Oh my. Wonderful. I got so attached to the characters and the story was captivating. This is definitely Stephenie's best. I never thought I'd ever say...moreOh my. Wonderful. I got so attached to the characters and the story was captivating. This is definitely Stephenie's best. I never thought I'd ever say I loved a book more than Twilight. (less)
Wow! I loved this book so much that I finished it in less than 24 hours. Lisa Mangum's writing style is beautiful. I found myself re-reading passages...moreWow! I loved this book so much that I finished it in less than 24 hours. Lisa Mangum's writing style is beautiful. I found myself re-reading passages because they were incredibly captivating. She described everything in such intricate detail and left me feeling like I was actually there. This storyline has the potential of being extremely confusing, but she wrote it in a way that every detail was explained, leaving no stone left unturned.
My only complaints: Several of the characters speak to Abby in Italian and there's no translation anywhere. I had to have my laptop with me so I could translate the lines. Let me just say right now free internet translations frequently make no sense.
I am not looking forward to the year-long wait for the next book! This one leaves you at too much of a cliff-hanger to have to wait an entire year! (less)
Austenland is like Disneyland for women who secretly wish they had a Mr. Darcy of their own. I think BBC’s version of Pride and Prejudice instilled a...more Austenland is like Disneyland for women who secretly wish they had a Mr. Darcy of their own. I think BBC’s version of Pride and Prejudice instilled a little bit of that longing in all of us. This problem is exactly what Jane Hayes suffers with. After dating a ton of losers, this single, 33-year-old, New Yorker has come to the conclusion that no man can compare to the sexy, debonair, and utterly romantic Mr. Darcy. She has given up on the male gender completely. One day when her mother and great-aunt Carolyn come over for a visit, they inadvertently discover her copy of the movie as it shifts and falls from its hiding place in Jane’s potted plant. Jane, of course, was mortified—as if they had discovered her drawer of scandalous underwear.
Six months later, Great-Aunt Carolyn passes away and leaves one thing for Jane in her will: a non-refundable, all-inclusive, three-week vacation to Pembrook Park in England where she will strip herself of modern conveniences and live just as Elizabeth Bennett did. After some panicked girl talk with her friend, she decides to humor her late aunt and go on the trip as one last fling before giving up on ever finding her Mr. Darcy. She’ll play out her fantasy and then throw her DVDs away.
She arrives at Pembrook Park and is given a new name, a new age (in Regency times, a woman her age would be considered a spinster and unmarriageable), a pamphlet on how to speak and act, a regency wardrobe (even her purple bra is confiscated and replaced with Regency undies), and is scurried off to teatime with her cell phone hidden illegally in the bottom of her trunk. She feels a little silly at first, but soon embraces this new way of life. She even enjoys it a little! Even though it’s all a game, her confidence improves and she’s convinced she can finally kick this Mr. Darcy obsession to the curb. However, these dreams or hers seem to be more attainable than she thought. With all the humor, charm, and sweet romance you could expect from a Jane Austen novel, Jane Hayes is well on her way to finding everything she hoped for.
This book had me before it even started when I read the dedication page: “For Colin Firth: You’re a really great guy, but I’m married, so I think we should just be friends.” I knew I was in for a fun read. I think part of the reason I enjoyed this book so much is because I identify so much with Jane Hayes. I’ve had my share of frogs in the proverbial dating pond, and understand her frustrations. However… I don’t hide my Pride and Prejudice DVD in a flowerpot. Hahaha. This was a fun, light-hearted read. It was very clean, obviously (since it’s modeled after a clean book), and I enjoyed watching the romance unfold. Jane got herself into some funny situations and was a bit rebellious at times—sneaking out to enjoy modern technology (sounds like something I’d do). I also love that each chapter started out with a story of one of Jane's romances-gone-bad. They were very humorous and made me feel a little better about my experiences! I enjoyed the characters, the detailed descriptions, and the storyline. I laughed, I got annoyed, I chewed characters out when they were being dumb, I turned the pages in anticipation, and I closed the book with a smile on my face. Most importantly, this book helped me remember that sometimes what you need is much different than what you want or what you’re looking for.
Happy reading! I’m off to pop some popcorn and watch Pride and Prejudice! (Colin, feel free to join me. I’m not married.)
You know, I put off reading this book for a very long time, but finally had to jump on the bandwagon when people would not shut up about it! Haha.
Any...moreYou know, I put off reading this book for a very long time, but finally had to jump on the bandwagon when people would not shut up about it! Haha.
Anyway, I am so glad I read it. The first 90-ish pages made the book hard to get into, just because the whole idea of the book is maddening. I mean, children fighting to the death? It bothered me so much. All events leading up to the games frustrated me... but once they were actually in the arena, I really liked it. It was suspenseful and actually very entertaining.
Wow! I really loved this book. I loved it a lot more than I thought I would, actually. People need to stop comparing it to Twilight. Yes, it has its s...moreWow! I really loved this book. I loved it a lot more than I thought I would, actually. People need to stop comparing it to Twilight. Yes, it has its similarities but with all the books in this world, most books have similarities to other books.
I thought the writing was beautifully done. It was very descriptive and I felt like I could picture everything that was going on. I fell in love with Sam and Grace didn't bug me like many female characters in romance novels do. Maggie had an interesting take on werewolves. I liked it.
