Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Review: Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I started reading Beautiful Creatures, I didn't quite know what to expect. It's been a while since I read from a male p.o.v. and at first I found it kind of strange - Ethan's entire life before meeting Lena, in fact, felt really alienating to me.

As soon as Lena appeared, though, it seemed like everything just lighted up. I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery (who is she? what is she?) which was perfectly paced, and I found Lena's struggles to be absorbing and real.

The only problem I had was kind of with the ending. I don't know, for me it didn't really seem like that hard a choice, and that's all I'll say about that for fear of spoilering everything.

All in all, a highly recommended book of haunting love, heartache and magic.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Review: Demon Girl (Rae Wilder #1)

Title: Demon Girl
Author: Penelope Fletcher
Series: Rae Wilder #1
Genre: YA Paranormal Dystopian
Age restriction? 10+?
Published: 7 October 2010
Recommended for: I wouldn't recommend it.
Buy: Demon Girl @ Amazon (Free Book)
What seemed like an interesting idea was ruined by lack of editing. Too bad, really.

DESCRIPTION (via Goodreads): Rae Wilder has problems. Supernatural creatures swarm the earth, and humanity is on the brink of extinction. Stalked by a handsome fairy who claims she is like him, demonkind, Rae thinks maybe it was a mistake breaking the rules by going over the Wall into demon territory. Plunged into a world of dark magics, fierce creatures, and ritual sacrifice, she is charged with a guarding a magical amulet. The changes to her mind and body are startling, but rather than accept her purpose she struggles against who she is destined to be. Throw in a big lust for a vampire who can't keep his hands off her, and life starts to get complicated. Rae is forced to make the ultimate choice: to live and die human, or embrace her birth-right and wield magics that could turn her into something wicked, a force of nature nothing can control.

REVIEW: I thought this sounded like a fun and original story and couldn't wait to read it. Sadly, I simply couldn't get through the egregious grammatical errors, homonym confusion, and general lack of editing.

This could be a great book, but I simply could not finish it. I have great respect for Indie authors, but this is one book that really needed a good editor. Besides the language issues, the plot needed some serious tightening up and the pacing - oh lawd the pacing!

It read like an unedited NaNoWriMo attempt, sadly. Most disappointing indeed.

RECOMMENDED FOR: I couldn't finish it.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Review: Delirium

 Title: Delirium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Series: Delirium #1
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Age restriction? None
Published: 1 February 2011
Recommended for:
Buy: Delirium: The Special Edition @ Amazon

Great YA Dystopian with a few minor flaws. A stellar idea executed very well overall.

Lena Holoway is counting the days until she can have her operation and be free of the curse of love forever. Unlike many of her peers, she doesn't resent the government's interference in her life - she welcomes it, counts the days until it can happen. Because love is dangerous. Love hurts. And love kills. Lena knows this first-hand - that's the reason she's living with her aunt and her two cousins.

Desperate to escape the "curse" her family must bear, the increased scrutiny, the whispers of them being sympathizers, eager to just be normal and happy and free, Lena doesn't even consider that things could be, (should be?), different. Until the day of her evaluations to determine her future partner and life course, when the Sympathizers stage a protest. When she meets him, and her entire life and everything she thought she knew gets turned upside down.

Well-written and captivating, Lauren Oliver's Delirium is a gentle look at identity, feelings and duty as well as being a decent love story and a terrifying glimpse into what might be.

One of the things I particularly enjoyed about Delirium was how every symptom, every justification given for the outlawing of love is made to make absolute sense. I mean, it's true: love is dangerous. Love has caused people to kill themselves and others. Love has driven people insane, it's shattered nations and leveled empires. It's irrational, unexplainable and uncontrollable. And yes, it freaking hurts! It hurts a lot, sometimes.

The only major problems I had with Delirium was that the romance between Alex and Lena seemed a little bit too "pat" and easy and the Authorities of this Dystopian world seem slightly incompetent and useless. I mean, if you're going to have a totalitarian government that wants to control people up to and including what they feel, you'd need to be stricter and it wouldn't be so easy to sneak out after curfew and so on.

