First, I love the cover by Evan B. Harris. It's beautiful and I think it definitely draws the eye. I also want a...moreOriginal review at Beneath the Jacket
First, I love the cover by Evan B. Harris. It's beautiful and I think it definitely draws the eye. I also want a print of it to hang on my wall. Someone make this happen. Please.
Second, I enjoyed the book! From the first page, I was transported to the Depression era. I was drawn in by Barnaby's wonderful writing style, the story, and the colorful cast of characters. Portia has a fire and passion that I liked. No one, not even the creepy Mister is going to stand in her way! The narration style is different than any other book I've read recently (or that I can remember right now). It goes back and forth between third-person omniscient and first-person. The first-person is normally a page or two where the reader gets an inside glimpse of Portia and the other circus characters. I would expect something like this to throw me out of the story, but I really enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts. I also don't think it happens enough to be a hindrance to the storytelling. I think of it as an enhancement. Especially since the reader learns more about the histories of the characters at these points.
If I have a big complaint, it would be that the end felt a bit rushed to me. The entire book I was waiting for an amazing climax and I feel almost like nothing happened. I was left with a "wait, that's it?" It's a very easily solved ending. Too easy, in my opinion.
Wonder Show reminds me a bit of Moon Over Manifest (a book I love!). Yes, they are both set during the Great Depression, but they also involve two strong female characters who will stop at nothing to find their fathers. I think Wonder Show will find its place in the MG/younger YA audience. Though, it would suit a more mature middle grade reader as it is a dark book that deals with some issues like abandonment and suicide.(less)
Everyone seems to love Born Wicked. This will, unfortunately, be another book I will go against the grain on. I f...moreOriginal review at Beneath the Jacket
Everyone seems to love Born Wicked. This will, unfortunately, be another book I will go against the grain on. I feel like the narrator, Cate, only talked about two things: what everyone is wearing and she hates being a witch.
What Everyone Is Wearing: Every time someone enters a room, Cate describes in great detail what he/she/everyone is wearing. I began to dread the party scenes. I understand it's a historical novel and period clothing is a part of the atmosphere the author wants to create. I get that and I usually love that, but I feel like Spotswood went overboard. I get that Cate and her sisters' new clothing was important to them. It's a big deal. But the author would also go into great detail about the clothes of other people Cate was with or saw. This was perplexing to me because from what I got from the book, Cate doesn't care for clothing so why would she talk about it in great detail? There's a difference between an important piece of clothing that means something to the character and just a piece of clothing.
She Hates Being a Witch: Cate hates being a witch and she talks about how much she hates it all the time. Normally I can stand a negative nelly. Example, I adore Briony in Chime and, holy crap, does that girl hate herself. I wish I pinpoint the difference in the two characters, but Cate began to get on my nerves a bit. Maybe because she doesn't have the self-deprecating humor that Briony has?
Spotswood does a great job of world building and giving Born Wicked a "classic" feel. Her writing style fits the time period perfectly. I didn't realize the book was going to be mainly centered around the romance. Don't get me wrong, I love romance in my books. Romance is da bomb, but I think the reason I wasn't pulled into this one is because I didn't feel a connection between Cate and her two love interests. It felt kind of bland to me. I also found myself wanting more story progression in Born Wicked. I feel like the majority of the book is Cate talking about clothes and attending parties and just talking. All of the action finally comes into play in the last few pages and it is awesome. I thought the book was finally getting interesting at the end and then it ended. Sad face. Luckily, there's a next one.
I recommend this book to fans of romance and historical fiction. Just because I felt this way, doesn't mean you will. I seem to be in the minority anyway. ;)
Oh Born Wicked, how I wanted to love you. I like you, but I guess we should just shake hands, say we had a good time, I'll tell you I'll call you, and then part ways.(less)
The world that Rossi has created in Under the Never Sky is different from other...moreOriginally posted at Beneath the Jacket
What a great start to a series.
The world that Rossi has created in Under the Never Sky is different from other YA books in its genre and, I think, it stands out among the rest. For example, I like her use of virtual reality and the tech gear used inside the Dome. Meanwhile, on the outside in the wastelands, Perry belongs to one of many tribes and lives a nomadic life. It's clear from the beginning of the book that Aria and Perry come from completely different backgrounds, so I was excited to experience when they meet up. Under the Never Sky has dual narration which sometimes doesn't work for me, but I think Rossi pulls it off successfully. I love both Aria and Perry, so I liked going into each of their heads and reading from their different perspectives (especially about each other!).
I also enjoyed the not-so-instant love connection Perry and Aria have. In fact, Aria smells bad to Perry for, like, the majority of the first half of the book. Adding that onto the fact he already doesn't like her (due to the blame he puts on her for his problems) leads to awkward companionship. You know what else is awkward? The fact that Perry can smell when Aria is on her period and the fact that she smells better when she is. I know for a fact this would probably not be true, but I guess it's nice to have that little fantasy none-the-less.
P.S. Perry has an excellent sense of smell. In fact, some characters born on the outside (I believe due to the Aether?) are born with heightened senses. I liked this idea, too.
I guess the only fault I have with it is the lack of explanation of the Aether storms. How, what, why? It's an excellent idea and one of the highlights of the story for me. It's a storm that I realize is deadly, but that I would love to stand outside and watch. Without dying. There are more books in the series, so I'm hoping there will be a gradual explanation.(less)
I was looking forward to this book like whoa, so when I got it, I put what I was going to read next aside and p...moreOriginally posted at Beneath the Jacket
I was looking forward to this book like whoa, so when I got it, I put what I was going to read next aside and picked up When the Sea is Rising Red. And...I was a little disappointed.
