27 March 2015

The Darkest Part of the Forest

Author: Holly Black
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

The Darkest Part of the Forest has classic Holly Black feel.  There is nothing in the novel that stands out and makes you take notice, but you can't stop reading it either.  It's different, unique, and makes the fae world seem like it belongs in part of our lives.  She throws you right into the world and hits the ground running.

This novel is a light read perfect for a rainy day with likable characters who are forgettable.  Hazel and Ben are hardly memorable, even though they are interesting enough.  Ben, cursed or gifted at a young age, and Hazel, who wants to be someone, wants to have a purpose, but just feels like a young girl no one pays attention to.  So, in typical teenage fashion, she tries to fill the void by making out with as many guys as possible.  Just because she can.

The plot feels a little loose and sloppy, but it is still enjoyable.  It isn't a book I'm going to add to my personal library and read again, but I'll pretty much read everything Black writes at least once.  This novel is no exception.

26 March 2015

Taste of Darkness

Author: Maria V. Snyder
Series: Healer #3
Rating: 2 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

My final conclusion from finishing this series is that Maria V. Snyder talents are better off used for young adult fiction that adult fantasy.  One of the things that really irked me through the entirety of this series is the terms and language these adults use.  Words like "Okeydokey" and all the lame ways Snyder uses to get around cussing while still trying to make it obvious what word she wants to use.  This novel is supposed to be adult fiction, and it feels like it's written but a teenagers trying to talk like an adult.  The third novel is the worst of all three when it comes to this, and I could not get over it; it makes it very difficult to take her writing seriously.

Then we get to the plot itself.  This novel is hefty, long, and drawn out.  The plot is slow, and is extremely difficult to keep interest in reading it.  Goodreads deleted my start reading date, so I don't know exactly how long it took me to read this novel, but I know it took forever.  A month, at least.  I liked the first two novels well enough, but the originality wears off with each additional novel, and but the time we get to the third book it feels like we're just being told the same story over and over again.  And then we get to the ending; it is so unsatisfying that it makes it feel like I wasted all my time with the entire trilogy.  And it isn't that the ending is terrible, but after four hundred and fifty pages, it is deflating and feels like just another part of the story, not this epic wrap up to this series.

25 March 2015

Love, Rosie

Author: Cecelia Ahern
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

I saw the movie a few weeks(ish) ago, and actually liked it well enough to want to read the book as well.  I know, I know.  I'm highly judgmental and love to compare and contrast books versus their movie adaptations.  But I will try to keep that out of my review.  Love, Rosie is witty - sometimes even downright hysterical at times - charming, and also one hundred percent completely depressing if you get right down to the underlying theme of it.  It spans over forty years, and is quite a long book.

I have always had male best friends growing up, from the time I started day care it seems.  Unlike Rosie and Alex, my best friend at seven and I didn't stay in touch when he got transferred to a different school in elementary school (of course, this was the time before e-mail and instant messenger and text messages, etc. etc. etc.).  And when I saw him again in high school and college, we were totally different people.  I had a new best friend then (also a guy; and though we live almost a 100 miles apart now, we still keep in touch like Alex and Rosie, thanks to the wonders in technological advancements since my early days).  But I've never had a "silent" moment with my male best friends (except for now, of course, with my hubby).  But I can see the relationship between Alex and Rosie.  It's a little hard for me to root for them, I have to admit, because their relationship seems to define the stereotype that guys and girls can't simply be friends.  And I think that's a load of crap.

But enough about my personal life.  This book is depressing because Alex and Rosie spend decades as friends, go through a lot of heartache and pain, make some of the worst decisions possible in life, and yet they still can't find the strength to tell each other how they feel?  I mean, come on.  It might be hard, but a friendship that has lasted that long and gone through so many other trials would be able to survive that confession, even if the other didn't feel the same.  It felt a little bit ridiculous to me.  But then again, I've never had that type of unrequited love, so maybe I'm just judging from the outside looking in.  In a way, though, their inability to share anything so personal with the other makes perfect for each other.

23 March 2015

The Lost Colony

Author: Eoin Colfer
Series: Artemis Fowl #5
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

I got 87% of the way through this novel before I realize that I have read this book before, and just completely forgot.  I know I haven't read the remaining books in the series, and as I started reading this one I figured The Opal Deception was where I left off as a young teenager.  But alas, I was mistaken.  And that let's you know kind of where this novel falls into place among the other Artemis Fowl books in the series.

