This is what I hoped Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist could have been. This is the type of cThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
This is what I hoped Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist could have been. This is the type of contemporary YA that I wouldn’t mind reading every day. Kind of like how the Asian-ness in me wouldn’t mind eating rice for every single meal until old age renders me toothless and unable to chew. (Hopefully that sad, sad day will never come.)
Now, I don’t think an extended and super girly squeal would qualify as a review, so let me attempt to explain with the wonderful English language why I adored Graffiti Moon.
1) I actually like all the characters, even the secondary ones. Each of them had their own little moment in the spotlight, and you can’t help wanting to pinch their little cheeks and coo endearments at them. This might not have been appreciated, as all the characters were either high school seniors or older. But psh, details, details.
2) Lucy and Ed get to know each other inside out -- not physically inside out; get your mind out of the gutter -- before attraction appears. This concept is so obscure in YA nowadays that I feel like giving medals to every author that takes the time to develop relationships.
3) The graffiti described in here makes me want to fly to Australia and go on some sort of wild graffiti tour through the streets. Maybe I just live in a different sort of neighborhood, but I’ve only seen about two pieces of graffiti in my entire town, and they were simply uninspiring words drawn out in gigantic bubble letters. I would love to see painted, sleeping birds and lonely boys standing with blankness in their faces on random walls as I walk around.
Doesn’t Graffiti Moon just sound like a gorgeous read? Well, the reason the novel received 5 stars is mostly because:
4) I want this to happen to me, too. (Hmph, laugh all you want… I give you permission.)
I’ve already picked up a copy of Ms. Crowley’s A Little Wanting Song and am excited to read another one of her lovely novels.
Book Source: ARC from Random House Children's Books via NetGalley...more
But it’s a good kind of tired. Like after you run a marathon. Or after yoThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
I feel really tired.
But it’s a good kind of tired. Like after you run a marathon. Or after you finally finish taking all your finals. You’re exhausted but content and your heart is just a teensy bit heavy.
Saving June details Harper’s life after her older sister June commits suicide. Unable to bear it all anymore -- the hurt, her mother’s tears, the unfamiliar pats on the back by random strangers -- Harper escapes to California with her best friend Laney, her sister’s apparent acquaintance Jake, and June’s urn. California was June’s dream, and fulfilling it for her seems like the only way Harper can come to terms with what happened. But a place is just a place. Mostly. And the journey there is only a road trip. Sort of.
Man, I cannot stop myself from pausing every once in a while, picking up Saving June again, and re-reading some of the standout passages. I’ll probably be willing to shout the title of this book from the rooftops, and it’s coming out in paperback. Seriously? Saving June deserves a hardcover edition and a few weeks in a comfy spot on the NYT Best Sellers List.
Why all the enthusiasm? Our protagonist Harper has backbone and doesn’t take crap from anyone. Puke on her, and she’ll puke on you. Jake is a sweetheart with a music obsession and a spiny exterior. Laney is fun and flirty and fiery and I’m running out of adjectives that start with “f” to describe her. This is what all fictional characters should strive to become. They should have a life and a heart and a soul and a personality. Physical attraction isn’t a bad trait, either.
Really, this book was about healing and maturity and dealing with death. I feel like reading it has made me a different person (that’s what all great novels should do, in my opinion). But it also made me chuckle and sigh. And this weight on my chest just won’t disappear.
I recommend Saving June to anyone looking for truly beautiful YA contemporary fiction. I was actually going to host a giveaway for my ARC but changed my mind after finishing the book. I love it too much; I’m not giving it away.
I was hurriedly walking out of the school library at the conclusion of a particularly boringThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
I was hurriedly walking out of the school library at the conclusion of a particularly boring lecture on how to research online -- sheesh, we're sophomores; how do you think we survived school without knowing how to conduct research? -- when I happened to see this book propped up on a shelf. I glanced at it, continued striding past, and suddenly changed my mind 3 seconds later and screeched to a halt. My unfortunate friend proceeded to bang into me and almost fell over. Sorry, El... By the time she looked up, I was over at the shelf with the copy of Brightly Woven in my hands. I whipped out my handy-dandy school ID with the unflattering picture, handed it all to the mean librarian, and off I went.
Brightly Woven turned out to be way more addicting than I expected and kept me from being the studious person I normally pride myself to be at least most of the time. I was instantly drawn into Alexandra Bracken's world -- filled with magicians and dusty little towns and cloaks that could whisk you off to mysterious places and boys filled with sadness, in need of rescuing from themselves and their past. There is something simply enchanting about fantasy novels and their ability to pull you into an alternate world, the way they offer escape from daily life.
Sydelle and North are both characters you would want to glomp (definition). The pair is adorable in their own way and are made interesting by each of their worries and trials. Their interactions were extremely heart-warming, and the build-up of attraction is nice and gradual. It felt utterly natural.
Simple, sweet, and slightly predictable, Brightly Woven is the type of book that you will close with a wide smile plastered on your face and fuzzy feelings in your tummy. Please pardon the cheesiness of that last sentence...
Life has finally settled down after the violence and uncertainty of the Force of Sheep rebellThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Life has finally settled down after the violence and uncertainty of the Force of Sheep rebellion. Trella, the famous Queen of the Pipes, now knows her place in this new version of Inside, and it is definitely not as the leader of 22,509 people. After endorsing a Committee of nine uppers, nine scrubs, and an extra member to prevent voting ties, Trella intends to fade away into obscurity and distance herself from the agenda and messy politics of Inside -- tedious tasks such as organizing work schedules and deal with the enemies and traitors of the rebellion.
