Sophie Kinsella is one of my favourite authors and I was surprised when I realized how many books she’d wri...moreFirst appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Sophie Kinsella is one of my favourite authors and I was surprised when I realized how many books she’d written since I’d last read Remember Me?. Thankfully, I came to my senses and now own almost all of her standalone novels (not a huge fan of the Shopaholic series). One of the reasons why I love Kinsella’s writing so much is because of her fluent use of humour and romance in stories that show female protagonists learning life lessons. But mostly, and I won’t delude myself to say that this isn’t a huge part of why I love her writing, I love the romance. Kinsella’s novels ARE Chick Lit, no matter what other fancy genre titles may be put on her stories. These are empowering stories that encourage female readers to not settle for the expected, or to not settle for less than what they deserve.
The Undomestic Goddess did not disappoint in serving as a warning to all you workaholics out there. There is a life outside of the office, life is good and relaxing living in a middle-of-nowhere town where no one knows who you are or that you barely sleep, and that there might be an extremely well-built, sexy worker waiting for you. This is what awaits you in Kinsella’s novel. So, you workaholics, ever thought what type of life you’d be living if you weren’t attached to your phone or constantly checking your emails? Then, give this one a look if you feel the need for inspiration.
Samantha Sweeting is a workaholic lawyer living in London who always gets home late, rarely has dinner with her family (unless it is a quick dinner, full of beeping cellphones and business oriented conversations), and has just made a big, big mistake. In a state of shock, she leaves her office before the crisis fully erupts and jumps on a train. To where? She doesn’t know. In fact, she’s still going over her BIG MISTAKE. When she does get off the train, she’s suddenly in a new predicament when she gets mistaken for a housekeeper interviewing for a job at a big house, when she just needed directions. Now, Samantha has to learn how to cook, clean, and do other menial housework, while keeping her identity a secret. She begins to question her life when she sees that there’s more to life than business mergers, and when she unexpectedly starts falling in love.
There were a few things that irked me by the end of this novel and that’s mainly why I’m not rating it perfectly, but other than these little occurrences, I enjoyed the story!
1. One of the issues I always tend to have with Kinsella’s characters is how oblivious and/or rude they are before their transformations. I know that they change and become better people, but Kinsella sometimes takes it a bit too far. Samantha is one of those people that I would loath to meet when I am at work at my coffee shop. Before she becomes a girl who doesn’t care too much about her “important” career, Samantha is ruthlessly rude, narrow-minded, and intimidating. There’s even a hint at the beginning that her secretary hates her. But, one other thing that I really don’t like about Kinsella’s protagonists is how naive they can be before they have their moments of clarity near the end. This is a technique that Kinsella has adopted and I can see that it is one that a) sometimes works for her and b) sometimes doesn’t. The problem with sticking to this method of writing is that the stories become predictable, so onto my next point.
2. The storyline was a bit predictable. This didn’t deter me from the story because there were still moments where I was happily surprised, but some of the choices that Samantha made and what happened to her were a bit predictable. I don’t want to ruin the experience for anyone, but if you’re a fan of Kinsella you may have noted that the protagonists tend to take a huge step backwards from what they’ve learned throughout the novel near the end, right before realizing what they’ve done and righting their lives once more. Like I said in my previous point, it seems like Kinsella has stuck to this routine since it hasn’t really failed her yet.
3. One of the greater issues in the novel regarding her family isn’t really resolved. (view spoiler)[Samantha mentions a brother who had a breakdown and became a teacher several years before the events of the novel, yet Kinsella doesn’t explore this relationship further. Also, I felt deflated when Samantha’s horrible relationship with her controlling mother was left unfinished. To her credit, Kinsella did have Samantha stand up to her mother, but there wasn’t really any form of conclusion between the two. Yes, Samantha DID take control of her life back from her mother, but, at the risk of sounding cliche, couldn’t Kinsella have found a slightly better resolution between the two? This is one of the other problems I have with Kinsella’s characters sometimes, they are sometimes left as what they are instead of growing. I know Samantha’s mother was a one-dimensional character, but she was Samantha’s mother for goodness sake. (hide spoiler)] In all honestly, I was disappointed with this relationship, considering how well Kinsella has portrayed previous parent-child/child-in-law relationships.
1. Despite all of the negatives mentioned above, I am a sucker for chick lit. Kinsella’s writing is fluent and humorous, making it a quick and fun read. Unless you’re like me and look at the novel too critically. The Undomestic Goddess is no exception. I can always count on Kinsella for a good laugh.
2. Though a bit predictable, Kinsella has the gift of writing fun, feel-good stories. She creates worlds where foreign readers can feel part of the England and UK atmosphere with her witty and hilarious diction. I found myself enthralled with this small town that Samantha arrives in and the descriptions made me want to be part of that world.
3. Even if they are sometimes annoyingly naive, Kinsella’s protagonists, like Samantha, have strong voices that always mark the beginning of the story. Kinsella isn’t a writer who begins her stories with long descriptions or with an intelligent sentence. Instead, her protagonist’s voice is always the first thing the reader meets, and the personality of the character is immediate. For example, first line of The Undomestic Goddess is: “Would you consider yourself stressed?” (Kinsella). This line actually belongs to a questionnaire that Samantha is filling out and the interesting thing is that Kinsella, without having a fully developed, over-thought sentence, has already introduced the gist of Samantha. Is she stressed? Could this character be a workaholic?
Despite the issues that I found in The Undomestic Goddess, I enjoyed this novel. The problems that I did find are more a pattern in Kinsella’s writing rather than problems specific to this novel. But hey, I still love Sophie Kinsella and I can’t wait to read her future works. If you enjoy cute and fun Chick Lit with an edge (slight swearing, slight sex), then I suggest that you read Kinsella’s work. In the world of Chick Lit, Kinsella is definitely a name to keep an eye on and any fan of feisty protagonists should check out the other novels by this author!["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)
Kim Harrison weaves a story full of sensuality, humour, and tough girl attitude and sets it in a curious place called the Hollows in her novel Dead Wi...moreKim Harrison weaves a story full of sensuality, humour, and tough girl attitude and sets it in a curious place called the Hollows in her novel Dead Witch Walking. In a way, I see this story as a dystopian tale trying to pass off as supernatural (though it is both). Needless to say, if I had read this in the summer it would have been devoured quite quickly (since it was a fun story and would have been a relatively quick read). Though I am not going to, for the time being (due to my list of books to read), read the sequel, I am still looking forward to when I do get a chance to check out the rest of Rachel’s story. Rachel is a sassy woman with a mind set on being free of any restraints… even if this includes a death threat from the I.S. which is a supernatural police force determined to right the wrongs of Inderlanders (supernatural creatures) around the Hollows (the supernatural ghetto) even if it is just tax evasion. When she decides to quit the I.S., Rachel has no idea of the chain of events that she is about to set off.
I can see why Neal Shusterman's Unwind would be such a hit with both young adult and adult readers....moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I can see why Neal Shusterman's Unwind would be such a hit with both young adult and adult readers. Unwind is full of mesmerizing characters, a frighteningly possible future, and an adventure that will forever be memorable to the readers who dare enter the pages. Unwind is a masterpiece that invites the reader into a well-conceived and creative world.
Not for the squeamish, Unwind is a dystopic novel that explores the abuse of power, the innocence of childhood, and the horrible side of ignoring the horrors in our world.
Connor is an unexpected hero that starts off with one single thought: Survive; Risa just wants a future to look forward to; and Levi, despite his set path and later, rebellious behavior, just wants to believe in more than what he is being told.
The three characters that lead the story forward are complex and give Unwind a depth that I was not expecting. When I learned that three protagonists would lead me to the conclusion, I became wary. Thankfully, Shusterman's writing is enviable.
The pacing could have been better. I found my mind wandering on several occasions, but only on a few. The first half of the novel is a bit slower than I imagined, but the action picks up during the second half of the novel.
Unwind is an important novel to read because of the topics Shusterman touches on. His novel may be fiction, but the topics can be applied to many things in the real world. The importance of life is questioned after the Second Civil War that created the Unwind law, putting human ignorance on a pedestal to be mocked by the reader.
Who would be so blind and cold as to let children be unwound? Who would willingly sign his/her child's life away, just because s/he is a troublesome kid?
Perhaps what makes Unwind such a powerful novel is the lack of censoring that Shusterman adopts when openly criticizing modern culture under the guise of fiction. The characters are teenagers, but they have more life experience than the adults surrounding them. The idiocy in Shusterman's fictional adult world is palpable, and though we are made to hate them, we are also made to critically think and ask: what led them to this moment; to these decisions?
I would recommend Unwind to readers that enjoy dystopian novels, stories that question humanity, strong characters, and frightening scenarios.