It was too much of a cliff-hanger for me to be ok with waiting so long for the sequel! I can't wait! Sadly.... it won't be out in time for my cruise this summer. *sigh* (less)
It's REALLY cute. I was actually laughing out loud and then reading parts of it to a co-worker. I love Sarah's internal dialogue and her flip-out sess...moreIt's REALLY cute. I was actually laughing out loud and then reading parts of it to a co-worker. I love Sarah's internal dialogue and her flip-out sessions. My only complaint is that she was SO clueless about how this guy felt about her. I mean, even her best friends were drilling it into her head that he liked her. He was moping right in front of her face when she called him a "good friend." I really don't think college freshman girls are THAT clueless, especially if they are romance novel junkies. I just wanted to shake her for being so dumb! It was cute at first, but almost the last half of the book was a total miscommunication and I got tired of it. I just wanted more cute romance and conversations between the two of them. :)
But, it was good and I was sad when it ended. I want a Ben and I identified with certain aspects of Sarah's personality. (less)
I love it when I read a book that makes me want to read another book. That's what books should do, in my opinion. Reading this book has convinced me t...moreI love it when I read a book that makes me want to read another book. That's what books should do, in my opinion. Reading this book has convinced me that I need to read Bram Stoker's Dracula. Now that I know Mina's point of view, I need to read what the rest of the world thought. I seriously loved this book. I was kind of scared to purchase it, because it's a little out of my usual comfort zone. Plus, it was expensive. I kept thinking about it, though, so when I finally found a good deal, all other books on my to-read list were pushed to the back. I'm SO glad I gave this book a chance, because it is a truly beautiful story of love, deception, obsession, survival, and sacrifice. I was riveted, and could not put it down!
I'm on Mina's side. I saw that tender, romantic side of Dracula and found myself falling for him right along with her! She's got a difficult situation at hand. She went from being the plain, simple girl who never got any romantic attention (even from her husband), to being obsessed over and stalked by a mysterious and sexy bad boy. You'd think that would be terrifying, but she is so captivated by him that she dreamt of and longed for him when most women would flee in fear. She fell deeply and hopelessly in love with him, yet she felt so incredibly guilty because of it. She was married to another man, whom she also loved, but was sneaking away in the middle of the night to be with Dracula. This mortified her, but she could not help herself. When she tried to refrain from going to him, he came to her in the form of a mist that materialized by her bed in the middle of the night, unbeknownst to her husband. He would them sweep her away and have her back by dawn. So scandalous! I think that's part of the reason I loved this book so much. I think a little part of everyone is curious about the forbidden. It's only human nature.
The characters were so well developed. Each person had their own voice and their own opinions. Dracula was strong, sexy, deceptive, evil, manipulative, and extremely romantic! He called her, "My Love." Oooo la la! Mina was very strong, rebellious, and thought for herself during a time when women were supposed to be meek and submissive. She grew up a lot over the course of the book and learned a lot about herself. Mina's husband was the typical male from the time period. He was controlling, demanding, protective, and was all about saving Mina from this evil man who so desired her. Of course, he had no idea that Mina was a willing participant in her rendezvous with Dracula. She was sure to keep that a secret, in the hopes of preserving Dracula's life as well as her own.
While her husband and his accomplices (including Van Helsing, a former boyfriend, and the widower of her best friend) came up with an intricate plot to murder Dracula, she appeared to be helping them, but in reality was leading them on a wild goose chase formulated by Dracula himself. She kept swinging back and forth between the two, doing her best to keep everyone in the "loop". She hoped for both sides to win, because she cared so much about everyone involved. All of these elements tied together created a very spooky, suspenseful, and exciting romance. You get to jump into Mina's mind and hear her thoughts. You begin to understand her wants, fears, and desires. You number yourself lucky for not being in her shoes, but care too much to stop hoping that she figures everything out. You will be glued to every page and travel through every emotion with her.
The writing is done in old-fashioned English, which I found very refreshing. It really added to the story. I have a hard time when historical genres are written in contemporary language. This felt very authentic and seemed very real as a result. The mannerisms of each character were also believable. I loved the contrast between the chaste, ladylike behavior Mina displayed around her husband and friends and the, for lack of a better word, lustful thoughts and actions she exhibited with Dracula. It was like he had her under some spell that amplified her desires and emotions when she was with him. In all actuality, though, this book is not all about lust and carnal desires. Her time spent with him was always spent in long discussions about life and literature. They had so much in common. Her greatest desire was to be with him. The book is really very clean, except for one steamy "dream" she has about him.
I loved this book. It was entirely captivating, and I think I've discovered a new author to follow. Syrie James has written other books along the same lines, including The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte and The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen . Based on this book, I think they are both worth checking out. I'm also planning to read Dracula by Bram Stoker, and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. I think Dracula might have cast a bit of a spell on me as well!
How I got this book: A publicist of Syrie James sent it to me after she noticed how much I enjoyed Dracula, My Love.
Why I read this book: Way before I was even contacted to review Nocturne, it was on my TBR list. I love Syrie’s writing style, and the premise of this book had me at, “Hello.”
Ahh… would you take a gander at that cover? I love it! And best of all, it does a wonderful job of setting the tone for this haunting love story. I love a good romance. I love a good forbidden romance! I gobbled this book up like a bag of my favorite chocolate truffles, and here’s why!
“When Nicole Whitcomb's car runs off a Colorado mountain road during a blinding snowstorm, she is saved from death by a handsome, fascinating, and enigmatic stranger. Snowbound with him for days in his beautiful home high in the Rockies, she finds herself powerfully attracted to him. But there are things about him that mystify her, filling her with apprehension. Who is Michael Tyler? Why does he live in such a secluded spot and guard his private life so carefully? What secret—or secrets—is he hiding? Nicole has secrets of her own and a past she is running from—but Michael understands her better than anyone she has ever known. Soon, she is falling as deeply in love with him as he is with her— a profoundly meaningful experience that is destined to change their lives forever. As the sexual tension between them builds, however, the clues mount up. When Nicole learns her host's terrifying secret, there is nowhere for her to run but into the blizzard raging outside, and Michael may be the only one who can save her life.” -(Synopsis taken from http://www.syriejames.com/NocturneSum...)
I was very privileged to receive an invitation to a Q&A with Syrie the day after I finished Nocturne. I will do my best to integrate my questions and her answers into this review without spoiling any parts of the book!
