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.