I think it's just too... different.  We've spent so much time getting to know Artemis and Butler and Holly and Mulch and Foaly, and now we have all these other characters coming into play as well that take up a lot of the face time in the story.  And while it's kind of interesting to find a twelve-year-old female version of Artemis, she is definitely not one of my favorite characters.  It could come down to the Skylar Complex, where I dislike her simply because she's pitted against our sometimes hero, sometimes villain, usually somewhere in between main character Artemis.  I can't quite put my finger on it, but her character just left a sour taste in my mouth.

And then the demons.  Colfer has spent so much time developing this amazing fairy world that Artemis spent so much time trying to exploit, and now instead of working in that realm, we are looking at a lost demon colony separate in a different space-time continuum that is starting to crumble?  Well, we all know how I feel about time travel.  And even if I can let it go for the sake of the reading level, the entire plot of this novel surrounding the demons just didn't seem up to the usual Colfer standard.  Sure, there is the same classic style, full of wit and magic and world domination plotting (sort of).  Couple that with the fact that the new characters introduced just aren't as lovable and unique as the ones we've grown to love, and this installment just missed its mark.

Mystic City

Author: Theo Lawrence
Series: Mystic City #1
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

Just another paranormal romance trilogy, it seems.  I love novels where the narrator is as clueless as the read, typically due to memory loss or amnesia, etc.  It really adds interest and mystery to the story.  But it only works if you have a well thought out plot as well.  Here, we have Aria, who wakes up with very few memories.  She's told she ODs on drugs, and wakes up to find that she's engaged to a guy she doesn't even remember.  They apparently have been having a secret romance, since they are a regular Romeo and Juliet from opposite sides of the city with two very powerful, very opposed families.  But Aria doesn't remember anything about Thomas or their whirlwind romance.

That right there is a sign that this novel is not going to be a home run with me.  After all, there is a lot of turmoil in the city, with a Mystic running for office, opposed to the two families that want to keep them oppressed.  But all Aria can seem to focus on is Thomas, and then Hunter, the mysterious boy she meets in the seedy underworld of Manhattan, where the derelicts and homeless and the rebel mystics live.  There is a war brewing on the horizon between those with magical powers and those without, but for the most part this novel is just a sappy love triangle romance.

The plot has potential, I will say that.  There are some interesting twists and surprises, and then others that were rather predictable and eye roll worthy.  The writing itself is rather weak, everywhere from the dialogue to the behavior of the bubbly teenage socialites.  And then the heavy dose of romance didn't help either.  So in the end, all the potential and lack of delivery just wash out to be just another run of the mill YA novel.  There is nothing wholly remarkable or unique about this novel, but it doesn't make you want to gouge your eyes out either.

The ending to the novel is just intriguing enough to garner interest in picking up the next novel in the series from the library, but I won't be salivating over it.  Hopefully we can get away a little bit from the romantic aspect of things and really delve into the rich dystopian society that has a world of potentials.

22 March 2015

The Rules

Author: Stacey Kade
Series: Project Paper Doll #1
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

It is hard enough being a somewhat different girl in high school.  You have cliques.  You have bullies.  You have the popular kids that are hell bent on ignoring you.  If popularity is what you're into, like Jenna, then you have less than a fifty percent chance of achieving your desired social status.  But an awkward alien hybrid girl?  Well, just forget it.  Talk about four years of hell.

Ariane Tucker doesn't want to be popular.  She doesn't want to be noticed at all.  She just wants to float through high school like the rest of us, and keep the attention on her.  She shows the risk of drawing attention: the GTX cooperation that spent years testing on her will find her, and take her back to the lab.  Her ever so carefully built like on the Outside will disappear in a blink of an eye.

But Ariane is a teenage girl, half alien or not.  So when popular boy Zane starts showing an interest in her, Ariane can't help but break The Rules her father so carefully set forth to keep her safe.  And then it's simply a matter of time to see just how far down the rabbit hole Ariane drops into popularity nightmare.