This book is amazing for so many different reasons. Syrie’s beautiful writing never disappoints. How could it, though, when she chose such a wonderful setting for the book? It takes place in a beautiful, secluded area not far from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, which I have visited and is very lovely. I asked Syrie why she chose this particular location, as I had never read a book that took place there before. She said, “While doing research for this novel, to make my plot work, I needed to find a very remote spot where a reclusive person could own a fabulous spread and beautiful home, yet was not too far from a ski resort ... and where it was believable that Nicole could actually be snowed in there for four days. For some reason I just knew it had to be in Colorado. An expert on all things Colorado (my cousin, in fact) suggested that particular location, and I am so grateful. I thought it worked perfectly.” I totally agree! I loved the descriptions she used and the pictures she painted. It was an ideal setting.
Next, we have a very sexy, dangerous man who pulls himself out of isolation to rescue a damsel in distress. Michael is a 260-year-old vampire. He has given up drinking human blood and lives in a very secluded Rocky Mountain home to resist any temptation. In his spare time he reads a lot, writes, plays the piano, gardens, takes care of his horses, and works with wood. He is very content with his life, and enjoys his privacy. Seriously, this guy is perfect -- intelligent, well read, musically inclined, sensitive, strong, loves animals, etc. You can’t help but love him. Syrie told me that Michael was inspired by, "…my love for Mr. Darcy! Admittedly, he does share a few of my husband's traits, but mainly it was me conjuring up the type of man I'd fall madly in love with, if I was snowbound with him for four days." She and I clearly have something in common because, aside from the vampire quality, Michael is my kind of man!
One thing that I found so unique about Nocturne is that the entire story revolves around two characters. That’s right. TWO. Yet, it’s not boring or long-winded. I wasn’t hoping for more characters. Actually, I would have been really annoyed if some highway patrolman or Michael’s housekeeper had shown up and destroyed the magic of this chance encounter. I asked Syrie if it was difficult writing a story with only two characters, or if she enjoyed being able to focus more on each one individually. She said, “I LOVED writing about just two characters. As a reader, with many books, I become so interested and invested in the main characters and their stories that I'm tempted to skip all the scenes with minor characters and just get to the main plot. I've felt that way as a writer, too. I thought, what if I just write a book about the two main characters? Could I do it? The challenge was to make them complex enough to keep the sexual tension and the twists and turns of the plot going. I hope you enjoyed the result.” Like I said, I did enjoy it and I really got to learn about and become friends with Michael and Nicole as a result.
Speaking of Nicole… She’s working a job that she has no passion for, but she does it because it’s safe. A traumatic past led her to that decision. At the tail end of her Steamboat Springs vacation, she gets caught in an awful snowstorm. She runs off the road, blacks out, and wakes up in a strange home by a warm fire. Her rescuer is a very secretive, moody, mysterious, and very attractive man. He did not want to save her. In fact, he wanted to leave her out there to die, but couldn’t bring himself to do it. So, here they sit, snowbound in an isolated home for four days. Nicole notices he is a little odd, and as she begins to figure him out she’s terrified of staying with him. She has to decide, though, which is more dangerous? Should she take her chances and brave the deadly blizzard, or take her chances and trust this man to keep his promise and keep her safe?
As the days go by, they have lots of long, deep conversations about life and love. I really enjoyed reading these conversations. It was like I was a fly on the wall of Michael’s cozy study, listening in on their private discussions. I usually get bored with long strings of dialogue and no action, but this was quite refreshing! Syrie said, "I...love that initial period of intense discovery between new lovers. I call it "falling in love through conversation," and it's so important to me that I have placed great emphasis on it in every single one of my novels."
All in all, I loved this book. Yes, the story has been done before, but this take on the subject matter was so well done and so unique, that I did not feel like I had read it before. I was a bit skeptical about the whirlwind romance that took only about 3 days to reach its peak, but this was believable. The characters were relatable. They both had flaws that made them imperfect, but they brought out the perfection in each other. The twists and turns were dramatic, but again believable. The ending left more to be desired, but Syrie said, “…Nicole and Michael’s story is far from over. I'd love to write a sequel to Nocturne. It will depend on whether readers and the publisher request it, so we'll have to wait and see!” I know I want to read it!
I thought I’d end my review with Syrie’s thoughts on her inspiration for this novel, “It must be something in the genes, but some of the most romantic and enduring relationships in my family history began as love at first sight (including my own love affair with my husband.) Maybe that's why I felt compelled to write about the passionate, whirlwind romance between Michael and Nicole in my new novel, Nocturne.”
I would definitely recommend this book to lovers of forbidden love stories, real characters, and beautiful storytelling. Please do me a favor and go buy Nocturne so that Syrie can write a sequel! I’m not done with those two yet! Thanks so much to Syrie James for taking the time to answer my questions, and to Wunderkind PR for sending me a copy of this book to review! (less)
Mythical creatures in love with humans are all the rage right now… Vampires, mermaids, werewolves, fallen angels, beasts, fairies, immortals, etc. are...moreMythical creatures in love with humans are all the rage right now… Vampires, mermaids, werewolves, fallen angels, beasts, fairies, immortals, etc. are flooding the shelves of bookstores everywhere. I had never heard of a story involving a dragon before, so I was quite intrigued. The story of Jacinda and Will grabbed me from page one and had me reading long into a night I should have spent sleeping instead of reading. I’ve often wondered if my bookishness is detrimental to my health and personal well-being, but I digress! Back to the subject at hand… I’m having a hard time reviewing this book, and I’m not sure why. I’ve written a review probably 5 times already, and I’m still not happy with it. Maybe it’s because the story has a lot in common with other YA Paranormal romances out there. I’m not saying it’s not worth the read, I’m just not sure what I can say about it that’s new, other than the fact that we’re dealing with dragons. I’ll try! Here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:
“Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life, until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.
Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.
Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide.”