Still, all in all this was an excellent and satisfying read with a memorable (albeit cliffhanger!) ending.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Lovers of YA and anyone with any interest in dystopian fiction.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Review: Shifting


Author: Bethany Wiggins
Series: This is a standalone book, I think.
Genre: YA, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Age restriction? None.
Published: 27 September 2011

Buy: Shifting @ Amazon
Breathes new life into a familiar theme with an incredible main character and fast-paced, action-packed story.

Maggie Mae's life has been everything but a fairy tale. After the death of her parents and family when she was only five, she has spent close to thirteen years in the foster care system, drifting from home to home, never belonging but trying her best. It was only in the last two years that she's had trouble with the law, trouble which led to her latest foster family begging her social worker to find her yet another home... but someone follows her. Someone who wants her dead.

With so little time to go before she turns eighteen and graduate, Maggie Mae hopes that this foster home will be her last and that she will just be able to hold out until graduation to enter an unsure future. When she meets Bridger, she warns herself not to get attached, that everyone she gets attached to comes to harm, besides, Bridger is not even allowed to date local girls, never mind an orphan scarred from years in the system... but her heart has plans of its own. How can she keep her secret from Bridger, elude the hunters that are intent on killing her and survive for long enough to even have a future?

I enjoyed Shifter a great deal. It's an exquisitely crafted book and Maggie Mae is one of the most sympathetic-without-being-pathetic characters out there. Her life is hard but she's not letting it get her down for one second. The plot is tight and action-packed with heart-stopping pacing and some genuinely surprising twists and turns, and the romance! Beautifully executed, the romance is the heart of the story, knitting it all together into one brightly coloured and extraordinary read.

I had some issues with the resolution of the plot - it felt slightly deus ex machina to me - but other than that, this is a wonderful and satisfying book that will stick with you long after you've read the last page.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of Urban Fantasy, Young Adult or Paranormal Romance.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #7 - 30 November 2011

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Waiting on Wednesday is one of the harder memes for me to participate in, since I am notoriously impatient and there are SO MANY books that I simply can NOT wait for. This week, however, I have a clear winner:

Phoebe Kitandis

 What if you forgot your identity and had to rely on other people to tell you who you were?

And what if to discover your true self, you first had to unravel a mystery so big and terrifying you were not sure you’d survive solving it?

When Marshall and Elyse wake up in each other’s arms with zero memory of how they got there or who they are, it’s the start of a long journey through their separate pasts and shared future.

Terrified by their amnesia, the two make a pact to work together to find the answers that could jog their missing memories. As they piece together clues, they discover they’re in the idyllic mountain resort town of Summer Falls, where everyone seems mysteriously happy, but as Marshall and Elyse quickly learn, darkness lurks beneath the town’s perfect facade. Not only is the town haunted by sinister ghosts, but none of its living inhabitants retain bad memories of anything—not the death of Marshall’s mom, not the hidden shame in Elyse’s family, not even the day-to-day anguish of high school.

Lonely in this world of happy zombies, Marsh and Elyse fall into an intense relationship...but the secrets they uncover could be the death of this growing love—and the death of everyone, and everything, they love in Summer Falls

Besides being the name of one of the kick-ass-in-a-creepy-way girl tributes in The Hunger Games, Glimmer just sounds incredible, doesn't it? I just finished reading Whisper by this author and now I simply cannot wait to devour any other work she may produce.

So, what are you waiting on?

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

If you haven't read it yet Review: Jumper

Title: Jumper
Author: Steven Gould
Series: #1 Jumper
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, soft sci-fi
Age restriction? 13+ for adult themes, sexual violence, abuse and other explicitly described violence, including terrorism.
Published: 5 February 2008

Buy: Jumper: A Novel @ Amazon

An intense character-driven book with much more meat and a completely different story than the movie.

DESCRIPTION (via Goodreads): What if you could go anywhere in the world, in the blink of an eye?  Where would you go?  What would you do?    
Davy can teleport. 

To survive, Davy must learn to use and control his power in a world that is more violent and complex than he ever imagined.  But mere survival is not enough for him.  Davy wants to find others like himself, others who can Jump.(more...)

REVIEW: Let's just first get this out of the way: YES I LIKED THE MOVIE (mostly because Samuel L. Jackson ;p). Lots. It was fun, exhilarating and all that jazz an action/adventure movie these days must be. But it was also, not to fine a point on it, as shallow as a puddle after a summer shower, also as these kinds of movies tend to be. Despite that, I enjoyed the movie for what it was, but the book is something completely different from the movie. Best you sort that out in your mind right quick (luckily, being a veteran Stephen King reader, this is an exercise that comes easier to me).