Unwind is the kind of novel that explores some of our greatest fears and makes them reality for the characters trapped within the pages.(less)
Possess by Gretchen McNeil is a creepy story of a girl with psychic abilities that help her rid...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Possess by Gretchen McNeil is a creepy story of a girl with psychic abilities that help her rid people of demonic possessions. At first I was a bit skeptic of this novel, especially since it dealt with demons, exorcisms, and religion (I laughed when I watched the exorcist, so please try to understand my skepticism). But I was pleasantly surprised.
"Rule #1: Do not show fear.
Rule #2: Do not show pity. Rule #3: Do not engage. Rule #4: Do not let your guard down. Rule #5: They lie.
Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.
Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons' plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king."
McNeil's novel was a quick paced, fun read, though of course it had only a few flaws.
1. The protagonist, Bridget, was a bit stubborn and annoying. Characters would tell her that she needed to do something but she would protest instead of acting. Even near the end when she needs to pay attention, she still stubbornly fights against the facts. This annoyed me because of how naive and ignorant she was acting. This occurred several times.
2. Okay, sorry for this spoiler, but it's a pretty obvious thing: Bridget's mother and her love interest's father are in love. I'm not really disturbed with this, but others might not be so accepting of the fact that Bridget's soon-to-be boyfriend's father will be her step-father if her mother decides to marry him.
3. Though it isn't so obvious that it disrupts the story, there are some editing mishaps. Every once in a while I ran into awkward sentences that made me re-read the sentence twice to understand what was intended.
4. A bit predictable, but still a fun read.
1. The eerie tone was awesome. It was consistent and expertly done.
2. Ignoring the protagonist's annoying behavior, the other characters were intriguing.
3. The world created by McNeil is interesting because of how effectively she uses diction to create fear and intrigue for the reader.
4. McNeil's story is creepy as hell, which is incredibly hard to do effectively in a novel. But she uses a simple thing like an animal haunting a home and makes it a scary experience for the reader.
5. This isn't the first book in a series! Do you know how refreshing that is?
This was definitely one of those novels that was a surprise. If you want to get spooked, while enjoying an interesting story, then you should check this one out. I will definitely be looking forward to McNeil's work in the future.(less)
The Angel Experiment by James Patterson is the first book in the Maximum Ride series. Patterson...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
The Angel Experiment by James Patterson is the first book in the Maximum Ride series. Patterson weaves an adventurous story that shows the dark curiosity of humanity, while still celebrating the hope and determination of those affected by the hands of experimenters.
I was surprised to find how young the characters of Patterson’s book are, especially with how they are portrayed. Of course, if someone experienced half of what these kids did they too would be extremely mature. The story was a fast ride (as the name so coyly suggests) of adventure, after adventure. I have a suggestion however, if you purchase the paperback edition (the one that I’ve posted above) then don’t read the synopsis on the back. I don’t know how it is for hardcover editions, but the paperback has a list of everything that’s going to happen in the book. EVERYTHING. So, unless you enjoy having the element of surprise taken from you, then I suggest you skipping that part.
Maximum Ride is a girl with wings. She is a genetically engineered child who can fly and she’s not alone. She and her small family of other younger children have been living in hiding since escaping from the “school”; a lab that held them prisoners. When the Erasers, another experiment, find their oasis, Max and her family must flee and protect those they love. From the moment that these monsters find them, everything changes and Max is forced to guide the group through obstacles, upon obstacles to find someone she holds dear.
Somehow Patterson manages to make this seemingly quick-paced story feel like two novels, since once one objective is accomplished he immediately jumps into another scenario. This didn’t bug me much, it just confused me because it moved beyond what was originally expected when I read the synopsis (not the spoiler filled one). Oh, by the way, the Goodreads synopsis? Yeah, riddled with spoilers too.
1. I think one of the most interesting and unnecessary aspect of this novel is the way that Patterson utilizes chapters. I kid you not, one page is apparently worthy of its own chapter to Patterson. I know that in some novels this is a powerful and gripping stylistic way of increasing the tension of a climax, but this technique is used throughout the whole novel. Patterson’s choice to include a ridiculous number of chapters wasn’t such a nuisance that I absolute had to put the book down. What did bug me is that so many of these chapters could have been made into longer chapters. I found that such short chapters tended to take me out of the mood that the story was creating because all I could think was, “Really? A new chapter... to follow the same idea?” It’s like talking to a friend and s/he suddenly stopping to close a door in your face before continuing to talk to you through an opened window beside the door... about the same thing. The only novels where I’ve found this tactic of short chapters useful are usually thrillers that explore perspectives of different characters (for example, Jonathan Maberry does this with Dead of Night) in each chapter.
2. I wasn’t a huge fan of the narrative voice changes. Patterson kept jumping from first person to third person in between chapters. This made the novel feel disjointed. Though it offered an almost omniscient point of view of the story, it would have worked better if either Max’s point of view was the prominent voice, or if the whole book was written in third person.
1. I loved Maximum Ride. She’s gutsy, mature, and caring towards her awkward family. Patterson hit the jackpot by naming the series after such a strong female protagonist. Sure, there’s a hint of the romance to come later on in the series, but for most of the novel it is all about Max trying to figure out who she is and why she was created. It was a nice change from the female protagonist who is barely in power, but manages to be the protagonist because: a) her voice is the storyteller and b) the fictional world revolves around her (and there’s a man conveniently waiting to save her).
2. I liked that even with such young characters, The Angel Experiment manages to have a mature, but fun feel to it. Anyone can read this book. Trust me, the adventure is worth it.
3. Despite its serious nature, Patterson somehow includes humorous moments that work to establish that though these kids are having a rough time, they are still kids who try to make the best out of a bad situation. Some lines were so ridiculous that all I could do was laugh. For example: “‘Tarzan!’ she yelled. Whatever that was supposed to mean” (Patterson 106).
4. The writing style was colloquial. I absolutely loved the way that Max spoke to me when I began reading the novel. I felt intrigued and was pulled instantly into her world. Here’s a blurb from the back of my edition: “Do not put this book down. I’m dead serious. Your life could depend on it. I’m risking everything by telling you--but you need to know” (Patterson).
I liked Patterson’s addition to the world of young adult fiction. It was a fun, light, and quick read that promises adventure, powerful characters, and kids who fight the ever-present threat of adults.(less)
I have a separate list for books that I am weary of reading, usually because of the great revie...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I have a separate list for books that I am weary of reading, usually because of the great reviews and hype about them. Anyone else would say: "Hey, if they're popular and have great reviews, why wouldn't you want to check the book out?" But in past experiences I've gone into books solely based on the recommendations and five-star ratings on book sites, and more often than not, I was left sorely disappointed.
Veronica Rossi's Under the Never Sky, thankfully, did not fall into the disappointment pile. This book was really, really good. Perhaps one of the top ten for me this year. Though the synopses of her book made me pause and contemplate if this was a book to read or pass, I'm glad I jumped the gun and read it anyway.
Let me just say that there are about four different covers for this novel, the one I've posted on this review (on my blog) is my favourite one because it shows BOTH of the characters, rather than just the female protagonist (since both her and the male protagonist have a say in the story). Rossi is a stunning writer and, cliches aside, I can see her making splashes in the YA literary world.
"WORLDS KEPT THEM APART.
DESTINY BROUGHT THEM TOGETHER.
Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she's never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.
Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He's searching for someone too. He's also wild - a savage - but might be her best hope at staying alive.
If they can survive, they are each other's best hope for finding answers."
I only have one negative point about this novel:
I can't fathom how such a great book can have such a cliched and annoying ending. I've seen awesome novels greatly affected (negatively) by bad endings. I know Rossi is just building up tension for the sequel and such, but I personally think she could have taken a different route.
Also, this is such a copout for the next installment. It gives me the impression that the authors who do this (Kimberly Derting did something similar with her latest Body Finder novel, ugh) have no other way of attracting the reader's attention for the next novel because they may be running out of ideas.
Rossi's use of (view spoiler)[ending the novel with another character (usually in power) threatening one (or more) protagonist to create tension in the second book had the opposite effect on me. Her choice to have her character be manipulated by the antagonist made me wary of the next installment in the series. (hide spoiler)] I've seen it done before and it isn't always a success.
The positives, of course, are much greater in number.
1. I loved the world that Rossi creates in her debut novel. It's elaborate and creative.
2. Rossi's writing is fluid and beautiful, allowing the reader to effectively see into her imagination.
3. The character development was superb. At the beginning, Aria describes Perry as only a secluded person can describe someone new to her. Her fear and distate is so clearly stated that I felt bad for Perry, but he doesn't describe her any better. What I liked though is how slowly the two begin to see each other differently, until the point that they realize they're both just humans, whether one has special powers or not. This is powerful to me because it shows great character development and it teaches the reader an important lesson: we are all human, despite where we are raised or how we are taught. Though Aria's character at the beginning frustrates me, but her actions were plausible because of how she was raised.