Jacinda’s glowing orange skin and intricate wings are not all she has going for her. All Draki have a special talent. Some can breathe underwater, some can control human minds, and some can fly extremely fast. Jacinda breathes fire—a talent that was thought to have died out long ago before she was discovered. Thus, she is extremely valuable to pride. Things were planned out and set in motion for her to marry the Draki prince, Cassian, and create a ton of little fire-breathers just like herself. This unappealing future, mixed with her rebellious nature, mixed with the fact that she barely came home alive after being tracked and shot by a group of hunters prompted her mother to sneak Jacinda and her non-draki twin sister, Tamra, out of the pride and move to Arizona. Her mother chose Arizona because drakis can’t survive in such dry and barren conditions. Jacinda’s draki would eventually die off just like her mother’s, and they could live normal, safe lives as humans. Jacinda was not ok with this and did everything she could to keep her withering draki alive. Then, she saw Will—one of the hunters she encountered the night her mother forced them to flee. He was the one who stared into her draki eyes that night and let her go, leading his family of hunters away from her. They lock eyes in the hall at school, and an instant connection is made. He ignites the draki within her, and she captivates him for a reason he can’t quite figure out. Even though he’s the one who keeps her draki alive, she has to constantly fight her attraction to him (and resist his to her) and keep her distance. She can never let him know what she is without risking the lives of all those she holds dear. The hunters can never find out their best-kept secret—that draki can take on human form.
I really enjoyed this book! First off, how refreshing is it to finally have the girl be the paranormal one? Yes, there are a few mythical heroines out there, but we all know it’s usually the guy. It was fun to read how a girl deals with being different. Jacinda is SO driven by her emotions. She goes through highs and lows, and she’s always freaking out about everything. She’s not calm, cool, and collected like our mainstream paranormal heroes in other novels. I’m not saying she’s spastic and annoying. She certainly handled things better than I would have. I just enjoyed reading about her inner struggle rather than a guy’s, like I usually do.
This book moved really quickly! The tension built up fast, and I found myself trying to read faster than my brain could handle. There was no lollygagging in this book, and I really enjoyed that about it. I never got bored.
The romance between Will and Jacinda was believable, but maybe not for their age group. I never thought of them as high school juniors. They have a very mature relationship, which I was happy about, as I have a hard time enjoying the whiny teenage romances. Even though the romance did not seem realistic for their ages, the high school life was pretty real to me. I remember when I moved to a new high school, I struggled with fitting in. I was picked on. Jacinda went through the same motions I did, and I felt for her and could relate to how she was feeling. She was a total fish out of water, with only one friend who wasn’t even really a friend—more like a person to sit with and talk to. High school’s really hard, and Jacinda dealt with it.
Unfortunately, there were not a lot of characters to like in this book. There was an overabundance of villains: the alpha of her pride (who wanted her for selfish reasons), her mom (who lied to her frequently, and tried to kill off an important part of Jacinda), her sister (who should have tried to be more supportive of Jacinda’s situation), Will’s family (who were complete and total jerks to Will, and almost perverts towards Jacinda), the school bullies (who tried to make her life a living hell, and even attacked her). I’m not used to only liking the two main people. I guess the author chose to do this in order to emphasize the odds against Will and Jacinda, but I really wanted to like more people!
I loved that Jacinda was so true to herself, against all these odds. She didn’t just sit back and let her mother get what she wanted (a draki-free Jacinda). They argued and fought all the time. Her mom kept so many secrets from her, and then when she finally told Jacinda the truth, she wasn’t even nice about it. This woman is just not a good mother figure—and I found her character to be a bit hard to believe sometimes. I know she was trying to protect Jacinda, but she rarely ever showed any compassion, empathy, or even love.
For the most part, I enjoyed the writing style. Several reviewers have mentioned that the book was laced consistently with sentence fragments, which got rather annoying. I totally agree. This is definitely not a book for people looking for pristine literary writing. I had to re-read and re-think some of the passages, just because my mind was not following the choppy writing style. It helped to add to the suspense, but it detracted a bit from everything else. Other than that, the action scenes were done very well and the author’s descriptions left little to be desired. She gave me enough information to be able to picture everything in my mind, but not so much that my mind couldn’t take a few liberties and allow my creative juices to fill in the gaps.
So, why the 5-star rating? Good question. Regardless of a few complaints, I loved the premise, the story, the character development of both Jacinda and Will, the fact that Jacinda is such a likeable heroine, the descriptive passages that painted pictures in my mind, the fast-paced storyline that kept my eyes glued to the pages into the wee hours of the morning, and the fact that now I think dragons are sexy. I must warn you, the book has a total cliffhanger ending. If you’re not the type to wait around for months and months to see what happens next, wait for the sequel, Vanish, set to come out in September of this year.
Throughout the red notebook's journey, Dash and Lily learn things about themselves and each other. As they learn more, they grow closer. It was a magi...moreThroughout the red notebook's journey, Dash and Lily learn things about themselves and each other. As they learn more, they grow closer. It was a magical read for me that took place in my favorite city in the USA. I definitely recommend this to those of you who enjoy Christmas romances, but hardly ever read any because they are all SO cheesy and cover every possible emotion all at once.
Oh. My. I did not think any book could top Anna! This one, however, came really close. It's sitting right up there at the top next to Anna. I love Ste...moreOh. My. I did not think any book could top Anna! This one, however, came really close. It's sitting right up there at the top next to Anna. I love Stephanie Perkins. I hope she writes thousands of books!
Reviews of Cinder are storming the blogosphere right now, in anticipation of today's release...moreOriginally posted on my blog, That Artsy Reader Girl
Reviews of Cinder are storming the blogosphere right now, in anticipation of today's release date! They are everywhere! I'm jumping on the "Cinder-lovers" bandwagon and seriously have no idea how to approach this review. Haha! My thoughts feel so unorganized and are conflicting with one another. What can I say that will make my review different? So many people have already covered everything. Oh well! Here goes!
