So last year I read Die for Me , the first in this planned trilogy about renevants. I enjoyed the story but it had some flaws, and for a while I almo...moreSo last year I read Die for Me , the first in this planned trilogy about renevants. I enjoyed the story but it had some flaws, and for a while I almost regretted buying the book. But I was interested in reading the next book, and when a friend of mine offered to send me her ARC, I gladly accepted. Now, after reading the second book, I've decided that I do like this series, if it has some flaws, and I don't regret buying book one anymore.
Until I Die was a sweet read, a bit predictable and unsurprising but still good.
The book picks up again in Paris, France, where Kate and Vincent have continued their relationship. Due to Kate's issues with the "death" part (ie, when Vincent rescues someone from death he dies for a short amount of time) of Vincent's abilities, Vincent has decided to try not to die so they can have a stronger relationship. Charlotte and Charles, following a battle with the numa (renevant enemies) have left the home for protection and safety. The numa seem to be in hiding and all the renevants are on high alert. Jean Baptiste, to replace Charlotte and Charles and keep the renevants' safety intact, has sent in two new renevants: Violette and Arthur. Kate and Vincent continue their relationship in peaceful bliss but soon Kate realizes that Vincent's very immortality is in danger. Now, I found the plot to be pretty predictable. I guessed who the mystery person hurting Vincent was right away, Kate's reaction to said person, and the ending I spotted from a mile away. The ending is kind of a cop-out. (view spoiler)[ Vincent gets killed by Violette. (hide spoiler)]. It's really all set up for the sequel. The mystery isn't as strong as it was in the first novel, and this book at times falls prey to "second book syndrome". The ending is really set up to show how Kate is vulnerable, and how her life has changed. Until the ending, though, the book seemed very strong plotwise. Plum introduces new plotlines often but they were done well and made sense for the story. The story seemed accelerating for a good ending, but the ending messed up, frankly. The plotting was very tight and strong but everything fell apart at the end; otherwise the plotting was strong.
The characters, I think, remain my favorite part of this series. Kate is a strong heroine who's capable. She goes and hunts things out, tries to help her friends, and wants to be helpful. She doesn't moan and complain about woe is me, I can't be with my true luvvvvv... instead she tries to enjoy her relationship nonetheless. She was very strong. However, sometimes I thought Kate seemed almost too mature for her age. She had flaws but came off much older then she would probably act. I understand that the situations she was in -- her parents' death, being exposed to a *new world* would make her mature more quickly -- but sometimes she seemed so much more like an adult than a teenager. Vincent was a bit more of the brooding hot guy in this one. He has more secrets and refuses to answer Kate's questions. He intentionally hurts himself to try and protect her, and tries his best to not "die" for her sake. It was sweet, if a bit unlikely. Still, I did feel sad with what happens to him at the end. The other renevants are just great. My personal favorite is Charlotte, and Plum really develops her in this book, unrequited love and sadness abound. She handles it well, though, and she's a strong character. If Plum was ever to write some kind of spinoff, Charlotte would be a good lead for a spinoff. Ambrose and Jules and Gaspard and all the boys were awesome, very strong and protective as well as being hilarious. I liked how the author handled Charles, putting him in a situation with others who were having the same issues he was.
The writing...hmm. I'm more unsure on what to write here. Plum has very crisp writing. Her writing's to the point, crisp, clear, and fluid. It's easy to read. Sometimes the French she included was difficult to grasp, and as some phrases were never explained I became confused. The writing was easy to read, though. That's really all I can say -- it's an easy read due to the fluidity of the writing.
I'd recommend this more if you liked the first novel; a lot of the same issues people had with Die for Me cross over into the sequel. I found the ending to be unsatisfying and the mystery predictable, but I enjoyed reading the book nonethless. If you like romance books, books on mythology, or enjoyed the first novel in the trilogy this would be a good book for you.
I'm not a huge fantasy person. I love some fantasy books -- HP, Lord of the Rings, etc -- but I have a tendency to revert more towards contemporary fi...moreI'm not a huge fantasy person. I love some fantasy books -- HP, Lord of the Rings, etc -- but I have a tendency to revert more towards contemporary fiction. But if I'm interested in a fantasy I will definitely read it. I found Seraphina on Netgalley and snatched it up.
In the kingdom of Goredd, humans and dragons are at odds with one another. Peace exists in the kingdom but hostilities remain. Dragons are able to live in the kingdom and work. Seraphina has reasons to distrust them all. She joins the court, since she is an unusually gifted musician, as a member of the royal family is killed -- in a fashion that suspects dragons. She partners up with Prince Lucian Kiggs, the captain of the Queen's Guard. They fight to find the answer as Seraphina struggles with the truth behind her unusual gift.