Trella soon discovers that it is actually quite difficult to disentangle from this sticky web. Peace has not yet been achieved. Complaints of the people precede deadly bomb attacks that are, in actuality, distractions and/or clues in disguise. So Trella returns to her pipes, and the sneaking around begins yet again. There are consequences for every action, though. So be careful before you decide to stick your nose where you don’t belong.
Maria V. Snyder once again pens a story filled with action and suspense. It is quite an accomplishment, being able to master two different genres of writing -- the Middle Age fantasy setting like her debut, Poison Study, and the futuristic science fiction like Outside In. There are lush details (ie. believable techie gadgets and slang common in sci-fi novels), and since the world-building has been pretty much completed in the first book, Inside Out, the reader is plunged straight into Trella’s post-rebellion life.
At first, I had my doubts, as the story seemed complete with the conclusion of Inside Out, but Snyder seamlessly introduces new elements into the plot, weaving them in one delicate thread at a time. The surprising plot twists that occur throughout are also another one of Snyder’s fortes and greatly increase the unputdownable quality of the novel. Every once in a while I would utter a string of unintelligent sounds as another complication is revealed. Feelings of delight, incredulity, and outrage were frequent.
Snyder is a great writer who knows exactly what to do to grab the reader’s attention. I am looking forward to the next installment of the story of Trella and Riley and, of course, Sheepy the stuffed animal.
Book Source: ARC from Harlequin via NetGalley...more
I am not much of a Middle Grade reader. You could say that I sort of skipped a step in my reaThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
I am not much of a Middle Grade reader. You could say that I sort of skipped a step in my reading repertoire while growing up, jumping directly from children’s books like Magic Tree House to YA like The Hunger Games. Maybe I should go back and fill in that gaping MG hole now, because The Star Shard exceeded expectations.
I was waiting for simplicity and frankly, not much depth. This is a MG faerie fantasy after all. Plus, I admit that my opinion of MG is not terribly high (very hypocritical, I know, since I haven’t read a lot of MG). I was, however, not prepared to be bombarded by the deliciousness that is this slightly rustic high fantasy world and a 12-year-old heroine that displays a lot more common sense than the average hormonal-driven and air-headed YA protagonist.
Our darling main character Cybril is a slave on the Thunder Rake. Sold into this giant wheeled city at an early age, Cybril survives, as per Master Rombol’s orders, by singing for crowds during market days. There are snippets of lyrics spread throughout The Star Shard and even complete sheet music for two of the songs. Is that not the coolest supplementary material you’ve ever seen? And then of course, we have Loric, the faerie lad with the silver eyes and enigmatic smile -- as much as young boys’ smiles can be enigmatic, I suppose. Cybril and Loric develop an awkward fascination with each other that later fleshes out into an adorable friendship and maybe even a relationship-to-be.
With a plot fraught with twists and turns, skeleton keys and potion-induced beauty, The Star Shard reads like a clear well of water. It’s refreshing and free of angst or love triangles. Just pure adventure. And two little children desperately sprinting together toward their shared finish line, hand-in-hand.
It was definitely the mirror and the earthquake that started it all. One moment, Addie is strThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
It was definitely the mirror and the earthquake that started it all. One moment, Addie is strolling through the crumbling streets and frantic crowds of Seattle; and the next, she is amongst weirdly dressed people who apparently make a habit of injuring each other with bricks. It is in this parallel world that Addie meets Reg and discovers the Jewel, a professional theater and any budding actress’s dream. When she is offered a job as assistant director, Addie makes every effort to return to this old version of Seattle as frequently as possible. When events in each world seem to almost mirror each other, Addie realizes that there is a lot more at stake than her own desires.
I am often weary of time travel books, as it is very easy to butcher them. However, I enjoyed The Jewel and the Key immensely. The fact that I had never heard of the Industrial Workers of the World, an organization central to the novel’s plot, was very surprising considering the long hours I’ve spent in various high school U.S. history classes. The author’s incorporation of history and theatrical arts sets up a great background for the novel.
Also like every other YA story, there is lurrrve. What seems like a love triangle at first quickly becomes more of a line segment or a diatomic covalent molecule (if you are in a particularly chemistry-oriented mood like yours truly). The object of Addie’s affections is young Reg, a flamboyant actor with quite a dramatic personality. Their relationship was adorable, and the conclusion succeeded in stealing a few tears from me. I actually went back and reread the ending a few times after finishing the novel. I guess it can be described as bittersweet without going overboard with cheesiness. Mostly, it was just heartbreaking.
The Jewel and the Key is a quaint historical novel that packs quite a punch. It also contributed to my lack of sleep, as I couldn’t stop myself from reading late into the night instead of sleeping like the rest of the normal human beings in my time zone.
It’s possible that I harbor a sort of morbid curiosity toward angst of any kind, given tThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
It’s possible that I harbor a sort of morbid curiosity toward angst of any kind, given the surprising amount of love I felt for this novel. Because I am not kidding when I say that the entire book is one humongous angst-fest. There’s Adam’s heartache and Mia’s barely hidden heartache and just pain and this awful sense of detachment from every other person around them.
And I loved every single page of it.