Last year with my first grade class (I taught reading and phonics to a 1st grade class while their other teacher did small group tutoring), we had a fairy tale week and I spent the week reading them different Cinderella picture books. We had a zombie Cinderella, and an Indian Cinderella... and a very modern spin on the story. The kids LOVED it. At the end of the week, we wrote and illustrated our very own Cinderella story called, "Mrs. Bellarella and Miss Janarella." (I'm Miss Jana, obviously. Mrs. Bell was their other teacher.) The story was absolutely hilarious. Needless to say, I'm pretty familiar with Cinderella, and I was pretty excited to hear about a more "grown-up" retelling. I thought that cyborgs and androids were pushing the envelope a little too far, though. I was SO wrong! I loved how Cinder tied in all the elements of the original story, but put a modern sci-fi spin on it! And even though we're talking about a dystopian society with cyborgs and aliens, Cinder was still a completely magical fairy tale. :)
I loved Marissa Meyer's writing style, and very creative imagination! The world she created left me with no questions. The detailed descriptions of the scenery, futuristic mechanics and medicine, people, etc. were captivating to read. I got totally lost. I loved Cinder's character. She's a tom-boy mechanic, and has grease stains all over her ALL the time. Her idea of getting dressed up is putting on a shiny new foot, not a glass slipper. She's spunky, and realistic. She sticks up for herself when it counts, and is not afraid of anything! I pretty much adore the fact that she's always got her head on straight. Perhaps her internal programming is what keeps her grounded, but she just gets it. She knows what needs to be done, no matter what, and she does it! She lets nothing cloud her judgement. You go, girl! Her quirky android friend/assistant, Iko, is hilarious. She's a machine, but there's some kind of glitch in her that makes her more human than most androids. I was enthralled by their story, and really loved reading about their latest projects and schemes.
Prince/Emperor Kai is a little... eh right now. Don't get me wrong, I like him. It's just that as the male lead in the story, we don't know much about him. His conversations with Cinder are mostly small talk, with a few intimate details shared every once in a while. Perhaps he'll become more rounded in the next three books. I do appreciate that there's no insta-love. They both know that there's a connection, but they're not going crazy about it. Meyer is giving them time to develop their relationship, which we will hopefully be able to see in the next books.
My favorite parts were the hidden Cinderella details, and the awesome futuristic settings and technology. Oh, and the ending is pretty breathtaking as well. Twists and turns keep you guessing until the last sentence. I would have enjoyed seeing a little more character development in Kai. Right now, I'm not seeing what Cinder sees in him. Also, the story takes place in New Beijing, but I never would have known if it had not been continually mentioned. I would have liked more Chinese cultural elements, even futuristic ones. Finally, the ending was a bit too rushed for me, and then I fell off a cliff all of a sudden. I'm hanging by a thread here, wondering how the ending snuck up on me so fast!
Regardless of my tidbits of constructive criticism, I can't deny how much I loved the story. Sometimes we have to make allowances and just enjoy the ride, forgetting what we would have preferred. Plus, I'm trying to remember that there's 3 more books in the series! Marissa has plenty of time to turn Emperor Kai into Prince Charming. She has plenty of time to explain more details to me. I kind of like the mystery I've been left with. If we were given too much with this book, the others would end up being fluff. I'm sad I have to wait so long for Scarlet (Book #2). I guess that's the downside of getting ARCs: more time to wait for the next one! Haha!(less)
**I received this book free through netgalley. The following review is full of my honest opinion...more(Originally posted at my blog, That Artsy Reader Girl)
**I received this book free through netgalley. The following review is full of my honest opinions, and was not influenced by netgalley at all.**
I really loved this book! Ever since I read The Hunger Games, I've been devouring dystopian novels. I honestly never thought I'd find one I liked as much, but this one came pretty close. The story was extremely exciting and had me hooked within a few pages. I became quickly invested in the story and the characters, and fell off the face of the Internet until I finished!
Aria's world is crazy. These Realms take her and her people, The Dwellers, anywhere in time and in space that they wish to visit--from medieval encounters with the knights of the roundtable, to mysterious forests, to the Paris Opera House. All they have to do is think, and they are transported there. It's all marketed as being real, but so much better. They live in domed pods with white ceilings, and never see the sky. The outside world is filled with deadly diseases, savages, and cannibals. Nobody wants to go out there, but Aria (named for her lovely singing voice) is forced out there after being blamed for a crime she didn't commit. When she runs across Perry, she's in desperate need of help to survive and return home to find her mother who has become unreachable at her scientific research lab miles away. Perry also desperately needs her help, as his nephew has been abducted by her people. A very unlikely duo sets out on a treacherous journey in search of a way to beat the odds.
My favorite character is Perry. He's very dynamic, with lots of layers that are slowly peeled off throughout the story. His back story has lots of interesting details, and I grew to find him completely captivating. His ability to sense what a person is feeling has made him extremely mature and sensitive. It has also caused him to care very deeply for people. Even though Aria is his enemy, he can't block out her feelings of pain and sorrow over the possible loss of her mother. He tries so hard to stay away, but can't help himself from trying to console and understand her. Aria sees him as a dirty savage, but softens as she realizes that he is just as capable of loving and losing someone as she is. As they begin to recognize that they're both human and are both going through the same thing even though they come from different worlds, their hearts are softened towards one another and a special bond forms. Aria's pretty strong, considering she was exiled from the only world she knew and thrown into a disease-ridden wasteland, ravaged by cannibals and deadly electric storms. She learns a lot about herself in this story, including where she came from, her powerful desire to survive, her ability to handle scary situations, the gift of her voice, and her desire to love. I liked her, but not as much I liked Perry and his best friend, Roar, who tags along mid-journey and becomes a character you grow to adore. Another character I was surprised to grow attached to was Cinder, an orphaned boy who's a lot more special than he realizes.
