In my Fiction Novel grad class we were assigned a “long classic novel” to read. I choose Middlemarch. We analyzed the writing style and structure, par...moreIn my Fiction Novel grad class we were assigned a “long classic novel” to read. I choose Middlemarch. We analyzed the writing style and structure, particularly looking at how older novels are different from books published today. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this novel, but I knew George Eliot was a pseudonym for Mary Anne Evans.
It felt reminiscent of Jane Austen, but instead of having a somewhat “everything ends happily” type of wrap-up that JA tends to do, this book offered a more realistic/bleak outlook. Some characters lived happily ever after, some made do with what they had, and some definitely had to live with their poor decisions. I liked seeing the portrayal of characters from page 1 to page 800. With such a thick book, there was LOADS of room for character development and intrigue. By the time I finished Middlemarch, I felt like I knew each person and all of their quirks and mannerisms. It was great!
I spent much of Spring Break’s car trip steadily making progress. I enjoyed every chapter. There were times when I didn’t want to stop reading because it was so good - I was completely vested in the story. My favorite aspect of the novel though, was Eliot's tone – it was snarky and there were SEVERAL parts where I laughed out loud at the snappy dialogue or descriptive passages. The first sentence hinted at the type of humor that would be featured throughout. As soon as I read that line I chuckled to myself and settled into a comfortable position for a delightful read. And Middlemarch did not disappoint.
One aspect I enjoyed about this book was the information about deep sea diving. The descriptions felt realistic. I never questioned the author’s exper...moreOne aspect I enjoyed about this book was the information about deep sea diving. The descriptions felt realistic. I never questioned the author’s expertise. I was even interested in learning MORE about how much time and effort it took to get certified and the dangers of deep sea diving. The author did a good job of incorporating the information without overloading readers. But unfortunately, that part of the novel was one of the few things I liked. I didn’t like how the characters interacted with each other and the romantic plot felt forced. Other parts of the story were confusing and a few times it felt like the plot jumped around randomly. It actually felt spliced together, or maybe I just didn’t understand the train of events. Either way, this book didn’t feel entirely successful and I wouldn’t recommend.
*ARC generously provided through NetGalley by publisher in exchange for my honest review.
There were so many elements that sounded promising for this book: historical fiction, a girl escaping to America, cultural differences, female indepen...moreThere were so many elements that sounded promising for this book: historical fiction, a girl escaping to America, cultural differences, female independence...and yet, this story fell flat. I didn’t like the romantic aspects and while that clearly wasn’t my main motive for reading, it still felt shallow and was disappointing. The story also felt like it was juggling many aspects at once and didn’t feel very fluid.
I had a hard time relating to the main character, Jade Moon. I know she was supposed to come off as stubborn and resistant, but she mainly bugged me. (Yikes.) I didn’t like the way things were handled throughout the story and I thought some parts of it felt highly unrealistic and didn’t make sense with the story’s arc. I wanted more closure and when we got to the big finale I was not impressed; I was merely annoyed and severely disappointed. There were characters who made reappearances, and I would have totally been fine if they hadn’t shown up again. I think my biggest complaint with the novel was that it didn’t feel succinct. I was disappointed with the plot and characterization, not something I’d recommend.
*ARC generously provided through NetGalley by publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Whoa. Whoa. WHOA. Just stayed up til 2:45 in the morning to finish this book. Read almost completely in one sitting. Still processing my crazy thought...moreWhoa. Whoa. WHOA. Just stayed up til 2:45 in the morning to finish this book. Read almost completely in one sitting. Still processing my crazy thoughts and how I feel. Intense, breath-taking, dramatic, romantic, deadly, and at times terrifying. Let's just say it reminded me of a mash up of The Hunger Games vs. The Forest of Hands and Teeth. A complete review is in the works.(less)
This story was different than expected, but I ended up liking. It was interesting to see Ricki Jo's journey and I must admit, I had a decent amount of...moreThis story was different than expected, but I ended up liking. It was interesting to see Ricki Jo's journey and I must admit, I had a decent amount of respect for Luke. I was surprised Luke was such a steady companion, but was glad Ricki Jo could rely on him. He was definitely my favorite character. Though it did hurt me to see how far Ricki Jo had to deviate before realizing what was right in front of her. One scene was particularly painful because I was she might go too far. But luckily the story turned around near the end and things resolved nicely. It was a little bit of a predictable story in that I figured from the get-go this novel’s arc, but I enjoyed seeing the progression and liked the story.