4. Though it is nearly impossible to write a completely unpredictable novel, Rossi kept me at the edge of my proverbial seat. She didn't stop all the way through the novel... until the ending, but for that you'll have to reread my negative point about this novel.
Will I read the sequel to this, even though I obviously loved Under the Never Sky? I'm not sure. Again, the ending has me cringing with uncertainty as to where Rossi is going to take this monster of a cliche ending. Will I read any future works by Rossi outside of this series? Most definitely. ["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"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I bought Marie Lu’s Legend (the first book in the Legend series) on a whim. I’d read good things abo...more This review first appeared here: Book Addict 24-7
I bought Marie Lu’s Legend (the first book in the Legend series) on a whim. I’d read good things about Lu’s work, as well as bad on Goodreads and decided to check it out for myself.
Simplistic and bold, the cover of Legend, I assume, is meant to catch the attention of adventure seekers who are sick of the pretty girls in impossible dresses looking distraught on book cover after book cover. I know that talking about the cover of the book isn’t really reviewing it, but I think it is important to note the simplicity of it because Lu is already showing the defiant nature of her novel. If the popular choice for a novel is that of a woman crying, then you’ll see an impossible amount of weeping women in your local bookstore, but then imagine eyeing among all of the sad faces, Lu’s novel in all it’s silver and gold glory (nice colour scheme, by the way).
What was once the United States has becoming a feuding war zone. The Republic (where our protagonists reside) is at war with their neighbors, the Colonies. Much like other dystopian worlds, The Republic takes its children at the ripe age of ten and tests them so as to ascertain who are the weak, the passable, and the exceptional future citizens. June and Day, the protagonists, are as different as can be. While June is an intelligent, rich, and promising girl, Day is a poor felon on the run from The Republic. When June’s brother is murdered and all signs point to Day, she must decide what’s real and what is just a fabrication of The Republic.
What ensues is a crazy adventure full of suspense, fun, and of course, romance (you seriously didn’t think that there would be no romance, did you?) While there are some awesome aspects of Lu’s novel, there are some weaker points as well.
1. I know it isn’t fair to say that Legend is predictable because it is from two perspectives, but it doesn’t stop it from being true. While it wasn’t a huge deal like in some other novels I’ve recently read, it still bugged me. I wish that I could for once play detective with a book and be wrong at the end. In a good way.
2. This is a minor point that I hope Lu works on for her sequel: the speed of the novel. The action and events that are described in the inside flap fully begin to take place about halfway through the novel. I know that the author is building up suspense, but while her novel is beautifully written, it dragged a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the creation of the background information for the reader. I also agree with Lu giving the reader time to fall in love with the characters by giving us more time with them before all hell breaks loose, but she could have moved it a little faster. I really loved this book, but this was an annoying aspect of Lu’s writing. Though I’m sure others would disagree.
3. Day can be kind of arrogant and I still don’t know how to respond to that. I remember reading what he thinks of pretty girls and what he’d do to them (at fifteen!) and thinking wow, that must be one advanced community! (And in fact, it probably is considering that they get tested at 10). I’m on the fence about his character.
1. The concept of this story appears unoriginal and overused, but Lu adds a special touch of something that gives the novel a bit of a push out of the usual dystopian novels. The rise of the political “we won’t take your crap” novels shows that some writers are playing with fiction in order to comment about society without adding magic, vampires, or werewolves into the mix.
2. Lu uses different coloured text for when speaking from Day or June’s perspective. Not only is this fun and helpful, but the effect acts as a way of showing more profoundly the differences between June and Day. Like with the cover, the artistic decision with the coloured text is genius.
3. I loved the characters. Not just June and Day, but the minor characters who end up affecting the protagonists’ lives. I liked that Lu didn’t overdo the thirst for blood that some characters have (not vampiric thirst, just crazy killer thirst) and that her true villains appear calculated and intelligent, rather than angry and vengeful. The side characters that work for The Republic are creepy as hell in their stoic appearances and I loved it.
4. I mentioned the problem of predictability, but let me tell you that Lu played with my mind. I am not going to write this spoiler down, but just remember that not everything is as it seems (this however is one instance, hence the negative side of this stays up-top).
5. I’m on the fence about the relationship of the two protagonists. I’ll have to wait for the sequel to decide whether I like it or not.
6. June’s character is a bit naive, but she’s powerful. She plans and eventually finds the truths that she needs to learn and she’s a good character to follow in this series.
If you like dystopian novels with a kick or young adult novels that can be devoured in one sitting then I recommend you read Legend.
The Immortal Rules, the first installment in the Blood of Eden series, by Julie Kagawa took me...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
The Immortal Rules, the first installment in the Blood of Eden series, by Julie Kagawa took me by surprise from the beginning to the very end. I am fairly new to Kagawa's writing style and I was very pleased at the story that she created in her tome of a novel.
Kagawa manages to take the used and (sometimes) abused vampire genre and makes it her own with a quick-witted protagonist who is, for once, the vampire instead of the damsel in distress. Fast-paced and unputdownable, The Immortal Rules is a sign that there is still hope for what once made Bram Stoker so great: an unforgettable vampire story.
Despite the albeit cheesy cover, Kagawa's story is an intriguing look into the mind of a vampire that is in some parts cynical and all parts tough.
1. The only real issue I have with this one is the predictability. Then again, it is getting increasingly hard to create unpredictable pieces of literature when so much has already been done. I just wish that the protagonist's actions weren't so transparent, though I won't lie, I was still hooked.
1. The writing style, in my opinion, is superb. I am a fan of writers who choose brisk sentences, as opposed to artsy, over-dramatic sentences that explain everything in detail. Kagawa has the ability to reel her reader into the story using words to her advantage--therefore employing the tactic of saying less to show more.
2. The adventure never ebbs. When a part of the story starts to come to a conclusion, another adventure immediately takes over, pulling the reader through yet another trip through the forest in Kagawa's novel, or into dangerous territory. Each adventure is fresh and exhilarating. Best of all, not only is the action non-stop, but the story is neither messy nor choppy, it instead flows to one heart-stopping finale.
3. The pacing is quick, clean, and epic. See number 2.
4. Okay, I won't lie, Kagawa creeped me out. Especially near the beginning.
5. The characters are well developed, even the ones that don't make it through to the end. Allison, the protagonist, is a realistic blend of strong and weak, so that her humanity still shows through her obvious undead status. Not only did Kagawa manage to make a realistic protagonist, she gave Allison depth and made her relatable (except for the whole undead thing.)
6. Whereas in other books a reader is left waiting for the action to begin, in Kagawa's novel we are immediately brought into the heart of the conflict. There are monsters, there's hardly any food, people starve and die--that's life for Allison. There's no sugar coating, there's no pretending that her life is any different for the benefit of the reader. We are brought in and boom, we learn the gritty truth about life in The Immortal Rules, and all with a single, powerful scene.
I highly enjoyed Kagawa's novel. It was fun, exciting, and I don't know how I ever felt wary of reading it. The size is disconcerting, I'll be honest, but it is well worth it. (less)
Eileen Cook's most recent novel, Unraveling Isobel, is spooky and has a spunky female protagonist who isn't...moreFirst appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Eileen Cook's most recent novel, Unraveling Isobel, is spooky and has a spunky female protagonist who isn't afraid to speak her mind. The novel opens on a very pissed off Isobel as her mother relocates her to an island where her new step-father lives before the start of her Senior year. There, she learns the importance of not caring what others think, she finds love, and has a creepy and life-threatening experience.
Full of humour, suspense, and mystery, Cook's novel is a surprisingly quick read that will pull its reader in and doesn't let him/her go until the end. There are some unanswered questions which may annoy the reader at the end, but for the most part this is a great summer read.
I have to admit that Cook's best talent is her dialogue. I couldn't stop laughing on more than one occasion as her characters' personalities flowed out through their manners of speech.
If you're looking for a fast, fun, creepy, and addicting read that's also on the romantic side, then I would recommend Unraveling Isobel--it's worth the read. (less)
When I first jumped into The Fault In Our Stars I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into, considering that so many people were recommending...moreWhen I first jumped into The Fault In Our Stars I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into, considering that so many people were recommending it to others and that it had such an unbelievable rating. I've fallen into the trap of people recommending popular books that left me wondering why they were so successful in the first place many times before. I will admit, this was the first time I’d ever read a John Green novel and even though I have a friend who is always parading her love for him whenever we see each other, I’d always been reluctant to read any of his books... you know, on the chance that I might find out that I do love his writing and join the ranks of admirers breathlessly awaiting his next novel. But, in all honesty, I’m happy I read The Fault In Our Stars before his other novels, because now I know what Mr. Green is capable of.
