On the outside, The Giver by Lois Lowry looks like such a simplReview also appeared: Book Addict 24-7
I don't even know where to begin with this book.
On the outside, The Giver by Lois Lowry looks like such a simple, thin book--it almost makes sense why young children are told to read this in school. Almost. But the thing about Lowry's book is that it's like reading Romeo and Juliet when you're still twelve and not entirely sure about what's going on, and entirely dependent on your teacher's very censored ideas of the themes and morals told by Shakespeare. The Giver is the type of book, that yes, can definitely be discussed in a young reader's school (because almost any book can be discussed by young readers and their teachers), but it definitely harbors some very dark themes.
First, I'm going to briefly touch on the religious representation of Jonas, the protagonist. Though I am in no way proficient with bible verses and such, I did come across the story of Jonah, which is pretty damn close to Jonas, and how he "originally ran from God before delivering a message of repentance to the nation of Nineveh", which could be the community that Jonas lives in (which is emotionless and content in its ability to "let people go") Jonas, as the receiver of memory, is kind of like a prophet who receives the wisdom of humanity's past--which I guess, in a way, would be seen as a Godly attribute since it is something that only one powerful person can have. I don't know if that made any sense, but it did in my head.
Second, I want to mention the idea that even if we lived in a Utopia (which I think is impossible--especially if Utopia means being an emotionless drone), there will always be one person who sees things differently. Jonas and The Giver are these outcasts who choose to live outside of this supposed Utopia that allows you to believe the world is perfect. The further Jonas goes in his training, the more he becomes alienated, and though the idea of being different than others is exhilarating, it is also terrifying, tiring, and lonesome.
In my opinion, Lowry's view of a dystopic society is the kind of view that so many of today's dystopian novels are missing. For example, if what appears to be perfect proves to be something severely imperfect, and you have the power to bring to justice the crimes of this imperfection, would you ruin this dream in exchange for the nightmares of reality? Dystopian should be less about rebellion and more about the human condition and how one or more people start adding colour to their black and white sight. Okay, so it does have some rebellion, but this is more of a personal rebellion (internal struggle between ignorance and knowledge), then a societal one.
Thirdly, and probably lastly, I want to note that though Jonas's world is marred with the seemingly perfect imperfection, the community isn't the only thing to be ruined by the "sameness" that stripped everyone of individuality. It is Jonas and all of the kids who turn twelve who are forced to relinquish their childhood. Imagine being twelve and suddenly knowing exactly what you're going to do for the rest of your life. Sounds terrifying? Now imagine being completely unaware of the fact that all choice and childhood innocence has been taken from you. There is no privacy, there is no true creativity, there is physical punishment that teaches you to be docile, and there is even control over how you speak--to the point of condescension. After all, isn't the worst kind of abuse the one where you're not even aware of it? This is another way that Lowry's dystopic world works so great--her storytelling tries so hard to convince the reader that this should be the norm, yet Jonas's active fear of his twelfth birthday shows that this is indeed not normal, or standard behavior. Even if society changes to suit the greater need, choice is needed, even if humanity's downfall can be the power to choose.
But the idea of choice also plays into the conclusion of the novel: Does choice lead Jonas where he ends up, or does humanity and the ability to feel govern his actions? Is he simply a victim of the emotions the community has forced out of its residents? Or is he being rebellious by allowing himself to choose something for the first time in his life, no matter the consequences?
See? This is why I'm all in a tizzy after reading this book. One hundred and eighty pages and I'm completely contemplating every single chapter in this book. Also, let's enjoy the fact that one of the rules is that he's allowed to lie. I loved this rule because I think it's what made Jonas realize that his life just completely changed. It was probably, in my opinion, another huge aspect of the conclusion and how we lie to ourselves when things are beyond our control.
I definitely recommend this book to everyone and I don't even know how I went this long before reading it. Will I read the rest of the series? Honestly, I probably won't. I'm content with this book and its very philosophical and slightly haunting ending.
Beware, a semi-colon addict resides within the pages of this novel.
Carrier of the Mark by LeiShort review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Beware, a semi-colon addict resides within the pages of this novel.
Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon had so much potential. It started of strongly with a bland female character who'd just moved to a pretty cool place and was set to live in a small town, where a mysterious hottie suddenly takes a liking to her and--whoa, wait. This sounds familiar, doesn't it? Other than the fact that this doesn't have vampires and that Megan, the protagonist, actually cares about her friends, does this not sound like the story of a certain bland girl and a certain sparkly vamp?
Not only is Carrier of the Mark a victim of a semi-colon addict, but it is full of insta-romance, sappiness, and overly complicated (and sometimes confusing and contradicting) explanations of the powers that these characters possess. Overall, the story was one convoluted and predictable mess.
Carrier of the Mark is indeed a very fast read and it is also set in a gorgeous town in Ireland, but it is also cliche. It feels like it tried too hard to be this romantic novel following these characters that shouldn't be together. I really wanted to like this one because I've been wanting to read it for a long time, but I was so disappointed. How can a story that has such a strong beginning, turn out so flat?
I would recommend this to sappy romance lovers, but honestly, I don't even know who I would recommend this for. ...more
I have a separate list for books that I am weary of reading, usually because of the great revieThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I have a separate list for books that I am weary of reading, usually because of the great reviews and hype about them. Anyone else would say: "Hey, if they're popular and have great reviews, why wouldn't you want to check the book out?" But in past experiences I've gone into books solely based on the recommendations and five-star ratings on book sites, and more often than not, I was left sorely disappointed.
Veronica Rossi's Under the Never Sky, thankfully, did not fall into the disappointment pile. This book was really, really good. Perhaps one of the top ten for me this year. Though the synopses of her book made me pause and contemplate if this was a book to read or pass, I'm glad I jumped the gun and read it anyway.
Let me just say that there are about four different covers for this novel, the one I've posted on this review (on my blog) is my favourite one because it shows BOTH of the characters, rather than just the female protagonist (since both her and the male protagonist have a say in the story). Rossi is a stunning writer and, cliches aside, I can see her making splashes in the YA literary world.
"WORLDS KEPT THEM APART.
DESTINY BROUGHT THEM TOGETHER.
Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she's never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.
Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He's searching for someone too. He's also wild - a savage - but might be her best hope at staying alive.
If they can survive, they are each other's best hope for finding answers."
I only have one negative point about this novel:
I can't fathom how such a great book can have such a cliched and annoying ending. I've seen awesome novels greatly affected (negatively) by bad endings. I know Rossi is just building up tension for the sequel and such, but I personally think she could have taken a different route.
Also, this is such a copout for the next installment. It gives me the impression that the authors who do this (Kimberly Derting did something similar with her latest Body Finder novel, ugh) have no other way of attracting the reader's attention for the next novel because they may be running out of ideas.
Rossi's use of (view spoiler)[ending the novel with another character (usually in power) threatening one (or more) protagonist to create tension in the second book had the opposite effect on me. Her choice to have her character be manipulated by the antagonist made me wary of the next installment in the series. (hide spoiler)] I've seen it done before and it isn't always a success.
The positives, of course, are much greater in number.
1. I loved the world that Rossi creates in her debut novel. It's elaborate and creative.
2. Rossi's writing is fluid and beautiful, allowing the reader to effectively see into her imagination.
3. The character development was superb. At the beginning, Aria describes Perry as only a secluded person can describe someone new to her. Her fear and distate is so clearly stated that I felt bad for Perry, but he doesn't describe her any better. What I liked though is how slowly the two begin to see each other differently, until the point that they realize they're both just humans, whether one has special powers or not. This is powerful to me because it shows great character development and it teaches the reader an important lesson: we are all human, despite where we are raised or how we are taught. Though Aria's character at the beginning frustrates me, but her actions were plausible because of how she was raised.
4. Though it is nearly impossible to write a completely unpredictable novel, Rossi kept me at the edge of my proverbial seat. She didn't stop all the way through the novel... until the ending, but for that you'll have to reread my negative point about this novel.
Will I read the sequel to this, even though I obviously loved Under the Never Sky? I'm not sure. Again, the ending has me cringing with uncertainty as to where Rossi is going to take this monster of a cliche ending. Will I read any future works by Rossi outside of this series? Most definitely. ...more
What attracted me to The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann was the synopsis and how fun it sounded. I'mThis review first appeared on my blog:Book Addict 24-7
What attracted me to The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann was the synopsis and how fun it sounded. I'm not going to lie, I didn't go into this novel expecting a Harry Potter story or something FANTASTIC.