If Adam had been a stereotypical male from the YA genre, we would doubtlessly have been treated to paragraph upon paragraph of whining and pining after Mia. Oh, I miss the way her hair smells, the feel of her skin on mine, her beautiful lips like bright red cherries blah blah blah… But Adam is stronger and just plain better than that, even if he himself doesn’t think so. Yes, he wrote emo songs to vent his frustration at Mia’s departure. Yes, he was basically kind of catatonic for a year afterward. But he did something about his pain. He made it a sort of productive pain, if that makes any sense. Adam did not sit around and stare into space; he became a national rock sensation instead.
I confess, I had originally put off reading Where She Went because If I Stay wasn’t phenomenal for me. Perhaps I was put off by the feeling of stasis -- the total lack of overall change -- that pervades the first novel. Well, Where She Went manages to retain the emotional rollercoaster from If I Stay and adds a lot more movement and development to the characters since Mia is, you know, no longer in a coma.
Sigh... An author’s ability to turn something simple into something so engaging and extraordinary: this is why I read.
Book Source: ARC from Penguin Young Readers Group via NetGalley...more
This novel should come with a free one-way ticket to Guatemala, a ragged backpack, and a maleThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
This novel should come with a free one-way ticket to Guatemala, a ragged backpack, and a male companion who just so happens to be a cute diving instructor afflicted with Wanderlove.
Umm hmm, where can I get me some o’ that?
Although in all seriousness, Wanderlove is a perfect story for your typical escapist. Those familiar with Central American geography will recognize the countries Bria (what a lovely name) and Rowan (what a lovely boy -- Do I sound pedophilic? He’s older than me, OK?) trek through on their eventful two week journey. The descriptions make me want to jump into my (nonexistent) car and drive down south. One particularly striking scene is the Río Dulce, or sweet river, which apparently resembles the white flower-filled sea in Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Visiting that river is now on my bucket list.
Our two main characters -- Bria and Rowan -- are beyond endearing. Both are trying to run away from their pasts, and their chemistry is undeniable. We are spared any sort of desperate pining from either of them, which is a relief, since no one enjoys pining characters anyway. The two argue, they exchange stories, they list taboo subjects, and they have a fair share of comfortable silences. The girl with the lovely name and the lovely boy with the ponytail make a lovely couple.
To add on to that all that loveliness are the drawings included in the book. Since Bria is an aspiring artist, Ms. Hubbard supplied some of her own sketches to supplement the novel, and the pictures are gorgeous. She could probably draw her own Wanderlove graphic novel if she wants.
Anyway, I’ve obtained a copy of Ms. Hubbard’s debut novel, Like Mandarin and can’t wait to read something by this author again.
Book Source: ARC from Random House via NetGalley...more
The past year has been beyond life-altering for Meghan Chase. Suddenly thrust into the worldThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
The past year has been beyond life-altering for Meghan Chase. Suddenly thrust into the world of Faerie and the rivalries between the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, Meghan realizes her importance in this beautiful yet cruel world, a world that has silently existed alongside hers ever since she was born. To complicate matters further, the Seelie and Unseelie have become threatened by a new kind of Faerie—the Iron Fey, brought to life by the ever-increasing reliance humans have of technology. Meghan, with the aid of the Unseelie prince Ash and childhood friend, the Faerie Puck, has already defeated the first Iron King and successfully retrieved a stolen scepter in time to stop a Faerie war. Meghan thought she was never going back, especially since she and Ash had been banished from the Faerie world together—a punishment for their forbidden love. But the rise of a second Iron King changes all that, and Meghan finds herself once again in the complicated world of Faerie, on a quest to save the entire Faerie race.
This third installment of Julie Kagawa’s The Iron Fey series does not disappoint and continues the momentum of the two previous novels. There were barely any dull moments, and the trio is always on the move. I did find the apparent helplessness of Meghan a bit annoying at times—every time they meet an enemy, it was Ash and Puck protecting her while she screamed or fainted—but the girl did mature emotionally throughout the book. I adore the twist at the ending and applaud Meghan for her courage and sense of responsibility. This trilogy-turned-saga will end with The Iron Knight, told from Ash’s perspective. I simply cannot wait to get my hands on the next book and would recommend this series to fans of fantasy and faerie novels.
We are introduced to the quaint town of Near and its inhabitants -- both human and witchThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
We are introduced to the quaint town of Near and its inhabitants -- both human and witch -- through a graceful, lilting writing style accompanied by the soft blow of the Near moor wind through our hair (or if your hair quantity is similar to Voldemort’s: across your scalp). Life is the definition of stasis, for there are no strangers in the town of Near. But then Lexi glimpses a boy who blurs on the edges and fades like the wind, and the children of the town start disappearing out of their beds each night. Now, the hunt is on for the mysterious stranger, for the missing children, and for peace at last in the town of Near.
The Near Witch is a gorgeous novel with a slightly rustic feel that reminds me of the magic that is Hale’s Princess Academy. What a breath of fresh air, so completely different from the love + paranormal creature formula most authors are using these days. And really, why would someone pay to read a glamorized regurgitation of the same ol’ star-crossed love story?
My special thanks to Ms. Schwab for giving our heroine Lexi a brain bigger and wiser than her heart (not that her heart is lacking any essential ingredients, mind you). Headstrong and willing to take the initiative, Lexi is the one moving the story forward instead of being dragged by it from behind. Our mystery boy, too, is more than just a pair of dark, pretty eyes; he is the tangled result of grief and regret and unchangeable history. What a helpless -- but hopeful -- pair they make.
