Better than I remembered. (Seriously, I remembered only the vaguest things about this... I'm wondering if I was sick the first time I read it or somet...moreBetter than I remembered. (Seriously, I remembered only the vaguest things about this... I'm wondering if I was sick the first time I read it or something)(less)
“Hard” sci-fi isn’t the first genre I’ll pick up. In fact, it’s often close to the last. But after reading and loving...morePosted to The Bevy Bibliotheque:
“Hard” sci-fi isn’t the first genre I’ll pick up. In fact, it’s often close to the last. But after reading and loving Jamie Grey’s debut novel, Ultraviolet Catastrophe, I knew I’d be on board for whatever she had in store for her readers in her first New Adult book: The Star Thief.
The main character of The Star Thief, Renna, has an edge, which I kind of love. She’s used to relying on herself and with good reason. The girl has skills as a mercenary. Skills that include fighting and thieving, maiming and killing, and seduction. I love that she doesn’t make any apologies for who she is.
And that includes her sexuality. I adored the fact that Jamie Grey doesn’t use the fact that Renna likes sex to teach some false-sounding lesson. Seeking out sex without love doesn’t have to mean some sort of psychological issues are at play. Renna enjoys sex, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It was damn refreshing.
The ~romance in The Star Thief makes great strides. Especially since, at the beginning, Finn is pretty friggin’ unlikeable. I wouldn’t say I quite fell for him by the end of the book but I did grow to like him and like where his character (and his relationship with Renna) are going.
The Star Thief is ACTION-PACKED. From the very first chapter, we’re off with a bang and race along. The Star Thief is the sort of sci-fi that puts me in the mind of sci-fi like Star Trek. It takes place in different worlds, among spaceships and technology we could only dream of. Plus, the aliens look like aliens, with purple skin, multiple eyes, ridged foreheads… you get the picture.
All of these elements add up to a winning combination. I can’t wait to read book 2!
HOME, LOVE, FAMILY; THERE WAS ONCE A TIME I MUST HAVE HAD THEM TOO [song]
This was one of my favorite parts of A Lady by Midnight. Kate was raised in an orphanage and has virtually no memory of any life before that. But she believes she was loved and she doesn’t give up searching. And her hunt bears fruit!
When the Gramercys enter the picture, we meet a cast of characters that are quirky and heart-warming. Unconventional, and as ready to love Kate as she is them.
I particularly loved how Dare expressed modern ideals, while still ensuring that A Lady By Midnight feels authentic to its historic setting.
SHE’S BEEN GOOD TO ME AND SHE DESERVES BETTER THAN THAT [song]
Thorne. Thorney, Thorne, Thorne. I just… *sigh.* I did grow to like Corporal Samuel Thorne, but his schtick with not being “good enough” for Kate got old real quick and it’s the biggest obstacle in their relationship here because the attraction and feelings they have for each other are quite obviously there. So this part was, while fun, a bit contrived.
Bow-chicka-bow-wow. Seriously, after reading A Week To Be Wicked followed by A Lady By Midnight, I am convinced that no one writes a sex scene like Tessa Dare. Things were hot, heavy, and sexy. And… yeah. BEST. Best sex.
Oh wait, I’m supposed to tell you WHY you should go buy this book first, right? Well,...morePosted to Almost Grown-up:
GOOD MORROW, FRIENDS.
Go buy this book.
Oh wait, I’m supposed to tell you WHY you should go buy this book first, right? Well, then, let’s hop to it!
We all know what a big fan of Tamora Pierce I am, right? Which is why a pitch that includes her name is guaranteed to draw my eye. But nothing besides the quality of a story will guarantee that it will hold my attention.
And boy oh boy, did The Cadet of Tildor hold my attention.
It wasn’t only that it held so many of my favorite elements: there was magic, a castle, and a strong female MC– it was that Alex Lidell crafted those elements so well.
For instance, our strong female MC, Renee de Winter is so proud of her future as a Cadet and so fearful that it won’t come to fruition– so she works at it. And the best thing about her is how much she grows as a character over the course of the novel. When the novel starts, she sees the world as very black and white. It was interesting as things changed for her so that she could see that there wasn’t always a clear answer.
Another character that I really enjoyed was Savoy, who was absolutely fascinating. He’s almost surly when he is called back to the castle in order to teach the cadets, but does a good job teaching. It was particularly interesting when we caught glimpses of what his character may have been like back when he was a student himself.
But the political unrest present in its pages is what gives The Cadet of Tildor life. The royal family fights against two crime families, who, in turn fight against each other as well. The seed of corruption runs deep in the world and as more was revealed about the families’ beliefs and the laws of the realms, I found myself actually understanding why different characters would ally themselves in certain ways.
The Cadet of Tildor is a fantasy novel that you’ll want sitting on your shelves alongside other YA fantasy favorites like Throne of Glass, Graceling… and yes, Tamora Pierce’s novels too.
I finished Just One Day hours ago. And I’ve been almost useless since I closed the book because wow. WOW.
I have just been busy marinating in my own feelings.
