As I opened the page to draft this post, I saw an article that referred to Beautiful Creatures as the “anti-Twilight” and du...morePosted to Almost Grown-up:
As I opened the page to draft this post, I saw an article that referred to Beautiful Creatures as the “anti-Twilight” and dudebros, I HEARTILY disagree. Perhaps they mean the movie and only the movie. Because the movie is why I read the book in the first place because it looks AWESOME (and I still intend to see it).
But the “anti-Twilight?” Not so.
TRUE, there are no vampires. True, the main point of view is a teenage male. And true, it has a storyline of it’s own that does not follow the path of Twilight. But it still has a hell of a lot of the (by now overdone– though to be fair, maybe they weren’t when this was published) paranormal romance elements. Which is fine if you’re into that, but it’s not really my cup of tea these days.
Also, OH MY CHRIST, Beautiful Creatures is so. Damn. Long. I’ve seen publishing industry people complain that a book is “as long as it needs to be,” but I truly, truly don’t think that’s true in this case. It seems like we rehashed so much of the same material through a back and forth with the relationship of Ethan and Lena and how the entire county of Gatlin hates Lena and UGH I was so tired of it.
What was done really well was extremely well-drawn scenes. They were vivid with details that pulled me into them. I was there. Also, Stohl and Garcia have an amazing cast of supporting characters– their personalities were all so interesting. If I’m honest (and I think you know I am), I think I cared more about them than Ethan and Lena, though.
Edited to add: Also, I lost count of the action moments where Ethan used a variation of the phrase "But I couldn't move." BB BOY, SEE A DOCTOR.
Ok, so I mentioned, this is a long-ass book, especially on audio– 17 1/2 hours. Reading it physically would have been way faster.
Shout-out first to the narration. Kevin T. Collins is an EXCELLENT narrator, with a wide range of voices that employed for each character so that I could easily tell who was “speaking.”
HOWEVER, for some reason they decided to add a crap load of sound effects to the audio, which was HIGHLY dustracting and irritating. I mean I get adding music for songs that are only in the book. But when you tell me there’s a knock on the door and then have THE SOUND OF KNOCKING, it’s a little bit of overkill. Likewise, I didn’t need “weather” sounds like wind and rain. For me, it distracted me from the story itself.
Also, there was the issue of Ethan’s dream sequences on audio. Maybe you people who have read the book can tell me… are they actually described? Because at certain points he seemed to be dreaming and there were looooong stretches of SOUNDS… but no words. Like it sounds all tinkly, sometimes creepy music and wind and I was like ‘wtf’ until he woke up and resumed the story.
To sum up: Beautiful Creatures is long and lengthy and is filled with tons of the typical hallmarks of paranormal romance, so I guess it depends if you’re into that kind of thing. But despite solid narration, the sheer length and the editing style mean I don’t recommend the audio route.(less)
PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE SUMMARY BEHIND THE CURTAIN.
Because it smacks of insta-love and that’s not what this book is all about.
I’m not going to pretend that it’s got some super lofty symbolism life metaphor thing going on, but it’s not your ordinary paranormal novel. The characters are quirky and have a lot of depth to them. They’re each grappling with their personal struggles and goals and they all have their own distinct personalities.
Blue, for instance, lives in a house full of psychics, but is not a psychic herself. She has the dubious honor of being a sort of amplifier for all of them somehow. And she lives with the knowledge that if she is to kiss her true love he’ll die. You can see where that would sort of put a damper on her dating life. But Blue makes it onto my (admittedly long) list of book BFFs because she has a pretty practical view on this: she’ll live her life and find fulfillment in other ways. It doesn’t take a guy to make her happy. She’s snarky and wonderful.
But obviously the universe enjoys such a challenge because Blue makes friends (that title is iffy in some cases) with four boys from Aglionby. We mainly get to know Gansey and Adam. Adam could pretty much make a hashtag out of #prideproblems and Gansey is extremely intelligent, driven, and wants simply to achieve things on his own. But Gansey also doesn’t get the social implications involved with offering money for some things.
