Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Review: 13 Little Blue Envelopes

TITLE: 13 Little Blue Envelopes
Book 1 in a 2 part series
AUTHOR: Maureen Johnson
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: realistic fiction, drama
SHORT PREMISE: A teen girl travels to Europe at the request of her dead aunt.
MY REVIEW: Ginny's beloved aunt has died and has left Ginny with a letter that tells her to go to Europe and follow her rules. That's honestly about it.
So this is my first Maureen Johnson book. I do see why she's popular. Her writing is nice and neat, she has relateable and believeable characters who are interesting, her books have a sense of humor about life to them, and they're quick reads. Granted, they don't require much brainwork and I've read more intelligent stuff but on the whole I like Johnson's work here and I'm definitely checking out her other stuff.
Little Blue Envelopes was a nice sweet story that's mostly focused on the fact that OMG, we're in EUROPE. Seriously, if this ever gets made into a movie I'll just go for the scenery alone. As someone who is homebound all summer (damn real life job) this was a nice getaway in my mind. Plotwise, it's average though I admit I'm dying to know what's in that last envelope so I'm definitely checking out the sequel that was just published this year. All in all this was cute. Expect more reviews of Johnson's books coming soon, especially as she has a paranormal/historical book coming out later this year that looks awesome.
WHO SHOULD READ: Meg Cabot fans, Maureen Johnson fans, fans of PS I Love You
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five envelopes

Monday, June 27, 2011

Book Review: Red Glove

TITLE: Red Glove
Book 2 in the Curse Workers series
AUTHOR: Holly Black
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: Urban fantasy, drama, mystery
SHORT PREMISE: Cassel investigates his brother's death
MY REVIEW: In the sequel to White Cat, Cassel and co. are back. He finds out his brother was murdered, is dealing Lila and the curse his mother put on her, and is slowly starting to get involved despite how much he doesn't want too.
I fell hard for White Cat last year. It was one of the best books of 2010 as far as I'm concerned so I was eagerly anticipating Red Glove. I'm happy to say Black does not disappoint. This is just as interesting as White Cat, if not more so. Like White Cat there were twists and turns, Cassel gets pushed outside his comfort zone, the worker rights movement has started to really take a stride, there is a surprise or two about characters you thought you knew (mainly Daneca) and it's just as good if not better then White Cat.
This has become one of the best YA urban fantasy series in my opinion. One or two things didn't work so it's not perfect and if you like your characters with strong moral fiber, then you probably won't care for this series. But I find it fascinating in terms of family/friendship dynamics, political climate arguements, and to top it off, the writing is fantastic. Normally I despise present tense writing but Black is one of the few writers who write it WELL so I don't mind it here so much. Highly recomend this series to anyone and cannot wait till the next book and whatever else Black has in store for us.
WHO SHOULD READ: those that read White Cat, Tithe fans, urban fantasy fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five curse charms

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Book Review: Torment

TITLE: Torment
Book 2 in the Fallen series
AUTHOR: Lauren Kate
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: angels, romance, drama
SHORT PREMISE: Luce goes to a school for angels while Daniel does his best to protect her.
MY REVIEW: In the sequel to Fallen, Luce gets sent to another school for safe keeping by Daniel. This school is a cover for children of fallen angels. While there, she tries to learn the limits of her powers and her past with Daniel.
Okay, here's the thing, Fallen was badly written but it had a couple of redeeming qualities that made me enjoy it as a guilty pleasure so I gave it a higher rating then I would have normally with books like that. However, Torment...I don't know it's pretty much a rehash of the Fallen plot only more boring and more annoying because Luce is pretty much angsting over Daniel twenty-four seven now. New characters pop up to take place of old characters. Shelby is now Arriane's stand-in and thus she was the best thing about the book. About the only interesting thing going on here was Luce exploring her past lives and slowly starting to become aware that hey, Daniel is not perfect. I did at least appreciate the author did take time to point out the problems in the relationship and that it's not the ideal that we should all strive for. So she did try.
But still, it was boring up until maybe the last five chapters. I'm still irritated to death with Luce and her angsting though I do understand some of the angsting about lying to her parents and friends. Also the writing hasn't improved any. Still has really bad eye-roll worthy prose. So will I be reading Passion? Maybe. If my library happens to get a copy of it. But if it doesn't I won't be broken hearted.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Fallen, angel book fans, fans of Hush Hush, fans of Twilight
MY RATING: Two out of Three crosses

Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Review: Star Crossed

TITLE: Star Crossed
First in new series
AUTHOR: Elizabeth C. Bunce
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: fantasy, adventure, mystery, drama
SHORT PREMISE: A thief gets caught up in political schemes
MY REVIEW: Digger has just seen her partner get killed and knows she's in deep trouble if she is found. Through happenstance she goes undercover with a wealthy family but ends up being blackmailed into spying against them.
I have never read Bunce's more well know A Curse As Dark As Gold. Now I really want to because if it's as good as this, then it's going to be excellent. This book is not perfect, sometimes it drags, I wish Phandre had been less two-dimensional and it sometimes felt like things came too easily for Digger. But on the whole, this book is fantastic and I don't know why it didn't become more popular. It has a great fantasy world-building that I adore, the writing is fantastic, there's a great sense of humor to it, it explores shades of gray, there are secrets and twists that I wasn't expecting as well as political intrigue and a sense that something big is coming. And this is just the first book.
There is a sequel called Liar's Moon coming out later this year and I have to say I can't wait. I am definitely checking out more of this author's work.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of A Curse As Dark As Gold, fantasy fans, Tamora Pierce fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five letters

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book Review: Kiki Strike-Inside the Shadow City

TITLE: Inside the Shadow City
Book 1 in the Kiki Strike series
AUTHOR: Kirsten Miller
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: adventure, mystery
SHORT PREMISE: a group of girls find a bunch of tunnels under New York City.
MY REVIEW: This book follows Ananka a girl who thinks her life is boring until there's a sinkhole near her house. Then a new student named Kiki Strike shows up with a proposition to explore the tunnels she discovered. They recruit a group of rag tag girls for the task but it becomes clear that Kiki has another purpose for the tunnels then what she said and just who is Kiki anyway?
Surface wise, Kiki is a okay book. It's entertaining, there's a nice girl power message, I've certainly read worse writing, and it was nice having girls care about something other then boys and use their brains. That was all good. But when you look closely at the book, problems emerge. The writer tells and doesn't show. All the characters are two-dimensional and only act according to their stereotype role (ghetto girl is of course a theif, asian girl is of course wicked smart blah, blah) and wow, are these names ridiculous or what? It was also very predictable and was anyone really surprised when the mean girl in the book turned out to be the bad guy?
So it's not the worst book in the world. But still, I was expecting better. It's a nice change of pace for those tired of the love triangles/vampires/werewolves etc. though.
WHO SHOULD READ: you want something that isn't romance
MY RATING: Three out of Five tunnels with a dead end

Monday, June 20, 2011

Book Review: Last Sacrifice

TITLE: Last Sacrifice
Book 6 in the Vampire Academy series
AUTHOR: Richelle Mead
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: vampires, romance, drama
SHORT PREMISE: the exciting Vampire Academy comes to an end.
MY REVIEW: In the final Vampire Academy book, Rose and Dimitri go on the run after Rose is found guilty of murder. Meanwhile her friends try to clear her name while Lissa undergoes trials to become queen, a position she's not even sure she wants and Rose finds that Lissa may actually not be the last Dragomir after all as well as wrestling with her feelings for Dimitri.
So being the final Vampire Academy book, I expected a lot from this and Mead definitely brought it. This book solves all the loose ends from the series as well as brings up new ones for the spin-off series. I was surprised about some things, and not so surprised about others. Sorry Adrian fans, much as I love Adrian it was always going to end up Dimitri/Rose. Personally I'm happy with that because Adrian needs someone who fully appreciates him and I have a feeling he'll be returning for the spin-off and maybe he'll get his happily ever after. I wouldn't mind if it was with Sydney to be honest. I can totally see those two working. Or maybe it's with someone we don't see coming at all. Either way, I seriously cannot wait for Bloodlines.
This is a satisfying conclusion to a awesome series. Mead handles all the plots well as always, it's a nice and fast read and she entertains all the way through. She has definitely become one of my favorite authors.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the first 5 books, fans of the adult Georgia Kincaid series
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five crowns

Sunday, June 19, 2011

In My Mailbox (42)

This is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren that tells people what new books we've gotten over the week. All the links in this post go to amazon if you want more info on the book.