I liked The Rules.  While it's hardly realistic, it's full of action.  You just have to realize you can't take this series seriously.  It's a fun read, even if it is rather lengthy (clocking in at 410 pages).  A lot of that is filler of less than important back story and teenage angst thoughts that can be skim read to get through the book faster without losing any of the plot.  While nothing wholly unique, the story carries enough action to keep your interest, even through its wordy length.

The romantic aspect in this novel becomes rather heavy, with Ariane's relationship with Zane key to her safety in keeping with The Rules and what she wants to do.  And since we are dealing with some kind of human/alien hybrid, that can get a little weird.  But it isn't too over the top mushy and isn't too stifling to the plot.

I will probably continue this series with the next novel, especially since the third is slotted to come out next month.  But it won't be on the top of my reading list.

21 March 2015

The Girl on the Train

Author: Paula Hawkins
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

This is the best thriller/suspense adult novel I've read since Gone Girl.  Granted, I spent most of my time these days hanging out in the YA genre.  But still.  It isn't master prose by any means, but there are some lines that are so eloquent and well placed that they definitely stand out.  And the novel is expertly paced and so beautifully woven together as the mystery unfolds.

What most sticks out about The Girl on the Train are the characters.  While I wouldn't exactly classify them all as the scum of the earth, there are definitely all less than perfect people.  We have, for instance:

Rachel: our main narrator; a drunk that likes to people watch out the window of the train, who then invests herself in the case when the woman she studies disappears.

Anna: the woman that stole Rachel's husband, and then had the nerve to move into Rachel's house with him and their baby girl right after the split

Tom: Rachel's husband, who was cheating on her before the divorce

Scott: a super possessive husband, with a loose meaning of "personal space" and privacy

Megan: a woman who is a terrible wife in her own words, that is having at least one affair

And these descriptions just scratch the surface!  What's so great about having a story full of characters you love to hate is that you don't care who the kidnapper/murder ends up being, because you really don't like anyone in the book all that well.  Every single person in this novel is a liar, the narrator most of all.  And I do love me a good crime/suspense novel with a narrator that you have to read between the lines with because you cannot trust them.

I love just about every twisted minute of this novel.  Hawkins keeps readers guessing until the very end.  The only beef I have with the ending is that while the novel slowly unravels these details and back stories about the characters, the revelations leading up to the "who done it" moment happen much more quickly, which makes the ending seem a little out there, even though you can see just about anyone in the novel being the culprit.  At the same time, however, the ending doesn't come out of left field and completely flabbergast you.  So while I'm not sure I am completely satisfied with the ending, it is still a good one.  As soon as I finished reading the novel, I wanted to start reading it again, to pick up on any clues I might have missed.  And I have already started recommending it to my inner circle of family and friends.

This one will definitely be made into a movie.

19 March 2015

Blood Red Road

Author: Moira Young
Series: Dust Lands #1
Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

"I ain't no quitter.  No matter what."

Well, by golly, if that isn't the case.  She may not be the most grammatically trained young individual (which you will quickly come to realize when reading Young's rather unique prose), but she ain't no liar neether.  Saba is the first female heroine since Katniss that I can fully get behind.  She's dedicated to her twin brother, concerned about how her younger sister will slow her down, and will stop at nothing to do what she needs to get done.  She's a teenage girl, so of course hormones come into play, especially since the only other male she's met in her lifetime that's her age is her brother, but she doesn't let her hormones control her either.  She is also self degrading, which I can totally understand.

Blood Red Road is the story about Saba's quest to save Lugh from the scoundrels who swept him away in the middle of a dust storm, but it is so much more than that.  It is really a coming of age story for Saba, and how she finds out who she really is, and what she really stands for.  I love the transition in the relationship between Saba and Emmi.  In the beginning, all she wants to do is leave her sister behind.  She doesn't really care, or at least she tells herself so, if Emmi lives or dies.  After all, Emmi's birth killed their mother.  She thinks Emmi is a weight holding her back.  But Emmi is a relentless little pest, and Saba can't easily shake her.  I think Saba can really relate to that.  After all, sounds a lot like Saba herself, no?  When someone tries to hurt Emmi, someone other than Saba threatens Emmi, then woah.  Because, family is family.  You sometimes forget that when you're by yourself, but when you're let loose on society... family matters.  It's a theme that runs throughout the novel, and it's a powerful one.