The writing was mesmerizing. I was totally immersed in the vivid descriptions of the land, the Aether (which made me picture the magnificent skies of Vincent van Gogh even before the author mentioned Starry Night), the advanced, limitless technology, the Realms and their virtual worlds, and even the pungent smells of the cannibals (ick!). Perry's inner struggle with feeling the feelings of others was beautifully written. The author explains his interpretations so well, that it's like a window has been opened to his mind. I could feel and understand Aria's fear when she was dropped in the Death Shop. It can be hard to write emotion, but Rossi did a wonderful job. I could feel the love as it grew between Perry and Aria. Nothing was forced or instant, just believable. I could feel Cinder's inner confusion and Roar's sense of mischief and humor. It was like I was there, along for the journey. I'm so sad the book is over! I can't wait to rejoin my friends in book #2, with a pretty vague release date of 2013.
I would definitely recommend this to futuristic dystopian lovers who enjoy action and sweet, innocent romance. I'm so proud of this 2012 debut author! Her first book is amazing, and I know it will only get better from here!
**Originally posted at my blog, That Artsy Reader Girl**
I was totally justified in my drastic efforts to get this book early, because it is AMAZING. M...more**Originally posted at my blog, That Artsy Reader Girl**
I was totally justified in my drastic efforts to get this book early, because it is AMAZING. Make sure you clear your calendars, set aside some uninterrupted time, and prepare to be transported to another world!
1. This book is funny! Right at the beginning, Emma meets Galen by slamming face first into his bare chest at the beach in Florida. She was completely mortified. Her inner dialogue is hilarious. I was trying really hard not to laugh, because I didn't want anyone to hear me in the middle of the night. And the things she says out loud are funny too! "Ohmysweetgoodness." is a common outburst, along with "Fan-flipping-tastic". I could just hear them as I read them, and I'll admit I kind of giggled every time. There are serious moments as well, but I was not expecting the humor at all. It was a pleasant surprise.
2. I really liked all the characters. Emma is quirky, funny, a little eccentric, dramatic, a bit of an accident waiting to happen, and extremely skeptical. Her mom is ultra-protective, so much so that it becomes completely unbelievable, but funny at the same time. She means well, though. Galen is tall, dark, and handsome, and he is so sweet with Emma. Utterly swoon-worthy. I liked that he was not overprotective (although he's the jealous type, which I LOVE), but still showed how much he cared for her. His serious nature was a nice compliment to Emma's huge personality. I totally fell for him. Galen's "mom", Rachel is a human who is really Galen's assistant. She makes sure he knows everything he needs to know about humans, manages his money, and takes care of his on-land necessities. She's pretty funny as well. Then we have Galen's sister, Rayna, who has been "mated" (married) to Toraf without her consent. She's this rude, bitter, spunky grump who has a soft side if you're willing to take the time to find it. Her husband (whom she despises), Toraf is the concerned big brother type that pretty much everyone wishes they had in their own family. He's so funny, and I felt bad for him because of the way Rayna treated him. Heck, I'll take him if she's going to be such a brat about it! The entire cast (including unmentioned supporting characters) are all very likeable, and different enough from one another that you don't forget who's who.
3. I really loved the dual perspectives, with each chapter switching back and forth between Emma and Galen. I have a thing for male protagonists, so I loved jumping into Galen's head as well.
4. Anna's take on mermaid and Greek mythology was very refreshing. In this book, Poseidon is presented as a ruling Syrena (merman), rather than a Greek God. The Syrena have violet eyes, and can switch between having a fin and having legs. They can sense the electric pulse of one another in the water, which causes a lot of "duh dun" moments like in the movie Jaws, with some unknown Syrena swimming up and grabbing another one. The Syrena can also blend into the water, and become invisible. I thought it was pretty awesome. Oh, and Emma can talk to and control sea life. Can I do that?
5. There were some really intense moments! I was totally captivated and drawn in to them. I love a little suspense, and since this deals with the ocean, a scary place in my mind, I found myself biting my nails and burrowing deeper into my bed while I read.
6. The underwater scenes are gorgeous! This is why I love mermaid books. The author can turn the ocean into anything they want, and describe it any way they want. Pure imagination at its finest.
7. Ahhhh! The ending! I'm dying! Major cliffhanger, people, and my jaw completely dropped! But I LOVED IT! Is there a sequel? There has to be!
I would definitely recommend this to lovers of a new take on Greek mythology, mermaids, swoon-worthy male leads, a book that keeps you guessing, and some on-the-edge-of-your-seat moments. LOVED this book! (less)
I love traveling. When I read the blurb for this book on Netgalley, I was sold before I even f...more(Originally reviewed on my blog, That Artsy Reader Girl)
I love traveling. When I read the blurb for this book on Netgalley, I was sold before I even finished! This book changed my outlook on life. I feel like there was a little bit of me laced within the text. I felt like I was discovering the same things about myself as Bria did--like she was living the story I was supposed to be living. I'm kind of jealous she got to go on the trip, and I just read about it! There is not one thing about this book that I didn't adore, so let's begin the fangirl review right here. This is going to be really hard! I always have a really hard time writing a review for a book I love, so we'll see how this goes!
1. Bria did something I would LOVE to do. She just picked up and went on this crazy adventure through Central America. Along the way, she learned so much about herself and gained a lot of life experience. Plus, she saw amazing places, experienced new things, met cool people, and fell in love. I envy her tenacity, and the fact that she had the guts to fly off on her own like that!
2. This book is artsy! Bria is an artist, and a traveler. Do you know who Bria really is? Bria is ME! Her love of art shone through everything she did, and everything she said. I totally identified with her for these reasons. Kirsten Hubbard is also artsy, thus one of the reasons I love her! She illustrated parts of this book with amazing little pictures! They added so much to the story. I'm totally buying a finished copy of this when it comes out. How can I not support a fellow artist? I can't wait to see what this looks like when it's all put together (and not on a Kindle screen).