I related to Allyson a whole hell of a lot. At the beginning of the book, she’s the quintessential “good girl.” She does what she’s told, does what’s expected of her, and lets other people’s expectations be thrust upon her. But then she meets Willem, swoony dutchy boy extraordinaire, and she takes a big risk. For once, she does what no one expects.
And she has the best time doing it.
Lord, did this book make me want to go to Paris. Which is interesting because Willem and Allyson don’t necessarily do a lot of “sight-seeing.” But France comes alive through their spur of the moment adventure. And over the course of “Just One Day,” not only does Allyson (or, as Willem knows her, “Lulu”) fall for Willem in a big way (and trust me, as a reader, you will too), she sort of finds herself. Or who she wants to be, anyway. Someone that has adventures, does things that are a little unexpected. Someone who lets herself free of the box that she’s shut herself inside.
This book is definitely swoontastic (and goodness gracious, I use this word a lot, but it just FITS). Willem is enthralling, makes Allyson feel sometimes like she’s the only one who matters– but sometimes, making her feel like she’s not special at all when she sees him interact with other girls. That’s part of the growing she does over the course of the novel, I think. She’s less threatened by other women he’s interacted with, makes herself face them and that he has a past. And Willem is definitely flawed. Like Allyson, we only know him for a day and we don’t know his whole history, but we definitely see both the good and the bad.
And can’t help falling for him anyway.
But yes, though the swoon made me grow wide of eye and short of breath, it was when Willem leaves Allyson that I connected the most. Because then Allyson has to find her way back to that person that she wants to be without someone to guide her.
And it takes some doing.
This was the point at which I started to cry because honestly knowing you have every reason to get over someone, knowing it was short-lived and that the l-word shouldn’t fit in the situation, and knowing that you’re expected to be over it– it’s hard when you’re just not, and feel like you’ve lost a bit of yourself along the way.
I think that beyond swoon and that discovery of self, Just One Day is about changing relationships. Allyson does a lot of working to get her parents to see who she wants to be and she drifts apart from her childhood best friend. It’s frustrating at time, but I never felt like Gayle Forman pigeon-holed Allyson’s mother other former BFF as ‘villains.’ In the case of her mother, they have some work to do, but in the case of the best friend, they simply grow into people that don’t mesh as perfectly as they used to. And that’s okay. It’s life. In every way possible, Just One Day is a book that will stay with you. At least… I know it will stay with me.
To sum up: Read Just One Day if you want to feel and feel a lot. You will not be disappointed.(less)
It was impossible for me to resist the lure of Robin Wasserman’s The Book of Blood and Shadow once I read reviews that liken...morePosted to Almost Grown-up:
It was impossible for me to resist the lure of Robin Wasserman’s The Book of Blood and Shadow once I read reviews that likened it to a YA (and better) version of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Quite honestly, I loved Dan Brown’s novels when I last read them. Would I feel the same if I read them today? Who knows? But I did love The Book of Blood and Shadow.
The parallels are easy to draw; a murder involving secret societies takes the main character across the sea to solve and necessitates the knowledge of certain academia to solve.
Beside plot minutiae, there is a huge difference between the two. Not to sound pretentious douche, but while The Da Vinci Code is rather plot driven, The Book of Blood and Shadow is driven a great deal by the actions and motivations of the main character, Nora. The impetus for Nora’s movements are solid and real and make sense given what she knows and what she’s lost.
Excepting a painfully sad flash-forward narrating prologue (which didn’t bother me as much as it usually does, surprisingly), the beginning of The Book and Blood and Shadow is rather light. We’re not yet encumbered with a dangerous mystery that results in bloodshed. Nora has two wonderful best friends and an interesting work study position. She’s in love.
She’s even beginning to feel a kinship with the woman who wrote the supposedly unimportant letters she was assigned to read for her work study. And why not? The similarities of their lives are impossible to miss, despite the centuries separating them.
It’s all so perfect… until little things start to go wrong. Wasserman masterfully builds smaller moments of tension. That is, until we arrive back at that opening moment when we know there’s been a death and Wasserman delivers a wallop in the form of a murder.
That’s when the adventure really begins.
Many novels that take us overseas get the label of a “romp.” Not so with The Book of Blood and Shadow. The foreign backdrop reinforces the mystery. Our characters are in an unfamiliar place stuck in a situation that they don’t truly understand. Robin Wasserman pulls you into her mystery, leaving a trail of clues from a history that is half-fabricated and half-legitimate.
The amazing thing about this is that while the focus is, of course, untangling the mess they’re in, Nora is still so authentic. She spares thoughts for grief and for her relationships and friendships. It’s balanced properly so that I don’t want to strangle her for being either a) inhuman or b) foolish for ignoring her bigger problems.
One note that I have to make was that The Book of Blood and Shadow made me a little sad. Two sets of people with differentiating ideals were moved to violence over it. And that’s real… but as a commentary on humanity, depressing.