And then the ending.  Oh, the ending.  The ending is so perfect.  There's no better ending than one that wraps so tightly and eloquently back to the beginning of the novel, and this novel does just that.  And it does it in a way that chronicles how far Saba has come in the novel, how much she's changed since she first abandons the only home she's ever known.

It's hard to pin point exactly what is so great about Blood Red Road, especially since the grammar can be so difficult to read at times.  But it's fast paced, heart warning and heart wrenching, and just plain interesting.  The world is unique.  I think it's a futuristic, post-apocalyptic Earth, but I can't be entirely sure.  It's a great stand alone novel on its own, but it's part of the Dust Lands trilogy.  Needless to say, I can't wait to see where we go from here.

18 March 2015

The Conspiracy of Us

Author: Maggie Hall
Series: The Conspiracy of Us #1
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

First of all, that cover.  I know, I know.  Never judge a book by its cover.  Blah blah blah blah blah.  But that dress!  What I would give to own that dress.  I look enough like the girl on the cover that I can tell that I would look dynamite in that dress.

But, I digress.  After reading only 40 pages, I made the following predictions about this novel:

1.) There will undoubtedly be a love triangle between the three characters we've already met.  Because this is young adult, people, and young adult novels these days just have to have a love triangle.  Why?  Who the heck knows why.  They just do!

2.) Sixteen-year-old Avery is going to annoy me.  She is going to be one of those female narrators that I can't stand, because she doesn't have a lick of common sense, and will do anything because a handsome stranger bats his eyelashes at her.

3.) I'm still going to enjoy this novel, because we are already jet setting across the world in it.

Well, turns out, Avery is not as annoying as I thought she would be.  Don't get me wrong, she's still incredibly naive.  After all, she hops on a private plane with the mysterious new boy in school and a guy that holds a knife at her (at prom!) all because they say they might know who her father is.  Well, then, yes, of course the logical thing is to just hop aboard.  I learn very early in this novel that you cannot take it seriously, and that Avery clearly has some major daddy issues.

I also didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would.  As I just mentioned, it of course cannot be taken seriously.  It's a book about a teenage girl who is somehow involved in this Circle of twelve families that combined basically run the world.  It's been compared to Ally Carter's novels, and they are right in a sense, but the fundamental that this book is missing is the classic humor/wit/charm that makes Carter's novels so fun.  This novel tries to be serious, and in so forces you to try to take the book seriously, which you just can't.  The only character who really shows humor is Stellan, and his humor is so poorly timed that it usually falls short or makes me cringe.  And then there is the whole Avery-Jake dynamic that just felt so forced as well that even it was hard to take seriously.  But I was not wrong about the love triangle, so at least I get a point there.

I just don't think Hall has the strength as a writer to pull off this type of novel.  Not yet.  Sure, it was fun to zoom around the world with Avery, but her character is hardly believable in a lot of the tight situations she finds herself in, often life or death (and, PS, what kind of assassin deals only in knives?  Get guns with silencers, you cheapos).  And again, without the humor as an underlying layer of the story, this book just misses its mark.

16 March 2015

The Sin Eater's Daughter

Author: Melinda Salisbury
Series: The Sin Eater's Daughter #1
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

The Sin Eater's Daughter starts off with a very interesting and rather unique premise.  Twylla is the daughter of the sin eater's, and as the oldest child, she is set to inherit the role upon her mother's passing.  But the queen has a much bigger, important role for Twylla, and she is swept away from her family to become the Goddess embodied.  Which makes her the kingdom's executor.  Every person she touches dies from poison that seeps from her skin.  Everyone except the prince, whom she is destined to marry.

Now this plot, this plot caught my attention.  It puts Twylla in an awful position, and present a whole slew of moral dilemmas for our main character.  But instead, the novel takes a completely different direction.  Salisbury introduces Lief, a young, handsome guard that threatens to turn Twylla's world upside down and make her second guess everything she knows about her life.  And this juncture here is where I slowly began to realize that this novel is just another run of the mill high fantasy YA romance novel, with a love triangle thrown in just for good measure.  All the unique elements that Salisbury creates for this world are tossed away, in favor of Twylla's dilemma on how she would rather spend the rest of her life.