First I would like to commend Rachel Hartman. Fantasy is a hard genre to write, and she successfully pulled off a fascinating story. Also, amazing concept: dragons and humans? YES. She is definitely an author to look forward in the future.
One of the things I found most interesting about the novel was its swift changing of cliches. Seraphina has a magical gift of music. This concept is used in plenty of fantasy novels: characters have all kinds of musical gifts and powers. Seraphina's gifts easily could have become predictable. Lucian Kiggs is the captain of the Queen's Guard. I've seen that in high fantasy as well -- an instance that comes to mind quickly is Trevanion from Finnikin of the Rock . But she deftly changed the cliches into fascinating characters, and people you genuinely care about. I cared about Seraphina and her plight, about the dragons and the humans and Kiggs and the amazing secondary characters.
The plot is the one thing where I quibbled and removed a star. The book takes a while to get into if you don't read or enjoy a lot of high fantasy. It takes a bit of time to get used to the story, to understand the characters and the situation of both the dragons and people of Goredd. But after a while you get engrossed into the world of the characters and want to spend time there. The amount of time it takes for you to get into the story differs from reader to reader, of course, and for one reader they may get into the story almost instantly while others take much longer. I personally removed a star because of the fact it took me about six or seven chapters to get engrossed into the story.
Tangent aside, the plot is riveting and fascinating. Come on, dragons=amazing. I certainly haven't seen many dragon/people books in YA recently. I wanted to know more on every single page. I know this statement is vague but I didn't want to spoil anything in such a twisty, exciting plot.
Another crucial aspect of fantasy is world building. I, as a reader, have to understand and know the world. I need details. What do the buildings look like? How do people act? What are their religions, hobbies, etc? A friend of mine wrote this fantastic post on world building: http://cherrytreenotes.blogspot.com/2... World building is something people mention and comment often on fantasy reviews, and one of the most common complaints I've found in my perusal of Goodreads and other reading-related sites is that the world building was too thin or not enough in a certain novel or story. Hartman did not skimp on the world building in her story. She told us Goredd's history, its religion, its people, their stories, their world in a book. Authors sometimes wait to develop world building or write too much world building in info dumps. Hartman did neither: she told us the story of her world and its past, present, and future while also leaving questions behind for the planned sequel (release date: sometime in 2013).
I really enjoyed Seraphina and most of my qualms were more about the fact that I don't often read fantasy. If you enjoy and read fantasy you will definitly enjoy this book. Hartman is a strong author to be watching in the future and when 2013 rolls around I will pick up a copy of the sequel. If you're interested in reading the book now you can request a copy on Netgalley. A great fantasy read.
I'm not much of an artist myself. I like art, and the yearly trips to the musems in elementary school didn't bother me much, but I haven't been much o...moreI'm not much of an artist myself. I like art, and the yearly trips to the musems in elementary school didn't bother me much, but I haven't been much of an artiste. I left that to my sister.
So I found this ARC on NetGalley. I had read Tom Leeven's first book Party about a year ago. Both books dealt with the artisty, gritty scene of Los Angeles and the surrounding area. And what did I think?
I'm still unsure, and I finished this book three days ago. But I guess if I had to rate it, say how I felt in more cohesive terms, well, I'd say it was okay.
Party is the story of Amanda. She just graduated from high school, and plans to go into a career as an artist. She's got everything down pat, is ready to go to SAIC, the art college of her dreams. And then her scholarship money -- the only thing getting her to the expensive college -- falls through, and she falls into a whirlwind.
Her parents are fighting constantly and on the rocks of divorce; she has a horrible relationship with her best friend; and she has no idea what to do in the fall. To keep her busy, Amanda's parents make her enroll in community college to take a few art courses and she decides to attend some late-night concerts to feel connected to the "art scene".
I never really connected with Amanda. She has a strong voice which I'll mention later, and sounds like a teenage girl, but she seems disconnected. I symapthized with her, but it was hard at times to read the narrative since it was disconnected. She was so disconnected from the reader, in both grief and anger, that it was hard to read.
I did like her voice, though. She sounded like a raw, gritty teenage girl living, essentially, on the edge of her world.
