someone's internal monologue. For example, during a Simon-POV scene, Simon may be travelling in a vehicle. Nothing actually happens during this scene except that Simon's internal monologue tells us what he's thinking, where he's going, and why. At the end of a scene like this, I think to myself: What just happened here? Nothing.
These scenes were uninteresting and difficult to get through. They felt like cheating, and I would rather have had these scenes replaced with scenes where Simon's thoughts and the events on his his mind could have been shown or inferred.
This dislikes didn't turn me off too much, so overall this book was a win for me. I definitely intend to read the next book in this series.(less)
I went into this book thinking it would be young adult science fiction, which is a genre I love. It was. But it was also a roman...moreParallel blew my mind.
I went into this book thinking it would be young adult science fiction, which is a genre I love. It was. But it was also a romance novel that was both heart-breaking and heart-mending. I stayed up all night to finish this book because I had to know that Abby would find her soulmate in the end.
The primary complication to Abby's love life is the fact that her world collided with a parallel one a year ago. As a result, her present state is determined by choices her parallel self made in the past. Unfortunately, Abby suspects that her parallel self isn't exactly like her, so her parallel's choices don't always land Abby where she wants to be. She fears that one day she'll wake up and her love life will have been rewritten, and she'll be the only one who remembers how things are supposed to be. In the end, will she find her soulmate regardless of the path she's on?
It was 1:00 in the morning, and I was just about to put this book down after promising myself I would do so an hour earlier. Then this happened:
Yep, Parallel ripped my heart out and crushed it. So I had to keep reading until I finished the book, fighting with myself not to flip to the end to make sure everything was going to be okay.
Luckily, at the the conclusion, I was here:
Otherwise . . . well, let's just say I had a plan to hunt down and harass author Lauren Miller until she rewrote the ending. Lucky for her, I was more than satisfied.
I don't think all readers will enjoy the science babble explaining the entanglement of two parallel worlds. Personally, I thought this was a pretty cool aspect of the book. But even those who get a giant headache from the science babble can still enjoy the intensity of feelings that Abby has for her boyfriend—and that Abby's parallel has for her boyfriend.
The one thing I didn't absolutely love love love about Parallel is that I think I found a small glitch in the rubber science. If Abby and everyone in her world are getting the memories of their parallels, as theorized, then their parallels shouldn't be able to affect their physical properties. Abby shouldn't have scars from her parallel's injuries, and she shouldn't be in Connecticut just because her parallel went there instead of moving to California. This little glitch bothered me a bit. But you know what, Parallel? I still love you.
Most of my favorite books are action-heavy fantasy and science fiction novels. Parallel is now added to my favorites as one of the few romance novels I absolutely adored. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to young adult science fiction readers who like romance, as well as to contemporary romance readers. Just be prepared to put your heart on the line.
Thanks to HarperCollins for the free ARC of this title, provided through Edelweiss.
Outside of the opening scene (which was a bit of a cheat since it was an action scene meant to draw the reader in but wasn't directly related to the p...moreOutside of the opening scene (which was a bit of a cheat since it was an action scene meant to draw the reader in but wasn't directly related to the plot), I found the first quarter of this book to be pretty boring.
Ellie travels home to see her uncle. We're introduced to her town. She goes to a coffee shop for a job, meets a boy, and goes on a date with the boy. Now we're about 27% of the way into the book and I'm IM-ing my co-blogger to tell her how boring it is.
At that point, I wasn't even attracted to the boy--Camden. He's initially described as wearing cargo shorts (not my style), and Iggy Pop T-shirt (I had to look that up), lips that are "thin and curved at the top," a full day's worth of stubble (I don't mind stubble, but in combo with the cargo shorts, I'm finding his style way too relaxed for my taste), and Dumbo ears. By themselves, the Dumbo ears could be cute and add character, but since the rest of the description didn't do it for me, the ears didn't add the character that I believe they were meant to.
Why am I going on and on about Camden not blowing me away with his sexiness? Well, a quarter of the way through the book, when I'm bored, I want to be blown away by the love interest--and I wasn't. Bummer. Granted, Camden's appearance grew on me throughout the book. Not every protagonist is going to like the kind of style that I like, but that made it harder for me to agree with Ellie's observations about how sexy Camden was.
Things got interesting when con-artist Ellie picked a mark and started working on her plan to acquire some more money. Plus, later on, her dangerous ex-boyfriend sent her on he run again. And through it all, Ellie and Camden dealt with some serious (and warranted) trust issues, stemming from how they'd treated each other in the past. In the end, I really came to root for them. And the sex scenes were great, so after the first one of those, I was much more invested int heir relationship.
An interesting aspect of this book was the regular flashbacks. On many occasions in the book, we'd return to Ellie's past to explore her high school relationship with Camden or her relationship with her dangerous ex-boyfriend. The flashbacks helped to fill in some holes about why all the trust issues and anger existed.