While the world has a few original elements, there aren't enough to make this novel stand out in the over saturated genre of YA.  The only thing that stood out completely was the ending, which I did not see coming.  The little "cliffhanger" is hardly enough to hold my interest in the series until the next novel is published, but I'm sure I'll eventually end up borrowing it from the library as well.  Perhaps she can turn the tides with the second novel.

14 March 2015

The DUFF

Author: Kody Keplinger
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

I received a galley copy of this novel from the publisher for an honest review.  I requested a copy because I recently saw the trailer for the movie, and thought it actually looked pretty good (because, um, hello, Mae Whitman.  Plus, Robbie Amell may not be the best actor, and he's way too old to play a high schooler, but dang he's good to look at).  So, of course, I had to read the novel first.

The novel is nothing like the trailer for the movie adaptation, and I have to admit, I liked the trailer more.  Don't get me wrong, you can tell from the trailer that you aren't going to take anything serious away from the movie, but the trailer looked funny at least.  To be fair, I did like B at the beginning of the novel.  She's snarky and sarcastic, and her tone added humor at the beginning of the novel.  But the further I read into the novel, the more annoying she became.  Especially when she started being such a witch to her friends, and her life began to revolve around the relationship she had with a guy she felt was constantly putting her down.  I might be a fit of a feminist, but who let's themselves fall into a relationship like that?  Who wants a relationship with a guy that is constantly calling you the DUFF, and asking if you'll try to set him up with your hotter friends?  I thought perhaps that she deserved someone better, but then I realized she actually liked it.  She gets a chance at something better, and she decides it isn't for her.

Um.  Okay.  I guess some girls like that.  And I realize this novel has a fairy tale ending, where perhaps the bad boy can change his stripes, if only he meets the girl that he's willing to change for.  But that certainly doesn't happen in real life often, and when it does, I wouldn't want to be the girl the bad boy tries to change for.  I could definitely tell this novel was written by a girl.  Still, if you can get past the toned down, YA version of 50 Shades of Grey, the story has interesting enough characters, humor, and just barely enough plot to get you through it.  But I think B could have done better.  Much, much better.

Y: The Last Man - Deluxe Edition Vol 3

Author: Brian K. Vaughan
Series: Y: The Last Man #5 & #6
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

It's been almost a month since I wrapped up the last edition.  Honestly, I don't know how I managed to keep this book setting on my shelf for so long without cracking it open because once I started, I devoured it.  This series is still just as engaging and suspenseful as the beginning.  It's hard to believe that two years have passed already since we first met Yorick, but a lot has happened since then.  And while the plot of this book feels a little bit slower than the first in the series, there is no lack of action.

We have pirate (cruise) ships and submarines in this volume.  We have the return of Hero, which is definitely an interesting part.  We have an interesting time at one of the last remaining churches, where Yorick gets to play God.  Oh, and we get another monkey!

The amulet part of the story, as well as the ring, seemed a little fishy to me, and I'm not entirely sure I understand the discovery Dr. Mann (we get to find out her real name!) made.  But relax, fellow readers, because we are still going strong with this series (even if Beth and Yorick both be tripping at times it seems).

Day 21

Author: Kass Morgan
Series: The 100 #2
Rating: 1.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

I received a free ARC copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.  Considering that the book was published last September, you can tell it took me a while to get around to it.  I requested it, received it, and then my tablet bricked, and by the time I could read it, the story had archived.  Honestly, I was not that disappointed.  After all, the first novel left such a sour taste in my mouth, and I only made it two or three episodes into the TV show before I could stomach it no more.

So really, I'm not sure why I bothered.  I guess I saw it sitting there, unread and unreviewed on my shelf, and I felt guilty.  So I got it from the library, and I finally forced myself to read it.  Well, I feel like the kid that jumps on the bandwagon because she hears how great it is.  And then she's just sitting there, looking around and shaking her head at herself thinking, "I don't get it."  That exactly sums up how I feel about this series.  Like 50 Shades of Grey, I have no Earthly idea how this author got on the New York Times bestseller list with this series.  It's terrible.  Terrible.