The Unwanteds is a middle-grade level novel that follows the life of twins Aaron and Alex after they've been separated at the "Purge" that Quill, a city which punishes those who are artistic and celebrates (in unemotional ways) intelligence and drive, hosts every year. There, the children are separated into three categories: The Wanteds (which is the highest honour), the Necessaries, and The Unwanteds (which are the artistically inclined). While Aaron seeks out a higher position in the government in the world of Quill, Alex is sent to be executed for being artistic, only to find that he is actually going to a hidden world that helps the "Unwanteds" master their artistic skills using magic. What follows is a fun adventure that seems to run its course a bit rapidly, but leaves enough questions at the end for a sequel.
While McMann's novel was a fun read, it did have its issues (both minor and major).
1. When I bought this book the first thing that I noticed was the headline that is sprawled above the title: "The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter". I've seen this so many times before and not just with these successful series, but with others (another perfect example is the comparisons that publishers make to Stieg Larsson's Millennium series). I find that using just the name of a successful series is a serious ploy to get you, as a consumer, to a) Spend your money in hopes of attaining the same joy you felt when reading a popular series for the first time, and b) To sell the book via word of mouth, i.e. "OMG this book really IS like The Hunger Games!" When deep down, you really know it's not. While I did enjoy McMann's novel, I found it irritating to see that this story is associated with what some may consider classics just so that readers will buy it.
2. One of the really frustrating things about this book is the way that time passed. I know that not everything should be told in detail, but McMann should have at least included SOME details instead of just saying "weeks passed". For example, we're already at the six month mark by page 114 (the chapter that's titled: "A Big Mistake") out of 390 pages. I think that the poor character development (another point) can be partially traced to the usage of too much time gone by without any real explanation.
3. Ah, the character development. I think that some authors believe that just because s/he is writing for kids that s/he get a freebie on character development. While yes, a lot of kids these days are more into television and what-not than reading, it doesn't mean they're ignorant. This generation and the future generations have the ability to gain knowledge in so many more ways than just school. So, with this in mind, why aren't some middle school literature authors treating them as intelligently as they should be treated? The character development in this novel was slightly irksome. This goes back to McMann's poor use of time. Sure, Alex goes through emotional issues with his friends, brother, and himself, but he doesn't really learn anything by the end, as you'd expect of a character who has gone through so much. If McMann would have described Alex's actions more in depth in the time that he spends in this hidden world, then maybe we would see some character development.
4. The other characters felt unrealistic. I know that these are young teens, but I wish that McMann gave more information about them. Little facts about their personalities and more insights into what these minor characters are feeling are given at the end of the novel. So, imagine that all you see is this one character and his moody, growing pains and only catch glimpses of the other characters. Let me make this a little clearer, imagine reading about Harry Potter during his moody phase in Order of the Phoenix, but not knowing anything about Hermione or Ron.
5. Sheri Radford on Goodreads commented on how this was just a mish-mash of all the popular series and story-lines put together. I agree, because there is so much going on in this book. It felt like everything that was written for teenagers 14 and over, was made "age appropriate" for kids 13 and under. I file this as a negative because it's such a cop out! I know that "originality" is a rare thing nowadays, but this was just beyond overkill.
6. The categories: Wanted, Unwanted, Necessary. They mean exactly what they imply. But what message is McMann sending to children who are artistically inclined as opposed to the ones who are scientifically, mathematically, or otherwise inclined? How about those who don't fit either categories? Think about it.
1. This is a fun, light read. Something that should just be taken for what it is, despite its flaws.
2. Seeing what the kids can do with magic and how the world emphasizes the use of artistic skill as a form of power.
3. The writing, though flawed in character development and in other forms, was fluid, which made the reading quite fast. 4. If McMann intended for me to feel disgust towards Aaron, she succeeded.
Despite everything, McMann wrote a story that can be enjoyable if it isn't taken too seriously. Will I read the sequel? Most likely, just for kicks. If you want to read this one, then I suggest you go in just for the sake of enjoying a book that regurgitates what you loved about The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and many other series. The Unwanteds is a fun read, but it shouldn't be thought of as the next innovative novel.
I received a free copy of Tempered by Fire from author H.E. Birss so I could review her debut nThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a free copy of Tempered by Fire from author H.E. Birss so I could review her debut novel. I was a bit nervous as the day that I would receive the novel neared because I didn't know what to expect. Thankfully, I wasn't disappointed.
Birss introduces us to a magical, and rather dangerous, world full of multi-dimensional characters who mimic real teenagers, rather than just making them in the likeness of perfection (as so many Young Adult authors tend to do in order to make their readers love the male/female protagonist). While some of the characters are very attractive, the personalities are all diverse and entertaining (especially the protagonist's cynism).
"Like most girls her age, all Hailey Catherwood wanted to do was get out of high school alive. However, thanks to an interloping fairy, that might not even be an option anymore… Unlike most girls her age, Hailey has the Sight - the ability to see into the fairie realm. When a hot-headed Fire Sprite shows up and tricks her into one months servitude, her life is suddenly overrun with blue-skinned kelpies, sabre-toothed monsters, and monocle-wearing squirrels. An evil fairy queen further complicates matters, pushing Hailey into a magical mess as she is forced into a quest that she’ll, regrettably enough, never be able to forget."
While I loved the story, there was just one issue that I found in this novel, which I admit I was warned about, but I am always honest in my reviews.
1. The editing. I know that Birss wrote and published her novel rather quickly, but I am a bit of a stickler for editing. Whereas all of you who read her novel in the future will probably skim over such occurrences in the story, I make note of this so that future readers who do determine their experience on issues like editing can go in and try not to focus on the errors, but on the magical story. I would hope, however, that this becomes less of an issue in the next two installments in the series, since I think that this story has a lot of potential for being a hit with young readers.
1. Very fast paced!
2. I liked that Hailey, the protagonist, thought for herself. She didn't let the guy decide what she was doing. It's rare to see female characters rely so little on male characters, so this was refreshing. Also, her attitude was reminiscent of Kody Keplinger's protagonist in The Duff, which kicked ass.
3. The budding romance wasn't your typical, "Oh, you're hot, I want you, I need you," a la Twilight, but it was stormy and resistent. Even though (view spoiler)[ the characters slowly fall for each other, they don't relinquish the way they are, which is a fresh way to look at relationships in young adult novels. (hide spoiler)]
4. The descriptions of the creatures in the magical world that Birss has created are wicked. To give you a hint: There are flying noses AND a hot blue guy.
5. The adventure. I can't be the only one who wishes that my sometimes dull, monotonous life could be turned into a whirlwind of fun, danger, and romance. That's exactly what Birss offers in her novel, and honestly, isn't reading a type of escape? Why not escape into a magical world like the one created in this novel?
This was definitely an entertaining read, even with its flaws. I've seen debut novels before with the same editing errors that made me stop reading them. Why did I abandon those and not this one? Easy. This one had a compelling plot-line that was not hindered by the editing. This is the type of rare debut novel that is fantastic as it is, but could be phenomenal as the series grows. I'm excited to read the sequel and I hope for the best of luck to the new writer in our midst!...more
When I first saw that Jenna Elizabeth Johnson's novel was called Faelorehn, the first installment iReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
When I first saw that Jenna Elizabeth Johnson's novel was called Faelorehn, the first installment in her Otherworld Trilogy, I didn't know what to expect. The title was a bit intimidating, since I usually shy away from books with unfamiliar words for titles. Thankfully, I ignored my fears and began reading this addicting young adult novel. While I did have some issues with the novel, this was a fun, quirky read.
Meghan, as a character, was split for me. On one hand, I loved the fact that even though she was different, she was popular or adored. Unlike other novels where the female character is usually revered for her unusually beauty, Meghan is just like any other teenager struggling to understand who she is, and in this special case, what she is.
What I didn't like so much about Meghan was how stubborn she was. Sometimes I wanted to pull my hair out with how infuriating she made me. For the most part, she was a strong character, it was just this tiny quality that had me on edge of loving her as a character. Johnson's other characters also felt a bit over-the-top with their bullying or their lack of understanding. While some were very funny, some were clearly sadistic.
While there were a few moments in the novel that lagged, I attribute any faltering of the pace to Meghan's irritating stubbornness. Apart for these instances, the pacing was superb. Johnson grabs your attention and rarely lets it go. Her writing is enchanting as she pulls you along, makes you addicted to her nearly flawless prose, then abruptly lets you go with an ending that leaves you begging for more.
For me, though I shook my fist in the air when the ending came upon me, I liked how Johnson leaves the story so open-ended. It's a great strategy because she concludes her novel in a way that is neither a way to prolong the inevitable with a needless second installment, nor in a way that makes you throw the book away with frustration. She finishes Faelorehn with a flourish, leaving the reader with a fulfilled, yet curious feeling.
I recommend this book to lovers of fantasy and those who have a soft spot for stories about faeries and mythical creatures. This is a fun read that needs to be read. You will fall in love with the male character who appears in Meghan's life and you will cringe along with the other characters....more
The danger associated with going into popular books with high expectations is that we often set said expectations so high that it's almost impossibleThe danger associated with going into popular books with high expectations is that we often set said expectations so high that it's almost impossible for any book to meet them.