I could write serenades about Blue’s mother and the psychics she lives with. Basically Maggie Stiefvater gave us a cast of brilliantly drawn characters that are a joy to read.
AND THEN. The plot. Also a joy. There is one “twist” that is given away early on by one line as long as you pay attention (which the characters do not), but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story. If anything, it built the anticipation as I wondered when the characters would finally figure out what I had.
Overall rating: 5/5. Books like The Raven Boys remind me why paranormal was my preferred genre, once upon a time. But The Raven Boys is above and beyond.(less)
I was excited when I pre-ordered The Madness Underneath. There were two big reasons for this. 1) I loved The Name of The Sta...morePosted to Almost Grown-up:
I was excited when I pre-ordered The Madness Underneath. There were two big reasons for this. 1) I loved The Name of The Star and was excited to see where the story went next.
2) …it came with kick-ass stickers.
Stickers aside, I was relieved to find that my anticipation had not been for nothing. Maureen Johnson’s voice in Rory is just as fresh as ever. I wanted the girl to be my BFF from time to time because… well, I suspect Rory is secretly a Tumblr user when she explains her reason for doing something with “Because Stephen.”
The Madness Underneath is not QUITE as spooky or fast-paced as The Name of the Star. The sense of danger is as omnipresent because there’s a little less mystery about the killings. The Madness Underneath is more about Rory finding her own path, while still being a hilarious ghostbuster.
One thing I appreciate with Maureen Johnson’s series is that, when we have swoony times, it’s not all about the ONE TRUE LOVE thing. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love those books too, but Johnson seems keenly aware of reality in that her characters as teenagers and likely will not be with the first person they date forever.
BUT in regards to OTP happiness, never have my emotions swerved so quickly in 180 degree-type turn. One minute I’m overjoyed, the next, I was SCREAMING. And then the book ended. Because I think perhaps Maureen Johnson practices reader torture in her spare time.
To sum up: I loved this book, but lord am I WAILING over the end. I need a support line to call.(less)
First disclosure: I waited too long to write this review after reading, so this if this review gets a little vague in place...morePosted to Almost Grown-up:
First disclosure: I waited too long to write this review after reading, so this if this review gets a little vague in places? That’s how that happened.
Second disclosure: I accidentally spoiled myself a little for this series by reading the anthology Enthralled which features a short story following the series.
I’ve been wary of reading paranormal lately– it tends to hit a lot of my hot buttons with cliches like insta-love, boys-who-know-best, and weak female characters, but Kelley Armstrong started and finished strong.
She started with a prologue from the point of view of the main character Chloe when she’s very young. The narration felt authentic for Chloe’s age and reeled the reader into the upcoming creep factor of the novel. Add that to the fact that she mentioned Sailor Moon (in passing) and I was hers. (Side note: I totally snickered over the fact that there was a girl named “Rae” with pyro tendencies)
I mentioned the creep factor before, but it bears repeating. Chloe (and by extension, I) was never sure what to believe or who she could trust in Lyle house. Even during more relaxed scenes, the niggling sensation that I couldn’t forget the larger issues hung over me, which made me feel further connected to Chloe.
There were some more unusual magics explored in The Summoning, which made me want to throw my arms up and cheer “Hooray! Not every paranormal is about a vampire or a werewolf! There are other kinds of magic people out there!”
The mysteries of Lyle house unravel at a satisfying pace and the end is full of turns, plenty of action, and a gratifying twist.