The only thing keeping the novel from being a 5-star is the plot’s overall simplicity. Most will find that not to be problematic; I’m simply very picky about the books I shelve as incomprehensibly awesome. But hey, a 4.5 rating is as close to that as you can get.
Ms. Schwab has penned a shining gem of a debut, and I am waiting with bated breath for her next novel, The Archived.
Book Source: ARC from Disney-Hyperion via NetGalley...more
An article recently came out in the Wall Street Journal that generated quite a buzz in the yoThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
An article recently came out in the Wall Street Journal that generated quite a buzz in the young adult book community. It basically slanders every YA novel out there that is “dark” by their standards and indirectly blames the books for familiarizing and possibly prompting trauma, violence, and profanity within the average teen. Shine received an honorary place in the article and was complained about quite a bit. So, dear Ms. Gurdon, author of said article, I am a teenager. I have read Shine, among tons of other “dark” novels. Do I now feel the inclination to begin stimulating the nearest meth business or sexually assaulting my classmates? No. No, I don’t. Not at all.
Since I’ve read Ms. Myracle’s Internet Girls series prior to Shine, I simply dismissed her as a frivolous author. Well, all my expectations disappeared down the drain as I read the first page, which featured a newspaper clipping detailing the attack of a gay teen in the tiny town of Black Creek. The novel goes on to describe the protagonist’s search for the truth about what really happened to the teen, an old childhood friend named Patrick.
Ms. Myracle’s writing created a sort of thick and somber atmosphere throughout the book, which was appropriate given the gravity of the topic. Her characters are easy to sympathize for, and the mystery involved was not overly obvious or completely impossible to solve. A multitude of touchy subjects were tackled and handled delicately. Overall, I enjoyed Shine a lot more than I’d originally thought I would.
Even with all the hate and despair in the story, I finished the novel with a feeling of hope. Yes, WSJ article, maybe it wasn’t a happily ever after, maybe the characters experienced things no one should go through. But there is hope and healing everywhere if you look hard enough.
Book Source: ARC from Abrams Books via NetGalley...more
It’s certainly been awhile since I’ve cried this hard over a book -- at two different spots,This review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
It’s certainly been awhile since I’ve cried this hard over a book -- at two different spots, too. Ms. Sheehan, I demand my tears back immediately in an aesthetically pleasing and preferably crystalline container so my future children may have the option of putting it into a Pensieve and learning about all my failures and secret loves and whatnot.
Right, now that that’s over…
Readers looking for a genuine science fiction novel with a complete setup and intricate technologies will be sorely disappointed with A Long, Long Sleep. If I had to attach only one tag to this novel, it would just be romance. Not dystopian or adventure or self-discovery; just romance. This book was more of a 2-star if one only takes into account the characters and plotline. However, the slightly weird but still passable romance really tugged at my heartstrings and receives 5 stars from me. A 4-star rating was settled on because I tend to prioritize my emotions over logic (I am a teenager after all; blame the hormones). And I think the last time I cried for a book was during my third re-read of The Book Thief. It’s about time something else had the same effect.
Let’s just get this out of the way: Rose is an idiotic heroine, even she admits it. She acts idiotically. She thinks idiotically. She runs away from her problems idiotically. You get the drift. Weirdly, when Rose converses with Otto, a blue-skinned genetically-modified alien-human, she uses words that otherwise would not be part of the average idiotic teen’s vocabulary and sounds mildly intelligent, if not at least self-reflective and mature. In short, Rose sounds nothing like her usual self during these conversations, which bothered me to no end.
A Long, Long Sleep also explores parental abuse, something I found to be very surprising, given the sci-fi setup. You can’t help yourself from feeling growing sympathy for Rose, and I suppose that subtracts from her idiocy just a tiny bit. At least Rose is, for the most part, loyal to Xavier -- stupid Xavier. Now, Xavier isn’t necessarily a dull young man. I actually know nothing about Xavier’s intelligence since it was never mentioned. But Xavier, you stupid, stupid boy.
I will be looking out for Ms. Sheehan’s future books, as I’m willing to overlook some aspects of her novels just so I can enjoy other parts of it. Really, that’s just another way of conveying how much of a sap I truly am...
Book Source: ARC from Candlewick Press via NetGalley...more
Nothing but a ginormous orange sandstorm signals the approaching danger that fateful day SabaThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Nothing but a ginormous orange sandstorm signals the approaching danger that fateful day Saba’s darling twin brother Lugh gets kidnapped from Silverlake and taken away bound up in rope. Desperate and broken-hearted, Saba -- with the unwelcomed and unshakable presence of her little sister Emmi -- sets out to bring Lugh back. When the two girls are temporarily detained in Hopetown, Saba learns of the Sun King and the reason for Lugh’s capture and allies herself with the warrior Free Hawks and the ever infuriating cage-fighter Jack. Renewed with hope and greater numbers, the group starts out on a trek through the land. Their one goal: Lugh’s freedom, and possibly liberation for all.
Holy crap in a cup (Young, 379). This novel was an exciting ride reminiscent of other great high fantasy novels; well, only without all the fantastical elements. The action picks up right from the start, and the story doesn’t slacken in intensity until the very last page. Great side characters and creatures like the hellwurm -- which totally reminded me of those sandworms in Frank Herbert’s Dune series -- combined to become a great backdrop for the adventure and the two main characters Saba and Jack.