I enjoyed this novel and will probably read the rest of the series, but it wasn't my favourite book in the world. It was certainly a good high fantasy novel, but it didn't have me completely hooked. There were some instances at the beginning that were fantastic--(view spoiler)[mainly that first attack when Alina went to cross The Unsea with the first army. THAT was terrifying and awesome. (hide spoiler)]
There were moments where I was actually a little bit bored, waiting for things to happen, but at least now I know what people meant when they were talking about The Darkling! Alina herself wasn't a bad protagonist, but I feel like she was just as much in awe of her abilities as the reader, so she was fumbling a bit for control in her new world. I feel like she will be a fantastic character in the last two books of this trilogy. In this installment, however, you can definitely see her transformation from naive girl to powerful fighter, and that makes for a love/hate relationship with her character.
I definitely recommend this series for fantasy lovers--but beware of reading reviews and getting too psyched over the hype: if you go in with no expectations, then you will enjoy the book more!
Bleed by young author Nusrat Sultana is an ambitious novel that offers an original perspective of the vampire genre. Sultana’s debut is impressive, since she manages to draw the reader in and keep his/her attention throughout the 264 pages. Though her technique is a bit archaic, Sultana is an author to watch for in the future.
Bleed is a novel revolving around Amaryliss, a young girl on the verge of changing into something from a horror book. Not only does she receive news that will aid in re-shaping her outlook of the world around her, but she starts to experience odd events that make her question her sanity. Then she meets Austin, the strange and always cool boy by the graveyard. But Amaryliss knows her parents are keeping secrets, and she's confused by Austin’s sudden appearance. As a result, she spends the greater part of the novel questioning nearly everything she sees as she learns about her seemingly new world.
Sultana’s ability to write in an omniscient, third person voice is seamless. The reader will barely notice when she changes from one character’s point of view to another. Another aspect of writing that Sultana appears to have a strong understanding of is how to show the reader what is happening, rather than telling him/her what s/he should be experiencing. Sultana shows the reader Amaryliss’s fear through slightly archaic diction, regardless of how old-fashioned the writing appears.
However, one of the downfalls of Bleed is how cliched some of Amaryliss’s characteristics are. It feels like Sultana uses every negative feature from a past heroine when it comes to describing her own character. Amaryliss’s frailty is reminiscent of the past gender-degrading state of various heroines, and her naiveté over the situations surrounding her is an over-used tactic to create angst in novels. One other cliche is Austin’s ability to always appear when Amaryliss needs him. Does anyone remember a certain sparkly creature waiting on the sidelines?
Of course, even with all these cliches, the reader must admit that Sultana’s Bleed is a fun and highly addicting novel. Though at times the dialogue is contrived and the pacing is a bit slow, Bleed will grab the attention of nearly any eager reader.
Bleed is recommended for readers who want a different take on the vampire genre, and a plot that grows beautifully as the story progresses. Sultana sets the stage for a new generation of writers who promise to take the future of literature by storm....more
I'll be honest, the cover of Blood of the Mother by Peter Tarkulich hadReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy for review
I'll be honest, the cover of Blood of the Mother by Peter Tarkulich had me wary of the story I was about to read. I didn't know what to expect, but for some odd reason I felt unsure of what awaited me.
This is why people should not judge a book by its cover. But I'm hardly the first person to do such a thing.
Tarkulich's novel is one surprise after another. The protagonist, Quentis, takes us on an exhilarating ride through a magical and mysterious world that parallels our own, but centuries in the past.
The diction is nearly flawless as Tarkulich adopts archaic writing to set the mood. Normally, I would be dead-set against anything too antiquated, but Tarkulich's novel is one of the exceptions. Without the archaic style of writing, the world that Quentis inhabits would be less believable.
What I also loved about Tarkulich's book is how he moves the reader along from one action-packed scene, to another engaging scene. There is never a slow moment in the novel. The prologue featured in Blood of the Mother is immediately a mystery, not in the "let's make this as brief as possible" way, but in the "wow, what will happen next?" kind of way.
I'm usually not a big reader of fantasy novels that take place in a historical setting--a fantastical steampunk novel, if you will--but I'm glad I had a chance to read this one.
Some of the strongest aspects of Tarkulich's novel are his characters. Quentis and his companions are fun and loyal characters that offer wit to the dialogue and an edge to the tone of the story. Each character has his/her own past, which the reader is informed of in a nicely paced fashion.
The blending of religion and fantasy is a huge selling point for Tarkulich's story. The characters are on a holy mission to find a salvation for an impending, magical war between two different religions.
At times, it felt like the religion in this book, even if fictional, was being forced on the reader. I understand that religion plays a massive role in these characters' development, but it almost felt like the reader was expected to follow this religion as well..
Despite my curiosity over the importance given to religion in Tarkulich's novel, I was constantly looking forward to what else came Quentis's way. Not to mention that I also wanted to see how the romance in the novel developed, although some relationships didn't get very far.
By the way, it was very odd reading my sister's name in the novel. Especially since she has a very uncommon name.
I would recommend Blood of the Mother to fantasy, historical (somewhat), adventure, and action lovers. Also, if you enjoy masterful storytelling, then you might want to check this one out....more
I'm very conflicted after reading Superheroes Wear Faded DReview first posted on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy from the author for review
I'm very conflicted after reading Superheroes Wear Faded Denim by Law Reigns. Though it grabbed my attention, it wasn't in my usual way. I gave the novel two out of five stars because the story was original, but I wavered between a one and a two because the writing was too archaic and lacked editing, while the characters, mainly the protagonist, Blissany Cherry, were so weak and annoying, that I almost put the book down out of frustration.
This book dripped with the sexual tension Blissany carried with her while on her adventures. Unnecessary metaphors including sexual innuendo appeared here and there, while religion also made a very frequent visit to the storyline.
Blissany was very weak. She was naive and stubborn to the point of stupidity. Seriously, if everyone is telling you the same thing, why are you still not believing them? Sure, the storyline picks up after a while, but Blissany's character still drove me insane.
I'm sorry guys, I really wish I could have enjoyed this one more, I really do. The story has so much potential and while others may enjoy this ten times more than me, I couldn't get into the writing. An example of something that really had me on edge is the word "upon". Reigns loved that word in her novel. Here are two examples: when a character placed something on a table, it wasn't "on a table", it was upon a table. When it rained, it wasn't "Rain fell on leaves", it was "Rain fell upon leaves". "Upon" is archaic and stilts the rhythm of the prose. It drove me nuts.
I would recommend Superheroes Wear Faded Denim to readers who want a slightly sexy read about angels and magical beings. If you like quirky stories with potential, then I would suggest this.
I wouldn't suggest it, however, to those who are like me and can't get past the flaws and archaic writing in a novel. ...more
I was intrigued by Debbie Davies's Any Love But Mine because of theReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received an e-copy for review.
I was intrigued by Debbie Davies's Any Love But Mine because of the storyline. Although not obvious from the synopses, Acacia, the sometimes awkward and indecisive protagonist, is a young adult immortal attending a mortal high school. The story, though original, to a point, and intriguing, is flawed by the lack of editing and the sometimes inconsistant and unreliable narrator. This being said however, Davies has a good concept in her novel, especially the merging of mortals and immortals into one book. Current trends in literature will welcome a romantic young adult novel with this much potential.
In order to get to the praise, the flaws need to be mentioned. Davies has a strong voice that echoes on every page, but her strength is weakened by a very distracting lack of punctuation and the occasionally awkward word choice.
Acacia was a very hard protagonist to follow and trust. She was constantly jumping back and forth about her love life, family, and safety. It was hard to pinpoint what she would do next, which I admit would be an attractive quality in other novels, but Davies's story acquired a sense of confusion at various points.
With all its faults, however, Davies writes a swoon worthy romance, albeit brief, between Acacia and Josh. Before the plot turns complicated and confusing, the reader is set on a sure path between these two characters. We watch as the inevitable meet and greet occurs, as Acacia's knowledge of her world is challenged, and find ourselves wishing we could aid Acacia with her internal struggle of right versus wrong.
Save for minor inconsistencies, the storyline is promising. Any Love But Mine is a romance worth checking out. Davies's novel touches on mythology in an original way, even if the conclusion is a tad cliche. If subjected to several bouts of editing, Davies's novel has a chance of becoming a favorite among Young Adult paranormal romance enthusiasts....more
Set in New York City, This Case is Gonna Kill Me is an urban fantasy novel by Phillipa Bornikova that features vampires, werewolves, and fairies. Bornikova challenges the romanticized image of vampires, werewolves, and other mythical creatures in today’s literature. Her novel draws the reader in with its fast-paced and addicting suspense, rather than with romance and coy characters.