First of all, the title doesn't even make sense.  Day 21 is, supposedly/I guess/maybe, when they are afraid that the radiation would make them all sick, but that barely plays a role in this soap opera disaster.  We are too busy watching these teenagers frolic around, kissing each other, having sex, and declaring their love, even though they are back on Earth where people apparently still lived/survived.  And those people are starting to pick them off and kill them.  And they aren't worried?  Nope, they are only worried about their love lives.

Are you serious, Morgan?  I am amazed I was even able to finish this book (which is the only reason I gave it an extra half star).  The premise had promise, but this series is ridiculous.  I am done this time.  For real.

13 March 2015

Burning Kingdoms

Author: Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Internment Chronicles #2
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

I have an interesting take on DeStefano that I developed while reading her Chemical Garden series, and this series only seems to solidify it.  DeStefano is a talented writer, but she isn't a great novelist.  That is, she has the words to make eloquent writing, but she doesn't seem capable of writing a plot that can keep me interested in a series.  Perfect Ruin was interesting, but nothing special.  It left a lot hinging on this novel to carry the series, and Burning Kingdoms was a disappointment.

I could get past the floating city in the sky, even though it didn't make much sense in the first novel.  The novel still felt like a light YA sci-fi story.  But now, on the surface of whatever planet this happens to be?  We have mermaids floating around, trying to pull shining things underwater to collect them in their underwater caves.  This series somehow did a full one-eighty, and we're fantasy now instead of sci-fi.

Burning Kingdoms is the same characters, but it's an entirely new plot and a completely different world.  And with characters that spend a majority of their time getting wasted in a completely new world, that leaves pretty much the plot to pull my interest through since the characters just didn't have it for this one.  And the plot of Burning Kingdoms is sloppy, and slow, and honestly, nothing really happens much at all.  It definitely has the same flavors as her Chemical Garden series, where is seems the series just keeps unraveling the further into it you get.

It's still an okay read, but I tell you, it is hard to get invested in this author's series.

12 March 2015

The Winner's Crime

Author: Maria Rutkoski
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #2
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

Well, well, well.  Here is a rare treat.  A sequel that I actually enjoy more than its predecessor.  At times in The Winner's Curse, I found Kestrel irritating and irrational.  But she's grown up since then for The Winner's Crime.  Rutkoski puts all her cards on the table, and while I could get a little done and over with Kestrel and Arin at times, the love story between these two is not the only reason to read this novel.  If anything, it is more the exception than the rule.  There are so many other factors at play here that are more interesting.

Take, for example, Kestrel's relationship with father.  Or the prince.  Or the prince's father.  Indeed, her relationship with the king, and the king's character itself, is fascinating.  While The Winner's Curse was a little over the top mushy, The Winner's Crime is serious, heartbreaking, and breath taking.

And the ending?  Oh, the ending.  Holy bleep, Batman.  So elegant.  So heartbreaking.  So perfect.

I don't really care what ends up happening between Kestrel and Arin, but I have to know how this series plays out.

10 March 2015

Across a Star-Swept Sea

Author: Diana Peterfreund
Series: For Darkness Shows the Stars #2
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

More of a companion novel that a sequel, Across a Star-Swept Sea does not disappoint for fans of For Darkness Shows the Stars.  While this new story focuses on a new set of star crossed lovers (Persis and Justen), we are still set in the same Reduced plagued world, which allows for feature cross overs with the original cast (which I always love to see in companion novels).

Persis, while bubbly and shallow on the surface, is just as empowering as her predecessor, Elliot.  She is the famed and whispered about Wild Poppy, a spy set out to rescue aristos from the oppression of the war raging on their fellow island.

The characters in Across a Star-Swept Sea are dynamic and engaging, even if Persis can get a little too into her role at times (I can only read so much about style and clothing choices).  Her relationship with Princess Isla is definitely one of the most interesting parts of the novel, as is - of course - her seemingly ever changing relationship with Justen.

While For Darkness Shows the Stars was a little too romantically heavy for my taste, Peterfreund weaves a much more interesting tale of spies and revolution, with the obligatory love story thrown in for good measure here as well.  There are only a few occasions where I thought the focus was too heavily drawn onto the will they/won't they between Persis and Justen.

I will admit, some of the science/medics went over my head.  I am still not entirely sure I know what the difference between the Reduced/the regs/the aristos/etc. is, but I still really enjoyed the novel.  I am hoping Peterfreund is going to continue the series, at least with another companion novel, as while the main plot of this novel is wrapped up, she still leaves a lot to be determined and explored.