Downloaded to Kindle:
Star Crossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce-For book battle. Already finished and I loved it. Review is forthcoming. There's a sequel to this coming out in November and I can't wait.

Library Books:
Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender-One I've heard next to nothing about but looks interesting. Plus there's a sequel coming out this summer so I thought I'd take a look.
Women of the Otherworld Book 4: Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong-My love affair with the Women of the Otherworld verse continues.

That's all for me this week. What did you get in your mailbox?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Review: The Replacement

TITLE: The Replacement
AUTHOR: Brenna Yovanoff
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: faeries, drama
SHORT PREMISE: a boy deals with the fact that he's a changeling in a town where faeries are a normal part of the day.
MY REVIEW: Mackie has known he was a changeling all his life. It's something his family tries to keep secret and under wraps in a town where people know faeries exist but don't openly say anything about it. But then things start happening that force Mackie to confront who or what he is.
I liked this book. It wasn't phenomenal but for a debut it was definitely interesting and I'll be keeping an eye out for this author's future stuff because she definitely has talent and thinks outside the box. Mackie was a nicely developed character and I liked Tate and I adored Mackie's friends who are awesome (especially his best friend). It was nice and creepy but also had an emotional element. Only main problems were that it sort of dragged a bit in the middle and I still have various questions that weren't answered. This wouldn't be a problem if it were a series but from what I understand this is the only planned book so I'm not too happy about that. If someone happens to know if there's a planned sequel I will totally take this back.
So all in all, a rather decent first book. Not the best book of the year but a nice solid debut that makes me look forward to whatever this author has in store for us in the future.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Tithe, faerie book fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five faerie charms

Sunday, June 12, 2011

In My Mailbox (41)

This is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren that tells people what new books we've gotten over the week. All the links in this post go to the book's amazon page if you want more info on them.

So I've been absent from mailbox for 2 weeks. Sorry. First week I was sick and didn't get to the library and so didn't get any books at all that week. Second week I was really busy on Sunday and didn't get to internet till Monday. But I'm back with more books because I hit my library's annual blowout used book sale so here goes.

From book sale:
Green Angel by Alice Hoffman.-Looked interesting and was only 25 cents.
Once Upon a Time series: Spirited by Nancy Holder-First try reading these. this one is a retelling of Mulan.
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley-Another one I've already read. Still need to read The Hero and the Crown though.
Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley-book I've already read that is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast.
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffeneger.-Only a dollar so I figure if I don't like it like I suspect I will it's no big deal.
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult.-Finally getting off my butt and giving Picoult's books a shot. I make no gaurantees that I'll like her though as I've heard she's similar to Nicolas Sparks and I find his books to be all the same and boring.
Bought at regular book store:
Dresden Files Book 1: Storm Front by Jim Butcher.-Finally trying out the Dresden Files.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman-See above.

From the library:
The Hollows Book 1: Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison.-checked this out like a month ago but couldn't finish it and I couldn't renew because someone had it on reserve so hopefully this time I'll finish it.
Fallen Book 2: Torment by Lauren Kate-This series is a bit of guilty pleasure. They're not great books but I enjoy it enough that I'm reading the second and will probably read the 3rd.
Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller-Part of my book battle 2011 reading (I'm a round 2 judge). Really looking forward to this. It's about girl spies! Heaven knows I love my girl spies.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Book Review: Afterlife