Overall rating: 4/5. I seem to constantly be undertaking new series, but I don’t regret undertaking The Darkest Powers trilogy. I look forward to grabbing the next one!(less)
You know how you read some books because blogs have been buzzing like CRAZY about them? The hype has built them up so...moreTo be posted on Almost Grown-up:
You know how you read some books because blogs have been buzzing like CRAZY about them? The hype has built them up so far in your mind that you expect them to absolutely BLOW YOUR MIND. And then you read them and things don't quite add up. They're nothing like what the reviews said and you don't understand. They got all of these positive reviews, how could they fall so short?
Listen to me when I tell you that The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is not one of those books. Because it did blow my mind. And then some.
Mara Dyer is a psychological thriller in that the protagonist, Mara experiences frequent hallucinations and symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sometimes the hallucinations are gory, which was creeptastic (it's a word because I say so).
Since the story is told from a 1st person point of view, as a reader, you're never really sure what is real and what is not real. The use of an unreliable narrator was a total mind-warp. And you know? I liked it. A lot.
Then there are the characters. A problem that I often have in novels is that the protagonist is friends with people who don't seem to deserve their friendship. Or the familial relations either fall flat or don't matter to me. But the relationships in this book are different.
Mara has a complicated relationship with her mother. They try to connect with each other but have difficulty after Mara's experiences. And Mara's brothers, Daniel and Joseph obviously care about her but also have the sense of humor that seems to be coded into the DNA of the Dyer children.
And the only friend Mara makes upon moving from is Jamie, who is a genius but outcast from the rest of Croyden, the school she's started at since moving to Miami. Hodkin said at her launch party that Jamie is probably her favorite character outside Mara and I completely understand why. Jamie is a genius, and hilarious, and yes, probably a little bit crazy, but that's part of his charm.
And Noah. Oh, Noah. You know, I really really wanted to hate Noah. He's a cocky arrogant asshole who usually treats girls like crap from what we know about him. But I couldn't because dammit... he was sexy. Like really sexy. And when we see his vulnerable side? Yeah. I couldn't help liking the d-bag.
Another minor problem I had with this novel was the sexual obstacle that Noah and Mara encounter when we're nearly at the end of the book. I didn't see it as an important plot device. It reminded me a various series that I am not a fan of. And there's almost an insta-love/meant to be angle, but Hodkin manages not to be a cliche with her unique voice.
Speaking of the voice: Mara. I want to be this girl's best friend in some ways. She's hilarious at times. And she knows what nom de plume means in high school. Yeah, I could have been best friends with her. You spend the book empathizing with her, worried for her. She's trying to get over some pretty terrible stuff and she's not sure if she's crazy, just has PTSD, or if these things are actually happening.
This review is beginning to get a bit rambly, so I'm going to sum up: I love this book. Go. Buy. It.
Rating: 4.5/5. I adored this book and while I did like Noah, I couldn't get over how much I wanted to hate him. And the obstacle at the end did really irritate me. Still, great book.(less)
My expectations were built up beyond BELIEF for this book. There was so much...moreTo be posted on Almost Grown-up:
Are the words MADE OF AWESOME too strong?
My expectations were built up beyond BELIEF for this book. There was so much hype about it. From the originality of the plot, to the characters... even to the cover.
And you have to admit that is one gosh dang b-e-a-u-tiful cover.
And I didn't find any disappointments within the pages of The Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Not that I really expected to. I mean, half the reviews were from blogs I really trust. The other half? They had the good sense to realize that awesome had just reached up from black and white text to smack them across the face and scream "RECOGNIZE!"
So first-- the originality. It would be so so so easy to spoil you on this because how can I just hint at things I've never even seen before? So let me just say that I don't think you'll have read anything like this either.
The world-building. Hell to the yes. Taylor made bothPrague and the "elsewhere" that she created come completely alive for me. I couldn't imagine the story anywhere else, to the extent that Prague has officially made it where it's never been before: my list of place that I must someday travel to. And the "Elsewhere?" Oh, baby. The wars going on there, the hierarchy of the "government," the magic, the mythology. It's rich and layered and it just. Freaking. Works.