Hazel is a survivor of stage IV cancer, through the invention of a fictional drug. She expects to live the life that she has been given by watching reality television, reading, and sleeping. But, when her mother decides that Hazel should attend a support group for child cancer patients her life changes in unimaginable ways. There, among the other kids in the “literal” heart of Jesus, Hazel meets Augustus Waters, the one boy who shows Hazel that there’s more to life than what she believes there to be and that she should use every moment of it.
I read Switched by Amanda Hocking in a short span of time, mostly because I went from an adult supernatural fiction (which consisted of ridiculously t...moreI read Switched by Amanda Hocking in a short span of time, mostly because I went from an adult supernatural fiction (which consisted of ridiculously tiny typing) to a Young Adult novel that was written in nice, large writing. Also, because the content was enjoyable and light, it was a nice reprieve from the craziness of school readings.
Written from the point of view of a teenaged girl who doesn’t quite know where she fits in, Switched is a Young Adult novel that shows us that not everything is as good as it seems, and that we shouldn’t take for granted the things that we care about. Basically, the protagonist, Wendy Everly, is a magical being who finds out why she is disliked by almost everyone she meets, and why her mother nearly kills her during her birthday as a small child.
I have mixed emotions about this one, though it was a fast read (mainly because of how enjoyable and easy it was to read). There are some things I can still remember bugging me and some points that made me laugh and enjoy the story.
Sometimes I get a strange urge to read novels that freak me out, so a good zombie novel is a pl...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Sometimes I get a strange urge to read novels that freak me out, so a good zombie novel is a pleasant way of sating this strange craving. Jonathan Maberry's Dead of Night is a creepy novel set in a quiet town in the United States that experiences a zombie invasion during a stormy night. Though a bit slow at the beginning, when the action begins it hits the reader like an infected bite.
I caution you, however, if you have a weak stomach then Maberry's work may not be for you.
"A prison doctor injects a condemned serial killer with a formula designed to keep his consciousness awake while his body rots in the grave. But all drugs have unforeseen side-effects. Before he could be buried, the killer wakes up. Hungry. Infected. Contagious. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang…but a bite."
Though this was a fun read that took me a bit longer to read than normal, it had some issues that bugged me at times.
1. There are some moments where more editing is needed. Words missing, awkward sentences, misspelled words, and grammatical errors appear throughout the novel. These errors distracted me because they were so obvious.
2. Some of the characters drove me nuts, like the protagonist. She was so intense at times that I wanted to slap her and tell her to stop being such a b%^&. I know she has a huge chip on her shoulder, but it still annoyed me.
3. Though relatively fast-paced, there were moments where the story just slowed down. Not just that, but there's a point where some characters find out what is actually happening and they keep asking the most obvious questions. I wanted to yell at them because Maberry was dragging on the chapter and slowing down the pace. I can't stand it when authors feel the need to over-explain something instead of trusting their readers.
1. This novel was scary as hell when it got going. It made me think there were things moving around my house at night and sometimes I had to put the book down and recollect my emotions.
2. Though this is your typical zombie novel, Maberry still explores the issues of Government and what would happen in the face of the apocalypse. I know that this is a cliche in all apocalyptic novels, but it was still powerful.
3. Though this novel was predictable, I liked the ending! It made me think, "Oh crap, they're so screwed!"
4. I did dislike the protagonist at times, but when she started fighting for her life, it was awesome! There's a cool scene with a lot of fighting and a lot of creepy zombies, where she kicks ass.
5. The reason why the zombie attack begins is proof of how curiosity and hatred can be deadly.
I liked this novel and I'll probably read more of Maberry's novels in the future. If you're going to read this, don't go in expecting something mind-blowing, but a fun ride full of spooks and nightmare worthy moments.(less)
Lisa Unger’s novel Beautiful Lies, the first installment in the two-book Ridley Jones series, is a thriller/mystery.
The story follows Ridley Jones through a maze of lies she has recently uncovered about her life. She faces dangerous obstacles and is nearly killed on various occasions. Action-packed and for the most part fast-paced, Unger has written an exciting novel for lovers of the genre.
Ridley's narrative tends to go on tangents about her ideas on philosophical issues. For example: how the choices we make affect our lives. These moments in the novel are often long-winded and unsettling for the reader, since it distracts him/her from the flow of the story.
Unger does make Ridley extremely realistic, however, by having her question not just herself, but the reader as well. By utilizing this technique, Unger is adding to the air of mystery, confusion, and lack of trust that the protagonist feels in her altered world. If Ridley can't trust anyone around her anymore, should the reader trust what s/he is being told? We are guided by an imperfect, untrusting protagonist who wants us to partake, and perhaps, aid in her search for the truth.
Though very passionate and informative at times with anecdotes about Ridley’s past memories sneaking up on her, or the use of Carl Jung to emphasize a point, Unger sometimes takes too long to get to her point. I understand that this is a thriller and it is necessary for the reader to be reeled in, but on occasion the story feels long and tedious. This is especially true of the first half of the novel. Unger attempts to build anticipation with her dragged on introduction, but instead makes it feel drawn out.
The good news is that the second half of the novel is exactly what the reader hopes for in a thriller. The action and passion that Ridley and her male love interest experience is riveting. Whatever fleeting thoughts the reader had of abandoning the book are quickly forgotten as the suspenseful story takes him/her to an intense finale.
Of course, questions are left unanswered and will most likely appear as motivation for Ridley in the second installment.
Beautiful Lies is a novel full of deception, surprises, and is action-heavy as the conclusion nears. Those who love a descriptive storyline and an engaging protagonist will most likely enjoy Lisa Unger's novel.(less)
Miranda Kenneally does something I love with her second novel, Stealing Parker. She makes it a compa...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Miranda Kenneally does something I love with her second novel, Stealing Parker. She makes it a companion to her debut novel, Catching Jordan, adds in little snippets about Jordan, but lets the novel sit on its own. Fun, light (despite the creepy aspect, though the coach is my age...awkward?), and extremely addicting, Stealing Parker is a homerun of a novel... give, or take a few minor issues.
Parker is a bad girl. But she's only that way after her mom's scandal rips her family apart.
What I liked was how Kenneally hints at why Parker is the way she is at the beginning of the novel, adding in little standalone lines that should make the reader think. That's one of the great things about this novel: Kenneally doesn't just tell the reader what's up, she nurtures the secrets, lets them slowly tease the reader, then offers one last clue so the reader can put everything together. That takes trust in the reader. A LOT of trust, and I respect her for it.
Parker was a reliable narrator. She was a careless and slightly boy-crazy girl that changed at the appropriate time. The pacing was good, so her character growth was believable and the reader can trust her to make the right decisions. Or at least, the right decisions for her.
The romance? The book is, let's see, twenty percent about friendship and the same for family, the rest is about romance. Though I loved the romance, I wish I could have learned a little more about Parker's family, or at least, I wanted to know what happened afterwards. But hey, it is Parker's story.
Religion plays a huge role in this novel and it kind of caught me off-guard. In all honesty, I'm not the biggest fan of books depicting religion as the way a person chooses to live his/her life because it feels like it is being pushed on the reader. I believe in God, don't get me wrong, but no matter what religion it is, I find it disconcerting when a novel tells me what a good Catholic or Christian girl is. (A novel that drove me crazy with this was All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin)
But the novel was so much fun, that I didn't let it annoy me. If you love romance, sports, and fun quick reads, then you might want to check this one out!(less)
I've been looking forward to Roth's latest installment, Insurgent, in the Divergent series for...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I've been looking forward to Roth's latest installment, Insurgent, in the Divergent series for almost a year. I was a bit wary because of how some series kind of die out as more books are added, but I put that fear aside when I finally got my hands on a copy.
Needless to say, I devoured Roth's novel.
Not only did I like it more than the first installment, but I found that it was stronger both in writing and character/setting development.
Of course, there were small mistakes here and there, but no book is perfect.
1. The romance between Four and Tris was so tumultuous this time around! Whereas in the first novel Tris's budding romance with the fellow former Abnegation member saved her and helped her develop, I found that the near-destruction of their young romance in the second novel was kind of depressing. I mean, sure, nothing is perfect when you're a teenager, especially when it comes to romance. I was getting a little frustrated when they kept fighting over the smallest things when there were so many more important things going on around them. If I had to pick the weakest part about this novel, it would be that.
2. There were some editing errors, but Roth addresses this on her blog here.
1. The cliffhanger. I know that some may see this as a negative, but the fact that Roth could get such a mass reaction over her ending is impressive. Not only did she write an ending that was not in the least bit cliche, but she made it open to so much interpretation that I commend her. I remember looking at the book when I reached the end and thinking, "That's it?! That's it?!" Yeah, way to go Roth.