While the movie is all about Davy and how he tries to escape the Paladins, who want to get their evil hooks in him and stop him from jumping or whatevs, the Paladins don't even exist in the book. I found this worked excellently for the book, turning it to more the story of a boy who's trying to literally escape his abusive past but keeps getting drawn back in while having to make hard choices about morality, privacy, agency and responsibility.

Other stuff I liked:
  • The author pulls no punches. There are some violent scenes in the movie, but in my view it's nothing a teenager these days hadn't seen a million times on TV or in a game and here it's not just gratuitous. (PROTIP: If you're looking for a book for your child to read, looking at the AGE OF THE PROTAGONIST is the best way to see if it's in your child's age bracket. Seriously, how do people not know this?)
  • I enjoyed the voice of this book. Davy is a great character and is written in such a way that even when he says something in his own head, we can see what the thought behind it is, even if he doesn't necessarily have that level of knowledge yet.
  • I really liked how seriously Davy took responsibility and how hard he tries to convince himself that it's okay, he doesn't need to feel guilty, and yet he still can't help but feel guilty about things he can't necessarily control. 
  • I couldn't put the story down. Although the main conflict isn't introduced until much later in the book, the narrative creates enough conflict with Davy and his coming to terms with his powers to keep you enjoying page after page even before the real "story" starts. Personally I wouldn't plot it like that, but it worked in this instance and some of the events in this "backstory introduction" become very important when looking at and understanding some of David's later choices.
  • Solid ending. Always good, especially good here, even though it's the first of a series.
  • Subtle yet effective glance at some feminist themes in relationships: the problems the dominant narrative of sex as a transaction creates for the individuals involved who don't want to follow that narrative yet know no other way, things like that mentioned in passing, things most girls and some guys have to deal with and normally sooner rather than later was really gratifying and added a bit of (sorely needed) depth to David's romance with Millie.
  • I didn't really feel the romance between David and Millie. There were great aspects around this arc (see the last bullet above), but I found most of the romance to be slightly passionless and pretty meh. Could definitely have been handled better.
  • The descriptions in the action scene sometimes went by too fast, especially with his jumping thrown in. It was hard for me to maintain a sense of what exactly was going on in the battle scenes.
RECOMMENDED FOR: "Soft" Sci-fi fans, those who like both contemporary YA and urban fantasy, anyone looking for a male protagonist, anyone who felt the movie slightly "lacking" and is willing to read this book as a YA and not a hardcore science fantasy. Just don't bother with the second book and you'll be golden.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Review: The Replacement

Title: The Replacement
Author: Brenna Yovanoff

Genre: Young Adult Urban Fiction/Fantasy
Age restriction? 12+ at least, it gets pretty macabre (and gruesome) and there's some cursing.
Published: 21 September 2010
Recommended for: If you're looking for a fresh concept and some dark, grim variety, this is the book for you.
Buy: The Replacement @ Amazon

Excellent concept and lots of grim darkness, though the plot and characters may be a bit cold to some.

DESCRIPTION (via Goodreads): Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, Mackie comes from a world of tunnels and black, murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattoed princess. He is a replacement - left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago when it was stolen away by the fey. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood and consecrated ground, Mackie is slowly dying in the human world. (...more)

REVIEW: I enjoyed reading The Replacements, although at some times it felt like it was trying too hard to imitate something like Donnie Darko (which is referenced). The plot and characters could seem cold and distant to some readers, but was just what I needed after numerous Teen Angst Tee Em books to clear my palate for more.

What I liked:

  • It was pretty dark and grim. I loved that.
  • The author pulls no punches - vivid, sometimes gruesome imagery and honest descriptions of difficult-to-sympathize-with emotions like the desire to stay safe and unnoticed, apathy and depression was done very well.
  • Did I mention dark and grim? This what the Fae should be like! 
  • Despite the darkness and grimness, a heartwarming plot with the main character building truely heartfelt relationships.