3. Part of this book takes place in Belize! I love Belize! I was there two summers ago, and it was pretty amazing. It was extremely hot and humid and I was drenched and exhausted, but I loved it! Funny side story: I was held at gunpoint in a tiny little tour boat in the middle of the ocean by several men in the Belizean Coast Guard. The driver of the boat was in some trouble, apparently, and tried to jump out. At one point the tour guide mumbled under her breath, "This is where they kill us." I'm pretty sure I was not supposed to hear that. Luckily, things got ironed out and we were sent on our way. But OH MAN. What a story, huh? Haha.
4. I loved Rowan. He's this reformed bad-boy with a travel bug who hops around from destination to destination teaching diving courses and backpacking to hole-in-the-wall hostels where everyone already knows him. He just sounds pretty darn amazing. He's really mysterious and hardened, but a softy when his walls are torn down. And he's bookish. Yes please! Some of the banter between him and Bria was hilarious, and the tension between those two had me itching to read more and more about them.
5. The scenery. OH MAN. You can tell Kirsten Hubbard is a travel writer, because the scenery she wrote about was so perfectly described that I could feel the hot sun bearing down on me, the sand between my toes, and the humidity trying to suffocate me. The rainforests and waterfalls and mangroves and Mayan ruins and scenic lakes... I was totally there. This book felt so authentic and realistic. I do think it's the most well done of all the books I've read with a travel element. I could not get enough of these descriptions, and I REALLY hope that Kirsten writes another travel book soon.
6. I loved the slow burn we experience with Bria and Rowan. There is no insta-love here, thank goodness. They start out tolerating one another and gradually move towards a friendship that you can tell is totally going places. It was so sweet and wonderful to read about. They fit so well together, but it takes them a while to fix themselves enough to notice. I loved seeing how they worked through their own problems, and helped each other when they could. They encouraged the best out of each other, which I loved. They were better together than they were apart.
7. Finally, this book brings good things out in me. I've got all these amazing goals now, to travel more, to practice my art more, to be spontaneous, to let my hair down and not worry what other people think, to look to the future, to develop other talents, to conquer fears, and to enjoy my life more.
I loved this book. I can't say enough good things about it, and I feel like my review is extremely inadequate. This is the kind of book that everyone should read. It's the kind of book that encourages you to take the bull by the horns and go with it. I just felt so refreshed by the end, like I had been the one to go on a whirlwind trip that changed my life. To me, books have always been an escape and this one did the best job at taking me somewhere. I would recommend this to anyone, but read with caution! You'll end up catching Wanderlove, which I hear takes a whole lot of adventure and self-discovery to find the cure for. (less)
Do you ever read a book that leaves you thinking, "Ok, how on Earth am I supposed to go about re...more(Originally posted at my blog, That Artsy Reader Girl)
Do you ever read a book that leaves you thinking, "Ok, how on Earth am I supposed to go about reviewing that?" Don't get me wrong. I loved this book. Sometimes, though, I come across a book I love so much, that it leaves me wordless. Haha. This was one of them. I'm not sure exactly what it was that made me love it so much. Perhaps it was the sweeping, yet believable non-insta-love romance, the unique take on a utopian world, or the writing that I totally got. You know how sometimes your brain and an author's writing style just mesh, and you're writing in your mind the exact same story you're reading? Jodi just did everything right. She and I were on the same wavelength, and I totally got her. I'm not saying the book was predictable, because it totally wasn't. I'm saying that everything she wrote was exactly what I wanted. I got my romance, my mystery, my alternate world, my suspense, my excitement. Let's see if I can break this down for you in a way that makes sense. Haha. I'm really into putting my thoughts into numbered lists right now, so that's what I'm going to do. It works for me.
1. I really loved reading about Ana's journey to Heart. The very beginning of the book just sucked me in, and I was sold. It was suspenseful, and adventurous. It was also a great way to be introduced into this world. We're introduced to the sylph, which are vicious invisible fire breathers that burn anything in their path. Whoa.
2. And then we meet Sam. I LOVE SAM. He might just be one of my favorite YA male characters. Because he's been reincarnated so many times, he's extremely smart, talented, and mature. He's unbelievably caring and considerate. People in this world hate Ana because in order for her to be born, a person had to die and never be reincarnated again. Her birth was a complete mistake, and people resent her not only because she "stole" a life, but because they are worried that more people like her will be born in the future. Sam's totally not on board with their train of thought, though. He adores her and helps her figure out that she's worth so much more than her birth mother has been telling her her whole life. And he's musical. He made me melt a little.
3. I really enjoyed learning about Heart. The walls have a heartbeat. There's a mysterious temple with no doors that is so tall, you can't see the top of it. It's so huge that almost the entire human race lives there. Plus, it's been there since the beginning of time. The inhabitants of this place said they just stumbled upon it after being born the first time. They think it was given to them by their God, Janan (which is so close to my name. woot!), to protect them from the dangerous beasts of the world.
4. The Masquerade Ball is flat-out one of the most beautiful scenes in the book. The ball is held for two souls who have pledged their undying love for one another across all their incarnations, even if sometimes one of them happens to be 80 and the other one 5. Or... if they both happen to come back as members of the same gender. It's their souls that matter, not their bodies or age. So they celebrate this ceremony with a masquerade ball, where nobody knows who anyone is dressed as. The goal is for this couple to find each other anyway. What a beautiful underlying message of eternal love knowing no bounds. It's a breathtaking thought. And wow, this ball was sexy. I'll leave it at that!
5. The action and suspense! Dragons, Sylph, people out to kill Ana and Sam... SO exciting! I was flipping pages faster than I could read, and had to press the back button on my Kindle to go back. (Anyone else ever do that? Haha.)
6. Music was a HUGE part of this book. Sam's an amazing musician, and Ana connects with music on the same level I do. Music has always been one of the main elements of my life. It brings out such strong emotions and feelings in me. I connect with it on so many levels, just like she mentions throughout this story. I identified with her so much for this reason.
7. The lyrical writing was gorgeous, but not over the top or flowery. Like I said, I just got it. I don't want to give away too many details, because it's something you've got to experience on your own.