I do think that Leeven populated his story with some cliches. The angry, on-the-brink parents; the girl seperated from her best friend due to a secret that I found easy to guess; and the girl redempted by love. It didn't affect the story a ton, but at times it seemed painfully obvious like he was running through a checklist:
1. Artsy girl with a secret. 2. Meets boy, fall in love. 3. She discovers big secret that shatters her world...
The climax was...okay. The major secret was revealed, a few "ohmygod" scenes occured where Amanda freaked out, but the majority of the climax was a chapter in a half. By the next chapter Amanda had realized oh, everything's going to be okay, without any reason why she had changed so quickly. She simply woke up, saw the self-portrait she had done, and then realized that everything was fine.
It was an interesting look into the art scene, how everything is so free. I learned some, I guess, considering I'm not in that crowd at all.
I would recommend it more to "artsy" people and those who might be interested in a more "angsty" narrative. A solid read.(less)
My reasons for reading this book were very skewed. Almost like the book itself. I had zero plans to read this novel; most of my friends disliked the b...moreMy reasons for reading this book were very skewed. Almost like the book itself. I had zero plans to read this novel; most of my friends disliked the book and I don't enjoy reading romance, which the book is centered around. Then a librarian friend of mine asked me if I would read and review the book for our public library. I agreed, because she's my friend and I love reviewing books. But from the beginning I had a feeling this book just would....suck. And I'm sad to say that my prediction -- which I wholeheartedly hoped was wrong -- came true.
The book is essentially a "pretty rich girl" story. We've all seen those, whether it be in a novel, on TV, a movie, or elsewhere in the media. The stories are similar: pretty rich girl is super rich and super super selfish, everyone hates her but she thinks she's all that. Then something comes along, whether it be a *hot* guy or some major life-changing event like losing all her money or having both of her rich mogul parents die. With the help of said *hot guy* or some other person who helps her get over the major event in her life, pretty rich girl learns that she doesn't need to be so selfish, that she really can just be normal and not have to follow the rules of society, and she changes into a better, more interesting person.
Kiss Crush Collide follows this stock formula almost perfectly. There's a hot guy, Porter; an overprotective mother; "perfect" sisters; and a mean girl turned friend.
But it strays away from the stock plot designed by Hollywood in one aspect: the main character never changes. Leah begins the novel as a spoiled, rich girl and ends the story barely changed. She still thinks of herself as goregous; she still thinks that she's better than her sisters. I can understand if the author wanted to show that she never changed, that she was so selfish that she was unchangable; but with the many events that happen to her throughout the story, it seems ridicolous for Leah to not change. Shouldn't every character have an arc? Does it need to be a good arc, or even a positive arc? No. But a character should change in some way, whether it's for the better or for the worse.
It makes it hard to relate to Leah, as she's so superficial. She goes to the pool and comments on "how hard" it is to have everyone staring at her, how she'll "never get used to it" and how some people are "lesser than I am, and they'll never get better". The entire book is populated with selfish quotes. And those selfish quotes last from the first to the last page. It makes it extremely hard to read and enjoy this book. I didn't care for Leah. She was stupid and vapid and lame, and frankly, someone I'd stay far far away from.
And Porter/John Duffy/JD/Duffy-- what the heck was up with him? First, I could never keep his name straight. He introduces himself to Leah as "Porter", but then tells her about a hundred pages later that that's not his real name; no, he's lied to her, it only says "Porter" on the back because that's his job: porting cars at a fancy club that Leah's family belongs to. He tells her she can call him John Duffy, JD, Duffy, the works -- and Leah chooses Duffy. Then, at the end of the novel, he buys a coat that says "Porter" on it and Leah remarks how AMAZING! and WONDERFUL! it is that he has that coat. He was essentially a stock character, with the programmed "guy from the wrong side of the tracks" and the sweet, smoldering looks and beautifulness.
So Porter and Leah kiss in a country club and BAM sparks I never really felt their romance; Porter seemed like a nice guy but I never really connected with their love. I never really felt that passion, those sparks Leah kept commenting on. I wanted to see the love and the passion. I wanted to grin and smirk when they had cute moments. But I never felt the passion. It seemed so flat and boring to me. The steamy cover seemed to suggest a steamy romance; instead the romance fell flat.
The rest of the characters -- hmm. They, too, fell for the same stock characters as Leah and Porter-whatshisface. The mother was a stock character, a strong woman who never changed but only was uber harsh and mean. The sisters were almost identical; they never seemed to have any differing personality traits that made me seperate them from each other. Valerie the mean girl's plot was predictable, Shane's plot didn't surprise me either.