I read the first couple of stories and then gave up on finishing this anthology. The initial stories I read left a bad taste in my mouth and while I h...moreI read the first couple of stories and then gave up on finishing this anthology. The initial stories I read left a bad taste in my mouth and while I had initially planned on finishing the book, I just never made it back.
First story: I did not like at all. It was horrific and sad. It also was a little too graphic for my taste. It had too much of war and was frankly, a depressing. I guess it was too close to home and the ending was a letdown. Not the kind of story I want to spend my time reading.
Second story: almost as creepy as the first, and this one was very violent as well. I wasn't sure why there needed to be so much blood and gore. That was pretty much the entire story and it was pretty horrific. Not something I'd ever want to see on the big screen. I don't want to think about robots attacking humans out of spite. Very creepy.
Whoa. Just finished and I'm still trying to wrap my mind around this story. I knew from the start what I was getting into...but I'm still processing w...moreWhoa. Just finished and I'm still trying to wrap my mind around this story. I knew from the start what I was getting into...but I'm still processing what I think. Interesting characters, good development, and a sort of morbid curiosity throughout the entire reading. Longer review to come later.(less)
Let's see. Where should I begin? Hm. Well. Hm. It was a bit of a slow start. I wondered why the fun things the summary mentioned weren’t taking place....moreLet's see. Where should I begin? Hm. Well. Hm. It was a bit of a slow start. I wondered why the fun things the summary mentioned weren’t taking place.
Oddities: I thought the whole special-embrace-with-foreheads-touching thing was a little weird. I mean, I get it, they’re sisters, they have this special bond. BUT I didn't get why they ALWAYS touched foreheads whenever they met. Or maybe I just read that wrong? Surely it wasn’t always. Because that’s weird. (It is weird, right?)
Okay, moving on. When Algie was introduced, I had high hopes for him. He sounded so cool! But then he got brushed aside after the author made it clear he wasn't going to be a love interest for the sisters. And while it was nice to avoid a PESKY LOVE TRIANGLE, I was slightly disgruntled because I had been looking forward to Algie’s character. But it seemed like after the girls discovered the magic school they pretty much spent all of their time over there and they dismissed all of the people living in the village in favor of these funky magicians. I mean, I guess they were, like, trying to save the world or something, which is good...but the plot was kind of jumbled and all over the place...sort of like this review right now. Whoops.
Okay. Let me try again. I’ll be more specific about what I did and did not like.
Likes: The story was fairly entertaining. I wanted to know what happened next, even when I was a little annoyed with how characters or plot were progressing.
I also liked that the sisters were fairly well defined. I didn’t have trouble distinguishing between them.
Uh, I liked that they both had red hair? Drat. This is getting harder and harder to find things I liked. Maybe I should just move on to the dislikes now.
Dislikes: The cover. I didn't like the girls on the cover because they looked SO DIFFERENT from the Phil and Fee I pictured. Bbbbuuuttt I think if you haven't read the novel you'll find it satisfactory.
This is just going to get into spoiler territory soon enough. so I'll say a little bit spoiler free and then launch into an all-out-tirade. It’s mostly the relationships that frustrated me to NO END. I also didn't think the magic was well-rounded. It needed a better explanation. The viewpoint jumped all over the place and felt sloppy. I even got confused a few times because I wasn’t sure who was talking. Well, okay, I thought I’d be able to say more, but I think that’s pretty much it. This next long bit is spoilerific. Tread at your own risk.
(view spoiler)[The relationships between Fee and Thomas and Phil and Arden. Fee and Thomas, I get it, I get it. It’s the whole love-at-first-sight-but-it's-actually-going-to-work-because-they-both-believe-in-true-love-shtick. Fine. But I would have liked more development. AND why on earth did Thomas decide to leave and GO TO WAR? What?? That felt like a cheap SEQUEL ploy. How nice to get Thomas out of the way so Arden could go crazy.
Now, the relationship with Phil and Arden. You knew that was coming. Opposites attract, right? But come on, it was obvious they'd fall for each other, it was only a matter of when. Oh, I thought of something else that could kind of slide into the LIKE category. I thought the author did a good job of creating tension between these two: just when you thought they'd finally express their liking each other something prevented it. Every time that happened: "Yikes, how are they going to make it out of this one? Whoa. Didn't see that coming. Good shot, author, you wounded the budding love scene - yes, tension!”
Unfortunately, most of those tension-building obstacles annoyed me too. I mean, it was fine and all for Phil to realize she wasn't in love with her old beau. But I ended up just feeling so SORRY for him because he was clearly in love with her and Phil just strung him along because she couldn’t make up her mind. And she was fine with him going off to war. That's not very nice for someone-you-were-thinking-about-marrying-but-who's-really-your-brother-but-not. (Yeah, also weird/confusing/disjointed relationship there.)
And then the MAJOR thing that bothered me. The whole - what would you be willing to do for your country - anything? Die? Yes. Now? GOOD IDEA.
I didn't appreciate how Arden had to seduce the enemy by sleeping with the main evil lady (I forgot her name) to get their battle plans. I mean, how many times did he have to sleep with her? Like all the time? And all the while he was sleeping around he was completely in love with Phil? But he was doing it for his school, his livelihood? Okay, now that you’ve explained that, it makes it all better. NO. Why on earth couldn't he tell Phil. Didn't he realize how much this was going to hurt her? Did he think she wouldn’t FIND OUT? Um, hello, hearing it from you would have been TEN THOUSAND TIMES BETTER than witnessing it herself. When she found out, sure she was devastated, but she took him back WAY WAY TOO FAST.
Nope. Nope. Nooope. I wouldn't take him back so fast. Not after he failed to tell me he was sleeping with the enemy and then had the gall to rationalize it with: "If you could save your country by cutting off your finger, wouldn't you? If you could save your country by sleeping with the enemy, wouldn’t you?" and Phil was all understanding. Phil just bounced right back because she understood some sacrifices had to be made and if that meant Arden sleeping with the enemy, well then, okay!
And here’s the other biggie about Arden. After Phil makes herself explicitly clear about magic and her body, Arden disregards all of that and PLANTS it in her. He “restores” her EVEN THOUGH she already told him she didn’t want that happening to her. What. WHAT. Arden is the smarmiest. And by this point I was really NOT a fan of him. The whole thrusting magic back into her body against her wishes kind of sent me through the roof. I wanted Phil to ditch him. Majorly ditch him.
Phil even asked him to take the magic back out of her and Arden couldn’t, because it was physically impossible. I’m sorry, but he shouldn’t have made the decision to do something irrevocable. Major breach of trust. Phil, please ditch him. You can’t trust him. He won’t respect your choices, EVER. He will do what he sees fit because his opinion is all that matters. At what point will he stop and say, "Wait, this is too far, this is going over the line." Because I don’t think he’s capable of that type of reasoning. Sorry bud, but the whole “end justifies the means” attitude is NOT endearing.
And then Arden’s secret backstory? Not okay. What he did to that girl he was supposedly in LOVE with was despicable. It was heart-breaking to see what he put her through. I understand you’re mad at being used like that, but is this the PROPER MODE OF CONDUCT? NO. Never. Get a hold of yourself. All of these signs point to an abusive relationship. Phil, run. Arden’s life choices = not good. He completely disregards rules/laws: hello, case in point, remember that one time when he tried to KILL Phil in the beginning of the story because she stepped into the magical property? Even though killing was COMPLETELY against what the magicians stood for? Yeah, not cool. And all these times Phil took him back. I kind of have a headache just thinking about it. (hide spoiler)]
Well, there were a lot of things I didn’t like in this book, but they seemed to be directly tied to the character relationships and drama. And I know this review has been pretty rant-y, but I had so many FEELINGS I was REELING from after finishing. In short: don’t read this book.
*ARC generously provided through NetGalley by publisher in exchange for my honest review.
**Taken from My Sentiments Exactly!: http://reviewsatmse.blogspot.com/2013...["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Overall this was an entertaining and fast-paced read. I found myself quickly immersed in a world that had all the action of a thriller movie and yet s...moreOverall this was an entertaining and fast-paced read. I found myself quickly immersed in a world that had all the action of a thriller movie and yet still managed to make me chuckle. But there were a few things that didn't add up (and I freely admit some of these are nit-picky)...
First, I couldn't help but think it was such a remarkable coincidence these two boys just so happened to live next door to Pandora. And how convenient they were also so SKILLED in like, everything imaginable. I mean seriously, was there anything these guys couldn't do? Break into a car? No problem! Evade the FBI, Homeland security and ALL the police? Piece of cake. Fly a plane? Oh, yeah! Sometimes it drove me crazy because it felt so unrealistic. It was so handy that Eli and Theo stuck around to rescue Pandora. And sure, all of their heroics and stunts definitely made for a fast-paced and entertaining read, but I was left with some twinges of disbelief.
Second, how on earth did Pandora and Theo know SO MUCH about bandaging people up? (I mean, obviously they would have gotten good at the rate they were going in this newly post-apocalyptic world.) But still, they seemed to know everything about cleaning and disinfecting wounds. Maybe I just missed that day in school or something. But if I had been in the same predicament I wouldn't have known what to do and probably would have made a fool of myself trying to bandage something up. These guys acted like little medical experts! (Well, at least, what I imagined a teen medical expert would look like, because clearly I have so much knowledge about this subject, ahem.) Although with Theo, I could believe he had those skills, because I mean he had ALREADY DONE EVERYTHING ELSE. Okay, sorry for the excessive caps, I can't stop reiterating how Super Human he and Eli were.
Third, Pandora didn't worry about her mother very much. And I guess that's okay...the very beginning of the book showcased their strained relationship. And there wasn't much Pandora could do for her mother, she needed to focus on surviving herself. But when I got to the end I realized how little Pandora had thought about her. It felt a little off-beat. And sure, Pandora thought about her a couple of times, but other than that she was completely focused on the task at hand...which was good, because the whole world depended on it.
Fourth, the ending felt rushed. (Actually, most of the endings I've read in the past couple of weeks have felt rushed.) I know it's hard to bring closure to a 300+ page novel, but it kind of felt like: ACTIONACTIONACTIONACTIONokaysafetyDONE. Everything was solved too quickly. I wanted more struggle for the ending because it ended up feeling a little anticlimactic. It seemed slightly ridiculous how easy it was for them to stop the end of the world.
Fifth, a major spoiler rant.
(view spoiler)[This thing probably bothered me the most: the end where Theo was able to hack into the computer virus and save the world. Wait. What? Where did he pick up those skills? H was able to hack better than the SEEMINGLY best hacker in the world (and the creator of the virus, nonetheless). That was a tad unbelievable. Although, after some time had passed, I realized I was willing to forgive those largely unrealistic skills because I could see some plausible reasons for this scenario. Maybe Pandora's father wasn't functioning properly due to all the stress he had encountered? Maybe he was going crazy? Maybe Theo's fresh set of eyes was exactly all that was needed. And maybe Pandora's father had gotten frantic when he heard all the reports coming in from the rest of the world and he then started making mistakes due to his fear of making things worse? I mean, I was pretty open to these situations. But I was a little skeptical about Theo having this magic ability to fix everything. Geez, playing the Super Human card a little too much. (hide spoiler)]
This is something I'm not sure is good or bad. On one hand, I really appreciated how much we saw inside Pandora's head. I could see her thoughts so clearly and also how much she struggled with what was going on around her. It was interesting to see her thoughts waver back and forth between the two guys. And even though this was another one of those horrendous love triangles, it didn't bother me because it wasn't exploited. (Also, I already knew who she was going to end up with - so I wasn't stressed about that because it was obvious.) But in some cases, seeing inside Pandora's head was annoying. Instead of doing action, Pandora would only think about what she needed to do for a while and then she would do it. That was a little tedious at times. Also, she kind of freaked out a lot. I couldn't quite develop my stance on her hyperventilating scenes. The first couple of times it happened I felt like it was realistic. You're suddenly thrust into a post-apocalyptic world - hey, you're totally allowed to have a meltdown. But there's a fine line between just the right amount and too much. And Pandora might have had too many hyperventilating moments for me.
And now, things I definitely liked! From the beginning of the book, I was already engrossed in the story and thought it was an interesting premise. I had imagined Doomed as this sort of internet-video-game-gone-too-far and people trapped in some sort of crazy virtual reality. But what I got instead was a crazy internet video game crossed with a post-apocalyptic world and very real dangers. It was great. So much more intense than I had anticipated. I sped through the book because I wanted to what would happen next.
Also, this novel was really good with driving up the suspense and action. Just when you thought things couldn't get worse BAM something even crazier happened. Several times I found myself marveling at how much danger these teenagers were in. There was a good amount of layers and different dynamics throughout. For instance: there would be a ticking time bomb in the internet video game, monsters attacking the characters in the video game, ALL THE WHILE the teenagers were on the run in real life from something equally dangerous. It created a lot of tension and kept the drama high. There were some cases where I didn't know how they were going to make it out alive. Another thing I just thought about: it was creepy how the internet video game mirrored what was happening in real life. But sometimes it left me with questions: like how did the internet video game know EXACTLY what Pandora was wearing and could change her clothes to perfectly match? That was never answered.
But on the whole, as much as I had questions and answers, I still tore through this book. It had a fast pace with lots of action and high stakes. I enjoyed the intense/thriller aspects and I liked the characters (even if they got on my nerves sometimes). There was even a couple of times where I completely forgot I was reading a book and would jolt back into reality and be startled by my still working technology. Doomed delivers fast-paced adventure with likable characters and an interesting premise. I think fans of dystopian or science fiction books would probably enjoy this book the most.
Advanced Release Copy provided by publisher.
*Taken from My Sentiments Exactly!: http://reviewsatmse.blogspot.com/2013...["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This story certainly started off well! I was captivated and wanted to know more about the spunky heroine and her adventures. The cover was eye-catchin...moreThis story certainly started off well! I was captivated and wanted to know more about the spunky heroine and her adventures. The cover was eye-catching (without being cliche) and I loved the fantastic flowing red cape. There was one aspect that made me grimace: love at first sight. Ugh.
Usually the whole oh-I-fell-in-love-at-first-sight thing kinda bothers me. (What am I doing using that flimsy word "kinda" when I really mean, "totally infuriates"?) And initially I was annoyed because this novel was starting to follow the same typical pattern. But then my view kind of shifted. Strangely enough, it was the author's use of magic that convinced me this scenario was different. Even the characters in the story addressed the whole love at first sight predicament. They acknowledged the craziness of it and even seemed to poke a little fun while doing so. And for some reason, that made my usual feelings of unrest totally at ease. I was completely fine with the whole love at first sight syndrome because it was illustrated in this magical realm where strange things happen. And hey, if girls can magically be trapped in a creepy underworld at night and forced to dance until their slippers wore out, why can't they magically fall in love at first sight too?
Okay, mini rant over. Here are some other things I noticed about the book. It was pretty clean, so no objectionable content. The characters were interesting; they weren't flat or superficial. There were definitely parts in the story where I was particularly muddled because I didn't know HOW the characters were going to get out of their unfortunate situations. I enjoyed seeing the sisters together again and was dismayed at the idea of them all having to go back to the King Under Stone. I also was pretty involved in the story and I think I read it in one sitting. I didn't like the ending though. Maybe because it seemed rushed (especially at the climax,) but I wanted a longer explanation, a prolonged dramatic conclusion. Everything seemed to resolve in a short span of pages and that was a little disappointing. The ending also seemed a little too reminiscent of the first book. But all in all, Princess of the Silver Woods was entertaining, fun main characters, and an interesting story line. Fans of Shannon Hale should also check out this series. I'd recommend.
*Thanks to Bloomsbury for allowing me to be part of the blog tour and providing a copy through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.