  • The main character, Mackie, is difficult to emphasize with - mostly because he's not human and part of what that entails is a certain distance and aloofness.
  • Also, "Mackie"? Seriously?
  • The "Big Bad" was just too stereotypically bad, with nothing redeeming at all - no nuance. I found this incredibly disappointing, especially because its counterpart (The "Good Witch", if you will, because Big Good she ain't) was incredibly nuanced and not all goody goody unicorns and rainbows and stars.
RECOMMENDED FOR:Anyone looking for something a bit more substantial and grim and/or gruesome on the Young Adult scene.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Review: Dead Rules

Title: Dead Rules
Author: Randy Russel
Series: Book 1 of Dead Rules (?)
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Age restriction? Maybe 10+. Some of the descriptions are pretty gruesome.
Published: 21 June 2011
Recommended for: Teens and those who like teen fiction of the more macabre kind.
Buy: Dead Rules @ Amazon

Fun to read but with major plotting flaws and angst.

DESCRIPTION (via Goodreads): Jana Webster and Michael Haynes were in love. They were destined to be together forever. But Jana's destiny was fatally flawed. And now she's in Dead School, where Mars Dreamcote lurks in the back of the classroom, with his beguiling blue eyes, mysterious smile, and irresistibly warm touch. (more...)

REVIEW: Reading Dead Rules, I found myself enjoying it more than I thought I would. Although the book has some major flaws, mostly in terms of consistency and plotting, I had a great time reading it.

  • Fun, quirky and above all, unusual story, which is great to find in YA UF.
  • Funny and addictive writing.
  • Great characters and compelling, fresh story.
  • So much whining! Yes, it was unfair. No, killing your boyfriend won't make it better. Sheesh.
  • Jana is so dependent! Seriously icks me out when a character defines themselves by their relationship status.
  • PLOT HOLES the size of JUPITER all around.
  • Too much left unexplained.
  • Too open ending, unless this was the first book in a series. Which I hope is the case.
  • Lots of showing in exposition - could've been handled better.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Readers who appreciate dark humour, macabre themes and over-the-top kind of "love".

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Review: The Limit

Title: The Limit
Author: Kristen Landon
Genre: Young Adult (Middlegrades?) Dystopian
Age restriction? None
Published: September 7, 2010
Recommended for:Young readers, readers new to Dystopian, readers looking for something easy-going
Buy: The Limit @ Amazon

Good introduction to the Dystopian genre, incredible concept but lukewarm execution.

DESCRIPTION (via Goodreads): In a world not too far removed from our own, kids are being taken away to special workhouses if their families exceed the monthly debt limit imposed by the government. (...more)
REVIEW: A fun "quickie" to read when you're feeling a bit nostalgic for the times when you thought one administrator with delusions of grandeur who will stop at nothing, including exploiting children, was villainous and monstrous instead of... pretty damn ordinary.
  • Fast-paced and action packed.
  • This is like Dystopian Lite. It's easy and fast to read and its a fantastic concept that so much more could've been done with.
  • Tight writing with some moments of stunning brilliance.
  • The plot and characters stay pretty shallow. I don't know if it's because of the target audience (middle school) but it seemed too damn shallow, never going below any surface.
  • There were some plotting inconsistencies, the main of which being how did Matt's family overspend in the first place? I'm all about showing how easily one can find oneself buried in a mountain of debt without being a bad, lazy or unorganized person, but well, then that has to be actually shown.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Very young readers or readers new to the Dystopian genre, writers who are aiming at the middle school level maybe, and readers looking for a satisfying yet simple two-hour read.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #6 - 2 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to get excited about upcoming books.

Hex Hall Book 3
Rachel Hawkins
Release Date: 13 March 2012 

Hailed as “impossible to put down,” the Hex Hall series has both critics and teens cheering. With a winning combination of romance, action, magic and humor, this third volume will leave readers enchanted.

Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.

Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late.

Why I can't wait
Well, I mean, look at it! That cover, that sword, that stance... I loved Hex Hall and Demonglass so much that I seriously can not wait for the last book.
What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Review: Supernaturally (Paranormalcy #2)

 Title: Supernaturally
Author: Kiersten White
Series: #1 of Paranormalcy
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Age restriction? None
Published: 26 July 2011
Recommended for: Fans of lighter YA or spec fic
Buy: Supernaturally (Paranormalcy #2) @ Amazon

Incredible writing and characterization - a sequel that doesn't disappoint!

DESCRIPTION (via Goodreads): Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be . . . kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees.(more...)