The protagonist, Linnet, is a sassy and outspoken woman who adds personality to the story line. Bornikova's passion for horses translates onto the pages and helps move the plot along.
Linnet's reactions to the sexism in her world also makes her a reliable character. When faced with the challenge of empowering women in her law firm, she manages to give the women in the novel back their voices. Though she has moments where she questions her identity, Linnet does not waver when it comes to proving her worth.
Bornikova adopts the expected romance of the urban fantasy genre, flirts with the endless possibilities around Linnet, and shrivels up any cliched expectations for the reader. By having other supernatural beings enter Linnet’s romantic life, Bornikova offers a different perspective of what could happen in a world where the female protagonist does not automatically choose the vampire.
The novel brings to light how ridiculous it is to glorify vampires, especially when they are monsters with ulterior motives. This Case is Gonna Kill Me also moves beyond the overused “Vampire Meets Girl” plot line. In fact, Bornikova focuses more on the action in the quickly paced plot than the hints of romance in the story.
The mysterious aspect of the plot is at times predictable, but not to the point where the reader will get annoyed. Bornikova manages to create an enthralling story, despite the difficulties of creating effective plot twists in suspense and mystery novels.
This Case is Gonna Kill Me is a fast-paced and sexy story that will have readers laughing and cringing at the same time. Bornikova’s realistic dialogue will have the reader connecting with the characters, while the riveting suspense will have him/her wishing s/he could join Linnet as she works her dangerous case...more
I'm a fan of Sherry Soule because of how captivating her story lines areReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy for review
I'm a fan of Sherry Soule because of how captivating her story lines are.
She has these immense ideas that, if put successfully onto paper, will steal the reader's attention for hours. The difference between Moonlight Mayhem and Beautifully Broken is extreme.
Beautifully Broken, the first in the Spellbound series, has a protagonist, Shiloh, that was a bit too emotionally unattached. In Moonlight Mayhem, the sequel, Shiloh is too emotionally attached to her father's death, but barely mentions her other friends.
Moonlight Mayhem will make an entertaining read for readers. However, my focus was occasionally stolen by misused words. I did enjoy, however, how the characters surpassed the high school cliches to work together on the problem at hand.
Seeing as this is a sequel, there's not much I can say without causing huge spoilers. So, read at your own risk.
(view spoiler)[What irked me was Shiloh's lack of mention or emotional response to the deaths of her friends in Beautifully Broken. It was like they had never even existed. I tried very hard to get past these issues and focus on the plot, which was quite good.
The mystery is exciting and, like her previous book, creepy as hell. I could relate to Shiloh's pain over losing her father, so that was a nice little moment. (hide spoiler)]
Would I recommend this book? Sure. The action is fast-paced and the emotional connection that Shiloh shares with her (still alive) best friend, Ari, is realistic. The story is riddled with creepiness and Soule strives to go beyond the cliches of the supernatural. ...more
Abigail Gibbs’s young adult novel Dinner With a Vampire, the first installment in The Dark Heroine series, is another addition to the popular vampire genre. Full of romance and beautiful prose, Gibbs offers the reader a more creative, better detailed, and slightly less naive version of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. It is inevitable that the two are compared, since they both touch on the romanticization of vampires.
I admit that this is a guilty pleasure book, especially because of how it treats its female counterparts. I did my best to read straight through the disempowerment of female characters and the cliches that sprinkled the pages. For the most part, I allowed myself to be swallowed by the gothic romance and sexy male protagonist.
The unappealing aspect of Gibbs’s novel is how female characters are portrayed. This vampiric world introduces hierarchies full of men, as well as passing comments of female vampires hoping to one day have an equal say. The female protagonist, Violet, for a good portion of the story, is treated like an object, rather than a person, which unfortunately mimics the disempowerment of females in young adult novels.
What the reader will like about this story, however, is Gibbs's awareness of how weak Violet is in the novel. She points out flaws by having other characters comment on them, which is superb. This realization and commentary gives the novel comedic relief, whether intended or not, because Gibbs is showing her readers that her story takes place in a world aware of Violet’s frivolities.
Considering Gibbs is 18, most likely younger when she first wrote Dinner With a Vampire, this novel is a very impressive piece. The prose is nearly effortless, the diction well beyond expectation, and the pacing is quick, but not distractingly so. The story reads like a Jane Austen novel full of vampires and risque moments.
Gibbs also has a way of building anticipation for the reader. Certain scenes are very well crafted, luring the reader into the moment, rather than just telling him/her what happens next. In a way, Gibbs is seducing the reader with her prose, much like Kaspar, the male protagonist, is seducing Violet.
Dinner With a Vampire is a must-read for fans of vampires in young adult novels. Though sexy enough to be inappropriate for readers younger than fourteen, it is a quick and tasty treat for readers craving a romantic paranormal novel....more
Katy Krump’s Blue Dust: Forbidden is a young adult fantasy novel heavy with philosophical meaning and beautiful writing. From the get-go, the reader is thrown into a fast-paced plot full of questions neither the reader, nor Qea, the protagonist, can answer. The reader is taken on an adventure that will put to question the values of Earth, and what s/he knows about life beyond the solar system.
A master of disguise, Qea experiences a character growth that both surprises and seemingly weakens her. Krump uses her gift for words to create a realistic and relatable protagonist in a most surreal world. Qea’s uneasiness with change adds a hint of humanity to a character that appears almost indestructible.
It isn’t just Qea who undergoes a brilliant transformation, but Adam, Qea’s partner, does as well. He gives the reader hope that a human can surpass the prejudices placed on him/her by a dominant race.
Blue Dust: Forbidden is a fantastic novel that also brings to light, and challenges, some of Earth’s most talked about and tabooed topics. Such topics include: religion, politics, the power of currency, and mother nature, to name a few. Krump’s novel is a blend of what is both wrong and simple on Earth, and how Earth may be looked upon by worse-off worlds. The message the reader may get, aside from how to survive if ever abducted by aliens, is that Earth is better than how its inhabitants are treating it.
Religion is one of the greatest aspects of this novel, no matter how subtly it is touched upon. Though Qea references Earth’s God briefly, her solar system is protected by the Troiqa, a benevolent being that follows the reader and hides among Qea’s world, until s/he is discovered. It brings to light the frailty and the complexities of faith. By not overtly focusing on the power of the Troiqa, Krump is allowing the reader to form his/her own faith in Qea’s god-like creator. Her trust in her reader gives her novel strength, since she is not forcing her ideals, but offering multiple viewpoints.
Masterfully detailed, engaging, and well-paced, Krump has created a novel that will draw its readers in. Blue Dust: Forbidden promises hours of action and adventure. Save for one or two instances where the story may drag, particularly near the conclusion, Krump offers a nearly flawless commentary on what is both right and wrong with Earth.
Krump’s novel is recommended for an audience that enjoys well-detailed and eye-catching fantastical worlds, strong female protagonists who appear seemingly flawless, but human all the same, and an intriguing story line that promises to leave the reader in a contemplative mood once s/he has reached the conclusion....more
I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Josin L. McQuein's Arclight is a crReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Josin L. McQuein's Arclight is a creepy, but very cool young adult novel. McQuein's debut is teeming with individual stories begging to be told, as well as a mystery that pulses with a life of its own. Basically, who is Marina? We are plagued with this question for the majority of the novel as we follow Marina, the protagonist, and the other characters on her quest to self-discovery.
But the creepy tone of the novel is what will surely capture the reader's attention. McQuein takes the common fear of the dark and twists it into her own horrifying perfection. She does not simply create monsters who lurk in the dark, she creates creatures who are made of the dark and so much more--giving them the disturbing ability to blend in with nearly anything.
The pacing is great. The story begins in the heart of a crises, giving us a chance to see which characters will stand out in the novel, and what side they will sit on (either they are bad guys, or good guys). The introduction also works for me because I am not left wondering why Marina isn't popular, and why the people living in the Arclight are so scared of the dark.
Having complimented the pacing, I think it's important to state that the storyline (and rising action) can be described as a very action-filled read--never a dull moment. We are continuously led from one terrifying moment, to another.
There is romance, as there usually is in post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels. The affairs between these young characters add not only blush-worthy story lines, but also hope to the bleak setting. The romance between Marina and her love interest makes you hope for the best for them, even as the dark encroaches on their world.
The complexity of the novel is brought up a notch as we learn more about the Fade, the creatures that live beyond the light barrier. McQuein somehow makes a terrifying creature into a thing of beauty by using poetic prose in her descriptions. She touches on the power of nature in a world seemingly bereft of life, she explores familial connections, and how trust can be more powerful than fear.