Overall rating: 4/5. The Book of Blood and Shadow is an amazingly crafted mystery that draws on history to further it.(less)
I picked this audiobook up at a library sale quite some time ago, but on most long drives, I preferred to jam out to t...moreTo be posted on Almost Grown-up:
I picked this audiobook up at a library sale quite some time ago, but on most long drives, I preferred to jam out to the radio. On my most recent trip to Orlando, however, I felt like being more entertained. I had a 3 hour trip up and a 3 hour trip back, so the 5 hours and 33 minutes of listening time sounded just about perfect.
Mary Kay Andrews paints a lovely picture in the beginning. Keeley Murdock is about to marry A.J. Jernigan, the “love of her life” and the son of one of the most influential families in town. When Keeley calls off the wedding (well-deserved– A.J.’s a cheating scumbag), his family takes it upon themselves to ruin her interior design business.
Luckily enough however, a rich new client has just come into town: Will Mahoney. Mahoney’s just bought the town “bra plant,” and they’re all biting their lips over whether or not he’ll be laying people off or not. Keeley gets over her distaste of the man to perform the interior design job he’s set for her. It’s ludicrous, of course. The deadline’s insane and it’s for a woman that Will wants to marry, but has never met.
Having no idea what, exactly, I was in for, I was a little worried that there would be some lurid sex scenes. I don’t mind reading them, but imagined that listening to them might make me squirm. I needn’t have worried. The only red flags were some profanity and a little sexual content (nothing detailed).
The narration by Isabel Keating was also performed admirably. Keating uses different tones for each character, ramping up and toning down the Southern accent as needed.
Hissy Fit was full of laugh out loud moments, wildly funny characters, and some self-discovery as well.
It certainly made my drive go by much more quickly.
Overall rating: 3.5/5. A great “test drive” for someone new to audiobooks, like me!(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)
The name Chime may ring a bell. Though the National Book Awards this year were surrounded by controversy, it was a nominee (...morePosted to Almost Grown-up
The name Chime may ring a bell. Though the National Book Awards this year were surrounded by controversy, it was a nominee ( it was confused, at first with Shine by Lauren Myracle).
Both books immediately went on my TBR list.
I despaired over Chime at first. I mean, it was beautifully written and Billingsley chooses moments to “break the rules” of writing (POV for instance), and manages to pull it off admirably, so it was easy to say how the NBA nomination happened. The first 100 or so pages were difficult for me to get into though.
But after I passed that benchmark? OH MAH GAW.
Briony is such an amazing character. She’s convinced that she’s wicked and wonders what it might be like to be a normal girl. In the hands of a different writer, I might have felt the martyrdom of it to be irritating, but Billingsley has such an amazing talent, that it worked. She uses words and descriptions that never would have occurred to me, but are perfect.
Chime ended up being a novel that I not only admired, but envied. Billingsley’s writing is masterful.
Overall rating: 4.5/5. If I had felt as strongly about the first 100 or so pages as I did about the rest of the book, it would have been a 5/5. Easily.(less)
After reading Divergent, I felt like I started foaming at the mouth with want every time the word Insurgent was mentioned. T...morePosted to Almost Grown-up:
After reading Divergent, I felt like I started foaming at the mouth with want every time the word Insurgent was mentioned. That’s probably a bit creepy, but I friggin’ LOVED Divergent and was beyond excited to continue reading a new favorite series. The day Insurgent came out found me walk-jogging into the nearest bookstore to buy my own copy.
We catch up with Tris nearly immediately after her would-be initiation day and the battle that took place there. To be perfectly honest, I am both glad and and disappointed that I couldn’t make time to reread Divergent beforehand, so I wasn’t bothered by any reported continuity errors, but I found myself struggling to recall the exact events that are referred to throughout Insurgent.
My reading of Insurgent was a somewhat confused one. Tris, Tobias (Four), and others that they travel with move around a lot. My feelings… and essentially ratings then started to fluctuate wildly.
After less than ideal circumstances, Tris and Four are now together. But their relationship no longer feels like a healthy one. It seems they argue as much as they do anything else and Four starts pulling one of my least favorite behaviors, occasionally adopting an “I know best” attitude. Fortunately, it’s not a constant thing for him, so it only irritated me and didn’t make me hate him.
Tris becomes a character who starts to feel a bit flat to me as well. Her Divergence and aptitude for other factions seems like an excuse to make her a little too much of the hero. Certain scenes have other characters turning to Tris for advice because she had an aptitude for Erudite, so despite her age, lack of training or experience in that faction, lack of insider knowledge, and lack of seniority even within her own faction, clearly she’s the best one to make a plan. It felt like a stretch.
The long slog through the middle of the novel moving from faction to faction had me somewhat bored.
The difference between those scenes and the action is marked. Because adventure and action is where Veronica Roth’s writing really shines. Those were the scenes that had me wide-eyed, frantically turning to the next page. Those were the scenes that had me completely in their thrall and pulled the Insurgent’s rating up for me.
And that ending… hoo boy. What a cliffhanger. Let’s just say that I can’t wait for the next novel.
Overall rating: 3.5/5. Not as much of a WOW as Divergent, but a decent follow-up. (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)