TITLE: Afterlife
Book 4 in the Evernight series
AUTHOR: Claudia Gray
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: vampires, romance,drama
PREMISE: Bianca and co return for the final Evernight book.
MY REVIEW: In the fourth Evernight series Bianca and boyfriend are back. Except her boyrfriend is now a vampire while she's a wraith and they must return to Evernight and it's evil headmistress because they have no where else to go.
I like the Evernight series. Is it cheesy and full of deux ex machinas? Yes. Do I still wonder what exactly Bianca and her boyfriend have in common anyway? Yes. But this is a book series where enjoyment factor overshadows the book's flaws. I admit, I enjoy the side characters a lot more then Bianca and her over angsty love life. Vic and Ranulf are seriously made of total win, I love Dana and Raquel, and Team Balthazar baby. Needless to say I can't wait for Balthazar's Story.
So, like the past books there are the usual flaws but plot is interesting, I like that it wasn't total happily ever after, a bunch of really enjoyable dialogue moments where it becomes clear Gray knows how silly this is and is just having fun anyway and I can totally respect that. So I'm satisfied with the ending. I look forward to more of Gray's work which includes the before mentioned Balthazar's Story and a really interesting looking werewolf book set on the Titanic. I have a feeling I'm going to need tissues for that one. Just a tiny suggestion Gray? Vic and Ranulf epic bromance side story. Just putting that out there. Or a side story with Dana and Raquel kicking butt and taking names.
WHO SHOULD READ: those that have read the first 3 books, Twilight fans, House of Night fans, vampire fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five stakes

I also made a tiny rant post on my Tumblr about the Gurdon article concerning all the darkness in YA for those interested: http://afangirlsview.tumblr.com/post/6367773980/article-rant

Just be warned, I'm not kidding about the rant part.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Book Review: The Reckoning

TITLE: The Reckoning
Book 3 in the Darkest Powers Trilogy
AUTHOR: Kelley Armstrong
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: urban fantasy, werewolves, romance, adventure
SHORT PREMISE: Chloe and friends return for a final showdown.
MY REVIEW: I fell in love with the Darkest Powers trilogy and consequently the whole Women of the Underworld universe when I picked up The Summoning about two years ago. That was my first Kelley Armstrong book and thus I had no clue what to expect because at that point I hadn't heard much about her. The rest is history and I have really grown to love this whole universe that Armstrong has created. It's creative but with set rules and bounderies and the characters are all interesting and entertaining in their own way. For some reason this jives more with me then the adult series and maybe it's just that it's my first intro so I'm more familiar with it. I don't know. Either way I loved this trilogy and the ending was a nice ride.
In this one, Chloe and company are staying with a guy they're not sure they can trust. He brings in more people to help "train" them so to speak but it quickly becomes clear that they are not trusted and at some point even feared. Chloe also meanwhile solves her feelings once and for all about Derek and Simon.
I liked this conclusion. Was I totally satisfied? No, but there's a spin off trilogy starting so I'm assuming more concrete resolutions will be in there. As always I liked the complicated characters and emotions going on here and how not everything was black and white. I also liked the logical way the love triangle quickly resolved itself because lets face it, Simon didn't have a chance and he knew it and didn't make a huge fuss a la Jacob Black from Twilight. I just liked that they handled it maturely and went on their way.
On the whole this was an immensely satisfying third book. I love how the characters developed and I am definitely intrigued by this new trilogy starting up. Armstrong has made me a big fan of hers I can't wait to read whatever she writes next.
WHO SHOULD READ: those that have read the first 2 books, fans of Women of the Underworld, Patricia Briggs fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five ghost

