Monday, November 3, 2014

Review: Dark Heroine – Dinner With a Vampire

Dark Heroine – Dinner With a Vampire
Abigail Gibbs
1/5 Stars



This is probably the worst book I've ever had the displeasure of reading. I should warn you, my readers – that I did not, in fact, could not finish this book. It was that bad.

Slut shaming, mysogony, rape, abuse, sexual harassment – all seemingly used as positive plot developments.

This book should have a trigger warning on a label on the front of the book – warning women who have been in abusive relationships to steer clear. Heck – everyone should steer clear, but my heart goes out to any women who have been in such a relationship that find themselves reading this tripe.

This is a book written by an 18 year old who self published online. It gained so much fame that an honest to goodness publishing company wanted to publish it. The problem is that there was next to no editing to be done between “internet stardom” and “published book”. The spelling mistakes fly at you by the page, in fact, often by the paragraph.

The story itself makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. The entire book is based on the protagonist seeing some vampires kill people in a public square at night. So they “steal” her and take her back to their base because now she's seen vampires. So her option is stay there forever or become a vampire. This would be fine and dandy as an explanation to keep her prisoner if it weren't for the fact that people in the outside world (political officials and the like) already know about vampires. Also, she's put in a scenario where she could just leave (escape) – but doesn't. The plot is wonky at best and offensive at worst.

I also felt no love for the protagonist, Violet. In fact, I kind of hated her. She annoyed the crap out of me throughout the entire book (or at least the three quarters of the book I managed to finish).

I pushed and pushed and pushed myself to try and finish this garbage, but in the end I could not. It was so bad I kept glaring at it on my nightstand, despising that I would eventually have to open it again to finish it. At last, I gave in and started a different book – feeling like there was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.


Avoid this book at all costs.

Review - Ascend - #3 Trylle Trilogy

Ascend – Trylle Trilogy #3
Amanda Hocking
2.5/5 Stars



Ascend is the finale of the Trylle trilogy – a series which I read back-to-back (to back) because I had them on hand and enjoyed them enough to do so. Ascend was probably the most disappointing of the trilogy – which is sad, as it's the series finale.

The book felt like a hastily written ending, which tried to wrap itself up too quickly.

It felt like Hocking was trying to force her readers to create “Teams” for her two...or three male love interests. You could either be “Team Finn” or “Team Loki”. Of course, there's also her platonic husband, Tove – I'm not sure if anyone was “Team Tove”, though. She introduced Loki far too abruptly and the entire relationship between him and the protagonist, Wendy seemed contrived at best. That being said, her relationship with Finn frequently made absolutely no sense – he likes her, he doesn't – he loves her, he won't look at her – just not a character you envision being the main love interest. I wasn't happy with who Wendy ended up with at the end of the book – but, to be fair, none of the options would have made me happy.

I did enjoy the changes we saw in Wendy – becoming a much stronger person and a better leader for her kingdom. It was probably the only thing I didn't mind being revealed to us too quickly.

The entire series could have fit in one book and made more sense. The constant reminders of a previous books activities were frequent and annoying. It felt like filler more than anything.

At first I enjoyed the series because it focused on a different mythology than what seems to be popular at the moment – it was neither fairies nor vampires. Trolls – neat. However, once the troll aspect was revealed, Hocking definitely dropped the ball on continuing to make us feel like we were in a troll populated world – they were just too human. Perhaps human living in a Renaissance monarchy – but still human, nonetheless.


The characters were poorly written and developed and bits of the story itself made no sense in the grand scheme of things. I think Hocking could have done a much better job with her Troll finale than what we were offered.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Torn - Trylle Trilogy #2 - Amanda Hocking

Torn
Trylle Trilogy #2
Amanda Hocking
3/5 Stars




Torn is the second book of the Trylle trilogy by Amanda Hocking. After reading Switched, I immediately delved into Torn, only to be left feeling like it just didn't hold up against its predecessor. Comparatively, the “guys” of Torn really bothered me. We've got Finn – who, after more consideration – has very little personality, although when his personality does show through, it's varigated. He's smoldering, he's ignoring, he's here, he's there. As a reader, I'm not very interested in him, though I suppose our protagonist Wendy, a 17 year old girl, may think differently. Our second “guy” is Loki – who we get next to no introduction to and the whole triangle that seems to be forming seems very forced and contrived. Things may prove different as I read the next book, though this is the feeling I'm left with after Torn.
Aside from the “guys” issue, I did still enjoy the book. We're opening up into more of the Trylle world, along with their enemies, the Vittra and we're slowly being revealed more information about what's “really” going on. Things begin to make more and more sense with this addition to the trilogy.
We're also given a very small introduction to the Vittra kingdom – it felt too quick for me, but perhaps Hocking was just trying to keep pace with the rest of the book. It felt a lot like Wendy (the protagonist) is dropped for a split second into their world and then immediately leaves it, simply to introduce us to a couple of new characters.
I'm still excited to read the conclusion and find out what choices Wendy will make in regards to the kingdoms and to the boys in her life. It's not as good as book one, but certainly keeps the reader interested to keep reading.