2. The character development was brilliant in this installment. Whereas Roth just briefly explains who is who in Divergent, she makes her characters bloom under her pen in Insurgent. Tris specifically had more depth and it was easier to see what she was experiencing and how everything was affecting her. It kind of reminded me of Harry Potter in The Order of the Phoenix because he too had to deal with PTSD, and I felt her pain in her actions and thoughts just like with Harry.
I also loved the fact that Four wasn't perfect and he too was being affected by the conflicts around him, which seeped into his relationship with Tris--it wasn't a lovey-dovey relationship, but one that reflected the environment they were in. I admit it grated on my nerves that these characters couldn't be more romantic like in the previous book, but I also understand that this is realistic considering the context of their situation.
3. The dystopian setting was awesome! The description was brilliant and almost completely different from the previous book, especially since this time around we're taken all over the city rather than just remaining in dauntless (excluding the occasional adventure here and there.)
4. It was like Roth took all the negative criticism about Divergent and improved greatly while writing Insurgent. I was impressed.
5. Though a little predictable, there were a lot of surprises.
Basically, as you can note, I loved this novel. Will I read the next installment in the series? Hell yes. To not do so would be a kind of reading sin for myself. Of course, I'm a little worried and curious to see how she tackles the third book and if it will live up to this successful sequel, but I can only hope. (less)
I received a free copy of Tempered by Fire from author H.E. Birss so I could review her debut n...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a free copy of Tempered by Fire from author H.E. Birss so I could review her debut novel. I was a bit nervous as the day that I would receive the novel neared because I didn't know what to expect. Thankfully, I wasn't disappointed.
Birss introduces us to a magical, and rather dangerous, world full of multi-dimensional characters who mimic real teenagers, rather than just making them in the likeness of perfection (as so many Young Adult authors tend to do in order to make their readers love the male/female protagonist). While some of the characters are very attractive, the personalities are all diverse and entertaining (especially the protagonist's cynism).
"Like most girls her age, all Hailey Catherwood wanted to do was get out of high school alive. However, thanks to an interloping fairy, that might not even be an option anymore… Unlike most girls her age, Hailey has the Sight - the ability to see into the fairie realm. When a hot-headed Fire Sprite shows up and tricks her into one months servitude, her life is suddenly overrun with blue-skinned kelpies, sabre-toothed monsters, and monocle-wearing squirrels. An evil fairy queen further complicates matters, pushing Hailey into a magical mess as she is forced into a quest that she’ll, regrettably enough, never be able to forget."
While I loved the story, there was just one issue that I found in this novel, which I admit I was warned about, but I am always honest in my reviews.
1. The editing. I know that Birss wrote and published her novel rather quickly, but I am a bit of a stickler for editing. Whereas all of you who read her novel in the future will probably skim over such occurrences in the story, I make note of this so that future readers who do determine their experience on issues like editing can go in and try not to focus on the errors, but on the magical story. I would hope, however, that this becomes less of an issue in the next two installments in the series, since I think that this story has a lot of potential for being a hit with young readers.
1. Very fast paced!
2. I liked that Hailey, the protagonist, thought for herself. She didn't let the guy decide what she was doing. It's rare to see female characters rely so little on male characters, so this was refreshing. Also, her attitude was reminiscent of Kody Keplinger's protagonist in The Duff, which kicked ass.
3. The budding romance wasn't your typical, "Oh, you're hot, I want you, I need you," a la Twilight, but it was stormy and resistent. Even though (view spoiler)[ the characters slowly fall for each other, they don't relinquish the way they are, which is a fresh way to look at relationships in young adult novels. (hide spoiler)]
4. The descriptions of the creatures in the magical world that Birss has created are wicked. To give you a hint: There are flying noses AND a hot blue guy.
5. The adventure. I can't be the only one who wishes that my sometimes dull, monotonous life could be turned into a whirlwind of fun, danger, and romance. That's exactly what Birss offers in her novel, and honestly, isn't reading a type of escape? Why not escape into a magical world like the one created in this novel?
This was definitely an entertaining read, even with its flaws. I've seen debut novels before with the same editing errors that made me stop reading them. Why did I abandon those and not this one? Easy. This one had a compelling plot-line that was not hindered by the editing. This is the type of rare debut novel that is fantastic as it is, but could be phenomenal as the series grows. I'm excited to read the sequel and I hope for the best of luck to the new writer in our midst!["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)
I received a copy from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza is one heck of a cool ride. I first read the synopsis months before I received the ARC and the best choice I could have made was to not read the synopsis again before starting the book. My choice was perfect because Driza's surprisingly original storyline is much stronger when you're not anticipating anything.
I've never been a huge fan of science fiction, but Driza's writing is a beautiful blend of contemporary fiction and a popular sci-fi concept.
Mila isn't your conventional teenager, she's much, much more. Though I kept wanting to shake her every time she shied away from her abilities, I understood why she would be so freaked out. Imagine having an idea of what life is like, then being told you have never lived that life; that it was all a lie.
I will admit it takes a few chapters to truly get into the novel, but once we find out what Mila is, the story picks up and it quickly becomes addicting. The internal struggle Mila experiences and the cruelty of her new reality, drives the story forward, leading to inhumane situations and a slightly anticipated conclusion.
Mila's growth as a character is interesting because she becomes more human as the novel progresses. Her apparent goal is to prove that she is worth more than just her parts. Her heart may be artificial, but she can still feel what others around her feel. She is real, and by the end of the novel it's sometimes hard to believe that she is anything but the teenage girl she is portraying.
Driza is also a genius by juxtaposing Mila and a fellow android. The contrast between these two characters allows the reader to comprehend just how different Mila is and why she is our protagonist. We want someone we can connect with, even someone who isn't human. We seek out similarities between us and these protagonists, and Mila, even an artificially created life, is the perfect narrator for us because she is a bit too human for her own good.
The pacing could have been stronger and slightly quicker. I found my attention slipping every once in a while, and though the book is a great debut, it sometimes took me a while to get through a chapter, just because it felt like it was lagging a bit.
Mila's mother, or creator, is a bag of foreshadowing. Every word she utters appears to be a premonition, which made for an interesting read because I knew something would happen, I just didn't know when it would happen.
A few opportunities were missed in MILA 2.0. The storyline could have taken so many interesting turns during the novel, and the fact that they were bypassed was disappointing. I'm hoping the sequel takes more risks and explores a wider setting than that of MILA 2.0.
I recommend MILA 2.0 to readers of young adult fiction and science fiction. If you like a novel that focuses more on the science fiction and action, rather than romance, then you might like this one. (less)
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review
Dualed by Elsie Chapman is the first in the Dualed se...moreReview first appeared on my blog: my link text
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review
Dualed by Elsie Chapman is the first in the Dualed series, it's also Chapman's debut into the literary world, so it's only fitting that her first book is an original adventure set in a cruel world. Emotionally gripping from start to finish, Dualed is an action-filled debut that promises to rock your world.
At first, I was undecided on how I felt about West, the protagonist. One moment she's a tough fifteen year-old ready to fight the world, then she is a seemingly cold-blooded killer that is too afraid to face her fate. Though West's indecisiveness and sudden change of behavior helps the reader understand just how nerve-wracking West's world is, it is a bit distracting and frustrating to see such an inactive character.
I'm a huge fan of the hit-man scenario. Okay, it's a bit morbid, but it's kind of cool how a teenage girl can go and undermine a city that is so obviously corrupt. Mainly, however, I like the idea of a teenaged hit-girl because it makes Dualed that much more interesting.
And sure, it should be interesting enough that teenagers roam the streets of this deadly city with guns and other weapons with the sole intention of killing their evil twin, but West's role as an assassin makes it that much cooler.
The writing imitates the wariness West feels. It is straightforward where it needs to be, and descriptive when Chapman really wants her readers to focus. The pacing is strong up until the final few chapters, where the writing lags just a bit.
But that might be because by this point, West is finally coming to terms with what needs to be done.
West's character growth is sporadic, at best. Various times West grows into a mature and calculating character, yet almost immediately reverts to the weak character she is striving to overcome--which in a way, makes her relatable, since none of us are perfect before, during, or after we've figured out our paths in life.
I recommend Dualed to fans of the Dystopian genre in young adult fiction. Those who enjoy a light action novel full of anticipation and internal struggles, might also like this one. If you're looking for lots of romance, you won't find it here. Yes, there is a hint of romance, but it is more of a shadow that's always followed the protagonist, rather than something that falls on her without her knowledge. (less)
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review
Kiersten White's Mind Games adopts a recently popular style of writing that I'm not the biggest fan of. This style in particular uses prose as something more than simple storytelling, but as a means of emphasizing the protagonist's emotions. Though the story is exciting, new, and an interesting take on the powers of the human mind, the prose is not my favorite.