The one thing I am not a huge fan of is how stubborn Marina is. I also find her behavior near the end to be slightly hypocritical. Here's a girl who's been shunned by those around her because she's different, yet she cannot offer the same compassion to others in similar situations. Her attitude mimics that of the people who mistreat her, which completely baffles me. While I like the other characters, like the thoughtful and hopeful Tobin, or even the chatty Anne-Marie, Marina acts just like the other ignorant people in the Arclight--even though she was not born there.
Which adds to the fact that, no matter if the subject is human or not, prejudices run deep in this one.
At first, I was extremely happy to have found a post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel that was a standalone, but then I found out that Arclight is simply the beginning of a series. I have mixed feelings about this because while I would like to know what happens to the characters beyond Marina's story, I'm going to need a heck of a new mystery and discovery for the sequel to intrigue me. Arclight's mystery explains and disproves so many of the prejudices and fears in the novel, that a sequel feels a little dangerous.
I recommend Arclight to readers of post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. If you like novels that play with the dark, offer fearful situations that have more depth than simply being terrifying, and like complex mysteries, then you might want to check this one out.
This year is looking good for dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels, and Arclight is a nice addition to the already impressive collection. ...more
I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Julie Kagawa's The Eternity Cure waReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Julie Kagawa's The Eternity Cure was one of my most anticipated reads of 2013, especially since the first in the Blood of Eden series, The Immortal Rules, is one of my favorite books from my 2012 reading list.
Allison, the protagonist, is introduced as a vampire on a mission. Her character continues to grow as she fights her way through terrifying hordes of the undead, faces her past in more ways than one, and is forced to confront the reality of her immortality.
The greatest downfall of this anticipated novel is the pacing in the first third of the novel. It felt sluggish and I will admit that I had to adapt to Allison's world yet again. But once I got over the slow uphill climb to the rising action, the story quickly picks up and I remembered why The Immortal Rules was so addicting.
The concept is pretty neat and original. The "Red Lung" disease in itself is fascinating because of how creepy it makes the victims act. But that's only one of the reasons why the concept is original. One of the things I've always admired about The Immortal Rules is how Kagawa can reach multiple goals within the storyline, yet the reader wants to keep going--and she happily obliges, giving us adventure, after adventure within one novel.
There are so many things going on that it seems every chapter is action-packed, if not emotionally-packed. I guess this is mainly thanks to Allison's growth as a character (i.e. See reference in first book to where her maker tells her that she controls what kind of monster she wants to become).
In The Eternity Cure, there is more focus on Allison, rather than everyone else around her. I understand that the first book explored temptation and the limits behind control, but this installment challenges Allison's acceptance of who she's become and how to maintain it, which promises to be an interesting issue in the rest of the series. Let's just say that the ending of this one (WOW!!!) definitely promises to be life-altering for Allison.
The Eternity Cure does suffer from predictability, but Kagawa does the best she can with what she has. Though we know what's going to happen, or at least what we think will happen, Kagawa still lures us in with great internal struggles and thought-provoking prose.
Despite the predictability factor, Kagawa sure knows how to present a heck of a cliffhanger...various times. Various Times. (Hint: You'll be picking up your jaw from the floor a few times).
The romance is fantastic and a little coquettish on the male love interest's part, which is very cute and sweet compared to the tone of the novel. The romance is definitely the light in the darkened world Allison inhabits. But that's all I'm going to say. I WILL NOT RUIN THIS FOR YOU.
Was this a fantastic sequel? It wasn't fantastic, but it was entertaining and still leaves a lot for the future. Unanswered questions run rampant by the conclusion, but that's what makes this series a must-read. I will admit I originally placed a huge amount of expectations on The Eternity Cure, but I will still say that The Immortal Rules is still my favorite installment in the series.
I recommend the Blood of Eden series to lovers of the vampire genre...not the sparkly kind, but the violent, bloody, and female vampire point-of-view kind.
Allison is a tough young woman finding her place in a world built up on death and destruction. Kagawa's female protagonist is a growing character who promises surprises in the future installments. Plus, she's a much needed powerful female character in a male-dominated genre....more
I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Amy McCulloch's The Oathbreaker's SReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Amy McCulloch's The Oathbreaker's Shadow is a fantasy young adult novel that I was wary of reading, simply because the fantasy genre and I aren't exactly friends. I've read a couple of fantastical novels that have (thankfully) been quite good and The Oathbreaker's Shadow is one of those novels that made me a fan of the genre.
McCulloch's expertly created world, interesting array of characters, and beautiful prose add up to a masterfully told story--even those who are not fans of fantasy may fall in love with this one.
Raim, the protagonist, is introduced as a powerful teenager with a strong sense of self. He knows that he is destined to be a great warrior, he is best friends with the prince, and he lives in a society that expects him to succeed. But Raim is flawed by one little issue: his past.
In Raim's world, promises are vows that cannot be broken easily. Any promise breaker will be marked (once s/he turns 16) and haunted by the shadow of the person s/he broke the promise with. Raim, despite his position in his society, is not safe from the dangers of promise-keeping, and he finds out the hard way that sometimes life has a way of throwing you a massive curveball.
I will state that the beginning is perhaps the slowest part in the novel, simply because McCulloch is weaving the world for us, like the weavers in her novel--one thread at a time. We need to understand the depth of the friendship between Raim and the prince, Khareh, and we also need to learn the rules of the world these two characters inhabit. Slowly, we are inducted into the secret world behind The Oathbreaker's Shadow.
Though the size of the book is daunting, the reader may find that the pages simply pass much quicker than anticipated. The story is enthralling, complex, and bursting with adventure. McCulloch sets up the series quite nicely, hinting to us the main mysteries that will be explored in the following installments, and just how the characters may grow.
I loved the danger, the new friends that Raim meets (including animals), and the creepy realization that many of the stories told to him when he was a child were in fact not fictional retellings.
The narrative is presented in third person limited narrative and while I am not a fan of this style of writing, it somehow feels fitting to the story. The world McCulloch creates is so large and fascinating, that I would hate to be limited to only Raim's experience of the world around him (something I usually love in first person narratives) .
The character growth goes alongside the mystery that is constantly nagging at Raim's mind. But as the story continues, we watch Raim grow from a self-assured teenager, to a toughened and more realistic young man. As the mysteries mount and Raim's world becomes more complicated, we see him find love, hope, and himself in a desert where people often become forever lost--which just shows Raim's strength and uniqueness.
The conclusion is promising and open enough that really, anything is possible. Power can shift, tricks can come to light, and the young romance between Raim and his love interest can either help his growth, or devour him whole.
I recommend The Oathbreaker's Shadow to readers of young adult fantasy novels that include incredibly vivid world building, mysteries galore, a bit of magic and love, and nonstop action....more
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review
Anna Caltabiano's All That is Red is a young adultReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review
Anna Caltabiano's All That is Red is a young adult novel decorated with beautiful prose and great pacing. I read this one in just a few short hours (it's only about 160-ish pages long), and although I wasn't entirely surprised by the conclusion, it was an intriguing way to end this very unusual book.
(view spoiler)[One thing the reader should probably keep in mind while exploring this novel is that it is one long metaphor. I'm not going to tell you for what, since I'm not going to ruin it for you, but I just want to mention this so you can fully understand how impressive this interesting novel is. (hide spoiler)]
We are introduced to a protagonist who is immediately thrust into a strange world of red. At the same time that this new character admits that she just wants to feel something, her new world starts losing its colour. We are never given names (until the conclusion) and I think the point of this is so that any reader can possibly relate to the message beneath the story.
I think what makes this even more intriguing and possibly empowering is that a teenager wrote it. I find this important because who better than a teenager to tell us about the ever-growing difficulties of emotions in adolescences?
The prose is beautiful. The writing flowed so well that the pages melted away and whereas other books may trip me up with their metaphors, this one kind of just flowed, like the river the characters are following. Also, the great thing about having wonderful prose is that the pacing is made even better. There was no lagging as the story progressed, making it a pretty quick read.
What I didn't like so much was how it was kind of drawn out. Yes, it's already short, but I feel like the metaphor of this story starting feeling a bit strained near the end. Whereas the beginning was deep and almost whimsical, I started to lose interest closer to the conclusion.
The "wake-up call", both literally and figuratively, for the protagonist is what I already expected would happen. I guessed what the story was about from the moment the protagonist started talking about her life and lack of emotions, but the truth behind the story was so slyly thrown in with red herrings that I did second guess myself a few times.
I liked both the abrupt and open way the story concluded, since it most likely means that life is both completely different for the protagonist now, and that there is more to her life that she has to explore.
I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy storylines with a darker undertone, as well as readers who don't mind ambiguous characters. If you're looking for romance, prepare for something less steamy than you're used to, and if you're looking for paranormal, then look the other way. ...more
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review via Edelweiss
Snow Like Ashes is a heck of a debutReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review via Edelweiss
Snow Like Ashes is a heck of a debut from author Sara Raasch. As I've mentioned in my most recent reviews, I'm fairly new to the high fantasy genre and I have to say, this one rocked. It was full of adventure, revelations, and a wickedly cool world. The descriptions were great and every time magic made an appearance, I went a bit wild. Though not perfect, this was definitely a great introduction to high fantasy in the young adult age group.