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Book Review: Bone Crossed

TITLE: Bone Crossed
Book 4 in the Mercy Thompson series
AUTHOR: Patricia Briggs
GENRE: urban fantasy, werewolves, romance, mystery, drama
SHORT PREMISE: Mercy battles the queen the of the vampires
MY REVIEW: In the fourth Mercy book, she deals with many things. Her growing relationship with Adam and the fact that she's now part of his pack, the aftermath of her rape, a vampire queen who is out for her blood, and of course more mystery.
While I certainly do like this series (aside from some uncomfortableness with the Adam/Mercy relationship) I don't know. This book was kind of, dare I say it, boring? I'm happy she solved the love triangle but now it seems like there's not much else reason to read this series. I don't want to think that was the only thing driving this series though because there are many good things to like such as Mercy herself who is awesome, awesome side characters in the forms of Warren and Kyle (seriously, those two need their own book), and vaguely intriguing social commentary. But honestly, it was just sort of ho hum.
I'm giving this series one more shot but if it doesn't thrill me, I'm giving up on the series because there's too little time to spend on books where I know the ending and there's not much incentive to read the next one. That's the whole reason I haven't really been keen on finishing Bewitching Mysteries either even though I do vaguely enjoy the books.
WHO SHOULD READ: Those that have read the first 3 Mercy books, urban fantasy fans, Kelley Armstrong fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five gas stained napkins

Monday, June 6, 2011

Book Review: Wings

TITLE: Wings
Book 1 in the Wings series
AUTHOR: Aprillynne Pike
CATEGORY: Young adult (though I say it's more middle-grade in tone)
GENRE: faeries, fantasy, romance, drama
SHORT PREMISE: A girl discovers she's a faerie.
MY REVIEW: First, I want to apologize for my absence this past week. I was really sick and that ate into reading time. But I'm back to normal (well, normal for me) and sadly have to start off with a review of a book I hated. First I do realize I am not the target audience for Wings. It is very obviously meant to be a clean cut book for tweens to read and okay that's fine because I understand that tweens need books too. However, were I a tween in this day and age I would probably be insulted that you would think I would buy any of the stuff in this book. I also recognize and do appreciate the fact that the author was trying something new with the faerie mythology. However, that something new she tried made absolutely NO SENSE.
The big problem with this book (other then the rampant case of stupid going on) was that the characters were dull and not developed at all. Laurel was a HUGE Mary Sue (she and Bella Swan could seriously compete for the Mary Sue Olympics). It is no accident that Miley Cyrus has been tapped to play her in the movie. The character is naturally gifted, somehow manages to know things right away, and never gets called out on stuff like oh say the fact that she's dating a human boy but flirting with a faerie boy at the same time (in fact once she flirted with the faerie while said boy waited for her in the car! Not cool). Then she wonders why faerie boy has developed a crush on her in the end. Gee, let me think...All the other characters are two-dimensional and basically exist to tell Laurel how amazing she is (I'm serious, all of them tell her she's special at one point or other in the book). The other reason a Disney Channel star has been set for this movie (is she still considered one? Not sure what's going on there to be honest) is this book is very...wholesome I guess you could call it. It apparently exists in the same magical world as High School Musical/Camp Rock where there's no drugs/swearing/peer pressure and teenagers don't think about sex at all. Which again, I'm aware this is aimed at tweens, but even tweens would be raising an eyebrow at a girl wanting to be homeschooled or choosing strawberries instead of candy (and thinking that's better!). The unsubtle agenda in this book was annoying.
Then it all just boils down to the plot being dull and predictable as all get out and just small details not making any sense. For instance due to apparently being a venus flytrap or some such ridiculousness Laurel has no heartbeat or blood. Um...I'm sorry but in fifteen years NO ONE NOTICED THIS? This girl was supposed to be smart I thought? Also her parents get the dumb parents of YA award for sure. They never once question why their kid wouldn't eat food? Um, I don't care if you're morally against doctors that's kind of a red flag that something's up. Also in this day and age they didn't get health insurance even though they own a business and have a kid? Like I said, it's stuff like this that makes this book just dumb.
Like I said, I'm not the target audience. But I like to think that the target audience would be intelligent enough to know this book is bad. If you are still curious about this book then I'd check it out from the library. Don't waste your money on it. Thankfully this looks to be like the last bad review I'll have to do for awhile because it's mostly awesome books from here on out including Mercy Thompson 4, Vampire Academy 6, Evernight 4, and Red Glove! Books like those make up for books like this.
WHO SHOULD READ: No one. This book is an insult to people's intelligence. Only read if you really want to.
MY RATING: One out of Five fairy wings