The WORDS. Laini Taylor is the epitome of the term "wordsmith." It was perhaps a mistake for me to read this book during NaNoWriMo when my mind is focused on quantity over quality because this is a quality that I am nowhere near to reaching.
Finally, the characters-- Now, I'm iffy on Akiva as we see him in the beginning. I totally thought he was another Patch or something. You know the I-Must-Kill-You-But-Maybe-After-Sexytimes type? Nope. Nope, nope, nope. Akiva's so flawed but I still want to cuddle him into oblivion once I get to know him better.
But he's not who I love the most here. And I love a lot of people in this book. I love Karou's best friend, Zuzana, the one Karou refers to as a "rabid fairy." I love Issa, the closest Karou's got to a mother figure. I love Brimstone, better known as The Wishmonger, who might as well be her father.
Most of all, though, I love Karou. She's smart. She's talented. She's a slave to her emotions and her heart. She does things like wish a mean girl's eyebrows grow out of control, "collect" languages, and turn her own hair blue. I am so glad I got to learn part of her story.
Overall rating: 5/5. This book is wondrous. But keep in mind, it begins a series. You may want to cry when you realize that you can't pick up the next book right away.(less)
The very concept for Robin (R.L.) LaFevers’s Grave Mercy sets the bar high. We’re promised a unique novel full of strong fem...morePosted to Almost Grown-up:
The very concept for Robin (R.L.) LaFevers’s Grave Mercy sets the bar high. We’re promised a unique novel full of strong female characters. Not only are they strong females, but hellooooo, they’re assassins. NUN assassins and therefore all kinds of original and bad-ass.
But it’s not only the assassins (NUN ASSASSINS!) who are strong women in Grave Mercy. The duchess of Brittany, Anne, is another shining example of a strong female. Despite her young age, she deals with betrayal after betrayal and the multitude of responsibilities thrust upon her shoulders.
The main character Ismae, a novice of the convent of St. Mortain, is not someone I’d ever consider weak, though she doubts herself upon occasion. She goes on a very personal journey wherein she learns to trust people beyond the nuns who saved her from a future of abuse and trained her to defend herself.
What I found captivating about the character of Ismae was that she’s so consumed with remaining under her own power and thinking of herself as strong that it almost blinds her to her to that very power. She blindly follows the instructions of her abbess and her convent, and by the end of the novel she’s grown so strong, both physically and emotionally that she isn’t afraid to think for herself.
LaFevers’s Grave Mercy is steeped in history, and she brings it to life with amazing authenticity. It’s easy to imagine that some of the characters who were real people undergoing some of the very real events portrayed in Grave Mercy possessed the traits and personalities she bestows on them.
The details and setting are also well-imagined. In fact, the novel feels almost decadently atmospheric.
I love courtly intrigue and Grace Mercy boasts scads of it, made extra awesome with the authenticity factor. Whose loyalties lie with who? Who wants what outcome? What motivates them? What the friggin’ hell are all of their schemes and plotting and what on earth are they up to? LaFevers pulls it off beautifully.
And then we have the romance. Bada-bing, baby. LaFevers sealed the deal for me by winding all of the other element that I fell in love with around a romance that developed– NAY, BLOSSOMED– over time and believably. And HOORAH for a non-douchey male lead, who doesn’t stalk a main character and claim that it’s because she is denying her attraction for him.
Overall rating: 5/5. Basically, I fell in love with Grave Mercy in every way possible. If you’re looking for a stellar historical novel with a touch of paranormal, THIS is it. It made me want to seek out more recs (*cough* comments please). I need a finished copy of this book sitting on my bookshelf. New. Series. Obsession.
P.S. I’m not always a fan of “girl in a dress” covers, but this one actually fits the book inside.(less)
There are some books that I pick up with the expectation that they will be mildly entertaining, but ultimately easy to set aside and come back to later. Wildefire by Karsten Knight was one of them.
But boy, was I wrong.