Switched - Trylle Trilogy # 1 - Amanda Hocking

Switched
Trylle Trylogy #1
Amanda Hocking
4/5 Stars



I'm a big fan of Amanda Hocking – not because of her self-made status, but because of her writing style and how she steps out of the paranormal genre to include more than just vampires and fairies. This series in particular focuses on anthropomorphic trolls who still practice placing a changeling troll with human parents.
While some reviewers may think that our protagonist, Wendy, is just a spoiled teenager, I feel that Hocking is actually trying to show us how Trylle (or trolls) are different from their human counterparts, right down to their general demeanor. They like going barefoot, are picky eaters, and are generally pretty grumpy. They're trolls, right?
I found this first addition to the trilogy to be fairly well laid out – very much following Joseph Campbells Heroes Journey – however, it didn't feel as fleshed out as it could have. Some aspects definitely feel a bit too quick, not leaving enough room to fully develop the story. Despite this, I still quite enjoyed the book.
We are taken into a world of the supernatural – a completely fascinating one. Hocking will hint at little things, but doesn't reveal anything too soon – the mystery drives the story forwards.
Altogether, this book left me wanting more – lucky for me, I've got the next two books on the shelf ready to go.

If you're looking for something supernatural that's got a bit more imagination – check out Hockings Switched. There's no glittery fairy's here.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Do You Ever...?

Do you ever start reading a book that is *so* bad that you avoid reading it at all costs, despite wanting to finish (for the sake of finishing) it? Well, that's what happened with me. I may write a review on said book eventually, but for now, I'm moving on! I read a palette cleanser:

(Orange is the New Black)

Which was AMAZING - but doesn't fit the genre I review for, so for now - just know that you should read it! Especially if you enjoy the show - it's nice to know the roots!

I've also been poking through some books by Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins - but again, wrong genre of book to review on here.

I've started a new series by Amanda Hocking (one of my top authors) because... we ended up being able to go up to the Northlands for Thanksgiving and got to hit our very favourite used bookstore (Bearly Used Books) and brought back a whole wack-o-books! So there will be more reviews forthcoming.

Also, James bought me an e-reader for my birthday so I can review e-books now (though I still prefer physical books ANY day!)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Review - Wake

Wake
Amanda Hocking
4/5 Stars



This is the first of Hocking's work I've read and I have to say, I'm quite impressed. Her writing style is fresh and contemporary. Whether it's referencing things like e-readers and modern bands or writing about the modern geek – she definitely tries to connect with her readers.

Wake is written from two main points of view – Harper, the older, more mature and “mom-like” sister and Gemma, the younger, swimming obsessed, “pretty one”. I found myself wanting to get to the parts from the point of view of Gemma to read about the more supernatural aspects and hurrying through the Harper parts.

When I read a YA paranormal book – I read it for the paranormal aspect. The paranormal part of this book didn't start until about halfway in, but I quickly forgave that based on just how many books there are in the series. It definitely felt like I was reading a TV show, which I enjoyed – but I can see some readers not associating as well with that.

I enjoyed Hocking's take on the Greek myth of sirens – she didn't jump on the fairy tale mermaid boat and made her creatures much more interesting. The way she wound the story, I was left wanting to find out more and more about this secret underbelly of what promises to be a myth-infused world.


I will definitely be looking out for the other books in this series, as well as Hocking's other works. I would certainly recommend this book to any other fans of the urban fantasy or paranormal young adult genre. I will warn you that it is more of a “girly” book – and guys may not find it as enticing as we do.  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review - Warchild: Pawn

War Child: Pawn
Ernie Lindsey
3/5 Stars




DISCLAIMER: I was given a free copy of this book from the author, which I very much appreciate.

Warchild: Pawn is the first installment of what Lindsey promises to be (at least) a trilogy. It's the story of a 14 year old girl in the Appalachian mountains of what was once the United States. The world ended and people formed two distinct groups – the People's Republic of Virginia and the Democratic Alliance. Our protagonist is with the former.

The book is strikingly fast paced – there isn't a paragraph where something exciting isn't happening. From page one, we're birthed into a world of battle and death. Lindsey doesn't hold back when it comes to putting his readers right in the thick of it.

The characters are interesting and progress quickly throughout the book. The story itself, however, is a little less interesting. The entire book is essentially walking (I know, I know, Lord of the Rings was the same way) to their goal. Not to say that it isn't a faced paced, interesting walk – but it's walking, none the less.

I had difficulty feeling that urge to read more and more – it wasn't one of those books I couldn't put down.


It's a quick read, but for an indie-published book, I would still recommend it to anyone who's a fan of the dystopian young adult genre.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Review - The Thirteen

The Thirteen
Susie Maloney
Adult Urban Fantasy
1/5 Stars




This book was so confusing to read that I only made it through the prologue and a couple chapters before blinking my eyes rapidly and tossing it to the side to start a different one.

The premise is a good one – witches in a small community doing witchy things. The follow-through leaves a lot to be desired, however – especially in the department of editing.

Excerpt:
A confusing sentence from the prologue:

Not even when the flames swept up from the floor and began their climb over her
surrender your
flesh.
-

The book is lacking in periods and grammatical punctuation in general. It's also overflowing in brackets with ridiculously useless information, stopping the flow of the story.

The editing was sub-par and many sentences had repeating words with no proper sentence structure. There were also a multitude of incomplete, short sentences. How anyone could make it through the entire book is beyond me. I cannot fathom how it ever got published in the first place, let alone got such a rave review from The Globe and Mail.

Moloney also takes the time out at the end of her book to thank her editor:

Most of all I want to thank the surely supernatural Anne Collins, who edits with elegance and respect, and whose patience and dedication really wrote this book.
-
I think a certain editor needs to find a new job.


The book could have had the most amazing plot ever written – but you would never know for the ridiculous way it's put together.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Review - Slayed

Slayed
Amanda Marrone
2.5/5 Stars




This book was far, far too short. If it had been a longer, 350 to 400 page novel, I think the author could have filled out the characters a lot more in depth, as well as the world she's created for them. Due to the length of the book, I felt the story wasn't as believable as it could have been – it felt like Marrone wanted a “quick to publish” sort of book. A good idea, with no follow through.