Fia, the protagonist, is an impressive character that somehow withstands a lot of mental and physical abuse for her blind, but psychic sister, Annie. At first, I was frustrated that her sister, being the older one, was so oblivious to the dangers of her new world without their parents. I think it was because of her immaturity that it took me a while to figure out that she is the older sister.
As the story progresses, the reader is taken back and forth between the past and the present. Sure, I learned a lot more about the characters because of this technique, but it was also frustrating because I just wanted to see where the story was going in the present time.
It's undeniable that White has a talent for creating original stories. Her Paranormalcy series is a fun paranormal adventure and it showcases her strong writing style. Mind Games, however, is one of those novels that is either a hit, or miss. Some readers will enjoy it, while others will walk away frustrated and/or confused.
I will admit that the writing does help the reader experience how hectic Fia's thoughts are, but it also feels forced and unnecessary. Viewing the world through Annie's permanently dark stare is unique and enthralling, and the mystery behind her and Fia's world is promising. The writing was just something that impeded on the power of the novel.
I would recommend Mind Games to readers who liked Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi--simply because the writing style is very similar. Both authors use words and sentence structure in a dramatic way. They emphasize their characters' troubling thoughts and emotions through repetition.
Though a relatively short read, Mind Games will make the reader work for the answers. White succeeds in making her reader sympathise with Fia, especially since the novel is full of emotionally triggering experiences and disturbing revelations.(less)
I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Wasteland by Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan is a post-apocalyptic young adult novel that features children living adult roles in a makeshift community in the middle of the desert. Though a slow starter, Wasteland does become captivating once the various pivotal characters are introduced.
Esther, the protagonist, lives in a slightly disturbing world where children "partner" up and attempt to have children, while trying to survive the dangerous world. Though the portrayal of children acting as adults is interesting, the biggest success of this concept comes from Kim and Klavans' ability to still portray the innocence and naiveté of the children, despite their deadly surroundings.
The premise of Wasteland is actually pretty cool. The idea of a society run by children and the exploitation of power in a world that appears to lack any power whatsoever is intriguing. It was exciting finding out secrets and what some of the characters' lives were like before the events in Wasteland take place.
Wasteland is written in third person and the narrator is omniscient. At first I wasn't sure how I would like reading the novel from such a wide perspective. For example, if something neat was happening, I usually had to wait while the narration flipped back to another character before I could find out what happened next with the previous character. Sure, this writing style creates anticipation, but it just mainly annoys me. I will admit, however, that I did get accustomed to the narrative and even grew to like it by the conclusion of Wasteland.
Esther grows as a character rather quickly. While what she experiences warrants an extensive amount of character growth, the change is abrupt. I prefer when a character slowly comes to terms with what s/he needs to learn in order to better him/herself, since it allows me to connect with the character and his/her internal struggle.
My greatest issue with Wasteland is the pacing: it was much too quickly delivered. This plays with more than just Esther's character growth, but the plot in itself. The story feels rushed, as if the authors want to reach the conclusion, or the better parts of the novel quickly. There is one particular instance where Esther and her love interest profess their love for each other--yet they barely know one another, and one is supposedly still grieving the loss of a loved one. The rushed pace made me question the authenticity of what should be beautiful moments between two characters.
I will, however, praise Wasteland for its surprises. Several revelations occur during the story and most came as surprises. Whereas similar novels tend to make what's coming next obvious, Wasteland keeps its reader in the dark.
I recommend Wasteland to readers of post-apocalyptic novels and semi-dystopic worlds governed by children.(less)
I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
True to the creepy synopsis and cover, Suzanne Young's The Program is a disturbing portrayal of a world where suicide grows rampant and is classified as a mental disease that is catching, especially in teenagers. Between the scary idea that the government could give such power to industries much like "The Program", and that teenagers facing the increasing difficulties in their world can be classified as suicidal, Young's novel is not only original, but effectively eye-opening and thought-provoking.
Sloane, the protagonist, is perhaps one of those fortunate characters that we can't exactly hate. We see her decisions, we see her world beyond the knowledge that she is capable of holding--thanks to "The Program"--, yet we can't really outright blame her. If you don't know what's good or bad for you, how can you make the "right" decision? If your previously known world is a blank for you, would what we classify as right and wrong be the same for you?
What immediately caught my eye was the romantic aspect of The Program. It drives Sloane forward, even as her familiar world disintegrates from her memory. It also isn't one of those immediate romances that the protagonist encounters at the beginning of the novel. Instead, we are introduced to this powerful couple who vow to stand against the world, even if they have to make dire decisions. What I liked about this is that while Sloane's world does revolve around her relationship with James, she uses the difficulties they face as a way of growing and overcoming the chains of their society.
Perhaps one of the best, and most frustrating parts of The Program are when Sloane encounters the antagonist: "The Program". We are made to really hate this organization, even as they promise Sloane that they are healing her. This is where being an observer becomes useful. Whereas Sloane and her parents see only what "The Program" wants them to see, we are privy to everything. In a way, this is kind of awesome because we hope and hope that Sloane will also learn of what is happening. We root for her because of the powerful character she was at the beginning of the novel.
The pacing was less than stellar. The beginning of The Program, though used to build up the importance of Sloane and James' relationship, dragged a bit and I often found myself wondering when the intriguing parts would come. Instead, we are plagued with Sloane's depression and the dread that something bad is about to happen...the issue is that it took to long to get to said "something bad".
Keeping that in mind though, once Sloane enters "The Program" then everything becomes much more interesting. We connect a lot more with the characters, the storyline becomes addicting, and we start to truly root for Sloane.
Also, I've never been a fan of characters who have long internal dialogues when they are on a limited amount of time. There is no sense of urgency in their thoughts, despite the urgent situation. This happens quite a bit in The Program and let me just say that if I could shake Sloane into shape, I would have.
The epilogue was fantastically creepy. It hints at just how every action has consequences and how, though we strive to move forward and forget our pasts, we will always fall back and repeat what has happened.
One of the interesting quotes I found in Young's novel is, "I think that sometimes the only real thing is now" (Young), which ironically touches on the fact that yes, we do need to live in the here and now, but what if our pasts can save us from the here and now? This quote forces the reader to ponder what life would be like if we just simply lived in the present, rather than let our pasts mitigate our actions.
I recommend The Program to fans of dystopian fiction that hits a little too close to home, and deals with the painfully familiar topic of teen suicide. The romance in this novel is powerful and shows just how strong our hearts are when it comes to judging character and knowing what we truly want, despite our pasts being a distant memory and the present our only reality. (less)
Audrey's Guide to Witchcraft, the first in the Audrey's Guides series, by Jody Gehrman is a quick read that offers more than the short synopsis can possibly portray. With its well-written prose and witty dialogue, Gehrman's novel is a fun summer read that will steal your attention for hours.
There are four points to take notice of while reading Gehrman's novel: the dialogue, the prose, the characters, and the speed of the story.
The dialogue served its purpose of drawing me in and evoking different emotions from me. When the characters were humorous, I felt their humour, yet when they were sad, I couldn't help but feel their hurt. Gehrman's success with dialogue is followed by, at times cliched, prose. While her writing is nearly flawless, she does employ the tactic of describing (view spoiler)[the electric touch between two characters that are attracted to each other--a cliched way of stating that the two characters have a connection. (hide spoiler)]
One important aspect of Gehrman's novel that I particularly like is the connection between the characters. I love that I can simply feel how important each character is to one another without being told by the author. There is obvious chemistry where there needs to be and the romance had me intrigued during my experience. I do have one thing that bothered me, I wish we knew more about Audrey and her love interest, but then again, this is the first in a series. I look forward to seeing how her relationship evolves!
The teeniest flaw this novel has is the pacing. There are moments where the story appears to slow down to a standstill and the reader is left wondering, hm, what now? Another issue with pacing is how the story builds up to such a huge climax, yet the conclusion happens a lot quicker than expected, not really letting the reader take in what's happening before it is over.
Gehrman's novel is a fun twist on the witch genre. She mixes old myths of what witches can do with new and creative powers and terms. I recommend Audrey's Guide to Witchcraft to those seeking a fun and slightly dark novel about magic, love, and the power of family. Also, if you're looking for fun characters with an edgy twist, then you might want to give this one a look.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Emily Murdoch’s debut If You Find Me is as impressive, as it is eye-opening. With powerful prose, unflinching narrative, and characters that are impossible to not love, Murdoch has written a wonderfully dark novel that will take the reader by surprise.