REVIEW: Continuing her riveting series with the eloquent voice, vivid and funny writing and shining characters, Kiersten White brings the goods in the highly anticipated second book of her Paranormalcy series.

Like with Paranormalcy, I found being in Evie's head a delightful and very often hilarious experience. This book is slightly darker than the first and I liked that we get to explore the fairy realms and magics some more and deal with some conflicting and more troublesome emotions.

Other things I loved:
  • Lend.
  • The way the overarching story arch vs. local story arch is handled. There are still many questions left unanswered and you'll long to read the third book, but this book's story wraps up completely and neatly, leaving you with a feeling of satisfaction and a good anticipation.
  • The writing style. It's just so comfortable, funny and quirky. It works incredibly well. 
Things I didn't like so much:
  • Too much Lorethan - and not in a good way. I like the character of Lorethan but found his actions and motivations in this book growing more and more strange and incomprehensible as the book continues. Where I felt I had a grip on the character before, after finishing this book I'm mystified and more than slightly horrified.
  • This may sound strange, so I hope I explain it sufficiently. I really, really missed Lish, and felt as if Evie didn't think about her or miss her presence as much as I did.
  • Evie becomes stupid and makes stupid decisions, most unlike her socially naive but street smart self from book one. Perhaps it's a part of showing her as "normal", in the author's mind? For me and most other people, teens most definitely included, it borders on TSTL. Whatevs, but for a while in the middle there I seriously thought: Evie would never fall for that shit.
Despite its problems, I had a fantastic time reading this book. I thoroughly enjoyed Supernaturally and wait in anticipation for the next (last?) one.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of Paranormalcy - Paranormalcy is Required Reading before reading Supernaturally. Some series you can just start off in the middle. Not this one. So, some demographic as for Paranormalcy.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

General Notice: Temporary blogging laziness is temporary

Hopefully by the start of November, which is not coincidentally NaNoWriMo and which I wouldn't miss for the world. Now if only I had a story to tell...

Meanwhile, lemme know what you think of mah new look!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Review: Paranormalcy

Title: Paranormalcy
Author: Kiersten White
Series: #1 of Paranormalcy
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Age restriction? None
Published: 31 August 2010
Recommended for: Fans of lighter YA or spec fic
Buy: Paranormalcy @ Amazon

Stellar book with fun characters, original concepts and a great story. A MUST READ NAO book.

DESCRIPTION (via Goodreads): Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.

But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal. 
REVIEW: I loved this book. Loved loved loved it. Not only were the characters fully rounded and incredibly engaging (even the "bad guys", I love that!), but the main character, Evie, goes through several upsets during the book changing her entire life and the way she views the world. 

While there are your stock paranormals kept at the Center, White also invents a couple as she goes along (including the two main characters), which I found very well-done and enriching. While it may be said that the paranormals the Center pursues are "underpowered", in the context of the book it made a lot of sense - if they were invincible and there were that many creatures all around us all the time, human population would have died out long before the IPCA or the APCA could have been started to contain them. The moral and ethical implications of containment and "neutering" the PNs are also beginning to be explored towards the end, which I found added an unforeseen level of depth to an already exciting and fresh plot.

Speaking of plot, this book's was perfectly paced, leaving you to wonder at the right moments and offering (some) explanations only when you need them.

Paranormalcy was, in my book, almost perfect. It was great fun to read, you really come to care about all of the characters and the story was engaging and original. I had to wrack my brain to come up with something I didn't like, and the only thing I could get was that Evie named her taser gun. Tasey. Yah.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Any fans of spec-fic or YA, and anyone whose soul sometimes craves for just fun and something non-angsty. This book is pretty light and fluffy, so there are no age constraints or worries and is just a general feel-good book. I guess if you think the light side of life and people having fun while in danger is all unicorns and rainbows and stupid, you might want to first lend it from the library or a friend.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Review: The Vampire Diaries: The Fury and Dark Reunion

 Title: Vampire Diaries: The Fury and Dark Reunion (Goodreads)
Author: L.J. Smith
Series: #3 & #4 of The Vampire Diaries
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Vampires
Age restriction? Teens, 12+
Published: 26 December 2007
Recommended for: Teens who like the vamps, fans of VDs (that's Vampire Diaries, not Venereal Diseases), younger teens or those who haven't read a lot of spec fic.
Buy: The Vampire Diaries: The Fury and Dark Reunion @ Amazon

The Fury was a great ending to a fine series but Dark Reunion? Ugh. Avoid.
DESCRIPTION: The completion of the Vampire Diaries. After all that's happened, Elena is still caught between Stephan and Damon and her life had definitely taken a turn for the "interesting".