Hellisen's writing is great. She is very descriptive and I enjoyed the world that she built, along with the mythology that comes with it. I love the fact that each of the noble families have different magical talents. I also think the idea of having to use a powder called "scriv" to use the magic is brilliant. It's all very thought-out, but here's also where it fell apart for me: the environment/world of the book comes across as a bit of a hodgepodge of myths. Example, the book has things like unicorns and vampires and sea witches. Hellisen pulls some from here and some from there and some more from over there, then puts it all in a pot. But instead of it mixing together to make something complete, it feels more like pieces of different stories. Yes, there's a fascinating reason within the story that explains the unicorns, but a unicorn is still a unicorn. I wanted her magical world to work for me, but sometimes it didn't. It all came across as too complicated. I feel dumb, but for the majority of the last half of the book, I was confused. Then the climax happens and I have almost no idea what's going on. It all happens too fast and it's like the author is trying to explain everything that she's been building up to in the last third of the book. I wish it could have been longer.
Characters: Felicita has her moments, but none of the characters, expect Jannik, held much interest for me. I really like Jannik and found him to be the most intriguing character in the story.
All in all, it was an okay read. My main complaint is the fact that I felt stupid for not knowing what was happening there at the end, but I mostly figured it out and all is well. If you're looking for something different, then check this one out! This is a book with a lot to digest, so don't read it too quickly. Just take your time and is should be okay.(less)
The Alchemy of Forever is one of those rare books that is the perfect length. I didn't think any scene was unnecessary and I felt like there was no po...moreThe Alchemy of Forever is one of those rare books that is the perfect length. I didn't think any scene was unnecessary and I felt like there was no point in the story where it dragged. Is it the most fast-paced, action-packed book ever? No. In fact, there's very little action, but I don't think that was supposed to be the purpose of the book (I don't speak of the series as a whole, but the first one).
Cyrus is one of the most frightening antagonists I've experienced in YA fiction recently. He scared the crap out of me and I fully understand why Sera is so scared of him. Cyrus's controlling and abusive personality seems all too real. On the other hand, Sera is a character I loved. For a girl who has lived 600 years, she has an innocence and naivety about her that I found endearing. For all of those years, Sera has always been under Cyrus's control and after her escape, I'm excited to watch her mature as the series progresses. She's a girl who has a lot of growing up to do and I think she has a great strength within her (this sentence is cheesy, yet true, so I kept it. Please forgive me Goddess of Originality).
If there's one complaint I have about this book, it's that it is too short. I know, I know! In my first paragraph I said it was the perfect length, but as I was coming up to the end, I just wasn't ready to let Sera or the story go quite yet. So I tried to read...really...slowly...but it didn't work and the book ended with a cliffhanger to die for! When can I get the next one??(less)
This book is so freaking cute! I hope Meredith doesn't take offense to that because it's not an insult, it's a...moreOriginally posted at Beneath the Jacket:
This book is so freaking cute! I hope Meredith doesn't take offense to that because it's not an insult, it's a big compliment. With all the paranormal/supernatural/heavy YA books I've been reading, it's a nice change to read about a regular old fourteen-year-old girl doing fourteen-year-old things and making the mistakes of a fourteen-year-old. Kelsey and her friends are very believable characters right off the bat. While reading, I remembered myself hanging out with my friends talking about the same exact things Kelsey and her friends do; having the same worries. Sans the alcohol though. I was freaking straight-laced, yo (until I turned sixteen, haha!).
Meredith's writing is entertaining, witty and natural. Freshman Year had moments where I was cracking up. I'll specifically refer to a certain scene involving a beard, but that's all you'll get. It's a scene you don't want to be spoiled for, believe me. It doesn't just deal out the funny, though. The book also deals with issues like bullying, friendship, crushes, and betrayal (or what feels like betrayal to someone who's fourteen. See? This is why I like it so much!).
A warning for anyone concerned: there is a lot of under-age drinking in the book and some sexual talk. This was not my fourteen year old experience, but a friend of mine assures me I may be in a minority, haha. I guess at twenty-seven I have already, embarrassingly, become an old fuddy-duddy who wanted to parent and take the alcohol out of their hands. ;) So if this makes you uncomfortable, I would stay away for a bit.(less)
I love history, so it should be assumed that I enjoy a good historical fiction novel. When I received Cross My...moreOriginally posted at Beneath the Jacket:
I love history, so it should be assumed that I enjoy a good historical fiction novel. When I received Cross My Heart, I was so excited. It takes place during the Italian Renaissance and it revolves around a mystery! My mind went right to The Ruby in the Smoke which is one of my favorite historical mysteries. I didn't enjoy this one as much as The Ruby in the Smoke, but Cross My Heart definitely has its positives.
It should be said that Sasha Gould's writing is gorgeous. From the first sentence, I was immediately drawn into the world of Laura, a convent raised girl who is immediately thrust into Venice society by her money and status hungry father. I found it interesting to read about a naive young girl discovering her place in a, previously unknown, society while at the same time trying to solve the mysterious death of her sister. It's this that leads her to the Segreta, a group of women who collect secrets. I found the idea of the Segreta fascinating and wish we got to spend more time within their ranks, but without the mystery surrounding them, Cross My Heart wouldn't be much of a mystery. A few red-herrings were thrown in there and it wasn't until near the finish that I predicted the ending. Good on Sasha Gould!
As interesting as I found Laura's situation she sometimes came across as a little bland for me. It was the characters around her that kept me interested. I also wasn't convinced about the romance that grows between Laura and the painter. If I remember correctly, they only interact in the book three times before they confess their love. Cross My Heart isn't about the romance, but if placed in the book, I still expect to feel it and have it make sense to me. It's just another part of the novel (like the ending) that felt rushed.
All in all, I liked the story and the idea of it, but I feel like the execution could have been a bit more drawn out and detailed.(less)