These two had their fair share of aww moments. Saba is head-strong but obviously has a soft side for the guy. And Jack, cocky and teasing, contains just the right amount of magic to balance out Saba’s stubbornness. The chemistry between the pair is a cool blend of fake contempt, attraction, jealousy, and mutual affection. Saba, mostly in denial about her feelings toward Jack, is facepalm-inducing at times. But overall, they are one well-matched and well-paired couple.
Blood Red Road is a great dystopian debut. Don’t be discouraged by the slightly mediocre cover; an epic tale awaits you within its pages.
Book Source: eARC via Simon & Schuster Galley Grab...more
This novel is the winner of my created-just-for-the-occasion 2011 WTF award. This WTF has a pThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
This novel is the winner of my created-just-for-the-occasion 2011 WTF award. This WTF has a positive connotation, and I like how it shaped -- more like attacked and mauled -- the ending. I can even say that I saw the WTF coming due to obscure foreshadowing, but the surprise was still WTF-worthy. Thus was the extent of the WTF-ness of Ultraviolet.
WTF (saying it again just for good measure).
Ultraviolet must take responsibility for the more pronounced eye bags currently adorning my face. I was not able to succumb to dreamland while there were still portions of this book I hadn’t read. Who needs coffee? Just grab Ultraviolet and watch your sleepiness evaporate. Gift a copy to your worst enemy and watch them show up to school/work the next day yawning and drowsy and possibly unable to function.
Alison, our wonderfully psychotic-seeming protagonist, manages to experience indignation at the way others are treating her. She fights the system whole-heartedly as a result. This earns Alison a hearty clap on the back and makes her deserving of the lovely beau that comes along later. You can pretty much guess who said beau is the moment they meet, although the semi-discovery is part of book’s charm. The pair’s relationship is almost entirely angst-free, too -- a nice change of scenery from other infamous angst-centric couples.
Curiously, I felt like most of the novel had no plot. No, that would be inaccurate. Most of the novel simply had very little plot advancement -- like a snail gliding across a hard-to-maneuver surface, while the WTF ending is a mad sprint to the finish line. Even more curious is the fact that I experienced no boredom at all, even during the slow parts. The entertaining side-characters and the little story progression that occurred were satisfying and addictive enough for yours truly.
Vastly different from most YA in plot and notably, WTF level, Ultraviolet is a great mystery sci-fi novel. Especially for those who can taste the chocolate of a lover’s voice. Or hear the melody sung by the choir of twinkling stars in the night sky.
Like a certain someone we know.
Book Source: ARC from Lerner Publishing Group via NetGalley...more
Truth be told: this story could have been written in less than 100 pages. The plot was sThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Truth be told: this story could have been written in less than 100 pages. The plot was simplistic and anticlimatic. The conclusion just a bit too easily resolved for my taste. But I will read more from Ms. Morgenstern.
Because the entire book tasted like honey.
I'm serious; if you buy a copy of The Night Circus and lick the cover, it would be sweet. This book is beautiful writing at its finest, with amazing word choice and descriptions galore. it makes me pity my circus-less childhood. it makes me pity the world because Le Cirque des Rêves is only a figment of the author's imagination. It makes me pity myself, because the only way for me to experience Le Cirque is through the printed words across the page.
Reading this book was like dreaming.
Quite apt, since Le Cirque des Rêves does translate to the Circus of Dreams. However, if the entire novel was one long dream, it would be a very jarring and bumpy dream rather than a smooth one. For some odd reason, Ms. Morgenstern felt the need to jump from here to there to some other place and then back again in her narrative. It's like living some sort of weird parallel life at five different instances in time all at once. This contributes to the lack of tension in the novel, too. Whenever we get to the high point of a chapter, all of it suddenly disappears as we jump to another time or place with another set of characters.
Knowing what I do now about The Night Circus and its plot imperfections, I would still have read it. If only to walk through Les Cirque des Rêves through the characters. if only to visit the Ice Garden and the Anthologies of Memory and the Cloud Maze through another's eyes.
Book Source: ARC from Knopf Doubleday via NetGalley...more
Since the Rose accident, Sydney has been branded as a disgrace in the Alchemist community. WhThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Since the Rose accident, Sydney has been branded as a disgrace in the Alchemist community. When Keith -- that arrogant jerk -- shows up with a method for her to redeem herself, Sydney jumps at the chance. The pair is sent to California as guardians for Jill, the Moroi princess who has recently suffered and barely survived a brutal attack. Posing as students in an obscure private school in Palm Springs should be an easy task. However, a chain of events have already been set into motion at this sunny “haven,” and the Alchemist-vampire posse is right in the middle of it.
Perhaps I’ve been subconsciously persuaded by the scathing Bloodlines reviews out there. Or maybe I just felt like Last Sacrifice was the conclusion of Vampire Academy, and spin-offs wouldn’t do the original series justice. I have no idea.
But Bloodlines failed to impress me as much as its predecessors did.
You notice right away that the Alchemist Sydney, who has now inherited the important job as narrator, lacks the sarcasm and attitude that characterizes Rose. This naturally causes the reading to seem a bit dryer and less humorous. I’m being petty here, as the character Sydney is supposed to be serious and obedient, but this little observation did contribute to a lower rating than the standard 4-stars I’ve been giving the rest of the Vampire Academy series. It’s hard not comparing the two.