09 March 2015

This Song Will Save Your Life

Author: Leila Sales
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

I feel guilty for rating a book about a girl who tries to commit suicide so slow, but let's be honest.  Unlike Elise, I try to be myself.  I don't try to mold myself into what I think others will like me for.  I think that is my fundamental issue with this book.

I wasn't popular in middle school or high school.  I had my small band of friends, and we were much more into going bowling or getting in line for the midnight release of Harry Potter than going to keggers or sneaking into clubs or really partying at all.  I, like Elise (who I almost instantly bonded with because of our shared name), did not have the best of time in middle school or high school.  I had my moments when I thought, "I wonder, would anyone notice if I disappeared?  Would anyone care?"  But I thankfully never had to deal with suicidal thoughts.  So perhaps my issue is that I can't relate with Elise because I never fell that far down the rabbit hole and had to try to climb back up.  While I had a few friends/acquaintances who admitted to me that they had cut themselves once upon a time (and probably a few who never said so), I was never in that position myself.  But what really helped me through school was that I realized it was only 3 years(middle school)/4 years(high school) of my life, and then it would be open.  There would be no more prom kings and queens, and no bullies.  So I decided that I didn't care what people thought about me, because they weren't people whose opinion I would want anyway.  And that's the difference between Elise and I.

Elise is desperate for attention.  But she has two friends who sit with her at lunch that she, more often than not, completely disregards.  When they try to engage with her and be her friend, she tells them she has plans.  They make an effort to try to include her, and she would rather wallow in her self pity that the right people haven't noticed her yet.  To me, that made Elise very difficult to like.  She's the exact person that she despises, the people that have ignored her and put her down her entire life.  And what she does to her litter sister towards the end of the novel?  Are you kidding me?  It's like watching the kids steal her iPod, except she is the bully this time.  That scene completely appalled me.

Now, perhaps I could have gotten past Elise's character flaws, if it hadn't been for the plot.  I realize this is a YA novel, but it felt too far off into wish fulfillment realm for me to consider to ever be possible.  Overnight, this 16 year-old becomes a DJ sensation, just because she tries?  My husband has been dabbling with the turn tables for years, and I've watched him, and I don't buy that for a minute.  Also, who would let a 16-year-old play in a bar?  The legal liability/issues alone would be enough to scare away any business person (although, I guess if you are throwing ragers in an abandoned warehouse, you aren't going to be too strict).  And the fact that her parents aren't more upset with her?

On the surface, it's a good coming of age novel.  If you don't look to closely at the details, it can be a heartfelt, entertaining read.  But as someone who has had to overcome diversity and self doubt for the majority of my life, I think Elise got off easy.  Perhaps I'm just jealous.  Who knows.

08 March 2015

For Darkness Shows the Stars

Author: Diana Peterfreund
Series: For Darkness Shows the Stars #1
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

I have never read Jane Austen's Persuasion, so right off the bat I think I have a bit of a handicap as a reader.  This novel is either a creative retelling of or a ode to the story.  As I have no idea what Persuasion is about, that leaves me a bit at a loss to try to compare the two.  So I will not.

On its own, it is a well written novel, though it is definitely heavily geared towards romance.  I have never had a childhood friendship that blossomed into romantically inclined feelings that then got shattered, leaving you with the loss of your first love, so I don't exactly know how Elliot feels.  Though I think she spends far too much time thinking about Kai, her lost love, other than her weepy romantic woes I actually found her a likable, strong female lead character.  That is getting harder and harder to come by in YA fiction these days, so I have to go ahead and tip my hat to Peterfreund now for that.  Elliot is compassionate where her father lacks.  She works hard while her sister enjoys the benefits of being the oldest.  And she cares for her ailing grandfather who has nothing left of his former self, not even his dignity.  She straddles the fence, ever in moral conflict with herself between her traditional heritage and the future of her estate.