First off, let’s talk about the main character, Ashline. The thing that you need to understand about Ashline is that she’s the good guy… but she’s a bad-ass. To the point where if I met her, even without knowing that she was the reincarnated volcano goddess, Pele, I’m pretty sure that she’d intimidate the hell out of me. Which simultaneously made me want to be her best friend and feel like I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the page.
Then, let’s discuss the setting. I think I mentioned in my review of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks that I am a sucker for a boarding school aspect in a novel, and I stand by that in Wildefire.
And now we can talk about the paranormal activity that knocked my proverbial socks off. Usually it rubs me the wrong way when mythologies from a ton of cultures are mixed into one plot, but somehow Knight pulled it off. The different personalities and personal histories of all of his reincarnated deities made it work.
Rating: 4. Wildefire was a book that I could not bring myself to put down. I opened it before going to bed, expecting to read a chapter. Maybe 2 chapters. But I was sucked into the story until about 2 AM instead. - See more at: http://www.almostgrownup.net/page/44/...(less)
Surprisingly good. Quick fun read. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the ending too :)
What I liked: There was plenty for me to like in this book: I’m a big Shakespeare girl (shocker, I know), so there was a veritable cornucopia of Bardy goodness through this book.The scenes with Edmund and William Shakespeare were nothing short of hysterical so those scenes in particular really shone for me.
I was fond of Drew, even if I didn’t always buy his dialogue. And I loved the ending, which was emotionally believable but still managed to surprise me.
What I didn’t like: Miri’s dad really, really, really irritated me. Her dad left a couple years ago to “find himself” and it’s something that Miri and her mother struggle with throughout the text, but he shows up near the end of the book and suddenly all is forgiven. Just like that! He seems like a nice guy, but he did something pretty terrible to the people he’s supposed to love and never has to work for their forgiveness.
So, do I rec it? This book is a good one for Shakespeare fans and theatre junkies out there. A fun teen romance that I enjoyed and had a few unexpected twists. I genuinely Liked it. (less)
Samara and Dee are reflections of each other, but rather than being identical, they exist largely as "what-could-hav...moreTo be posted on Page Turners Blog:
Samara and Dee are reflections of each other, but rather than being identical, they exist largely as "what-could-have-beens." If things had gone differently in the lives of one or the other, they may have turned out very much the same. Dee is pretty happy with her life: she's very close with her mother and has a best friend. Samara, on the other grows grows more and more distant from her father and has isolated herself from her former friends after her mother's death. She not only cuts but engages in other self-destructive behavior.
The girls switch places for a day and when Dee discovers the cutting she does what she thinks is best for Samara. Samara, on the other hand, is enraged and gets back at Dee the best way she can think of.
This book was not quite what I expected it to be. I suppose I expected it to be more of a psychological thriller. Or for one of the personalities (namely Dee, from the description) to be sort of... well, evil. But on the contrary, Dee is pretty much a good girl and Samara is simply very, very troubled.
I grew to the appreciate the characters and the trials that they found themselves in. But the mirror universe (travel and otherwise) was very confusing and not always believable. There were several questions that the story brought up for me that it seemed like we would get to explore as they were recurring images and stories, but my questions were left unanswered.
Ultimately, Eyes in the Mirror was an engaging and surprisingly quick read, though I wish the author had gone a bit further in her world-building and taken care not to leave her readers wondering.(less)
I picked up my first Maureen Johnson book a few months ago. I have never looked back.
But that doesn't mean that I wasn't curious about where this might go and how much I'd like it. I read Devilish, a different paranormal book by her and while I admit to liking it a great deal, I'm also going to say it wasn't my favorite. The large majority of MJ's book are feel-good contemporaries with witty protagonists. The novels are typically laced with her signature brand of humor. I worried that I'd miss that in such a spooky plot.
I wanted to cheer when the hilarity remained and was pulled off beautifully. I should never have doubted the woman who made this video.