Murdoch has the ability to create the same sense of anxiety within the reader that her protagonist, Carey, senses as her world begins to change, even when there is reason to trust--making her readers’ experience thrilling, terrifying, emotional, and disturbing.
The narrative of the novel acts as a barrier between Carey and the reader, since she does not give anything away, but barely hints at the storm raging beneath her cool and untrusting exterior.
As readers, we truly have no idea what she is capable of. We believe Carey to be resourceful, but we do not know to what extent. If You Find Me takes its time to not just explain to us what Carey has survived through, but to show us what has made Carey the untrusting character she’s become. As the novel progresses, Carey slowly opens up and begins to trust, if not herself, then the reader.
The descriptions of the events that further darken the tone of the novel are deeply disturbing, but so beautifully done that one can’t help by empathize with the characters. The great thing about Murdoch’s writing is that she creates a tormented character that is still relatable. We’ve all been the new student, we’ve all had secrets, and though most of us can’t compare to what Carey experiences, we still, despite all odds, connect with Carey.
The hint of romance in the novel is a promise of better things to come for Carey, but it does not overtake the importance of Carey finding a new way of life.
Murdoch offers us hints of what the girls suffered through while living in the woods, but it isn’t until the unexpected conclusion that we truly see what has altered their lives forever.
I would recommend If You Find Me to lovers of contemporary fiction in the young adult age group. This book is truly about finding yourself when there appears to be no one you can trust, and no way out. The hope and redemption sit heavy on the pages as both the reader and Carey navigate her new world.(less)
Paul Crilley’s The Lazarus Machine: A Tweed and Nightingale Adventure is a young adult steampunk novel that toys with the morbid topic of death. Crilley’s story is a great introduction to the world of steam engines, curious detectives, and wondrous mysteries. Crilley wastes no time in getting the reader hooked on his fictional world, which also includes mentions of Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty.
One topic that Crilley works well with in his novel is that of genders. This is strongly evident with his two protagonists, Tweed and Octavia. Octavia is a strong female protagonist who speaks her mind and follows her own desires. Tweed is a strong, yet respectable male protagonist that, unlike the other men around him, respects women enough to ask Octavia for help in his mystery-solving adventure.
The dialogue is witty, enlightening, and a successful mix of modern English and historical English, giving the book a unique twist. Crilley’s dialogue gives the novel a fun quality, making the story flow without boring, dated, or drawn out conversations. Plus, it is always a positive when a historical mystery novel adopts a dialect that is easily understandable.
The world Crilley creates in his novel is so imaginative, it is hard not to picture what Tweed and Octavia see every day. The complexities of the gadgets mentioned piqued my interest and had me wondering what our world would be like if our reality was the result of Crilley’s fictional history.
The Lazarus Machine is full of fast-paced action, gripping adventure, and an addicting mystery. The tone is often dark, thanks to the occasional mention of death and soul harvesting, but the characters try to keep it light with banter and determination.
Crilley’s novel is surprising. The reader enters the boundaries of the story expecting one experience, yet leaves with something completely different. The plot twist near the end is enough to change the reader’s perception of the book in its entirety. S/he is left trying to figure out a mystery of his/her own, just as Tweed comes closer to the answers he seeks.
I recommend Crilley’s novel to lovers of the steampunk genre and Sherlock Holmes. Also, if you’re a fan of mystery novels and strong female protagonists, then you should give this one a gander. The Lazarus Machine is a fantastic book for any reader new to the steampunk genre.(less)
Dark and seductive, Lighthouse Nights by Jake Vander Ark is a gripping story of two teenagers who cross paths under one of the worst possible circumstances. Vander Ark displays his gift for the written word yet again, if not more precisely, in this novel about suicide, love, and the decisions we make.
What caught my eye right away was the writing style. Vander Ark disregards capitalization, save for moments where a character is emphasizing something being said, and manages to add even more darkness to his story. The lack of capitalization wreaks havoc on the most organized mind, causing momentary confusion and effectively draws the reader into the mindset of the characters. By not having the story written in the exact format that we, as readers, are accustomed to, Ark is challenging us to think beyond what we know and explore the troubles that teens facing depression may experience--all of this by simply alienating us from are previous conceptions of literature.
Of course, the characters, Jules, Trevor, and Gabriel, to name the important few, are all evidence of the darkness within these pages. Lighthouse Nights is a beautiful portrayal of how life can go very wrong and how decisions can affect us long after it is too late.
The format of the novel makes it a quick read--it is only 171 pages! And the style that Vander Ark portrays the different characters' narrative is fluid and easy to follow. Despite the dark concept, there are moments where the reader feels connected to the characters, even when they are angry, sad, or happy. That's the beauty of Vander Ark's writing: he has a wonderful way of making you a part of the story, despite the tone and context. Also, Vander Ark's poetic prose is hard to resist, making him a must-read.
Since this story is on the dark side, I would recommend it to those with a stronger stomach, simply because of how blatant it is about suicide. On the other hand, this novel, though knee-deep in gloominess, is a message of hope: you are not alone, there is someone waiting for you--you just have to search: sometimes s/he is right in front of you.
Read Lighthouse Nights and feel your heart swell and slowly break with the unexpected twist when the conclusion falls upon you.(less)
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry is reminiscent of Simone Elkeles's Perfect Chemistry series, whi...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry is reminiscent of Simone Elkeles's Perfect Chemistry series, which I find interesting since it is the quote from her review that is printed on the front of McGarry's novel. Elkeles captured my attention, my heart, and my admiration with her daring storyline in a world of cliches.
And guess what? McGarry has just joined her ranks in my books.
Pushing the Limits is brilliantly written, heartbreakingly honest, and touches the realities of trauma. McGarry tells it like it is and though this made her novel a nervy read, it was exhilarating at the same time.
Echo Emerson is tortured by her forgotten past and has fallen into a dark pit of depression, while Noah Hutchins deals with his own grief by veering as far as he can from his old life. But, and this is one of those things I enjoy about books like this one, they are both so much more than the angst-ridden teenagers we first meet. McGarry does not bore the reader with "woe is me" plights, but she instead slowly develops the story so that the reader too can understand and sympathize with the characters.
For me, some authors often forget that readers need to connect with their characters, especially the ones scarred physically and emotionally. We, as readers, need to understand why these characters are hurting. We need to know and the author needs to show us why we should care. McGarry does this and so much more.
Okay, so I will admit, I am a fan of the hot male protagonist being all sweet, charming, and changing his bad-boy ways for the girl he likes (no such spoiler here, come on, check the synopsis!). This may impede on my judgement, but I liked that McGarry took it past the physical (for example, sex) and focused more on the romance, the characters' pasts, and how they could possibly overcome their obstacles.
That's what I liked the most: Pushing the Limits has depth.
As the novel progressed, I grew to love the characters. There were moments where I dreaded reading certain sections, because like naive creatures, they committed errors and made stupid mistakes. For the most part, however, I couldn't wait to read more about their lives and how they would grow as characters.
I would recommend Pushing the Limits to anyone who loves romance in the face of adversity. If you love bad boys, then you might like this one too. Be warned though, the guy actually treats the girl like a person in this book and when he even says something to challenge that, the female protagonist calls him out on it. If you're a fan of Simone Elkeles, then this is a must read. It is a quick read, with admittedly heavy topics, like death, depression, abuse, and neglect, but it is worth the read.
If you're against bad language, then steer clear. Echo and Noah's story is an uncensored view into the troubled teenage mind. (less)
I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
The Sweet Dead Life by Joy Preble is a very quick and quirky read that features a witty, and slightly neurotic 14 year-old protagonist. The storyline is considerably original, while the mystery promises to intrigue the reader until the conclusion. Preble's novel is a great light read for a hot summer day.
Jenna, the protagonist, tells us the story of how her brother became her guardian (in a paranormal sense) through diary entries. I haven't always been a fan of epistolary novels, since I find it hard to believe that a character would write down every detail that s/he notices. It always feels false to me, especially since I am an occasional journal writer (especially when I was a kid).
Okay, rant over.
But all of those annoyances aside, Preble does a pretty good job--though her character is only 14. Jenna is a very fun character to watch develop because she isn't your typical teenager. Not only is she dying when we meet her, but her family is far from conventional. She is not only grieving the potential loss of her brother, but she is grieving the loss of her father, and who her mother used to be. For a young teenager, she has her plate full.
Though the tone is occasionally light, there are darker themes within the novel. Addiction, death, sabotage, and abandonment are a few of the issues brought to light. And while Jenna distracts us with her wit and banter, her neurotic tendencies tend to seep into her dialogue when she is detailing her deteriorating health. Though the reader may find Jenna's character amusing, there is no doubt that she hasn't lived an easy life. Perhaps it is her attempt at distracting the readers from her familial struggles that endears her to us.