8. There were no hidden agendas in this book. There were points where the people seem to be very religious and devoted to their God, but this was not preachy at all. I didn't feel like anything was being shoved down my throat. There were also a few moments that could almost be identified as anti-religious, but again I didn't feel like the author was trying to sway me one way or another. Remember in my review of Halo when I said that a good author can write a religion without preaching it? This book, unlike Halo, was a good example of an author who handles it without trying to force someone to have an opinion. I really appreciated that.
9. The idea of reincarnation was handled in a very interesting way. These people live, they die. Then they are reincarnated into a new body (male or female) and come back as a grown human in a baby's body. They come out smart, and with all the memories of their previous lives. It's a very cool idea, and opens the door for many interesting and well-rounded characters. I loved it.
10. And... I just have to mention the cover. It's gorgeous. And unlike some book covers, this cover tells so much about the story itself. I'm not going to elaborate on this because I don't want to spoil anything, but I might just have to buy a hard copy of this book so I can own the cover. I'm a graphic designer, and I really appreciate art that is done for a better reason that to "just look pretty". This is one of the best examples I've seen of a cover that very subtly opens a window to the story. You'll understand what I mean once you read it.
All in all, read this book! It's new, it's fresh, it's romantic, and it's pretty much awesome. I can't wait for the next one!
(Wonder why I classified this as a utopia instead of a dystopia? A utopia is when the community or society is perfect or ideal, and there are no thoughts of running away or escaping. A dystopia is when the condition of that place is extremely bad or unpleasant.)
I was pretty leery of this book. A 33-year-old woman and a 17-year-old boy? I was worried it would be writt...more(Original review on That Artsy Reader Girl)
I was pretty leery of this book. A 33-year-old woman and a 17-year-old boy? I was worried it would be written in a tasteless way, or that it would seem creepy. I was also worried that this book would be as boring as the movie Castaway. Nothing against the movie, but only so much can happen on an island. Gilligan's Island was entertaining, but it was because of all the shenanigans. I was worried this would be either boring or cheesy. It definitely was not either of those things. As always, my main points are bolded. :)
1. The age difference is not weird, nor is it a big deal. Nothing happens until TJ is almost 19, so don't worry. He has been through and conquered cancer, and he's surviving on an island. He is very mature and has a lot of life experience. You will not be weirded out by this concept. I'm mentioning this first because it was the first thing that scared me about this book. Haha.
2. I was hooked from the first page and read over half of the book in one sitting. The beginning is particularly intense, as the plane crash and the process of making it to shore is pretty crazy. The whole book is intense, to be honest. I mean, these two went through everything! Health issues, vicious wildlife, constant worry, depression, etc. I seriously was hooked. I kept saying to myself, "Just one more chapter. Then I'll go to sleep."
3. I really liked the two main characters. They strengthened each other and became very close. Anna is smart and caring. She was a mother figure to TJ until he grew up. TJ is strong and incredibly mature. He really takes care of Anna. Their relationship was really very sweet, as it formed from a bond that most people will never understand. I appreciated that they waited on being intimate until TJ was the proper age. If it had happened when they first crashed and he was 16, I would have probably quit reading. I'm not going to spoil anything for you, but let me just say that some of the biggest obstacles they dealt with were not on the island. But they stuck together and pulled through. I love a strong set of characters, and these are probably some of the strongest I've ever read about.
4. The narration alternates back and forth between the two characters, allowing us to read what's going on through both their minds. I loved that.
5. The descriptions of the island and the weather were very detailed and well done. I felt like I was there. Also, the intense moments (like animal attacks) were so intense that I almost quit blinking. I loved how the author took me to the exact moment and dropped me in the middle of it.
6. Remember how I said, "Only so much can happen on an island?" I was wrong! I read through years of these two and their island happenings, and I didn't get bored once. That takes extreme talent on the author's part. When over half the book consists of two people, an island, and nature, you would think there's not much to work with. Things could get boring and repetitive really fast. The conversations and critical events kept me wondering what was going to happen next, and I actually wished that more of the book took place on the island.
7. The writing is flawless. I can't believe it's Tracey's first book! Really, it was beautiful.
8. This book pulled intense emotions out of me. I was scared for these two, and I felt the love they had for each other. Their story is very moving--how they relied so heavily on each other, how they could not think of losing one another, how as long as they were together they would be ok. I mean, they were each others' reasons for surviving. Talk about intense emotion. If someone got sick or hurt, the other one immediately dreaded life. And I was there for the whole thing. I felt all of it, and it was powerful.
9. There were funny moments too, don't get me wrong. I laughed at some of the things they said to each other. I laughed at the chicken named "Chicken" who they adopted as a pet. I mean, the little guy curled up in Anna's lap! How whimsical! They played with dolphins in the lagoon almost every day. And before they acted upon it, the sexual tension and the things they said to each other were hilarious.
10. I appreciated the authenticity of the story. Tracey did not sugarcoat anything. She made things seem believable. I mean, if you're stranded on an island for a few years, you're going to deal with gross hygiene, bad diet, crummy weather, sickness, and other dangers. This could really happen, and I think that's part of why I loved it so much.
11. Everything was resolved. Have you ever read a book and flipped out because the ending just sucked? This ending did not suck at all. I loved it. You will too.
Overall, I am so glad I took a leap of faith with this book. I loved it. The writing was amazing, the story inspiring, and the characters well-rounded and loveable. It's during instances like this one when I realize how truly grateful I am to be a book blogger. I'm exposed to lesser-known novels all the time, and most of them (like this one) deserve much more recognition. It's an honor to be able to help spread the word when a book is this good. I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good romance mixed with a ton of action, excitement, intrigue, and exotic places. (less)
This is definitely a new favorite book of mine! I love the entire idea behind this book: good, geeky, smart girl decides there's more to life than bei...moreThis is definitely a new favorite book of mine! I love the entire idea behind this book: good, geeky, smart girl decides there's more to life than being good, geeky, and smart.