REVIEW: The Fury was great. A fabulous, heart-wrenching ending to a great trilogy. Sacrifices are made, plots are resolved, centuries-old vengeances are enacted. Dark Reunion? No thanks. This was a tack-on to keep the series going even after a great end. SO unbelievable - especially the first quarter. I was like WTF for most of that time, it was that absurd.

Once again, even in Dark Reunion, Meredith and Bonnie saved the story for me. I enjoyed reading about them so much, and although the story itself was far-fetched bordering on the ridiculous, I did appreciate the inclusion of a relatively unknown mythology (the Kitsune).

Recommended for: The rating should actually be two and a half, but I'm keeping to the Amazon and Goodreads standards. 
Those who read the first books will need to read The Fury. Dark Reunion: Only try it if you've got nothing better on your TBR pile, or if you simply cannot bear to leave the universe created.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Review: Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse #11)

 Title: Dead Reckoning (Goodreads)
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: #11 of the Sookie Stackhouse books
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Adult
Age restriction? (Much) Older Teens, 16+
Published: 3 May 2011
Recommended for: Die-hard fans of Sookie and/or Eric and/or Beel
Buy: Dead Reckoning @ Amazon

Disappointing. Weak story, weaker characters, lots and lots of telling. I wouldn't bother unless you're already a fan.
DESCRIPTION: Well, if you need a description, you probably don't want to read this book. Seriously. Sookie and Eric have trouble in their relationship. Sookie messes up. Lots of people (and non-people) are out to kill Sookie. Vampire Politics Plot. Fairy Politics Plot. Cue Curtain.

REVIEW: Dead Reckoning left me feeling flat. I've enjoyed all the books in the series so far (yes, even 9 and 10, which fans bitched about), but this? This was beyond pale. Weak, flat story with no real action, danger or mystery. Predictable to the extreme and all of it told instead of shown. No character development at all. 
A flicker of interesting happened when Sookie went with Hunter to size up his new school, but once again, everything was told and then it's the last we hear of Hunter (whose relationship with Sookie could be a really invigorating change to what's become a plot-by-numbers series). When I say "everything is told", I mean "everything is told". Almost zero showing going on. Like with Tara's baby shower, we are told there are some women and a few names are mentioned, and we are told Sookie is told a really nice story about her gran and we're assured that this makes her feel better. 

Yeah. The whole book is basically like that.

I don't know, it's as if the TV series has sucked the blood and originality out of the books, which is funny considering that they're only similar in an "inspired by the books" kind of way, and it's almost as if Charlaine Harris herself is getting bored with it all.

Still, I did find it intruiging enough to finish, and it had one or two fun moments, so two stars it is.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Die-hard Sookie book fans (not the series, the books), who hope that the next one will be better or will finally end the damn series.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Read-a-Thon: Wrapup

Once Upon a Read-a-ThonSorry for the late update - I was too busy reading to blog, hahaha. I had such a blast with the read-a-thon, can't wait for the next one. So, my update:

Books read between Monday and Wednesday:

As you can see, I started out fine on track, but the moment I read Evermore (and had access to the rest of the books, of course), I abandoned the rest of my TBR list and pursued the Immortals series. I know, sad, isn't it? ;p

(I would have done the same if I had Supernaturally in my possession after I finished Paranormalcy by the way.) Plus, I had so much fun!

Books read: 6
Hours read: About 25 hours
Pages read: No idea. Rough estimate at 200 pages per book it'd be 1,200
Mini-challenges done: 4/6

So really, thanks to everyone involved, this was a great way to get back into reading and blogging.

Review: Before I Fall

Title: Before I Fall
Author: Lauren Oliver
Series: Stand alone
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Age restriction? Teens, 12+
Published: 2 March 2010
Recommended for: All teens, those who like contemporary YA fiction, those looking for a soul-moving read.
Buy: Before I Fall @ Amazon

An unexpectedly fabulous read with a great story and REAL characters that suck you in and won't let go. 