Meira, the protagonist, has one of those unforgettable names because the other characters cry her name out so many times that it inspired me to create a drinking game. Honestly, it's like everyone was calling her at some point. But I get it, it was a bit of foreshadowing for why they are always looking for her. Right?
I liked Meira because she was a badass. She didn't take any trouble from anyone AND when someone did give her trouble, she always found a way around it. In a way, I liked her mostly because she reminded me of how I would react in a situation like hers. I'm sick of seeing female protagonists being pushovers, or people with unbelievable levels of patience. The truth is: real people make mistakes and sometimes act rashly, so it was nice to see a character whose actions were so organic, rather than planned out.
The world building was gorgeous! I don't know how no one thought about creating a continent that is separated by seasons. Though it's complex and intricate, Raasch's fantastical universe is easy to get a hang of. Though my e-copy showed a very small map, I will definitely be glancing over it when it comes into my store!
While I loved Meira, I wasn't too keen about all of the other characters. I liked Mather because he was this guy that we're immediately introduced to as a potential love interest, so we instantly start rooting for the star-crossed lovers. But then, something happens and you're introduced to (view spoiler)[ A potential third point in a love triangle. Le sigh. I'm not a fan of love triangles and though this one is short lived, the idea of it being in this awesome book feels like a bit of a cop-out so some drama can come into the novel--when it is clearly not needed. But not all bad things come out of this third member in the triangle, because he ruins the potentially cliched situation that Mather and Meira almost get into it. (hide spoiler)]
Now, onto the father-figure character in Meira's life. The fact that she calls him Sir shows how disconnected she is from him, but also how she respects him (and yearns for his approval). This character, while serving his role as a motivator and a key to something that happens later on in the novel, shows Meira's vulnerability and how alone she feels when she is actually surrounded by people. Sir's presence shows us how plagued Meira is by her stance in the fight to get Winter, her home, back from the enemy, and how much she yearns for someone to love her. I would say that he is the spark to her internal fuse, in a way, because he is always there as a reminder of the secrets that neither Meira nor the reader knows.
Snow Like Ashes is surprisingly very dark. Though on the surface it seems like just another adventure to save a kingdom, there's a lot of allusions to abuse--both in power and rape. This gave the novel a surprising depth, since it increased the secondhand terror that a reader might feel. Though this is fiction, it's very disturbingly realistic.
I have multiple reasons for why I'm not giving Raasch's novel a five star rating. Most are minor issues, like the fact that some of the characters (view spoiler)[(Like Therin) (hide spoiler)] weren't that well drawn out, so it was harder to connect and empathize with them; the slightly predictable storyline; and whole (view spoiler)[ love triangle thing. (hide spoiler)]
My main reasons for not giving this one a five star rating are: the novel begins kind of slow and is a little hard to get into; and that this is part of a series, but with a couple of word changes, this could easily be a standalone novel. I don't even know if I'll read the sequel because I was so content with this one installment.
Would I recommend this novel? Heck yes! The conclusion gives you this huge sense of contentment after suffering through hell with Meira. You become so attached to her character that every time something huge happens or her life changes, you end up cheering.
If you like high fantasy, adventure, and kick-ass female protagonists, then you might like this one. I'm a rookie to this genre, but I'm definitely becoming more intrigued, thanks to Raasch!
I received a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
The Jewel by Amy Ewing is one of thoReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
The Jewel by Amy Ewing is one of those books that I went into unsure of when I decided to read it. When it first popped up on Edelweiss, I almost didn't read it, but then I started hearing a lot of things about it, so I decided to give it a shot. I'm happy that I did!
Violet, the protagonist, is aptly named for her eye colour. While her personality shows potential for future novels, I liked seeing her emotional and psychological change as the novel progresses. She doesn't suddenly change, or suddenly hate the idea of her life. She isn't naive and/or deluded in thoughts of grandeur. Instead, she knows that she is an item being sold. What really surprised me, however, was the whole fantastical aspect of it (I didn't read the synopsis.) That was unique, but I think it could have either been used more or seen as a way of saving Violet, rather than just a pretty set of gifts.
I will admit that I wasn't a huge fan of the love interest, mainly because he was a jerk. The way he treats Violet when he finds out that she is a surrogate made me feel horrible for her because it truly shows how isolated and mistreated she is. But I wasn't feeling the romance between these two characters, since it was kind of random and all over the place. How does a character go from completely hating and ignoring you, to saying that he can't stop thinking about you?
A lot of the characters were incredibly cruel and I flinched whenever something came back to bite Violet in the butt. I felt horrible for her situation, for her love interest's situation, and for her friends. The whole concept of this book is disturbing.
For those comparing this to The Selection by Kiera Cass, I can kind of see where you're coming from, but mainly because of the cover and the glamour. But honestly, this novel is a heck of a lot darker in context and meaning than The Selection. In Cass's story, you have a choice to sign up for a chance at a different life, but in Ewing's novel, you have no choice at all. You are a prisoner in a castle, not a guest.
Finally, the conclusion completely caught me off guard. I was expecting something else and was so happy when I was taken by surprise (This doesn't usually happen to me!), so, awesome job, Ewing! I look forward to reading the sequel, because honestly, there's no way I CAN'T know what comes next!
I recommend this to fans of dystopian novels that feature pretty dresses, but darker themes. If you like strong female characters that are prisoners in a seemingly perfect world, then you might enjoy this one!...more
I received a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard has toReview also appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard has to be one of the coolest and most bad-ass Young Adult books I've read in a long time. The storyline, though at times reminiscent of The Selection by Kiera Cass (this is a very, very light comparison) and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins--due to the court, the rebels, pageantry, and the elite's abuse of the weaker humans--is unique in its own way and the characters are seriously fantastic. Aveyard's novel is one of those books that you don't know how to feel about just before you start it, then quickly become slightly addicted once you've gotten a taste of her dystopic/fantastical world.
Mare Barrow, the protagonist, is one amazing character. She is so layered, that you can't help but watch her grow as the story progresses. She becomes one of those characters who plays with your head, since she's kind of figuring out where she stands. Unlike other dystopian novels that showcase a female protagonist being crippled by her indecision, Mare knows that with her power, not just her ability but what she represents, she has to at least try in succeeding.
There are various revolutions going on right now in Young Adult literature and Red Queen proudly showcases one of them in the Dystopian/Fantasy genre: A woman has the power to save herself, whether it's through villainy, or by being a hero. Young Adult is showing its future and current readers that a woman can be both strong AND flawed; she can be weak AND powerful, without the stigma of daring not to fall into a cookie cutter expectation. Young Adult is slowly become less about who the female protagonist will choose to love, and more about who she will become.
The supporting characters--and I'm not going to call them love interests--are fantastic because they also have so many layers to them. They're not flat and they have a greater purpose to serve than that of potential love interests for Mare. One of the older characters warns Mare about being too trusting with people and I'm pretty sure this is also a warning for the reader--and a major foreshadowing moment for the massive twist at the end. Like Mare, you find yourself wary of all of the characters you come in contact with because everyone has their own agenda, and no one is one hundred percent trustworthy. This inability to see someone as one hundred percent good or evil is very important, because it shows how human these characters are. This may be fiction, but even fictional characters have to act human at times.
Aveyard has done an incredible job of weaving this story and taking you to places that you didn't expect. The pacing is great and you never linger on something for too long, which is important because much like the reader's time is running short (the book will eventually end), Mare's is also running too short to focus on the small things.
As events take place, you expect Mare to take one route, but instead she is shown another. This is a story that definitely accepts the consequences of actions and becomes more distorted as time passes. It also shows us that Mare's attempts to be the typical female hero (where she is very self-sacrificing) fail her because she ends up being a unique protagonist in her own right. She is brutally honest in her situations, even if they hurt her, and she is smart enough to be wary of happiness.
Now, let's talk about these abilities that people possess. I'm not going to mention Mare's ability, but I will just say that it's enlightening and so appropriate because she is a beacon once crap hits the fan. These abilities of the nobles and common Silvers are great, but it's Mare who made this book so cool and badass. Sometimes, I felt like this would be a wicked movie because I could easily picture these people doing all of these amazing things. Just imagine: X-Men vs. The Hunger Games (for lack of a better comparison--though, in my opinion, she's tougher than Katniss), now imagine seeing THAT on the big screen.