Preble's angels are your typical very attractive people, but their rules and abilities are slightly different from what we're used to when we read other angel inspired novels. Casey, Jenna's brother, is so well described and created, that even I was pulled in by his new allure. Preble is that good. Paranormal fiction in young adult novels is a very normal occurrence nowadays, but every once in a while an author comes along and adds a new twist to popular creatures. Preble is one of those authors.
The mystery is great! I kept trying to guess who was out to get Jenna's family, but every time I tried guessing, something would push me in a different direction. I'm the kind of reader that can usually guess what's going to happen from the get-go, but Preble managed to throw in a few red herrings that threw me off the scent. It was refreshing finding a mystery book that had me guessing throughout the whole story.
My greatest concern, and trust me this usually wouldn't bug me but since this features such a young protagonist, is the use of language. Jenna is in the 8th grade and in my past experience with middle grade novels, this would still be considered middle grade because Jenna is not in high school just yet. But Jenna is 14, which was perplexing since it was December (wouldn't she be 13? Or wouldn't there be an explanation as to why she is one year behind?) and spoke like a 17+ year-old. I know her circumstances aren't the best, but wow. Jenna goes from calling her teacher an "asshat", to spewing out more cuss words throughout the novel. I also know that her attitude is spunky, but this is perhaps too much.
Let's just say I was surprised--I think this novel would have been better off if Jenna were a little older.
Despite what I've mentioned above, the dialogue is kind of awesome. Funny, realistic, and fast-paced, the characters' conversations almost came to life with how well they were written.
The conclusion suggests that there may be more books written in the series (though Goodreads doesn't have any sequels listed), and I think The Sweet Dead Life would really benefit from this, since there are characters that I would like to know more about (like Jenna's best friend), and mysteries that I would like to see solved (like, what's going to happen to Casey in the long-run?)
If you're a fan of quirky characters, understated angels, interesting mysteries, fun dialogue, and novels that portray the unconditional love between family members, then you should check out The Sweet Dead Life.
Keep in mind, however, that though the protagonist is young, the themes explored are not for a middle grade audience.(less)
Set in New York City, This Case is Gonna Kill Me is an urban fantasy novel by Phillipa Bornikova that features vampires, werewolves, and fairies. Bornikova challenges the romanticized image of vampires, werewolves, and other mythical creatures in today’s literature. Her novel draws the reader in with its fast-paced and addicting suspense, rather than with romance and coy characters.
The protagonist, Linnet, is a sassy and outspoken woman who adds personality to the story line. Bornikova's passion for horses translates onto the pages and helps move the plot along.
Linnet's reactions to the sexism in her world also makes her a reliable character. When faced with the challenge of empowering women in her law firm, she manages to give the women in the novel back their voices. Though she has moments where she questions her identity, Linnet does not waver when it comes to proving her worth.
Bornikova adopts the expected romance of the urban fantasy genre, flirts with the endless possibilities around Linnet, and shrivels up any cliched expectations for the reader. By having other supernatural beings enter Linnet’s romantic life, Bornikova offers a different perspective of what could happen in a world where the female protagonist does not automatically choose the vampire.
The novel brings to light how ridiculous it is to glorify vampires, especially when they are monsters with ulterior motives. This Case is Gonna Kill Me also moves beyond the overused “Vampire Meets Girl” plot line. In fact, Bornikova focuses more on the action in the quickly paced plot than the hints of romance in the story.
The mysterious aspect of the plot is at times predictable, but not to the point where the reader will get annoyed. Bornikova manages to create an enthralling story, despite the difficulties of creating effective plot twists in suspense and mystery novels.
This Case is Gonna Kill Me is a fast-paced and sexy story that will have readers laughing and cringing at the same time. Bornikova’s realistic dialogue will have the reader connecting with the characters, while the riveting suspense will have him/her wishing s/he could join Linnet as she works her dangerous case(less)
Jennifer L. Armentrout's Obsidian is a sexy, unique, and surprising piece of work. Honestly, this bo...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Jennifer L. Armentrout's Obsidian is a sexy, unique, and surprising piece of work. Honestly, this book is so hyped up that I thought it would be a let-down--but holy crap, no. NO. Obsidian has a strong female protagonist, an unusual storyline, and well, erm, very sexy descriptions.
Katy, the protagonist, doesn't have the easiest challenge on her hands. Her mom has uprooted their small family and moved to a middle-of-butt-crack nowhere town. There she meets extremely sexy Daemon and his very friendly sister, Dee. What ensues is a hilarious battle of flirting wits and a surprising protagonist that goes beyond expectation.
Though the novel mainly focuses on Katy and Daemon's turbulent relationship (as friends--sort of), there are instances of action and suspense that leave the reader feeling antsy. The heated moments of danger surrounding the characters roused fear from me and I felt connected to the characters, since their emotions were raw and not dramatized.
Armentrout's writing is fast-paced and entertaining. The descriptions that Katy offered of Daemon alone were enough to have me laughing out loud, or blushing. The chemistry between the characters is undeniable, yet Armentrout doesn't make Katy into the stereotypical female protagonist. I will admit, there were instances where Katy did let me down, but hey, the story does need to keep the reader focused, right?
I can't even begin to describe how I felt about Daemon, but I know I have to.
Daemon was an ass and I'm torn between saying that he is perhaps the sexiest male character I've ever encountered, or that he is too big a jerk to even examine. I've never really liked it when a male character is a total jackass towards the protagonist, but I think I'm so giddy from the novel's effect that I can sort of understand where Daemon's rudeness comes from. He is the sole protector of his little family and he does what he thinks is right.
But, of course, Katy isn't the type of girl to sit back and take his attitude: she dishes it right back. Let me just say: Awesome, Armentrout!
It was great seeing a female character not giving into (at least not in the first few chapters) the jerk of a male character. The conclusion promises a very heated series and I honestly can't wait to read the rest of the books.
Obsidian is the type of book that will leave you begging for more. I think I hugged my copy when I finished, it was that good.
If you want an original (of the supernatural variety) young adult novel with a surprisingly powerful protagonist, and a wicked little sexual tension, then you might want to check out Obsidian.
Alert, however, that this novel is for readers that are 14+.(less)
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review
Katie McGarry's Dare You To follows Elizabeth Risk, or "Beth" as she prefers to be called, and her constantly changing world. She was the dark and snarky girl in McGarry's Pushing the Limits, but her character is offered redemption, love, and what she's always craved--trust.
What makes McGarry's novel even more heartfelt is the fact that, unlike many people in Beth's life, McGarry gives her a new beginning. Rather than push her aside as a secondary character, McGarry offers the reader a reason to trust Beth and for Beth to tell her story.
Beth is a lot more than the dark clothing she wears. She is more than her curse words and her inability to accept love that is given to her. She is a girl with a troubled past that shows the reader that anyone can change.
McGarry maneuvers the difficult task of creating a second chance for such a troubled character beautifully--as if her words were bandages for the cuts Beth's received over the years of her short life.
Beth's growth is slow, but understandably so. A character with a lot to fix can't go from troubled one chapter, to perfectly fine the next. Life does not work like that.
Though the world is tough for Beth, the reader needs to ask: Are the negatives we see from those around her how they truly are, or are her experiences laced with the negativity of what she's experienced? If McGarry didn't offer both sides of the story (Beth's and Ryan's), would we see an objective view of Beth's world, or would everything be dark and sinister until her ability to trust returned?
Ryan, the sexy and charming jock, experiences great character growth as well. Him and Beth are as dark as their hair color--he is the light to her dark. I liked Ryan the moment I met him, even if it all starts with a dare. He is a guy, after all. And though his home life is not perfect, he learns to be himself and accept the difficulties in his life. One of the greatest aspects of Ryan is that yes, he is intrigued by Beth, but that he forges his own path in a novel that could have easily just followed his and Beth's romantic destiny.
I'm a huge fan of books that offer both sides of the story and have both characters grow in their private lives.
The pacing in Dare You To is comfortable, since it assures the reader that there will be enough time to resolve the issues brought forth at the beginning of the story. McGarry offers questions to be answered and waits a good amount of time before answering. She creates suspense and an urgency to know the answers, but she does not bore her readers.
The romance made me crave a Ryan of my own. I won't give any spoilers, but I'm sure many of McGarry's fans will fall in love with Ryan, especially if they loved Noah.
Addicting, delicious, and heartfelt, Dare You To is another powerful installment in what is going to be a very promising series.
I recommend Dare You To to fans of contemporary literature for young adult readers. If you're searching for a change up and want a bad girl/good guy novel, you should check this one out. Also, if you're into novels that make you "aww" and want nothing but a good romance to keep you up at night, then McGarry is the author for you. (less)