Our protagonist, Daphne, 17, is left to go and kill vampires on her own, while her parents are in another part of whatever town they're in doing a “job”, backing each other up. The believability that parents would let their seventeen year old daughter, whom they don't trust to do anything else on her own, would allow her to be in near-death scenarios on a daily basis, with no help whatsoever.

The editing (a favourite topic of mine) was also sub-par and I noticed several blaring mistakes as I polished off the book.

The cover art - while beautiful, is most assuredly not of a 17 year old girl.

Despite the description on the back of the book describing the love interest as “crush worthy”, Marrones original description of Tyler tells us he's a greasy-haired goth wannabe – leaving me with more of a cringe than a crush.

The ending was rushed and made little-to-no sense. Also (minor spoiler) the “romance” at the end felt very much forced.


If you're a fan of the vampire YA genre, I do recommend a read. It's short and chalk full of those undead creatures we love so much. Just don't go in expecting the moon, because it will fall short.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

RANT: The Selling of ARC's

ARC - Advanced Reading Copy. A copy of a book given to reviewers before the official publication, for the purposes of review.

It has always been my view that ARC's are given (for free) for the purpose of review. The books often come signed from the author himself and I am very proud to have my meager four-book collection of them.

My issue is when people go on to sell these copies to used bookstores or on Ebay. They were given to you for free and should not be sold for profit. While I do understand the collectibility of such books, I do not believe it is ethical to sell them. On some occasions, I have received the book from the author themselves, at their own expense (my latest ARC had a postage stamp of ten dollars). If not at the authors expense, then at the publishers expense.

If you were given this book to review - you should review it. You are then free to add it to your own collection or pass it on to another reader - not to sell.

Today I found this ARC book for sale at a local bookstore:


It was listed for sale first at $30.00, and then crossed out at $50.00

I didn't check to see if it was signed - I may go back to see if it is, though. I understand Terry Brooks is a highly acclaimed bestselling fantasy author - an author whom many people, including my husband, collect the works of.

The person who sold this to the bookstore was clearly out to make a quick buck - and thus the bookstore after him. My husband just informed me that there is an ARC copy for sale on Ebay of the same book for $130.00, so perhaps the person who buys this book from the bookstore will also make a quick buck off of this book that was given away for free in hopes of garnering a review for the author.

I make the pledge, thusly, that I will never sell an ARC that is given to me. I appreciate the effort the author or publisher has put into finding reviewers and sending them out, at their own cost. I can only hope most reviewers agree with me and will do the same.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Review - Wither

Wither
Lauren DeStefano
2/5 Stars



The ideas this book are based on are what drove me to both start and finish it. I have a soft spot for dystopian books – books that are based in a distant or not-to-distant future of what humanity could become if things go awry. In Wither, the future we're presented with is a medical one – where females die at the age of 20 and males at the age of 25 due to over genetic engineering.

Wither, in actuality, was a whole lot more dull than it promised to be. Aside from the dull-ness, there were major problems in the plot that bothered and nagged at me the entire time I was reading.

For example; the plot of the first book (it's a trilogy) is entirely based on our protagonist being “snatched” by a group of people who sell women into bride-hood. Essentially, women are forced, against their will to become the polygamist wives of rich men who provide them with everything they could want in way of fancy clothes and all the food they can eat, in a world where orphans die of hunger.

My main issue is this: If the world is so horrible, with young orphans starving and sleeping on the streets – why in the world do women have to be snatched off of the street to become the brides of wealthy men? It's even mentioned (small spoiler) at one point in the book that the man thinks his brides were trained in some sort of bride-house to become the best wives they can be to a future husband. Nope – women are grabbed from their lives and forced into it. Why? I honestly don't understand the purpose of it, given the world we're introduced to. Why are there not places that train brides to become wives who birth future generations?

My second issue is the protagonist, Rhine. She has absolutely zero personality. The book is pushed onwards simply by her desire to escape after being captured and forced into marriage with a wealthy young man. Escape, escape, escape. What does she love? Tell me more in depth about her! She was a blank slate that needed to be filled in. The book relies only on the dystopian aspects and not the character aspect of our protagonist. It's strange, though, because her two sister wives have very en-point personalities. One is angry and angsty, the other is a spoiled brat. Rhine, however, wants to escape to get back to her brother.

My third issue, and perhaps a much more minor one, is the cover art. The reason Rhine was snatched is because of her eyes – she has heterochromia, meaning one eye is a different colour than the other. The cover, however, shows what I can only imagine is our protagonist, with her eyes closed. Closed. Yes – the whole reason, seemingly, that this adventure takes place, is not shown on the cover. Her eyes could have been distant, but open; or focused specifically on them – but, no, they're closed.

(heterochromia)


I won't be reading the other two books in this series (unless I find them ridiculously cheap) as the thoughts in the bag of my mind, nagging at me, just never stopped. If you're a fan of the Dystopian genre, I would still skip this one.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Review - Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners
Libba Bray
1/5 Stars



I tried. I really did. I gave it a valiant effort. I made it almost halfway through. If I had finished all of it, it might have garnered a 2 at most – but because I couldn't finish it, it's got to be a one out of five.

This book was so boring it repeatedly had me falling asleep while reading. I honestly just didn't care for Ms. Bray's writing style. It felt like she was trying to write for TV or movie – telling us what was happening with wind – birds flying away – anything, it seems – to make it longer. I'm not even sure how much of what I read was necessary or relevant to the story.

She frequently switched perspectives – often in the middle of a chapter for only a paragraph. It made the book feel disjointed and more like she planned for it to be a TV mini-series, written more from camera angles than from a novelists perspective. As a film school graduate – I've written enough scripts and Diviners felt like it should begin with “INT – MANOR – EVENING”

While Ms. Bray clearly did an exorberant amount of research on the 1920's and life in New York at that time, it felt like she wanted to include all of it. All of that research, every other sentence – something else I didn't understand and either had to look up or pushed on without really knowing what she meant.

The phrases were one thing – “The Elephants Ears”, etc. that was all fine...to a point. However, her need to include absolutely everything she's ever learned about the 20's got old – very quickly. Really, it's all in the 20's – see? The 20's. Oh look, we're in the 20's! Did you forget for a sentence that this takes place in the 20's? Cause' it does.

I was at first confused by the sudden change in perspectives, focusing on Memphis. Who'sa whatsit now? I thought Evie was the heroin of this tale? Nope. Just one of the main characters, it turns out. Confusing at first – then it just became annoying to read part of one story and then suddenly switch to another.


I think I'm in the lesser percentile on the review of this book, as most people seem to pos-i-tutely love it. I just didn't. I need to read a different book now, and stop dreading the reading of this one.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review - Temping Fate

Temping Fate
Esther M. Friesner
3.5/5 Stars



I was in the mood for something light and fluffy and Temping Fate certainly delivered. The writing was fun and quirky and I finished it in an evening.

Due to the fact that the book was fairly short, there were some aspects of it that could have been fleshed out a little bit more. The one-on-one interaction between her sister and her parents, for example.

Despite the shortness of the book (and although there are no sequels), I would honestly watch a TV show based on the ideas in the book. The basis is that the gods and goddesses (especially from the Greek Mythos) need temps to help them with their big work loads. The protagonist, Ilana, and her co-workers all seem to have really interesting personalities that I would enjoy watching on a weekly basis as they deal with their mystical jobs and immortal employers.

I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a light read after reading something a lot heavier and more in depth. Sort of a pallet cleanser, if you will. Especially if you're a fan of the Percy Jackson books, this would make a great follow-up read.



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Book Haul

I needed to get out of the house today - pregnant woman cabin fever! So the hubby and I headed to the local Value Village and I picked up a few books pour moi!



Three of them are YA fiction and the other is a non-fiction book on wee folk, which is going in my ever-growing collection of books on the topic.

The other three are:

Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins - It's the second book in the Hex Hall series, but I sadly don't have the first one yet, so I'm keeping my eyes peeled. Poor lovely book will have to sit on the shelf for a while until I find it.

Torn by Amanda Hocking - This is also the second book in it's series, the Trylle series, a book about Changelings and such. I guess I'll also have to keep my eye out for the first one in this series as well. I've gotta pick them up when I find them, though - otherwise I won't find them when I need them!

Temping Fate by Esther Friesner - This is a stand-alone book so I can dive right in if I want to - and I think I do! It's also hardcover, so I'm stoked about that, too. They just look so awesome on the shelf...when they eventually find their way there.

Off to read!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Movie's About Books


Today I felt the urge to watch Fahrenheit 451 again. I've probably seen the movie 3 or more times at this point - it's just got this drawing aspect to it. A world where books are illegal - what would you do in that sort of dystopian future? Would you horde the books or would you cheer for the firefighters as they burn piles and piles of books? 

I have a feeling I would continue to horde books - and be seen as "an anti-social" and retrained for doing so. Books are so important to the world. I fear, though, that anti-social behaviour has already taken hold in our world - and it's not in the form of books. Those of us who read avidly talk about those books with other people, we write reviews, we have book clubs and discussions. 

The real anti-social behaviour is cell phones. We'll have people over to our home to play board games or to hang out - and everyone is always staring at their phones. Waiting for texts, sending texts - constantly. It's appalling. 

Read more books! Learn new words! Travel to other lands and have grand adventures. Always read.

Review - The Immortal Rules

The Immortal Rules
Julie Kagawa
4.5/5 Stars




This book had absolutely everything I love in a book, thematically:

-Dystopian world
-Vampires
-Zombies (rabids)
-A normal person starting out in their normal world and finding themselves in a fantasy-esque landscape (becoming a vampire)

I just couldn't go wrong with this book – and I wasn't disappointed. I absolutely love Kagawa's writing style, and this book was my first introduction to her work. She's written a very strong female lead, which is just amazing. Compared to books like Twilight, which focuses on a female lead who's shy and just completely obsessed with boys – Kagawa's book is a refreshing take on the vampire genre.

The book is fast paced and you never once feel like a bit of the book should have been edited out.

Her vampires are not sexy and sparkly – they are demons with human faces. Severe, monstrous, and predatory. Her future world is not an easy life – it's ridiculously hard to survive in and even if you do, you're certainly not living comfortably.

Despite it being published by Harlequin Teen (which I, at first, had reservations about), there's no grand lovestory that encompasses the entire book. There is, eventually, a love interest – but our protagonist, Allison, is not so infatuated with him that it takes away from the rest of the story.

Kagawa's writing style has impacted me to the point that she's now one of my favourite authors – I look forward to reading her Iron Fey series when I can get my hands on them.


The one complaint I do have – which doesn't impact the book itself at all – is the cover. Our protagonist is Asian (perhaps a Japanese background), and the girl on the cover just does NOT look Asian. It is a lovely cover – but I found it to be another example of an inacurate portrayal of the protagonist it's supposed to depict.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review - The Magnolia League

The Magnolia League
Katie Crouch
2/5 Stars



This is another book that I was very torn about. Due to this, this particular review will contain some minor spoilers about the book.

WHAT I LIKED

Crouchs' writing style is marvelous. It's quirky and cute and it's what drove me onwards to finish the book.

Crouch has actually done a little bit of research on hoodoo culture, which is always nice to see when you're reading a book that has basis in real-life, rather than original mythology. As someone who was once a practitioner of Vodou, she hit the nail on the head a lot of the time. Doc Buzzard was a real character in hoodoo history, and is mentioned in “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” (a book published in 1994, movie followed in 1997). Although, with the small amount of research done – it did sort of feel like she just “copy and pasted” information she got off of wikipedia.

WHAT I DIDN'T

I absolutely did not like the protagonist. She annoyed the flippin' crap out of me. To begin with, she's a hippie – the type of hippie that constantly has to lecture people about how bad their lifestyle's are. She talks to people about oil in Iraq, blood diamonds – making her the most pretentious protagonist I have ever come across. I was rolling my eyes every time she was with her new friends, because she always had something to say about how wrong their lifestyle was compared to how she was raised. There were times I just wanted to smack her.

The cover of the book panders to the teen audience, showing a tiny girl with long luscious hair cascading down around her. Our protagonist, Alex, does not look like this until a little more than 3/4 of the way through the book. Would it really have been so bad to show Alex in her “true form” of a pudgy, dreadlocked hippie teenager? Maybe I'm the one who's being pretentious now – but I felt the cover was designed to sell a sexy chick, rather than focusing on what Alex actually looks like.

Every time I read a book – my husband tries to guess what rating I will give it – at first he shot out a 3 because he had asked me near the beginning of the book (when I didn't quite hate Alex as much as I do now), but it slowly wound itself down to a 2 because of the plot and other characters.

Crouch likes to throw out high end names, expecting the young readers to know exactly what she's talking about when referring to things they wouldn't be able to afford unless they were part of the Kardashian family.

At the end, the book felt very rushed – as though Crouch just gave up and needed to find a way to leave a cliffhanger without much previous explaination. After reading an article she wrote, I discovered that I hit the nail on the head. She was preggers and sick of writing and handed the book over to a friend to finish. * sigh *


Avoid this one.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review - Illuminate

Illuminate
Aimee Agresti
3.5/5 Stars



As I was reading the book, I was really mixed, but when I finished....I was still a bit mixed. I don't really do “half stars”, but this book is getting one. I just couldn't decide if it was going to get a 3 or a 4.

The book is good....not great or amazing, but good. The first half of the book reads more like The Devil Wears Prada than a paranormal fiction. I was a little bored at first, but I pushed through and got about halfway and the book got more interesting. Within the first half of the book is a whole lot of build up and a whole lot of zip to supernatural things. The author hints at it here and there, and if you've read the inside sleeve, you have an idea of what's to come.

The writing is good – good enough to keep you interested until the end. One of the main things I enjoyed about the book is that it dealt with angels and “devils” (apparently not demons) without being preachy. I never want to read a book and feel that I'm being preached at. I want to enjoy the read, focus on the story and characters and not worry about my own belief system.

At about the halfway point, questions begin to become answered. I've never been a fan of authors constantly leaving their fans up in the air about everything in the book. I tend to think they're trying to be more “mysterious”, when in fact I just don't enjoy the book because of so many unanswered aspects.

Agresti doesn't answer everything (what author worth her salt would?) and leaves just enough that you'll want to seek those answers in the next installment. There's no majorly cliffhanger ending, so I'm not pining at Amazon, wishing I had enough money for “just one more book” this month. I can wait, and I'm sure I'll enjoy it.

The book is a bit long-winded, with some parts having absolutely no impact on the overall story. It did take me a couple of days to get through, and not because I wasn't reading it. Despite it's length, the writing is actually pretty good. If you're a fan of the angel sub-genre, pick this one up.



Monday, July 14, 2014

Why I Didn't Like the Series of Unfortunate Events

Series of Unfortunate Events
Lemony Snicket






I'll be the first one to admit I'm old. Too old, according to a lot of people to read young adult and childrens books. However, I mostly just stick my fingers in my ears and hum "la la la la" over and over again. I'll be 30 in September - and a Mom in December, so I'm feeling super old right about now.

I've loved children's books since...well, obviously - since I was a child. I still read them on occasion. I happily read through each Harry Potter book in about a day. I love Darren Shan's series Cirque du Freak. I love children's books - I swear I do.

However, I did not love the Series of Unfortunate Events books by Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler). I know, I know - I'm in the minority here. Hey, there was even a movie! (more on that later).

I've made it through 7 of the books and I just can't bare to read any more of them. I can't. And you can't make me.

I made the disastrous mistake of watching the movie before I started reading any of the books. I thought the movie was awesome. It left a lot of unanswered questions, so I figured I would find them by reading through the series. I was so very, very wrong. There were no answers to be found. The amazing subplot of the parents belonging to some sort of secret spy organization involving spyglasses was completely missing. This was not, however, why I had to stop reading them.



I've already admitted I'm old. Maybe kids get more of a kick out of this than I do....but the adults were DUMB. Every last one of them. There's not a brain in the bunch. Despite overwhelming evidence from kids who are clearly years ahead of others their ages, the adult never believe them.

Let's use common sense when dealing with Count Olaf! Nope. Never once. No common sense to be found. He just keeps getting away - which I suppose is the reason there's 13 of the books all focused on getting the kids away from beloved Count Olaf and the adults never believing them when they say a certain person is clearly him.

I felt dumb reading them. I couldn't suspend my disbelief any further. It was already so suspended, it would never go back to school.

And so, after 7 books I had to tell myself that, no, I wouldn't be finishing the series. The downside...or upside, depending on what type of person you are - is that the books themselves are just lovely. They sit so neatly and primly on my bookshelf I don't think I shall ever part with them. I've got the hardcover copies of all 13.

It's possible the little goblin in my stomach will like them when he or she grows up. That's a waiting game, though. From an adults perspective - reading them is like letting your brain dribble out of your ears.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Review - Nightshade

Nightshade
Andrea Cremer
5/5



I absolutely adored this book and couldn't put it down. It was a book I actually stayed up until 5 or 6 in the morning reading, I thought it was so good.

Thestory of Calla, Alpha wolf of the Nightshade pack was so well written that Andrea Cremer has now made my list of favourite authors.

While I totally knew what the “twist” was going to be later on in the book, Cremer made it interesting enough, leading me towards this great reveal that I was completely hooked by it. Good versus evil....which is which?

I love that Calla (our heroine) is not just a silly, ditzy high school kid. She's strong and intuitive and she's written very well. Of course, there's always “the boy” (doesn't there have to be?), which is also an interesting addition to the plot. I don't want to give much away on this one – you should really just read it and decide for yourself.


If you're a fan of werewolves or books akin to Blood and Chocolate, give Nightshade a try. There's a whole series, and I'm only about halfway through the second book in the series – Wolfsbane, but I have so much else to read it keeps getting pushed to the back of my “to read” shelf.

Review - Pretty Monsters

Pretty Monsters
Kelly Link
2/5 Stars



I can't bring myself to give this book a one out of five stars – I just can't. Maybe it's because I bought the book based on the absolutely stunning cover. It's so pretty! The pages are even lined in black, which I never see done in the world of fiction. I love looking at it on the shelf – and only a select few know (and now you do, too!) that my copy is both upside down and backwards.

I thought to myself – Neil Gaiman gave the book (or perhaps just Link herself) a positive review – how could I go wrong? A book of odd short stories for the YA audience – sounds great!

Well...it wasn't great. It wasn't even good. It was sort of okay at points...but not even “okay” enough for me to finish all of them. I read through about half of them and just couldn't bring myself to finish the rest of the stories.

The one story I enjoyed – The Wizards of Perfil – was too short. I wanted to know more, I wanted it to continue. The other stories were just boring and not well thought out. It felt as though Link had a grain of an idea but could only expand it far enough to short story range.

But it's so pretty!

Whoa, whoa – slow down. Unless you're looking for an awesome looking book end, please steer clear of this one. Even my husband couldn't bring himself to finish it – and he finishes EVERYTHING – even if he hates it.


In all honesty, the book should be getting a 1 – simply because I couldn't bring myself to finish it. I can't though. Or I won't. The artist in me would yell too much.

Review - The Bar Code Tattoo

The Bar Code Tattoo
Suzanne Weyn
2/5 Stars




A dystopian future where everybody is pressured to conform to getting a bar code tattoo – a tattoo that let's you access your money and identifiation all digitally within the tattoo.

Growing up, my mother always told me that the “Mark of the Beast” would be a barcode tattoo. She was overly religious and explained that as soon as that happened, the end times were near. Perhaps because of this upbringing, I found the book VERY preachy. My upbringing also impacted the reading of the book in the sense that it was far from an original story. Christian superstition or mythology being put into dystopian young adult fiction. For this reason, I'm also not a fan of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (much to my husbands dismay).

I did, to some extent, enjoy the ideas behind the story put into novel form. As a kid it was something I thought about a lot – the end times and the story of Revelations in the Bible. As an adult and an atheist – I sort of read it tongue in cheek.

It's a quick read – which may be the only reason I did end up finishing it. I'm not going to complain about that too much, though – as I got the book for free with a pile of other books someone was tossing away.

The book is plot driven rather than character driven and flat at times.


The Bar Code Tattoo could be more appealing to Christian young adults who are in youth group, currently talking about similar ideas. Outside of that, if you want a quick dystopian read – maybe give this one a try. Honestly, though – I would just pass right on and find some decent dystopian fiction – there's so much out there!

Review - Incarceron

Incarceron
Catherine Fisher
3/5 Stars



Incarceron is part steampunk, part dystopian future and perhaps part magic. The idea behind the book is that the worlds criminals have been sent into a living prison, leaving their heirs to the same, unending life. Life on the outside is much different than in Incarceron itself.

The story is told from two perspetives – that of Finn (who lives in Incarceron) and that of Claudia (who lives outside of it)

While I did sort of enjoy the book, I'm not particularly looking forward to reading its sequel “Sapphique”. The book did keep me guessing...perhaps a little too much. I kept thinking to myself “What are we dealing with here?” and so many of my questions were left unanswered.

I much prefered reading about Claudia on the outside than of Finn on the outside. I felt like her parts might explain a little more about the world and why it was left the way it was. We get small peaks here and there about it – but not enough to satiate my curiosity. I want to know more! I want to know more about why they seem to be trying to live a more Medieval existance than their clearly advanced scientific existence. I want to know why innocent people, born into Incarceron had to remain there – even though they had commited to crimes in the outside world.

Fisher keeps you guessing throughout the entire book – especially about the basis of Incarceron itself. Where is it? What is it? And if you're quick enough, you'll probably come to the proper conclusion fairly early on in the book.

The world building was strange. I often felt I didn't understand what Fisher was trying to get across. Her explainations of the different places within Incarceron were just weird. I didn't understand enough in the writing to form a great visual.

I did enjoy the book, though. I think the driving power behind it is the fact that it does keep you guessing – though you may be disappointed that not all your questions are answered.


If you're a little wary of reading it – perhaps wait for the movie, for which the book has been optioned. No information yet on whether it will go through or when the release date may be – keep your eyes on IMDB for that one.

Review - Lament

Lament
Maggie Stiefvater
2/5 Stars



I was not a fan of this book. The reviews for it are all over the place, but for the most part, people seemed to like it. This was another book I picked up in a thrift shop on a whim. I don't regret reading it (if I had, I wouldn't have finished it).

Stiefvaters' writing style is good – just the story of Lament in general wasn't done well. Having finished this book, I have no desire to read the others in the series – despite them sitting on my bookshelf and beckoning to me. I binge buy books so I can binge read them in case I love them – what can I say?

I haven't read any other books by Stiefvater, and after Lament I'm a little unsure as to whether or not I actually want to try. I won't read any more in this series – but I do hear good things about her Shiver Trilogy.

I honestly just found the book dreadfully boring. I wanted so very much to like it – I did. When I was in high school, I was a tad obsessed with fairies and Irish myths and legends and read some absolutely astounding YA books on the topic. Stiefvater's Lament just didn't live up to that past love for me. The characters were dry and uninteresting. The plot didn't seem to go much of anywhere and I'm honestly surprised I made it to the end. I think it took me about a month to read. It never takes me a month to read anything.


The story was abstract and random and at times just plain confusing. If you're a huge fan of fae literature, you may like the book more than I did, but you'll certainly have to work on your suspension of disbelief.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Review - Vampire Academy Series

Vampire Academy
Richelle Mead
5/5 Stars




Instead of reviewing each book on it's own, I'm reviewing Vampire Academy as a series.

I'm going to be entirely honest with you - I binge read these like nobodies business. They were unputdownable. I started with the first book and by the end of the series, I had found my new favourite author. While not my favourite series by Richelle Mead (I've since read others), it comes in as a close second.

The writing...the characters....the story....just everything! I love this woman, I do. Going into the series – I had never heard of it before. I knew it had vampires (obviously) and had bought them in a bundle of used books from a classifieds website. Best accidental discovery ever.

I haven't seen the movie – and am a little iffy on whether or not I should. Movies always ruin things for me. Especially for books I loved as much as this. Time will tell, though. I do keep saying that I'm a glutton for punishment...we shall see how much.

Richelle Mead delivers crack with her books, I swear. I have yet to read her Bloodlines series, and won't until it's finished (because I have to binge read them...I just have to).

I tend to like books that are not entirely focused on the romance between two characters (hence, not a fan of Twilight) – a book that has something else going on, and Vampire Academy delivered. The mythos created within the world of the Academy is just amazing. At first, you're skimming just the edges of this world filled with two different types of mythical vampire creatures, and then you become more entranced in their world. Each character has so much to offer the series. I did find, however – that I didn't like Lissa as much as a lot of people seemed to. Not to say that she wasn't a well written character – but I can't like everything, can I?

One of the aspects I love about this series is that it's not sedimentary. It doesn't stay in one place. We find ourselves not only at this Academy, but also in Russia and other areas, showing the reader how vast of a world Mead has created.


If you're a fan of vampires in YA fiction – read this series. It's got action, romance, drama – everything I wanted in a vampire series.

Review: Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins
4/5 Stars


I quite enjoyed this book. I wasn't entirely sure what I was getting myself into, as I hate ruining things for myself by listening to other peoples critiques of things, but I'm really glad I gave this book a chance.

You should be aware that this is a review based on my having not seen the movie yet, just reading the book itself.

I was originally told the book was a mix of a dystopian world with "Battle Royale" mixed in. I've seen Battle Royale (have not read the book), and I have to say this book is a lot more like BR than I anticipated. BR is the epitome of a dystopian world, and Hunger Games follows directly in its tracks. I was rather surprised to find out that Suzanne Collins had neither read, watched nor even heard of BR when she wrote The Hunger Games. I'm not entirely sure if I believe that, seeing the extreme similarity between the two.

Onto the book itself! The further into the book I got, the more I felt the need to read the book. It's honestly like an addiction - the author gives you a little taste of the world for free in the first couple of chapters and once you're hooked, you're up at 3am trying to find out what happens next. Not that that...you know...happened. Or anything.

I loved the little tidbits of introduction to the world of Panem - the history of the world they now live in and how they got to the way they are now. I was grasping for more information on this history, but the author certainly knows what she's doing...slow release - keeps us coming back for more!

The character development is pretty damned good. The sense of adventure, dire need to survive...I don't know that I would actually change anything about the book.

Read it, jump on the bandwagon - it's really just "one of those books".

Review: Divergent

Divergent
Veronica Roth
5/5 Stars




A book about a world gone terribly awry, a strong female lead and situations beyond her control. Explaining this book to someone whom hasn't read it is harder than it may seem – I don't want to give ANYTHING away.

This very quickly moved its way up to my list of favourite books. To begin with, I've always been a fan of Dystopian movies, so naturally I decided to delve into the world of Dystopian fiction as well, and was certainly not disappointed.

Having said that, I have NOT yet seen the movie, but will when it becomes available on DVD. I'm sure I'll be disappointed, but – hey – I'm a glutton for punishment.

I could not put this book down and finished it in a day. I don't often do that. The world it was set in was absolutely fascinating. The characters and story were gripping and I actually cared about what happened to them – and certainly hated some of them (as I was meant to).

The book is about one long trial our heroine must face while joining a new faction in her futuristic Chicago. The one thing about this I didn't care for was the major change in direction 3/4 of the way through the book. I was far too involved with the trials and everything going on with that one particular situation and I didn't want it to change. Nuh uh. Give me back my trial situation. * pout *

I've only read a handful of Dystopian fiction so far, and Divergent has definitely opened the gate for me to read even MORE of it. There's just something about a future world – a world we've turned it into – that's so completelt bizare and unlike how we currently live that gets me. I just love it.

I actually enjoyed Divergent more than Hunger Games (possibly not a popular opinion). I'm totally in it for the Dystopian world itself. Divergent went way more “in depth” into what this future was like than Hunger Games did.


If you're a fan of Dystopian worlds – read Divergent. I don't think you'll be disappointed

Review: Books I Never Finished (part 1)

Over the years I've bought a lot of books. I've read a lot of books. I've also started a lot of books I never finished for one reason or another. So, instead of writing bad reviews for each of them in a separate post, I'm going to start Part 1 of - Books I've Never Finished and tell you a little bit about why that is.

Beautiful Creatures
Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl



This book series was highly recommended by a friend and has even spawned a movie. I bought the whole series in a box set, eager to delve into the mysterious world that was to be "Beautiful Creatures". I even got three quarters of the way through the first book before I decided, once and for all - that it wasn't for me.

I can't say that it's terrible - because clearly enough people loved it enough to spawn the movie and two follow up books. I just didn't like it. I found it boring and I didn't particularly care for it. I put it aside for a week and kept telling myself I would go back to it - but I never did.

When the movie came out, I watched it (because, again - highly recommended) and I didn't care for it, either. The ideas just didn't do it for me, I'm sorry to say.


Ghostgirl
Tonya Hurley



I don't think I made it past chapter two of this one. It's just awful. Maybe it's because I'm an adult reading YA Fiction - but, it's my genre. I love this genre. I just don't care about a girl, whom, even after she dies - still just wants to be "popular".

I've never understood this concept. It makes no sense to me. When I was in high school, I didn't care about being popular. I wasn't popular, I had some friends I ate lunch with and hung out with at school and never wanted to be with "the popular crowd". They seemed shallow and uninteresting to me. A story told about a girl who wants this and ONLY this - is just ridiculous.

Also - there's the guy - that popular guy that eeeeveryone wants to be with. I never saw such a guy in school. Everyone had their own little groups and different people they were attracted to. The book was just so unrealistic (and yes, I get that it's paranormal fiction) and my suspension of disbelief just didn't happen.

To be completely honest - I bought the book in a thrift store because of the cover. The style of the cover just looked awesome. It's completely true what they say - you know, that one about not judging a book by its cover.

Evermore
Alyson Noel



This is just one of those times where you say "I can't even.". I don't know if I made it halfway through the book, give or take - but I just couldn't take any more. The book is shallow and contrived. As I look through reviews on Goodreads, there's a whole slew of one out of five's. The book is so bad, someone even posted an Evermore drinking game.

It felt like the book was trying to be Twilight (another book of which I am not a fan) and the whole idea of the girl not being able to touch/be intimate with the guy - it just made me roll my eyes. The whole book is an eye-roller. You'll get tired of staring at the ceiling.

Was there even a plot? How the heck did the book spawn even MORE books? I sincerely hope they never make a movie out of it. I'll probably watch it if they do, but I guess I'm a glutton for punishment.

Just avoid this one altogether.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Review: Prophecy of the Sisters

Prophecy of the Sisters
Michelle Zink
3/5 STARS



Two sisters caught up in an ancient prophecy that pits good against evil and family member against family member.

Despite no markings on the book telling the reader such, this is book one of a trilogy. I didn't realize the book wasn't a standalone until I was nearing the end and the story was nowhere near finished.

This was my introduction to historical paranormal fiction. I've never read a book written in modern times trying to write in the style of the late 1800's before – it took some getting used to. At first the writing felt awkward and contrived, but I did fall into and and felt myself getting used to the style of writing.

The story keeps you guessing from beginning to end, though not enough to keep me enraptured in its reading. The characters were fairly improbable, but I could chalk this up to the historic writing style. The characters seemed to jump from one part to the next, often leaving me guessing at what happened in between. I didn't particularly care for Lia, the main character of the book. There was nothing that endeared me towards her – only that I didn't much like her sister.

Although I didn't particularly love the book, there were parts near the end where I did, in fact cry. It could be because I'm pregnant, or it could be because the writing WAS good enough to actually instill strong emotions in me.


I've worked out from the reading of the book that I'm not a fan of historical paranormal fiction. My modern heart yearns for modern things. If you are, however, already a fan of the genre – you might like this book a lot more than I did.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Review: The Hollow People by Brian Keaney

The Hollow People
Brian Keaney
4/5 STARS
Young Adult Dystopian Fiction



I picked this book up from a local thrift store on a fluke – and boy do I wish I had seen the entire trilogy there!

The book is about two teenagers – Bea and Dante:

Bea is the daughter of two doctors on the island asylum of Tarnagar, in Gehenna. Her coming of age ceremony is approaching, where she will be given Ichor for the first time and her dreams will stop.

Dante is the lowliest kitchen boys – born to an inmate of the asylum and treated more poorly than dirt. He's already had his coming of age ceremony, but his dreams continued.

Keaney slips bits and parts of this dystopian world slowly in as you read. I found myself craving to know more about this strange world and the characters that live in it. A mad Leader (who reminded me of Kim Jong Il), strange drugs and an entire country of hollow people – too empty to make their own decisions.

The world is not what it originally seems in this atmospheric novel. The plot draws you inwards, the writing is lovely and the characters are interesting.

The downside is that it's only 223 pages long, with two sequels. I honestly think that all 3 books could have been told in the same novel, cutting down on the cost for readers. I do wish it had been longer, but look forward to reading the other two books in the trilogy.