I think this book was fantastic not just because of the characters, but because of how complex it is. There is no action, without a consequence. There is no choice, without a downfall. There is a web around Mare that threatens to trap her and even we can't see it until it is too late. When I was almost finished, I found myself frustrated at the prospect of this being a series, since a series can potentially destroy a good premise. When I finished, I realized why it was a trilogy, but I was still frustrated. As I read the penultimate chapter, logically speaking, I saw a fantastic way to end the book without needing to make two more books. Granted, if the book had ended there, the actions taken by the characters would contradict their basic character traits. So, even though I can definitely see the need for more books, I don't necessarily agree with it.
I would recommend this book to any one who is a fan of dystopian or fantasy novels. If you want a quickly paced, twisted story, and tough (to a fault) protagonist, then you might enjoy this one! 2015 has been a fantastic year for books so far and this is another great installment.
I went into Brandon Sanderson's The Rithmatist with high hopes, especially since I've only just starReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I went into Brandon Sanderson's The Rithmatist with high hopes, especially since I've only just started getting into the whole young adult fantasy genre. I was not disappointed! While Sanderson's novel wasn't perfect, it was that nice mix of fun, mystery, and promise. I can't wait for the sequel (which is supposedly coming out in 2015), and since I'm not a series girl, that's saying a lot about this book.
Joel, the protagonist, is one of those characters that is very humble with his situation, even though he clearly yearns for more. I like the fact that he kind of teaches the reader about the art of Rithmatism as the story progresses, rather than bombard us with unknown slang and random facts. Like the students in his book, Sanderson kind of uses his story as a classroom where diagrams are on display and simple explanations of Joel's steampunk world are readily available. I enjoyed that Joel doesn't just info-dump his world's history at the beginning of the novel, but instead, brings us into the heart of his love for the Rithmatic arts.
While I did like Joel's character, I felt like his actions and the way he spoke and thought were a bit young for his age. Joel is sixteen, but with the third person narrative and his awkward conversations with his girl friend, he sounded more like a twelve-fourteen year-old just getting the hang of being a teenager. In other words, Joel was cool, but it felt like I was reading a middle grade novel rather than a young adult novel.
I think the idea of being able to create a sort of life with chalk is fantastic and as an artist, it would be amazing to see my artwork come to life. Sanderson's idea is fresh and intricate enough that it can easily be made into a semi-long series (maybe a duology or a trilogy, at the most.) The conclusion left me with questions and new discoveries, which of course resulted in me wanting the sequel RIGHT AWAY.
Sanderson's novel is also unique in that it doesn't follow the usual formula. I found that in the places where he had the chance to be predictable, he did the exact opposite and fooled me. As a result, I found myself (a good kind of) wary with what would happen next. I was hooked and though it took me a while to finish this book, it's purely because of my respect for what was going to happen next to Joel.
I was watching a YouTube video about book conclusions within a series and how sometimes a certain kind of closure is needed, even if the book is just a sequel, or the first in a multiple book series. For The Rithmatist, I can see how this issue would apply. The conclusion was well done and gave me (some) closure. Whereas I would have liked something else for Joel and for the book to simply keep going, Sanderson has other bigger, and better plans for Joel and his friends.
The pacing was great, the storyline was intriguing, captivating, and surprising, some of the characters could use a bit more work--but this is the first book in the series, so I'm not too worried about that--, and the massive twist near the end (and at the very end) had me both questioning my guessing abilities and wanting more, more, more.
In other words, this was great.
I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a good steampunk novel that has a touch of fantasy to it. If you like mysteries and characters that are age appropriate (say, if you or your kid is 12-16), even if the characters are older than you, then this might be a book for you.
While Sabriel is a great fantasy novel by Garth Nix, it felt like one of those books that you can't just read in one sittingWhat to say, what to say.
While Sabriel is a great fantasy novel by Garth Nix, it felt like one of those books that you can't just read in one sitting. For me, it was very heavy and though interesting, it did have its moments of me wanting to take a long break. While I can definitely see why this story would be timeless, I could also see vestiges of what I believe are early to mid 1990's prose. The writing is more formal than what you would encounter in today's literature (at least in teen), and the ideas are fresh and disturbingly realistic, whereas nowadays, it's hard to find a novel that explores totally original ideas (Which begs the off-topic question of: Are there any original ideas left?) It makes you wonder if somewhere in the world there's a wall being protected by guards and running water. Are we, too, on the brink of death?
The world building was awesome because it was so detailed. The fact that there are TWO worlds separated by a magical wall is intriguing because the differences between the two worlds are huge. While one is in dire need of saving, the other shows us an early rough draft of what our society now looks like. It was a bit of a reminder of how old ways are scorned and lost in the quest for a new, more advanced life--as if Charter Magic were a pagan tradition. But I digress, because no way in hell am I touching the issue of religion in this review. Trust me, the idea of open-ended and gated death is one that counteracts so many--okay, I'll stop.
When Sabriel crosses over to the Old Kingdom, I could feel the story already taking a dark, but exciting turn. Though it was a bit of a struggle for me to get to the end of this novel, I did find it eerie and when it did get its claws into me, I couldn't let the book go--at least, until life called me back. See what I did there? ;)
Now, one little thing and this may be a spoiler for some, so I'll mark it: (view spoiler)[The, and I quote, "Deep Love" that is mentioned in the synopsis is not as it seems. This generation might read that and assume that there will be this hero in shining armor who rescues the maiden (Sabriel). In fact, I believe that the deep love mentioned is the one Sabriel feels for her father. Sure, there's sudden--and admittedly, confusing and blunt--romance, but this is more of a familial love, since she is adopting the name her father has always held during her life (this shows dedication and loyalty, which can sometimes be construed as a sort of love.) Also, let's take a moment to appreciate the fact that Sabriel is kick ass and doesn't need to be rescued by men. Just saying. (hide spoiler)]
Overall, I enjoyed Sabriel, even if it took more concentration than usual. I find that I will sometimes encounter books that beg to be read in the span of a week, month, or year. It doesn't make the book any less awesome.
Will I read the next book in the series? Probably not, but only because I'm not much of a series person. Would I recommend this to readers of young adult fantasy? Definitely, this is a classic for a reason.
I received a copy via my work in exchange for an honest review
Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay was anReview also appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy via my work in exchange for an honest review
Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay was an awesome young adult fantasy novel that plays with the fairy tale theme. While I loved almost everything about this novel, there were a few things that stopped it from being a favourite this year.
Aurora and Niklaas, the two protagonists and narrators, both have serious issues on their hands and hope that they can help each other out. These two characters both embody a sort of extreme that is slightly refreshing in today's young adult literature. Whereas Aurora, disguised as a boy, showcases just how powerful a woman can be when she isn't limited because of gender prejudice, Niklaas is the slightly pigheaded love interest who has a very severe taste of his own medicine (how many times have we not hoped to see a male character reformed?) The irony of his and Aurora's situation is brilliant because it adds colour to the darkness of their world. Both of these characters are what made this story truly enjoyable. Yes, there's a lot of adventure and intrigue, but without the dialogue and the dynamic personalities, this novel could have easily fallen flat.
While the world building was great and there was a map at the beginning of the book, there were a few things that I didn't understand. For example, the year-markers that the characters kept mentioning were coming up. I don't know if I just missed the explanation, but when the characters spoke about Niklaas birthday, they called it something else? I know it seems like nothing, but it's confusing when you're reading a story and there's a word or two you don't know because it is a fictional word created by the author.
As an irregular fantasy reader, I found this book to be really easy to get into. The reader is pulled in from the start with some serious action and funny dialogue--but then, the pacing kind of slows to a snail's pace. It felt like the author focused so much on pulling in the reader, that the middle was kind of drawn out and forgotten. By the end, I was just happy to see the story conclude after all the crap the characters had to face. Despite the slow pacing in the middle, there were some situations that could have been drawn out more so we could learn more about the setting and the world the characters inhabited. If this makes any sense: The story felt rushed, even if it was slowly paced.
Another small issue I had with this novel was the cheesiness. Though throughout the novel, the slow budding romance is awesome and not instantaneous at all, when it did happen, it was kind of over the top--as if the author was making up for all the sexual tension and buildup throughout the book. Don't get me wrong, it was a cute and sweet kind of romance, but it was really, really cheesy, especially after the short amount of time they've been traveling together. Plus, I'm not even going to touch the seriously predictable major no-no that Aurora does to Niklaas. Just, no.
Despite all my grumbling, I did enjoy this book and would recommend the heck out of it. Yes, it wasn't perfect, but it was fun. The best thing about Jay's novel, as well, is that this is a standalone novel! Yes! How nice is that? So, if you're in the mood for a fairy-tale-esque story full of adventure, quick romance, and witty characters, then you might enjoy this one!