But besides all the giggling I did, I can still say with utter sincerity that this is one spooky book.
There's hardly a soul alive who hasn't at least heard the name "Jack the Ripper," but to be 100% honest, I had no idea of the brutality that the Ripper attacked with back in 1888. The idea that there's a copycat killer is terrifying enough. But a copycat killer spirit? Shivers, guys.
You grow to sympathize with Rory a great deal as a chasm grows between her and her school friends. She can't explain to them what's going on without sounding absurdly crazy, but they can't seem to understand why she's even more affected by the murders than everyone else.
I feel like I say this every time I get my hands on another Maureen Johnson book: This may be my favorite book by her yet!
Overall rating: 5/5. This was a highly anticipated release that didn't disappoint. I am very much looking forward to the second book in the Shades of London series. (less)
I love, love, love Jackson Pearce’s work. I love, love, love fairy tales. And above all of them, I love, love, love The Litt...morePosted to Almost Grown-up:
I love, love, love Jackson Pearce’s work. I love, love, love fairy tales. And above all of them, I love, love, love The Little Mermaid.
So raise your hand if you’re at all surprised that I loved, loved, loved Fathomless.
Fathomless is the third in Pearce’s fairy tale retelling series, but you don’t necessarily need to read the other two to understand this one, as they’re all companion novels.
Pearce simply has a very obvious talent with words. Her prose shines whether we’re with human Celia or Lo, who is a creature of the sea– but her talent is especially evident when we see the world through Lo’s eyes. The sea and Lo’s sisters are mysteriously sinister. Not only because of the fact that the only way for them to regain their souls is to kill, but because they lose their concepts of “self” as time moves on. Is there anything more terrifying?
There are so many strengths to this novel, and one of them is the strength that we find in the main characters Lo and Celia. They begin thinking of themselves as weak or powerless, but progress beautifully until their strengths shine. Not really their physical strengths, but strength of character. It’s also wonderful to see that when a (rather swoony) love interest is introduced, it doesn’t at all subtract from the girls’ strength.
A major theme of this book (and perhaps the series overall), is sibling relationships. Celia and her sisters don’t always see eye to eye, but they love each other. Despite the paranormalcy of the triplets and the events surrounding them, there is so much truth to their relationship.
Rating: 5/5. I’m almost sad that this series of retellings has concluded, but I can’t wait to see what future novels from Jackson Pearce bring.(less)
Cabot pleases as always! Humor, drama, and some of the unexpected! A pleasure to read :)
What I liked: Would it be wrong for me to tell you I loved everything about this book? Yes? Alright fine. I guess it’s not entirely true. I loved (most of) the characters here… I laughed at them all when I was supposed to. I empathized with Meena, swooned over Alaric, and giggled at Jon (Meena’s nerdy brother).
I liked that for once these days, the vampire’s not irresistible. And he’s flawed. Like really flawed. He’s not the perfect remorse-stricken dude who can’t bear what he’s done in the past, nor is he THE EVIL ONE (despite what Alaric might tell you).
And you wonder just who Meena’s going to pick: the vamp or the hottie who hunts him? As the book progresses you may wonder if she’ll even have a choice.
What I didn’t like: Lucien. I know I said that I liked that he was both somewhat good and somewhat bad, therefore humanizing him, but that doesn’t mean that I have to like the guy. Lucien had some redeeming qualities, sure, but he’s a pretty selfish guy. His goals in life pretty much amount to:
1) Turn Meena into a vampire
2) Rule the underworld with her… but not pay that much attention since he has underlings (like his cousin Emil and Emil’s wife Mary Lou) to do a lot of the watch work for him.
Selfish does not a friend make.
So, do I rec it? Absolutely. I firmly believe that you can never go wrong with Cabot and Overbite is no exception. There was humor, drama, and some of the unexpected! It was a pleasure to read. I Loved it.(less)