Also speaking on the plot, it was....strange. Porter leaves halfway through the book due to a misunderstanding, and then just disappears. So much for the love interest. Yorke (I had to go look up her name, seriously), one of the sisters, was mentioned being pregnant at the end of chapter sixteen. No one mentions the pregnancy again until chapter thirty. Yes, that's fourteen chapters. The plot seemed to meander and just be boring the entire time.
Now, it might seem like I hated this entire book. I didn't. There were two redeeming factors for me, personally: the writing and the strength of the family dynamics that made me up this from one star to one point five stars.
I thought the author handled the family dynamics well. I don't mean that she portrayed the family in a caring way; this family is essentially dysfunctional. She didn't necessarily portray them in a unique way, either; like I mentioned before the family characters seemed stock and boring. But she really portrayed the dysfunctionality well, with Leah's mother's expectations and her sister's relationships and her father's misunderstanding. I really felt trapped, as her mother made horrible decisions (yelling at her daughters, ignoring them, threatening to disown them) and her father made a blind eye. These situations were hard to read at times but they really seemed realistic to the kind of dystfunctional nature Leah lived in. And the truth? At the end, the dysfunctionality hasn't changed. But that's realistic; situations won't change that fast.
The other thing I liked was the author's writing. I mentioned this recently in my review of If I Die : the writing was very fluid and easy to read. It makes for a quick read, if a hard and difficult one to plod through.
I would really only recommend this to people who really enjoy romance or *hot guys*. Otherwise I'd recommend skipping this and picking up other, better romance novels. Also, in case anyone is wondering: I won't be recommending this to my librarian. :) (I am recommending a couple of the other ARCs she got me though -- no worries :D).
When I finish reading some books, I'm in awe. I'm in awe of the author's writing, of their characters, their plot, the entire book. And I close the bo...moreWhen I finish reading some books, I'm in awe. I'm in awe of the author's writing, of their characters, their plot, the entire book. And I close the book thinking This book was brilliant.
Gone, Gone, Gone is brilliant, too. But it shares its brilliance in a quiet way.
Throughout the entire novel, I was loving the book. I liked the characters and the plot and the setting and everything about it, and I knew for sure that I would give it at least four stars.
But then I got to the end. The ending is a hard hitter. It's beautiful and peaceful and so, so perfect. And it was at the ending that this book showed me its brilliance.
Gone, Gone, Gone takes place in 2002, in Washington D.C, around the time of the Beltway Sniper shootings. Craig and Lio are two high school boys living in the same town. They've formed sort of a strange, uneasy friendship, but their friendship becomes even more conflicted when Lio kisses Craig. As the sniper shootings continue and more and more people are killed and the atmosphere of panic continues, the boys must understand their uneasy romance.
I think Moskowitz best explained the plot when she said this: "[The book] is a love story. It is so f*ucking a love story." There isn't much plot to the story. This another one of those books that is all about the characters. But there is a plot. It's one of those quietly brilliant plots, and it's an amazing love story. The entire time I wanted Craig and Lio to fall in love with each other, to get together. The plot quietly takes them through romance, through twists and turns that are amazingly realistic. It's a brilliant love story. And really, that's all I can say about the plot of this book. It was a brilliant love story.
I do have one side note on the plot: I liked how Moskowitz explained enough information about the sniper shootings. It was enough for people who had no idea about the shootings and a good refresher for people who already knew about the shootings or lived through them themselves.
The characters....this book is all about the characters. Craig and Lio were both fully formed characters with their own flaws and problems, but with their own personalities and strengths. They were both very funny, too. Their voices were distinct and sounded like boys (Moskowitz certainly can write boys) and they were just....amazing. That's all I can say about them. They were perfect for the story and lovely and amazing. All of the characters, not just Craig and Lio, were amazing and impressive and very well rounded. While the plot may not have been heavy, the characters were packed with enough heaviness and strengths and beauty to completely make up for it -- and enhance the lovely love story.
Moskowitz's writing is stripped down. She writes what needs to be said, no extra words, no frills. It's realistic and easy to read. The writing is beautiful in its own way too; not obvious from the beginning but it, too, shows its quiet beauty eventually.
I recieved this book as an advanced readers' copy, thanks to Galley Grab, but I sure as heck will be buying myself a copy. I'll stick it on my bookshelf right in the center. And every time I see it I know I'll smile. I'm smiling wide just writing this review.
Gone, Gone, Gone is a must-read for anyone who loves romance and contemporary fiction. It's really a must read for everyone, really.