And not only does Peterfreund create a character I can almost relate to in a completely unrelatable world, but that world itself - dang.  It is part steampunk, part dystopian, part repressed-slavary, part sci-fi, part post-apocalyptic... and all parts awesome.  I almost wish it were more vivid, because I love this world in which Elliot lives.  It's unlike any other that I have traveled to in between the pages of a book, and I want more.  More, I say, more!  While the plot may feel slow, and there isn't a whole lot of action/suspense, the subtle plot is still powerful and engaging with its characters.  If the plot wasn't so heavily based on romance, this would definitely be one for my personal library.  For those who love well written YA romance, this is definitely one to check out.  I've got Across a Star-Swept Sea to start next.

03 March 2015

Teardrop

Author: Lauren Kate
Series: Teardrop #1
Rating: 2 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

Never, ever cry.  This is what Eureka's (yes, that is the main character's name; no, I am not kidding) mother told her as she slapped her across the face.  Well, this story was so bad, it almost brought me to tears reading it.

I do not give Lauren Kate a lot of credit for her writing, but I will give her this: her writing can be descriptive.  There is an entire two page description in this story of muddy shoes and jacket in the hallway when Eureka gets home.  These details, however, hardly seem to matter to the story except to flush out the page/word count.  This is not the only example, but it is definitely the most annoying one that sticks out in my mind.

I will say with honesty that I probably went into Teardrop a little bias, as I could not even make it a 1/2 of the way through the first novel in Kate's Fallen series.  That paranormal romance hardly had a plot, and I couldn't stomach any of it: the characters, the "plot", nothing.  Teardrop starts out okay, but continues downhill pretty much from the start.  While the plot is just enough there to keep me from putting the book down and leaving it, the characters are what really got to me with this story.  The characters are shallow, one-dimensional, stereotypical, and not at all likable.  I feel Kate suffers from the Twilight syndrome, where you want to bash the lead female character over the head for being the antithesis of a strong, female lead.  I really, really hate it when the author even admits that their heroine is crazy, "A sane person would realize Ander was a creep."

Eureka is anything but a sparkling role model for teenage girls.  She's rather self centered (she certainly takes her friends for granted), and - as the trend in paranormal romance for YA goes - she falls for the strange guy that is stalking her.  And at one point, she chases a bird down the street because she thinks a psychic sent the bird to retrieve her.  I could rant for an hour on how annoying and creepy the Eureka - Ander relationship is (after all, they meet when he rear ends her, and then she just takes a ride in the car with the guy who clearly can't drive and doesn't have insurance.  ARE YOU MAD GIRL?), but I will end it with this.  If you like Twilight, then read this book.  You will probably gobble it up.  If you like literature and a good story, stay away.

01 March 2015

Red Rising

Author: Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising #1
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

I have such a love/hate relationship with this book.  As in, I love the first 1/3 to 1/2, and hate the rest.  Okay, okay, to be fair, I don't hate the rest.  Hate, after all, is such a strong word.  I am definitely disappointed, however, with the rest.  To put it mildly.

Red Rising starts off with a bang, full of excitement and adrenaline from the get go.  Brown definitely sets up a powerful and unstable dystopian, and Eo is the perfect foil/trigger for Darrow.  Some of the language and descriptions of the vastly unique world are a little hard to get used to, but you start to fall into the rhythm the further down the rabbit hole you go.

But the plot.  Oh, the plot.  I had such high hopes for the plot, and yet here I sit.  I've had a week to reminiscence, and I still am not any more pleased with it than when I finished this book last weekend.  Here I am, expecting a full on mass riot of epic proportions, and what we get is a Hunger Games/Ender's Game like plot that takes my balloon full of excitement and anticipation and slowly lets all the air leak out.  It isn't that the plot is terrible, per se, but it seems to drag on and on (and on and on) without much real excitement.  The entire second half of this novel just feels like a build up for the next novel in the trilogy.  It took me so long to read this novel, that I had to check it out of the library twice, and finishing it once I received it the second time felt like a homework assignment.

And still.  And still.  The ending gives me just enough hope that the sequel might return to the likes of the first 1/3 of this novel that I'm completely torn.  It is already sitting on my bookcase, its library plastic outer coating beckoning me over.  Pierce Brown definitely has the talent to become a major player in this decade's literature.  There are some very powerful, very poetic quotes in this story that make my quote notebook (although almost all of them are, again, in the first half).  I think if he can channel himself and focus on a knock your socks off plot for the second novel, I could really get into this series.  I'm still brooding over the second half though.  Oh the second half.