Even with a different set of main characters -- aside from Adrian -- Ms. Mead still manages to stun with wonderfully done plot twists. I admit: I was cocky and seriously thought I had the entire plot figured out about a quarter through the book. Never have I been more wrong, and I apologize to Ms. Mead for underestimating her. I thought the novel did start out a bit slowly and ended up putting it down multiple times in the beginning. I was hooked eventually.
Although Bloodlines is a teeny step below the rest of the Vampire Academy series, it is worth reading for the thrilling conclusion. Old fans will be glad to see Adrian back in their lives, too (I know I was).
To adopt the slang of the stereotypical blonde, blue-eyed SoCal surfer dude: “Ashfall waThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
To adopt the slang of the stereotypical blonde, blue-eyed SoCal surfer dude: “Ashfall was hella legit, man!” It features an epic adventure of survival in the face of natural adversity, adaptation amidst chaos, and a frantic love that is equal parts desperation and need. Ashfall is going to appeal to a wide variety of readers, as it has something to offer every single one of you out there.
I would have liked Ashfall a lot more, too, if not for the beginning. We are dumped right into the middle of a volcanic eruption and the series of unfortunate events -- you see what I did there? -- that follows, and yet, the novel seems to drag on and on. It literally took me 7 days to read the first 1/4 of Ashfall and 1 day to read the rest. So yes, pacing was a problem.
Besides that, I enjoyed the novel. There was a good balance of gore, fighting, starvation, and discovery. Our protagonist Alex is brave and foolish and horny (like most teenage boys), and the love interest Darla is the definition of kickass. She’s the one stitching up axe wounds and smushing liquefied rabbit brain on animal hides -- don't ask -- while Alex struggles not to puke in the background.
Ashfall is an intense new post-apocalyptic novel that falters a bit in pacing but is otherwise a very engrossing read. It’s a great way to heighten your chances of surviving the next supervolcanic eruption, too!
Wait, looks like Californian surfer dude is back with a bit of reassurance: “Since no supervolcanoes will erupt for probably another few million years, you can chillax, OK? Here, have a beer.”
Book Source: ARC from Tanglewood via NetGalley...more
You know those books that aren’t written, structured, or characterized that well, but you stiThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
You know those books that aren’t written, structured, or characterized that well, but you still manage to like it despite all its flaws? Guilty pleasures, basically. Bumped was a guilty pleasure for me. While the background of the novel is certainly dissimilar to the ones in any other book I've ever read, it failed to woo me once I got past the novelty of the shiny new dystopian world. With our media’s shifting attitude from condemnation to almost glorification of teen pregnancy, the world setup does take a provocative and challenging stance on the matter. But, again, Ms. McCafferty didn’t make the most of it. There was so much potential, but the story didn’t leave me with a profound sense of anything, a feeling I expect to get from great dystopians, or any novel, really.
The characters, too, were kind of generic, although they managed to do a few things that I wasn’t expecting at all. It’s not that they were stereotypical, they just weren’t special. At least there was no love triangle, and none of them spent time blatantly lusting after each other, something that would be normal given the society they live in.
Now onto a little gripe about character names. Let’s take, for example, Johndoe the ultimate sperm bank. Every time Johndoe is mentioned I would involuntarily picture Bambi running through the woods with his rabbit friends or something. And as you might have guessed, I found it difficult to reconcile a bouncing doe with the sex god image Johndoe is supposed to have.
I am going to read the sequel, Thumped, simply because I adored Ms. McCafferty’s Jessica Darling series and, despite all my complaints, I liked Bumped. Yes, I am proud to say I did.
Book Source: ARC from HarperCollins via NetGalley...more
Relic Master Galen Harn and his apprentice Raffi know that all is not well the moment they seThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Relic Master Galen Harn and his apprentice Raffi know that all is not well the moment they set foot in the settlement that had boldly requested their help a few days before. Drawn by curiosity and the possibility of discovering a relic, the pair nevertheless decides to venture into the castle-like fortress that is the settlement’s stronghold and soon come to regret the decision. After an unpleasant meeting with the leader Alberic, Galen and Raffi are off once again -- this time in search of a thieving Sekoi that had ravaged the settlement and the Crow, who, if found, would prove to be very helpful to Galen indeed. Carys, an orphaned girl in search of her father, soon join the group on their journey to the dark city of Tasceron, where both the Sekoi and the Crow were rumored to be found. However, the Watch is always present at every turn; their deception knows no bounds.
Having read and tremendously enjoyed Ms. Fisher’s Incarceron duology, I was, to say the last, excited to get my hands on the Relic Master series. While Incarceron seems to be geared more toward young adults, The Dark City reads more like a middle grade novel to me, albeit an intense and still relatively interesting one.
The world-building present in The Dark City is subtle and yet comprehensive. The use of magic by Galen and Raffi, while not extensively clarified, was explained enough to be understandable and not overwhelming. The cast of characters were quite darling, also, with their own little quirks and secrets. Even though the plot tended to drag noticeably in the beginning and middle parts of the novel, I think the ending was a success overall.
Book one of the Relic Master series, The Dark City will appeal to middle grade fantasy lovers and readers who are willing to plunge into the fantastical world of the magic-wielding Order and the seemingly omniscient Watch.