DESCRIPTION: What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life? ...more

REVIEW:  I have to admit, I went into Before I Fall with a very "bleh" attitude. I was still on a high from reading the Vampire Academy books and I did NOT feel like some mushy, anst-ridden, "oh no, existential anxiety plus moral lesson" book.

I was pleasantly surprised, however.  I found in the prologue everything I feared the book would be: Angsty, over-written guiltfest. Ugh. I even thought about just shelving it and trying something else, but I hate leaving books unfinished, so I resolved to stick it out until at least the second chapter or the first twenty pages, whichever came first. I fully expected to have to drudge through that before being able to give up with a sigh of relief and a "at least you tried" backpat.

However, when I started with the book itself, I literally couldn't tear myself away. I didn't take any bathroom breaks, I didn't eat anything, I drank the coffee that my husband brought to me and nothing else. It's lucky for my kids I started reading this on a Saturday morning, because I was incapable of looking after them or even getting them some juice. (Luckily their dad is great, and a reader himself so he understood. Love ya!).

The character of Sam drew me in immediately. I liked her, even though she was everything (and everyone) I hated in high school and after - fake, does anything to fit in with the popular kids, quite frankly a jerkass asshat of the nth degree. I really cannot pinpoint why, exactly - she's just that well-written.

And that's the strength of the story. All the characters but especially Sam is so well written that you happily relive the same day seven times with them all, seeing how they react, how they change, discovering their secrets and their fears.

This book blew me away, although the prose was pretty purple at times and by the sixth day I was getting impatient with Sam's not-getting-it-ness. Still, a great read and one I wish every teenager going through popularity drama (either being unpopular or popular, or just struggling to be themselves in general) would read. I know it would have changed my world as a teenager, and I plan to make it required reading for my three children.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Teens. Even though there's some smoking and swearing and talk about sex, I really don't think it's anything anyone older than 12 or so wouldn't be able to handle. Also, anyone who still sometimes feel their inner teenager/child rebelling, or just plain likes reading damn good books. 

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Title: Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between
Author: J.A. Saare
Series: #1 of Rhiannon's Law
Genre: Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Age restriction? Yes. One explicit sex scene
Published: 30 April 2011
Recommended for: Fans of Urban Fantasy, fans of snarky main characters, vamp lovers and those who just enjoy a great story
Buy: Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between @ Amazon

Excellent read with a strong plot structure and incredible characters. Highly recommended.

DESCRIPTION: One bad corpse can ruin your whole day.

No one knows that better than Rhiannon Murphy.

She left behind the flash and sass of Miami for the no-nonsense groove of New York City, eager for a clean slate and a fresh start. A bartender by trade, a loud mouth by choice, and a necromancer by chance; she managed to keep her nifty talent hidden from those around her—until now.

REVIEW: I liked this book WAY more than I thought I would. At first I was like: girl with special powers, check. Sexay Vampire Dood Love Interest, check. Badass badmouthin' attitude-slinging asskicking heroine, check. However, I was very soon surprised with how much depth the author managed to put into the characters and their interactions. She took familiar tropes and went above and beyond to make them personal and fresh.

The plot is well structured, although I found that there were awkward moments. One of them is the way in which Rhiannon reveals the abusive past she'd been hinting at from the first chapter. I was seriously like OKAY WHUT?, not at what she revealed (heart-breaking stuff) but at the how of it. Clumsy plotting, the kind of thing a good editor would have picked up on.

Another thing that slightly vexed me was that there were two or three scenes (one chapter) that were completely unnecessary. This is something I'm particularly sensitive too, since it's a huge flaw and struggle for me in my own writing as well (I either over-compensate by making it All Action All the Time or I'm left with chapters and chapters describing mundane, unimportant crap, so I really have a lot of sympathy with this flaw). 

Other than these two minor things, I was ALL OVER this book. Unlike many people, I wasn't upset with the "cliffhanger" ending at all. The plot arc for this book was done, it was just a teaser introduction to the next book's premise. 

However, the best part of the book for me? The "romance" aspect did not dominate the plot at all. I found that SO refreshing and incredibly satisfying and I simply can. not. wait for The Renfield Virus - out in AUGUST!  

Who would like this book: Older teens, fans of any form of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance.