29 August 2013

The Cold Dish

Author: Craig Johnson
Series: Walt Longmire Mystery #1
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

I am going to try to keep my comparisons to the television show to a minimum, but I have to give credit to Longmire for without the television show, I never would have discovered this author or this series or this book.  I had never heard of Walt Longmire until I was watching a preview before the commercials before the previews at a movie.  A week or two later the show popped up on Netflix and I watched it on a whim and by the end of the first season I was hooked.  Naturally, reading this book was the next step.

Walt is a tough old bird, surly and a bit of a drunk.  He is still "dealing" with the death of his wife, although you get a sense that they weren't all that happily married.  He has his best friend Henry, who talks in a bit of an unnerving way as he doesn't use doesn't, always using does not instead, etc.  It takes a bit of getting used to but I have to admit, it makes him sound wiser.  Henry and Walt have a dry but witty banter that adds a lot to the novel.

Then you have Vic, who has the mouth of a sailor.  And Ruby, who doesn't like to put up with Walt's nonsense.  And then there is Turk, who just seems like a complete turd.  I have to admit, every time I read Turk I thought Branch, but they are definitely two completely different characters as I actually really like Branch on the television show and didn't like Turk much at all in the book.  The Ferg is still a little bland, but he shows his merits.  But, I digress, enough with the comparisons to the television show.

I don't know much about Indian culture (at least not of the Native American variety), so I am not sure how accurate the book is, but it is always refreshing to catch glimpses at different cultures, especially ones so rooted into your own country.  I am also a sucker for horses and cowboy boots and deep dish hats, so the fact that this crime mystery takes place in Wyoming is a definite plus.  I've grow up a city gal my entire life and would love to escape to a small county out west at some point in my life.

As for the plot of the novel, I enjoyed the mystery but found the ending completely unsatisfying.  Out of all the people they count as suspects, the result seemed to come out of left field, and the explanation seemed thin and I didn't buy it.  In addition, it didn't seem to fit the character through the progression of the book and seemed a bit of a 180 turn at the end.  Sure, you get the element of surprise at the ending, but I felt it cheapened the story and the 320 page lead in to the ending which is why I couldn't bring myself to give the book a better rating.

Overall, the ending kind of ruined the novel for me, but the characters developed are close enough to the types of characters I fell in love with in the show, and for that reason alone I am willing to try out the next book in the series and hope for a better crime mystery/ending that I feel is more suited to my liking.

Love is a Many Trousered Thing

Author: Louise Rennison
Series: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson #8
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

The rack of lurve continues to plague the young Georgia Nicolson.  With the return of the original Sex God, her first kiss (if you don't count the other two before him, which she doesn't) and sort of boyfriend.  After first saying he doesn't want to be exclusive, the Italian Stallion changed his mind in the last book when his ex-girlfriend came to tell him she had found happiness again.  Suddenly, he felt as if this was permission for him to be in a relationship with Georgia, which he tells her right when Robbie returns.  And Robbie, well, Robbie isn't sure how long he is staying for, but he seems to want to pick things back up with Georgia as well.

And then of course there is Dave the Laugh, who I am rooting for even though he is a bit of a cheat on his girlfriend what which all the Georgia snogging.

This book was definitely heavily on the love triangle/rectangle/pentagon (if you count Wet Lindsay).  At this point in the series, I am ready for it to start wrapping up as Libs and Angus aren't quite as funny anymore and the boys are starting to take up just a little too much screen time.

25 August 2013

Fruits Basket, Volume 9

Author: Natsuki Takaya
Series: Fruits Basket #9
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

Finally, a reprieve from the annoying characters (minus Yuki's comembers on the council, who make a brief appearance).  This volume offers insight into the back stories of Tohru's two best friends, plus one of them finally gets a love interest (who has a secret of his own).

Then we get some quality Kyo (who is a little less angry and loud these days), and while visiting his martial arts master we have a pretty sad but important revelation revealed.  Without giving anything away (especially since I already know how it turns out in the end), let's just say it is not shocking but definitely a downer of a reveal.

With school out for the summer, fun is sure to abound in the next few episodes, and I have to say I am glad we will be getting a break from all of Yuki's crazy entourage.

24 August 2013

Death Note, Volume 7

Author: Tsugumi Ohba
Series: Death Note #7
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

Finally, we are getting back on track.  L and Light are pitted against each other again, and L is starting to seriously doubt Light and is pretty much convinced that Light is Kira.  But Light, being as self confident and assured as he is, doesn't sweat L (too much).

I don't want to get into any spoilers, so I will keep the review for this volume brief.  But it is good.  Not the way I would want it to go, but good nonetheless.

Towards the end of the volume, a few new characters are introduced that are pitted each other as well in a bit of a game of wits and strategy.  Not sure how I feel about these characters yet, but I am sure it is going to add to the intensity as the plot begins to build.

Relativity

Author: Cristin Bishara
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

Wow.  I don't remember the last time I enjoyed a YA/youth book as much as this one, but it has definitely been a while.  I received an ARC galley from the publisher, and typically when I get a galley to read it is hard to get through.  For one, a majority of the books I get ARCs of are not very good.  Having to read it on my tablet as opposed to my Kindle ereader or a trusty hardcover book usually takes me much longer to read as well.  But I could not seem to put this book down.

For one thing, this book involves string theory and a multi-universe view of the world, which is refreshing over some of the time travel books I have read recently which I find a lot harder to swallow as there is no scientific evidence behind the possibility.  Parallel universes, however, is something that physics have been pushing for a while now and something I can wrap my head around and partake in.  The fact of a wormhole existing in the middle of this grand tree with an electric door handle is a little more difficult to believe in, but this is a children's novel after all, not a Michael Crichton adventure.  Kudos to Bishara for making science interesting to kids at all these days.

Then we get to the plot of the story.  When Ruby discovers the multi universes, she realizes her mother might still be alive in one of the other universes she can visit.  If you have a chance of getting to a parallel dimension where a loved one you have lost is still alive, who wouldn't want to take the chance to see them again?  The loss and emotions that Ruby deals with in this book are things I think everyone can relate to at least once in their lifetime.  And while she isn't a perfectly sculpted character, we expect her to be flawed as she is but human.

The romance in this book isn't in your face and over the top, and I am truly grateful for that.  If anything, it is a young love based on friendship relationship, which is often lacking in YA novels these days where the girl falls for the first guys she meets at first sight.

I enjoyed the ending as well.  It is not the happily ever after perfect ending most authors would be willing to throw at you, but it is true to life and I still find it a happy (enough) ending.  Ruby learns some valuable lessons during her adventures, and learns to appreciate the life she has and not take it for granted, even if it isn't the perfect life she is searching for.

This book does have a few unexplained plot holes (for instance, what happens to the original Rubys in the parallel universes she visits that suddenly disappear?  And why doesn't the red-headed Irish described one disappear when she shows up in the one parallel world?).  All and all, though, a very good YA/youth novel.  Finally, a book I would be happy to recommend to others.

Startled by His Furry Shorts

Author: Louise Rennison
Series: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson #7
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

Georgia can't seem to stay off the rack of luuurve in this installment of her marvy madness.  For starters, she is waiting for the Italian stallion to decide whether he wants to be exclusive and be her boyfriend, but she isn't sure if he means an actual week's time when he tells her he will let her know in a week or if it is like when guys say 'S'later'.  So that has her puzzled and up all night, unable to sleep because her brain is running zzzzzzzz.

Also, there is Wet Lindsay to consider.  Bleh.

Then we have Dave the Laugh.  She is still confused as two things confused are after he maybe perhaps hinted in the last book that he didn't want to be horn mates with her and wanted more.  And she finds herself snogging him once more, but the ole Laugh is acting weird.  And finds himself a new girlfriend who is not just a mate, which has Georgia confused and puzzled as well, as she is once again jealous and thinks Dave the Laugh isn't bad but also has the Horn for the stallion.

And then the original Sex God, whose name she must never speak again, also makes a bit of a comeback, as she decides to finally answer his letter that Tom and Jas brought to her attention many moons again.

Georgia bounces on and off the rack of luuurve like she bounces back and forth between boys, but I cannot help but find it so funny.  And as this installment ends on a cliffhanger, I am ready to snuggle up under the covers (minus Libby and the cats) and dive into the next one.

22 August 2013

Gameboard of the Gods

Author: Richelle Mead
Series: Age of X #1
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

I wasn't sure what to think of this book when I got started on it.  It is definitely slow to start, and at first glance you can't tell if it is meant as adult fiction or young adult fiction.  With Mead's history, I expected it to be along the lines of YA.  After all, the only reason I gave this novel a chance was because I enjoyed the Vampire Academy series.  I am not one to read about religion (just as I am not a big fan of vampire novels), and thus even the title of this book was perhaps a bit daunting.  But I figured I would give it ago.  With the writing style and dialogue, you would think it is a YA novel.  After all, at least for the first third to half of the book, the characters are not very dimensional, the dialogue is not very sophisticated, and the writing style in general screams of YA.  Yet, the themes and plots push heavily towards adult fiction.  The main characters are quickly ripping each others' clothes off and enjoying a night of no harnessed passion at first meeting, and then they are brought in to investigate a string of murders.

The writing style did improve as the story went along, as did the pace of the novel and the plot in general.  Yet, but the end, I still find it hard to classify this novel as a solid adult fiction venture for Mead.  I think she would have been better off toning down the elements and themes some and targeting this novel to her YA following that she obtained through VA and the spin off novels.

I don't want to get into a philosophical debate or a religious one.  I classify myself as someone who has faith, but does not buy into what religion as a whole is selling.  The premise of the novel is certainly interesting and unique from what I have read (though again, I try to stay away from religious books), yet for a murder mystery of types it wasn't an edge of your seat ride and even though the pace definitely picked up in the second half of the novel, it was still difficult to continue chugging along at some points.  This novel was not a read under the covers by penlight type of novel by any standards.  Still, the characters at least started to grow on me, and at the end I didn't feel as if the time invested into this hefty novel was a waste.  The world she creates as a type of light dystopian after the Decline is interesting and a bit different; as a whole, I had some fundamental flaws with the politics in her world and beliefs in general, but who knows for certain what the future will bring?  Perhaps a bunch of the smaller southern states really will annex themselves off before the Republic of Texas does.

As for the continuation of the series, if I am going to be leaning more towards adult fiction and away from YA fiction in the future, I am not going to start with this series.  While this novel was interesting enough, I think I will treat is as a stand alone and not continue with the Age of X.  This book was decent, don't misread me, but I don't think it was good enough to warrant further adventure into shadow people and mystical ravens.

20 August 2013

Water

Author: Terra Harmony
Series: Akasha #1
Rating: 1 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

WARNING:  This review contains some "plot" spoilers.

Before we even get to the book, can I comment on the author's name?  "Terra Harmony" is either the worst pen name I've heard of or a woman whose hippie parents hated her when she was born.  Although I guess the name does suit the nature theme of this book.

Now let's focus on the narrative of this novel.  Harmony needed to focus on a narrative and stick with it.  If you are going to tell the story in the first person POV, then don't have random chapters that are written in third person.  Find a way for the narrator to find out the information these other characters are telling each other or incorporate it someway else or just leave the information out, I don't care which one.  But don't go switching your POV in the middle of the book and then reverse it back in the next chapter.

Speaking of the narrator... bleh.  Based of her description of herself and her life, she is an older woman (by no means old, but certainly out of her twenties).  She should act that way!  She is just as whiny and her dialogue is just as bad as a late teenager or early twenty-something.  To be fair, none of the other characters are any better.

Now let's get to the "plot" of this book.  I put the word in quotations because I am still not convinced there was one.  She is kidnapped by this group of people who have power over the elements and I guess are trying to help save the planet (reuse, recycle)?  I think Ms. Harmony watched too much Captain Planet as a kid (though I did love that show myself).  Still, she is kidnapped and yet works along with them seemingly willingly.  When they go on their trip to Spain, she has a brief notion of escaping the group at the airport, but then decides against it.  For someone who I think is supposed to be tough, she sure caves pretty easily and doesn't seem to value her own life or free will much.

Then you have the "relationships" in this novel.  She meets Micah, she kisses him almost immediately, and then bam - they are having sex.  She at least has the decency to admit that their relationship happened too fast, and gives him the cold shoulder for a bit.  Then he practically rapes her, and suddenly she is jealous when she sees him with another woman on his arm and immediately they make up again?  Well yeah, sure, ok.  That seems like the logical choice for her to make.  Women love being raped.  Just look at how well 50 Shades books sold (I think the only people that could enjoy this book are people that ate up that trash as well).

Speaking of rape, we get to Shawn.  When he rapes her, that is where I couldn't finish this book anymore.  No sense it trying to torture myself to finish it.  First of all, they are on this island that because of her power over the elements or something, the whole island is like a poison to her.  Shawn kidnaps her and takes her to the island, and tells her she better not move, or the island will kill her faster.  She even discovers that when someone else causes her to move, it kills her faster too.  So she can't even bathe herself.  So as soon as he finishes feeling her up and rubbing her down, he rapes her, and she talks about how rough it is and how he is tearing her apart and how she is worried her head is going to smash against the headboard WHICH MAKES NO SENSE SINCE HE JUST TOLD HER NOT TO MOVE.

Ugh, I just can't.  This entire book is ridiculous.  I got a free galley from the publisher, and I am immediately deleting it off my Kindle and pretending I never read this garbage.

Fruits Basket, Volume 8

Author: Natsuki Takaya
Series: Fruits Basket #8
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

Since the author seems determined to include at least one highly obnoxious character in each volume, in this installment Yuki's brother decides to come calling at the house.  He, of course, wants to bond with Yuki by volunteering to be Yuki's guardian for the parent/teacher conference.  Yuki, while not exactly on speaking terms with his parents, doesn't really like the prospect of having his brother come along either.

At first, it seems like the return of another character, the crazy bipolar maniac-depressive lady from the hot springs, when in reality it is the introduction of a new Zodiac member, her offspring.  Ritsu, however, is just as annoying as the mother because Ritsu has all the same traits as the mom, except for one little twist.

The saving grace of this volume is Haru's character stories while they are at the Haunted House in the last chapter.  I think I even chuckled aloud.  And Kyo's talk with Tohru about looking towards the future (and even Shigure's insight) is sweet too.

As summer is just about to start, hopefully things will start to heat up in the next volume!

16 August 2013

Fruits Basket, Volume 7

Author: Natsuki Takaya
Series: Fruits Basket #7
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

Well, the first portion of this volume starts out with the introduction of yet a new annoying character in the form of Hiro.  This little kid is such a rude little punk that if I were in this manga, I would Kyo kick him in the face.  Tohru, probably the single most polite and nicest girl in the world (if she actually existed) tries to be nothing but nice to Hiro, and he is just bossy and rude and even kicks her in the leg!  And he claims it is because he is jealous with her relationship with Kisa and sure, his back story is a little sad, but still.  That doesn't give him an excuse for being such a douchy prick.  The editor who screams, wails, and cries over every single thing also makes a return, so we have not just a new annoying character introduced but the return of an old one as well.

The middle of this volume is its redeeming factor, and luckily it takes up most of the volume.  While I don't believe for a second that Tohru's mom could have gone from such a BA gang member to such a loving and protective mom, I still like the back story, especially how it involves Tohru's original besties who never seem to get enough love with all these Zodiac characters around.  And the back story in this volume is actually pretty descent and touching.

The final chapter of this volume returns me to eye rolls and being annoyed, as it is the return of the Yuki fan club AND the old class president who has a bromance crush on Yuki as well.  I like to pretend the last whole chapter of this volume doesn't exist, and that makes it a little more pleasant overall.

15 August 2013

Death Note, Volume 6

Author: Tsugumi Ohba
Series: Death Note #6
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

We still seem stuck on this side plot of the eight business men, although we do finally get to know which of them is the new Kira.  In addition, Misa touches her old notebook, revealing her old buddy to her, even though she doesn't regain any of her lost memories which adds some more complexity to the plot.

I am still not sure where the plot is going though.  L and Light still seem to be working on the same team to track down Kira, even when the rest of the group splits up because they don't agree with L's methods.  And L is still pretty certain that Light is the original Kira, so even though Light seems to have planned all of this out, I am at a loss as to how any of this has benefited him at all.  Perhaps his plan just isn't going the way he expected it to?

Again, hopefully the battle of the wits between L and Light will return soon... as in, the next volume soon.

The Princess Curse

Author: Merrie Haskell
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

Well, this book certainly wasn't what I expected.  I thought it was going to be more of a fairy tale, with dancing princesses and the lowly servant girl who rises up to save the day.  Instead, it was much more of a fantasy, full of magic, poison, dragon demons, and the Underworld.

While it was not was I originally thought, it wasn't a bad story.  Perhaps not the best plot to keep a young adult audience entertained, it might do better with the youth genre target audience.  The book cover says the book is for 10 years old and up.  I could see that, although there are a few usages of rather large words that I don't think the typical 10 year old would know.

Not a book I would be interested in reading again, but something I might recommend to a 10 - 13 year old.

13 August 2013

Elegy

Author: Amanda Hocking
Series: Watersong #4
Rating: 2/5 stars
Verdict: Bury

Well, I can honestly say this book (let's be honest, the entire series in general) did not live up to my expectations.  I now feel I need to go back and reread the Trylle trilogy to see if it was actually any good after finishing this series.

Let's start with the characters.  They are cliche and one dimensional.  For a while, in perhaps the first or second book, there were a few of them that I actually liked.  In the middle of the series, I found myself favoring different characters than in the beginning.  But by the end, I hated them all.  Most of them were whiny and bitching.  The ones that weren't were annoying in their own ways.

Then we get to the plot.  Sure, the whole siren thing is resolved, but it is pretty typical.  Not a surprise in store there at all.  And while this book is about 530 pages long, not much of it is actual, honest plot.  Most of it is typical YA romance junk.  With a group of teenagers and young 20s characters, especially a bunch of extraordinarily beautiful girls, I expected some of this.  I even tolerated it for the first two books in the series.  The third one got a little annoying, especially with the Penn/Daniel subplot.  But, by goly, but the time we get to Elegy, it seems as if raging hormones are running amok.  Everyone is making out and a lot of them are having sex (and it appears as if it is unprotected sex as well - not exactly a message I would want to be sending out to young girls, certainly not if I were raising a daughter).  While I rolled my eyes at it in the third book, in Elegy it all just wanted to make be barf.

I definitely won't be adding the boxed set of this series to my collection.  I will not even be borrowing it from the library to read again.  I am going to tuck it safely away in a recess in the corner of my mind and pretend like I never read them.  Hocking lost quite a bit of respect/admiration from me for this series.

10 August 2013

Death Note, Volume 5

Author: Tsugumi Ohba
Series: Death Note #5
Rating: 2 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

Well, I can only say that I hope things get back on track in the next volume or two.  The greatest part about Death Note is the battle of wits between L and Light.  Now, Light has given up the Death Note, and lost all of his memories of being Kira.  Instead, one of the two Death Notes has fallen into the hands of a corporate big wig, who - along with another seven elite, high status members of his company - is using the Death Note to kill off key players at other companies in order to up their own company profile.

Basically, Death Note lost a lot of its charm in this novel.  Misa is dim and obnoxious, Kira is giving heart attacks to corporate officials, and Light can't remember ever being Kira and is helping L willingly instead of with duplicity now.  Don't really like the new direction the series is taking in this volume.  Hopefully, Light when remember somehow, and we can get things back on track.

08 August 2013

The Darwin Elevator

Author: Jason Hough
Series: Dire Earth Cycle #1
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

This book is a fascinating sci-fi story.  Set in the 2200s, aliens have landed (although, hovered is a more correct term) at Darwin, Australia and created a space elevator to their home ship.  The rest of the planet has been practically wiped out, save the millions that were able to pilgrimage to the safety of Darwin, where people can live in safety in the net of the Aura.  Anyone, save for the few Immunes, who ventures outside of the protected space is turned into a zombie (or SUBS as they are termed).

So, you would think the aliens are the bad guys in this novel.  And yet, throughout the entire book, we never actually make any direct contact with the aliens.  Indeed, the struggle in this novel is almost purely political, a power struggle between different humans.  A fascinating achievement.  I prefer this theme over one of aliens, simply since - while I am a sci-fi fan - I have a hard time with aliens and why they would ever be interested in us.  I read somewhere while making my slow crawl through my galley copy from the publisher a comparison to Whedon's Firefly.  And while I can hardly see many similarities, this human versus human interaction set in the future is certainly a familiar characteristic from Firefly, something that made the show so great as a sci-fi series.

Anywho, enough about Nathan Fillion's space cowboy.  The characters in The Darwin Elevator never even leave Earth's gravitational pull, much less gallivant through space.  The Immunes are a group of scavengers, however.

The plot can be a little dense in places and I never really connected with any of the characters the way I felt I should have.  The length of time it took for me to read this novel, along with the length of the novel itself, probably played heavily into these factors.  Still, the book is interesting and unique pitted against anything else I have read so far.

The book, the first in a series, does leave quite a few loose ends.  But while I am kind of interested in seeing where Hough goes, I don't know if I have the stamina and patience to make it through this series.  Now, if the characters had been more engaging and the plot just a little less political and jumbled in nature, I would almost certainly give it a go.  As for when The Exodus Towers comes out, I will have to see if I continue following Skyler or not. 

Fruits Basket, Volume 6

Author: Natsuki Takaya
Series: Fruits Basket #6
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

This volume is my favorite thus far in the series.  While it does feature some of the more annoying characters (note: Ayame and Kagura), they aren't focused on too much except with respect to their relationships to Kyo and Yuki.  Indeed, this whole volume focuses on these two.

The first half focuses on Kyo, and Tohru finally gets to see him in his true form.  We also get to meet the martial arts teacher who had him fighting bears up in the mountains for so long.  This half is by far my favorite.

The second half focuses on Yuki.  Tohru gets to see what kind of shop sells maid outfits, etc. and Yuki gets to see his brother in his element... whether he wants to or not.

Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers

Author: Louise Rennison
Series: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson #6
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

Georgia just can't seem to get over the hump of love, the biggest problem in her boy and make-up centered life.  The Sex God left for Kiwi-a-gogo land.  So she found herself Masimo, the new SG.  But then he tells her he is off to Hamburger-a-gogo land to visit some family.

When Georgia's parents inform her she will be going to America herself on a family vacation to a clown car convention, Georgia is so excited she actually gives her father a kiss.  Twice!  After all, how big could America be?  Surely she can hop on the back of a Greyhound and pop over to Manhattan and back to Memphis without the parents realizing she and best mate Jas have ever left.  What could possibly go wrong?

Well, we all know Georgia, so... just about everything.

After a vair funny trip in America, where Libby shines like the golden daughter, Georgia finally makes it back home, and luckily Masimo does too.  The rest of the book focuses on Georgia trying to figure out if she and Masimo are boyfriend and girlfriend and - more importantly - if she wants to be.  And then, of course, there is her hornmaster and snogging pally Dave the Laugh to deal with as well.  Especially when he has one of his nonlaugh moments.

On the rack of lurrrrve, off the rack of luuuuurve.  Georgia is like a Mexican jumping bean.  But we are getting closer to an answer.  And the rest of the ace gang and family continue to provide plenty of comedic support.  Even the criminal granddad!

Fruits Basket, Volume 5

Author: Natsuki Takaya
Series: Fruits Basket #5
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

This is definitely not one of my favorite volumes in the series.  The plot drags along in this one, and I don't feel as if anything really happened.  

We are introduced to Kisa, who doesn't talk.  And Tohru, being the all loving and self sacrificing in the name of others gal that she is, is the one who Kisa finally bonds with to help her out of her issues.  And Kisa's issue with not talking gets some inner monologue heart to heart from Yuki.  But even that is hard to hold my attention.  Now, the tiger Zodiac, it is ADORABLE.  The shining light in this volume.

There really isn't much else to say.  Ayame makes another guest appearance and is as annoying as ever.  And the Yuki fan club, which is the creepiest thing ever, also makes an appearance and gets a little bit of retribution coming to them.

All and all, definitely not one of my favorites.

07 August 2013

Mockingjay

Author: Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games #3
Rating: 5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

When you are sucked deep down into a great series, you never want it to end.  That sentiment is exactly what I feel every time I read Mockingjay, especially as I creep closer and closer to the end of the novel.  And yet, the ending is so perfect and final that, as much as you hate to say goodbye to Katniss and Peeta and Gale and Haymitch and everyone else, you are able to with the close of the back cover.  At least until you devour the entire series again.

Mockingjay is great for the simple reason that it stays true to the characters throughout.  There is no cliche ending, and it isn't a happy resolution for all involved - I wouldn't have enjoyed it had there been.  It is heartbreaking and honest and horrible and amazing, all wrapped up in one.  It draws to a final conclusion, yet it leaves the doubt that Katniss will always carry.  The love triangle is resolved between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale, and while the doubt no longer lingers in her mind about what if, you know she wishes she could have come to the conclusion differently.  The characters don't all have a happy parting, and they don't all get to see the fruit of their labors.  And the BSG-esque notion of history repeating itself, well maybe this time it will stick, maybe this will be the time humans evolve, it chilling and true.

There are not enough words to express my love for this book, so these are the ones I will leave you with.

Royally Jacked

Author: Niki Burnham
Series: Royally Jacked #1
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

Well, I will say first and foremost this book was a disappointing rom-com.  Goodreads recommended it to me based on my brit lit/comedy selection, and the tag line on the back is "A romantic comedy for every girl who thinks she's met her prince."  Well, this book is about as much of a romantic "comedy" as most rom-com movies are - i.e. not at all.  I don't think I chuckled or laughed a single time throughout the entire book.

Valerie is not as annoying as she could have been, but she wasn't my favorite narrator in the world either.  Perhaps I would have liked this book when I was younger, in the general target age group for the book (which is why I gave it a Borrow instead of a Bury.  For my age of readers, I would say go ahead and Bury).

The plot is thin, the romance is thin, the entire story is cliche.  The book focuses a little on her relationship with her divorcing parents, but the book really doesn't get too deep into that either.  The book is hardly "researched" or realistic at all - and I'm not just talking about the plot.  How about the fact that a European prince repeatedly says he wants to be a professional soccer player?  No self respecting European calls football soccer.  Little details like that are the ones that always stick with me and bug me the most.  This 'soccer' issue upset me even more than usual, since I was just introduced to this gem yesterday:



When I realized this book was the first in a series, I went and found the description for the second book, Spin Control.  Looks like bagging a prince isn't enough.  In the second book Val is shipped back to the States, so there she decides to hook up with David as well.  Seriously?  Man, this girl is like what?  Fourteen/fifteen?  Anywho, I wasn't interested in continuing this series as this book did little to hold my attention (although it didn't make me barf like most chick lit out there; just roll my eyes), and now that I have read the 'plot' of the sequel, it just sealed the deal that I am done with Valerie and her boy "problems".

06 August 2013

Fruits Basket, Volume 4

Author: Natsuki Takaya
Series: Fruits Basket #4
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

Haru and Momiji start classes at Tohru, Kyo, and Yuki's school, which is sure to bring a whole lot of entertainment our way down the road.  While Tohru goes to say hello to the both of them at school, we get an encounter and introduction to the class president, who seems like a total nuisance and annoyance.  This chance encounter, along with Haru's mixture of black and white hair, leads to a very awkward scene in which Haru attempts to prove that his hair color is all natural.  This scene is yet another example of how naive and ignorant Tohru is.

Then enter Yuki's older brother, who makes for some more awkward situations when he transforms into his Zodiac animal and hitches a ride in Tohru's clothes for warmth.  Once again, scenes to point towards Tohru's naivety and ignorance.  But it also allows both Yuki and Kyo to show some jealously/protectiveness towards Tohru, so this whole plot line isn't a complete bust.  As for my feelings towards Ayame, I've never really liked him - at least not in the beginning of the series - as he is rather shallow and annoying.

The final main plot point is the anniversary of Tohru's mother's passing.  She and her friends go to visit her mother's grave, and we get some back story.  This volume definitely focuses heavily on the back stories.

My favorite scene?  It has to be while Tohru and Momiji are having their heart to heart.  Tohru hugs Momiji because she can tell how upset he is, and he transforms into his ultra cute little rabbit, and they both hug each other crying.  It is tres adorable.  The ending of the volume is pretty sweet too, with Kyo.

05 August 2013

Serenity: Those Left Behind

Story: Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews and Will Conrad
Series: Serenity #1
Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

I hadn't realized until today just how much I missed Firefly and Serenity.  Introduced to it only a year or two ago by my brother's college roommate, I was instantly sucked in by the second or third episode.  Now, even the pilot has me all giddy like a school girl.  When I saw that Dark Horse Books had a Dr. Horrible comic, I soaked it up.  When Goodreads then suggested the Serenity comics, I almost peed myself in excitement.

This comic did not disappoint.  I hardly ever read an introduction to a book, let alone a comic, but when I saw that Nathan Fillion wrote the introduction, well of course I had to read it.  By the time I finished the introduction, before I even got to the comic part, I was obsessed with rewatching the entire series and movie again.  Thank God for Netflix.  I'm already on the pilot.

Now for the actual comic part.  The graphics are great, and I can see the characters from the show in each and every character, save Simon.  His characterization and personality were the same, but his representation on paper drawn up just didn't quite do him justice.  But the characterizations... wow.  Just spot on.  I think it helped that Joss lent a hand in the story of the comic.

If anything, my only gripe with this comic is that it is too short.  I already have the next one on request from the library.  It cannot get here soon enough.  Seeing the whole Serenity crew back together again was great - I really missed that in the movie followup.  And the story in the comic holds true to the nature of the show.

My favorite part is right towards the end.  Zoe asks Mal: "Where are we going, sir?" and Mal replies, "The same as always.  Forward."  The most BA and lovable space cowboy ever.

God bless you, Dark Horse Comics.

Hover

Author: Melissa West
Series: The Taking #2
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

I read Gravity, the first novel in The Taking series, back in March.  Not too long ago, and yet as I started reading my advanced copy from the publisher, I had a hard time remembering details of the series.  The character names seemed vaguely familiar and I had a sense of the overall plot, but not a lot stuck with me in between reading the two books.  Thankfully, my book amnesia did not seem to matter much with the plot of this book.

I have to say, I do love the cover of this novel.  It is simple and yet beautiful, and purple is a wonderful cover for space.  Now as for the story itself, that is where I start to weave in between the lines a little.  While I don't remember much of Gravity, I remember that the plot in that book was rather flimsy and not well thought out.  Hover is not much better.  The story seems all over the place, and the characters pull 180s with astounding speed.  Ari is not the only one wish-washing and flipping her mind with rapid speed; Jackson is guilty of it as well.  And their whole relationship, which I would say is the main focus of this novel, is a complete wreck.  They go from hate to love to hate to love to hate to love so quickly I had a hard time trying to keep up.  Their relationship alone made this book a little difficult to read.

Then we get to the plot.  Not quite as twisty turvy and flimsy as the first book, it still leaves a lot to be desired.  The main premise of this novel is the need to kill Zeus.  And yet, we get through the entire novel and in the end, it still isn't resolved, even though the theme is introduced at the very beginning of the book.  The pace of this book is slow, except for the last about 10%, and I feel like the entire book was a bit of a filler until the next one.  Especially since it didn't seem to resolve much of anything during the book, but somehow managed to end on a cliffhanger again.

Then we get to Ari's personality.  She admits many times during her narration that she is selfish, and I don't have a difficult time buying that at all.  One scene really stuck out in my mind.  Zeus makes this huge declaration that West could have made very dramatic and impactful.  After hearing it, Ari decides she immediately needs to tell Jackson so they can figure out a way to stop Zeus.  But when she gets to Jackson, he is sleeping and she is immediately sidetracked and rambles on for about two pages about how sexy and peaceful he looks sleeping.  All I could think was, "Seriously?"  This crazy, murdering dictator is threatening more people and all she can think about is kissing Jackson?  Even though she isn't sure if she hates him or loves him at the moment?  She is right - that seemed perfectly selfish to me.

Overall, I had to struggle with this book.  It is good enough to get me to the ending, but I felt just as deflated at the end as I did at the end of Gravity.  I think this book will go over well with the main target for its young adult genre, about 5 - 10 years younger than me, that is looking more for the romance, will-they-won't-they between Jackson and Ari than a really good, satisfying sci-fi plot like I am.  Yet, I have a hunch I will still read the next installment, just to see how it all ends up.

Death Note, Volume 4

Author: Tsugumi Ohba
Series: Death Note #4
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

I am not sure if it is all part of the plan, but Misa sure gets on my nerves.  Perhaps because she is playing a game of blind follow the leader; she feels indebted to Kira and thus immediately falls head over heels for Light, completely devoting herself to him without a second guess.  Ugh.  Perhaps it is just the fact that she is in cahoots with Light, who is set against L, who I am rooting for.

Still, I have to say that adding her character has been good for the plot.  Now, L is one step closer to knowing for sure that Light is Kira... or is he?  Now it is a tennis match going back in forth inside L's head.  Either he isn't 100% sure, or we just don't know if he is sure or not.  I do like the fact that Ohba hides some of the insights from us, because it leads to more suspense and the revelations are more impactful when we finally understand what is truly going on inside Light and L's brains... or at least we think we do.

04 August 2013

Enclave

Author: Ann Aguirre
Series: Razorland #1
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

I have read this book once before, but wanted to reread it so it was fresh in my mind when I started Outpost.  I have to say, this book did not leave much of an impression on me the first time around.  I hardly remembered anything besides vague, general plot details.  I didn't remember the character names, even the main ones.  And I certainly didn't recall the ending.

With all that being said, it isn't a bad read.  It just isn't a very impactful book.  While not quite as cliche as most of the YA dystopian novels out there this day and age, the excitement level just wasn't there for me.  While I liked the main character, although I think the name of Deuce is absurd, I never found myself attached to her, so I never really got invested into her cause.  Ditto on the other characters as well.  It is not that the characters were one directional or annoying, it was just that the book was missing a spark.

The plot and development is solid enough that I think the author shows promise for developing the series and maybe diving deeper into my interest, so I am still planning on reading the second in the series.