Rhine lives in a world seemingly devoid of hope -- men now die at the age of twenty-five andThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Rhine lives in a world seemingly devoid of hope -- men now die at the age of twenty-five and females at a meager twenty. When she is kidnapped and sold into a marriage like countless others, Rhine is determined to revolt against the bonds that secure her to this new husband and somehow reunite with the twin brother who was torn away from her. Even in a world like this, opinions and relationships shift and change. But escape -- escape is always on her mind.
I devoured and simply adored this new YA dystopian novel. There were moments when I found myself engrossed, grasping the little paperback and yelling No at the words squiggling across the pages as the story unfolded around me. The plot is captivating and the writing artfully done. The characters are authentic and contain a certain depth that made me love the book just that much more, as I could relate to the pain they experience throughout the book. There is a slight The Hunger Games feel to the it, which I do not object to at all. This is definitely one of the best books I’ve read in 2010, and I cannot wait for the next installment of this trilogy.
Willow has always been psychic. Simply grasping someone’s hand will give her access to aThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Willow has always been psychic. Simply grasping someone’s hand will give her access to a person’s possible futures, which Willow views as branchings off a tree. When her classmate Beth unexpectedly asks for a reading, Willow is plunged into a world of deadly, human-consuming angels and slowly begins to understand the intricacies of cattle farming -- or human aura trafficking, whichever term you prefer. As the angels become aware of Willow’s existence and decide that they want her dead, Willow is whisked off on a daring escape plan with angel assassin Alex, and the two set off on a road-trip to save themselves and perhaps the entirety of humankind. It turns out to be a trip filled with deception and gun chases and auto theft; after all, these aren’t peaceful little fluffy-winged angels we’re talking about here.
Angel Burn contains a set of very untraditional angels and two extremely cute main characters -- and here, I seriously stress the word cute. The evil angels’ background acted as a great hook, and the author knows exactly how to create enough suspense to prevent the reader from putting down the book. The alternating perspectives are slightly disjointed at times, but overall it succeeded in portraying the feelings of various characters. Willow is the only one honored with first person, and in my humble I’m-not-an-editor-but-it’s-ok opinion, the author would have been better off simply keeping her in third person like the rest of the characters.
Kudos to Miss Weatherly for giving Alex and Willow time to get to know each other before proceeding to the lovey-dovey stage. However, once they got to that stage, the cheesiness began to overwhelm. Now, I am generally a proud enjoyer of cheesy romance novels; still, there were some scenes that morphed my aww, they’re so adorable into an ugh, guys, please stop before I start puking rainbows.
All in all, this novel was a surprisingly great read. I am looking forward to the sequel, Angel Fire.
Book Source: ARC from Candlewick Press via NetGalley...more
The dragon slayer designation obviously belongs to Emma Jones, what with her top combat examThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
The dragon slayer designation obviously belongs to Emma Jones, what with her top combat exam scores and famous dragon-slaying mother’s legacy. No one can dispute that fact until Curtis Green, the relative newbie at Burtonwood Academy, snatches the coveted title right out from under her nose. Assigned as a fairy slayer instead and humiliated with the job of chasing these little winged critters around shopping malls, Emma is quick to jump to action when a large dragon-like creature is seen attacking a school bus, bypassing the school’s meticulously placed and calibrated wards in the process. Well, no one can actually see this gargantuan and evil-looking creature besides Emma and her archenemy Curtis. As she sets out to eliminate this threat, Emma unearths secrets about her deceased mother and the history of the elemental creatures’ descent into her mostly blissfully oblivious world.
Now this is the type of YA paranormal story that actually delivers in both pacing and originality. The world-building occurs right alongside the story, which just keeps rolling along after Emma discovers the elusive attacker almost no one else can see. As a stand-alone novel, the author did a remarkable job in wrapping up the conclusion by answering questions and simultaneously leaving a few threads untied. The writing style is not overly sophisticated, and while this doesn’t subtract from the overall flow of the novel per se, it left something to be desired.
Onto the characters: both the main and side ones are multi-faceted and actually have personalities -- from horoscope and techie-geek Loni to betting and pet cockroach-obsessed Trevor. Emma and Curtis’s interactions are cute in a slightly gushy way, whereas Loni and Trevor have a seriously hilarious rapport going on. These four are adorable. Simply adorable.
Fairy Bad Day is a unique combination of boarding school life and paranormal creature-slaying teens told in a snarky narrative that makes the novel quite a joy to read. I will be looking into other books by Amanda Ashby.
Kate enters the town of Eden with a mother who is on the brink of death and a hope for a bettThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Kate enters the town of Eden with a mother who is on the brink of death and a hope for a better future that is fading bit by bit with the passage of time. As she drags herself through the motions of daily life, weird begin to occur around her. Her new frenemy is raised from the dead after an accident that definitely involved a large quantity of blood, and the only explanation Kate gets from the incident involves a certain dark-haired boy -- Henry, who later claims to be Hades, the infamous god of the Underworld. Kate soon finds herself participating in seven unknown tests to save her mother and help determine the future of the Underworld. A lot of responsibility for an eighteen-year-old, eh?
First off, gorgeous cover. The model’s white dress creates a nice contrast with the dark green fronds and plants in the background. Although that model looks like she’s 25 instead of Kate’s 18, that’s totally beside the point, right?