I received a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley isReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley is such a hard book to rate because on the one hand, you have a very weird story written in an unconventional way that could almost be off-putting, but on the other hand, you have a very weird story written in an unconventional way that is almost impossible to put down. It is, without a doubt, a very obvious fact that Headley is gifted with words. The writing in Magonia is absolutely gorgeous, even if it was a bit unusual. She morphs words to do her bidding, as if she is singing them into existence, and then hooks you with a compelling and strangely fascinating story. Like it's beautiful cover, this unique tale kind of grasps you without your knowing and doesn't let go until the (admittedly) sappy conclusion.
Aza, the protagonist, shares the narrating gig with her best friend, Jason. From the beginning, I was intrigued by Aza because she was just so negative. I know how that sounds, but Aza is dying and she's not going to bullshit her way around it. She's not going to wax poetic about how we are all born to die, she is just focusing on herself and her weird condition. When the novel begins, it's pretty obvious that Aza is a very cynical character and Headley uses beautiful descriptors and metaphors to convey Aza's too-aware opinion of her situation.
Aza is also the kind of character who changes, both physically and mentally, as the novel progresses. She becomes a bit more aware of the world around her and begins to notice things outside of her own questionable existence. As Aza grows as a character, the prose simplifies, which is actually kind of impressive because it shows Headley's ability to morph her writing to fit her changing character. What I found a bit ironic, however, was how Aza's attitude of simply accepting the facts around her becomes her undoing (not a spoiler--every character has a major flaw to face.) It is in her later actions that we see that maybe, just maybe, Aza isn't quite so ready to let go as she previously thought she was.
Jason, on the other hand, is a character that I felt kind of meh about. He felt like the secondary character who was added in as an afterthought as a reminder of what life was like for Aza before. He is the embodiment of what Earth means to Aza, I see that now, but I found that the chapters he narrated (which were scarce) interrupted the flow of Aza's story. Imagine you're really into a scene in a movie, then suddenly, you're taken out of that scene and forced to watch a completely different scene, which also happens to be occasionally out of sync time-wise from the dominant storyline. It can get a bit messed up--though, I will admit that there's a little something that happens there that works out great.
As the story progressed, I found myself liking Jason more because of his personality, even if some of his actions, quick acceptances, and casual remarks about being secretly rich because of his inventions were a bit farfetched. But then again, this whole novel was a stretch of the imagination that I was in no way prepared for. The storyline is unique and I highly recommend going in knowing as little as possible about what happens to Aza. This is the kind of story that may seem unapproachable to the casual reader, so it's best if you know little about it. I find that with beautiful covers, there's a higher sense of expectation. Don't expect much, just dive into it.
I will repeat what I've been saying during my reading experience: this is one hell of a weird book, but it is so freaking cool once things get clearer that you won't be able to put it down.
I recommend Magonia to readers who enjoy a new kind of mythology in young adult fiction. If you want a storyline that has a hint of romance, but not enough to overpower the main story, then you might enjoy this one. This is more a story of accepting who you are and knowing that you can make your own decisions.
I can understand the hype behind An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, I really can. You've got a couple of kick asI received a copy via the publisher
I can understand the hype behind An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, I really can. You've got a couple of kick ass protagonists who both grow and learn to be the best they can be, and you have an incredible premise set in an original world. The thing is, that I found myself occasionally unwilling to read this book. I don't know if I just wasn't in the mood, but this one lacked that particular appeal that I usually find in some Fantasy books.
To make this review short, I'll separate what I liked and disliked about this book:
1. Elias is badass and sounds kind of appealing. 2. I loved Laia's character growth--it's everything you might want to see in a future wcw post. 3. The world building is great and it really makes it easy to imagine yourself in the story. 4. I loved the mythical beings and the allusion to them actually existing. 5.The trials were awesome--I love books that actually have meat to their stories. 6. The way everything links perfectly together at the end--those Augurs are damn tricky.
1. Helene. She taught me that I'm a very black or white type of girl, I don't like seeing the grey in the situation. I just really disliked her. 2. The fact that I'm pretty sure I disliked Helene because Tahir decided to make her a possible love interest rather than just a friend--because, you know, girls can never just be friends with guys o_o 3. There's a bit of an insta-love connection somewhere in there--the words, "her eyes," and "beautiful" might have been used in this moment. 4. The pacing. I feel like this could have been more...I don't know...I just found myself losing interest every once in a while. The last hundred pages or so were the most exciting, admittedly. 5. Stupid decisions made. Stupid decisions, everywhere. 6. The fact that we were originally told that this was going to be a stand-alone, but if you've read this book and the ending, it's no big surprise that of course this is going to be part of a series. Because, why not?
For the most part, I did enjoy this. Will I read the sequel? Maybe. Is this a little overhyped? I don't know, because I'm just one reader. I think if certain characters hadn't been made to fit certain tropes, then maybe I would have liked this more. Creating unnecessary drama and angst between friendships kind of made this book feel like there was a cliche sub-story trapped in this original premise, hence my three star rating.
Okay, I'm going to finish before I ramble on some more.
I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review
First of all:
I've read what I likI received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review
First of all:
I've read what I like to think is a good chunk of Maggie Stiefvater's books and though I can appreciate that she has a magical way with words, I have never actually fully stopped to say, "Holy crap. That was beautiful." This book had me doing that. A lot. I might even call it one of my favourite reads of the year so far. (It has been a good year for books).
In my very honest opinion, All the Crooked Saints is potential one of the best Stiefvater books out there. There are so many components to this book that it's hard to fully even describe what exactly enthralled me so much about the story. The writing, the weirdness, the matter-of-fact reasoning behind the characters' lives--it was all done so masterfully. This was truly a modern piece of literary art.
First, let me mention the elephant in the room: the use of Hispanic characters that has apparently become an issue with this book. I'm not Mexican, but I am Latina and I honestly didn't see anything wrong with the book. The Mexican culture was not appropriated--the Latino concept of religion was flirted with in this novel, but a lot of the stories and mythology (I believe) were a creation of Stiefvater's mind. I might be wrong, so you're welcome to correct me (in a polite manner). But honestly, I just saw a story about kids who happened to be Mexican living in New Mexico and whose parents happened to speak Spanish. Frankly, I loved the whole concept of being able to read the Spanish sentences and grasping that extra layer of storytelling. I'm Cuban and if Stiefvater decided to write a story with kids who happened to be Cuban, I'd be all over it. For a world that begs for more POC in YALit, we judge non-POC authors harshly when they write characters that aren't white, or stereotypical creations of the race they just happen to be.
Now that I've voiced my thoughts on that, back to the review!
In true Stiefvater fashion, this book is really weird, but in a beautiful way. The writing, at the beginning, felt very verbose but as the story progressed I began to appreciate it more. With every word and every sentence, Stiefvater created a more detailed picture of the world were miracles could happen. After all, it has to be a very magical world.
One of the things that always made me feel not entirely invested in The Raven Cycle quartet was the writing because at some level, some of the lines connecting the storylines were occasionally lost on me. While I loved that series, I always felt like I was a step behind in understanding why it was so beautiful and so memorable. I finally understand with All the Crooked Saints. Something just clicked for me as I read and the magic of the writing made it really hard to put this book down.
The Soria family is made up of peculiar people that together make Bicho Raro (Strange Bug, or Strange Thing--so fitting, imho) a very surreal place. I love the different kinds of people that inhabit this very tiny place in the middle of the desert. Everyone had a story to tell and because Stiefvater is a a fan of showing us different stories that all link up to the main story, we get to hear from a large portion of them. In my opinion, all of the characters in this book are cautionary tales of the imperfection of what it means to be human. We can all learn a little something from each character who is struggling with some aspect of themselves.
The romance in this novel is slow burning but wow, when Stiefvater finally gives it life, it's a wondrous thing. You're prepped early on for the potential for romance in that foreshadowing way that this author loves to use, but when it happens it happens like the very miracles that we are told about. There are many layers of miracles in this book that surpass the power of The Saint and of the eye, and the romance is a perfect example.
My friend, who is an avid fan of Stiefvater, commented that she loves how some of the otherworldly and superstitious stories that Stiefvater included in this book were just stated matter-of-fact, like they just existed. I agree with her because this book makes the unbelievable believable, especially set in a time where anything could have happened. It also plays into the idea that magical and unknown things could potentially happen in very small and rural areas. Its small and remote location is one of the reasons why Bicho Raro was so endearing to me, so add a dose of magic and I'll be adding it to my must-visit list.
The use of religion in this book is much like the genre that Stiefvater appears to love to write: it is magically realistic, meaning that while religion is obviously a platform for this story, it isn't really the message. I like to believe that the message is that while we search for miracles in the holy, it is us who come to terms with what we need to change in ourselves to truly get our miracles. If that makes any sense.
I may or may not be rambling at this point.
I think this is a must-read, especially if you're a fan of Maggie Stiefvater's previous books. This is such a well-rounded story that you will be aching for the next book from this talented author. The writing is beautiful and weaves a unique story. I don't know how she does it, but she is a master of really using her gift for words to their full effect.