I didn't dislike the flashbacks. However, I was annoyed at what appeared to be a blatant withholding of information. Ellie, the POV character, had complete knowledge about her past but withheld things from the readers. It was like the mystery that was created was completely superficial. What happened to scar Ellie's leg? Why does Ellie feel guilty about her past with Camden? What happened with the ex-boyfriend? Where are Ellie's parents? Ellie knows all these things when the book opens, but the reader gets the information in bits and pieces. To me, it kind of seemed like a cheap trick to keep my interest. If Ellie's the POV character, I want to know what she knows. There's no real mystery here; there's just annoying information withholding.
In the end, despite the book's flaws, I rooted for Ellie and Camden. They were two scarred people in a dysfunctional relationship, and I wanted them to heal each other and find happiness.(less)
I found the contracts section interesting. Other than that, not much new perspective here, and it touched on too many topics and only very briefly. I...moreI found the contracts section interesting. Other than that, not much new perspective here, and it touched on too many topics and only very briefly. I guess it could be useful to some folks. I would rather have seen fewer topics addressed, more in depth.(less)
My primary issues with the book that I didn't get a chance to state on my blog were: (1) After Addie performed the Search and saw that there was a series of murders in both timelines, her choices failed to take into account the lives of the murdered girls. She made zero attempt to save them and focused completely on herself and her loved ones. She could have at least notified someone; she could have tried something. (2) The bad guy was just evil for no reason. He could have accomplished his goal (view spoiler)[of gaining more abilities for himself (hide spoiler)] without killing the girls.
But the book was unique. I enjoyed it immensely, and I'm so excited that there will be a sequel.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This is the best book on practical writing tips I have ever read. I may have to change my star rating after implementing these concepts, but right now...moreThis is the best book on practical writing tips I have ever read. I may have to change my star rating after implementing these concepts, but right now I feel really good about what I learned while reading this.(less)
I'm a sucker for good writing, and in my opinion, the writing in this book is excellent. Varied and vivid verb choices, great word-painting, and a uni...moreI'm a sucker for good writing, and in my opinion, the writing in this book is excellent. Varied and vivid verb choices, great word-painting, and a unique narrative voice appropriate for the fourteen-year-old narrator. I am floored.
Action-junkies may not love this book as much as I did because it was definitely a slow burn. At its heart, it was a murder mystery, and plenty of groundwork was laid. I actually enjoyed all the groundwork because the narrative voice always kept it fun and light. Even without constant action, all the story-building seemed completely necessary and never felt like too much to me.
Another thing I loved about this book is that the young adult characters were intelligent and (mostly) rational. I feel that too many YA books are built on characters that are irrational--as if being a teen means you can't have common sense. That wasn't the case here. The kids were smart--really smart. While their choices were reckless, they were mostly logical. The one exception happened toward the end, when they mishandled evidence in a way that was uncharacteristic given their history of logical choices up to that point.
I was hoping to give this book five stars. Sadly, toward the end, there were some twists that didn't have enough groundwork. And too many revelations came in traditional and cliche bad-guy-tells-all-before-killing-good-guy moments that led to some eye-rolling on my part.
(Also, it should be noted that this book is borderline middle-grade.)(less)
First of all, thanks to Edelweiss and HarperCollins for sending us an Advance Reading Copy of this book.
This was a refreshing read for me, but it's not something I would recommend to my co-blogger, Kenya. One of the many (many) differences between our reading preferences is that I'm not a romance junkie. Sure, I like good alpha male as much as the next girl, and I'm sure as heck not going to turn away from a good sex scene . . . but I don't need a strong romantic plot or subplot to fall in love with a book.
If romance is your thing, this book may not be for you. The romance takes a back seat to the rest of the story, which was just fine by me.
Taken has some similarities to Mockingjay, except it was better executed. (Sorry, Suzanne Collins fans; Mockingjay was a huge disappointment for me!) At the beginning, boys disappear from Claysoot in a flash of light on their eighteenth birthdays. Pretty cool! And when the circumstance behind the Heists is revealed, it makes sense. The author created a believable dystopia with a rational basis. Win!
The dystopian world begins to come apart at the seams, and there's a rebellion in the making. Only unlike in Mockingjay, where the protagonist is little more than figurehead, we get to see the main character fully involved in making a change. There were hard choices that had to be made between loved ones and freedom.
Now let's talk about the romance: I was truly torn between the two love interests. On the one hand, sweet Emma is Gray's first love. She represents innocence. But Bree has more in common with Gray toward the end of the book. She represents fight and change. I liked both of them. I also liked how Gray kept his focus on the rebellion instead of fawning all over the girls. This just made sense to me; I bought it.
So why not five stars?
I just didn't love it. It was good.
It had all the right parts. But I can't recall ever being on the edge of my seat, or feeling like my heart was being ripped out, or itching to flip ahead and see what happens. In short, this is a good, solid book with all the right ingredients. And the Heist concept is just awesome. But it didn't blow me away.(less)