So here we go: Kate, Kate, Kate. If you existed in real life, you would be receiving death threats from readers of The Goddess Test. It’s one thing to be self-sacrificing and slightly clueless, but dearie, your lack of comprehension of life in general makes me want to go strangle some cute fluffy squirrel in the woods. I know you have a brain. Please use it.
And as various other reviewers have mentioned, the Greek mythology implemented in the plot was stretched just a wee bit too much. None, and I repeat, none of the Greek gods were virgins and/or particularly saint-like in any way. They cheated and murdered and raped and committed incest. Need I go on?
The Goddess Test presents modern twist of the myth of Hades and Persephone that strays a bit too far from the original. Combined with annoying characters and background inaccuracies, the novel was somewhat of a chore to get through. Although I suggest that you read the novel yourself and formulate your own opinion. Who knows? You might just end up joining the legions of reviewers who adored the book to death.
Book Source: ARC from Harlequin via NetGalley...more
The creepy-looking cover of this novel proudly boasts the words: Romeo and Juliet meet the liThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
The creepy-looking cover of this novel proudly boasts the words: Romeo and Juliet meet the living dead in The Cellar.
Ughhh… (The above was an exclamation of annoyance, not an attempt to copy the moans of the undead.)
I shall preface this review by saying that yes, I am a huge zombie fan. Zombies are quite possibly the most genius fantastical creatures ever thought up by the human imagination. And despite my grumbling, I really did enjoy Romeo and Juliet. With this uncanny combination of interests, The Cellar must surely be the perfect book for me, right?
Imagine this. You have a dash of zombies are friends with hyenas and a pinch of oh look the lovey-dovey teenagers are off being idiotic again. Stir in the characters’ basically nonexistent personalities, and you’ve got an awkward mix of brown goo that looks and smells suspiciously like a paper copy of Twilight in liquefied form.
Is the plot at least slightly interesting? Well...
First, Boy meets Girl. Both fall in love. But wait, Boy is dangerous, and everyone tells Girl to be careful. Hey, Girl doesn’t care, because love overcomes all obstacles. Yay. And then tons of people die.
Hopefully further elaboration is not needed.
Although The Cellar does not suit my tastes, YA PNR lovers will adore the abundance of true love floating around in this novel. Those particular scenes actually succeeded in making me snort out loud. Twice. I sounded like an irritated bull, and I think I felt rather like one, too.
Book Source: ARC from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via NetGalley...more
After reading a whole slew of horrible reviews of The Girl in the Steel Corset, I had meThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
After reading a whole slew of horrible reviews of The Girl in the Steel Corset, I had mentally prepared myself for a train wreck. Well, I confess: the novel didn't turn out that badly for me. It wasn't exceptional, but it didn't enduce fits of hair-tearing frustration, mostly. Perhaps I've been desensitized by the unhealthy amount of mediocre YA I've been reading lately.
The characters here are pretty much your standard set of YA heroes, although Finley managed to annoy me quite a bit more than the average heroine. That girl, for the life of her, just doesn't seem to be able to make up her mind about anything. Oooh, Griffin is so handsome. But wait, Jack is hot, too. I'll just blame my attraction on the two warring parts of my personality! No. Just no. And guess what? In case one love triangle isn't enough, we've got two! Aren't you excited? Ugh, at least the two triangles don't overlap. Imagine what a mess that would make. A love hexagon?
The background of the novel comes across as completely random. There are beasties that have cool powers and are apparently harvested from the center of the earth and machines that do your chores or suddenly turn evil and just attack people. Add the Aether, a spiritual plane inhabited by the dead, to all that, and you've got an overload of fantastical elements that don't really coexist nicely with each other.
The Girl in the Steel Corset does not succeed in distinguishing itself from typical YA despite its steampunk flare and gorgeous cover. However, it is still a notch above a lot of YA out there simply because it presents the stereotype in a slightly altered package.
Book Source: ARC from Harlequin via NetGalley...more
Gwen Frost is being forced to attend Mythos Academy, an elite school set apart to train kidsThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Gwen Frost is being forced to attend Mythos Academy, an elite school set apart to train kids who just so happen to be descendants of various mythical warriors. Of course, Gwen doesn’t believe in any of the supernatural skills her classmates supposedly possess. The only type of magic she actually accepts is her own and that of her own family. When the school’s most popular girl, the icy Valkyrie princess Jasmine, is murdered right in the library next to a stolen mythical artifact called the Bowl of Tears, Gwen is determined to get to the bottom of the entire situation. It’s never a good idea to poke your head into other people’s business, though. So the results? Who else is to blame but yourself?
Touch of Frost belongs to the new batch of paranormal stories that all seem exactly the same, only with different character names and fantastical elements. This novel’s back story is a mishmash of tons of various warriors -- from Norse gods to ninjas. While that is certainly a nice idea, it’s never really delved into. Except for a few key warrior gods, all the others felt extraneous and were barely mentioned at all.
The characters aren’t especially mind-blowing, either. You have the blonde mean girl clique, the quirky and unpopular heroine, and the hot bad boy who falls in love with the heroine anyways; just the same formula used over and over and over again. The character with an actual personality was Vic, the ancient magical sword, who has a grand total of about five lines in the entire novel. That is just sad. A sword beats out all those other full-fledged human characters? Sad, sad, sad.
Touch of Frost is quite a cliché, but lovers of stereotypical teen paranormal stories (I know there are a lot of you out there) will devour it with glee.