Monday, October 31, 2011

Book Review: Tempest Rising

TITLE: Tempest Rising
AUTHOR: Tracy Deebs
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: Mermaids, romance
PREMISE: A girl goes through changes when she discovers she's a mermaid.
MY REVIEW: The number one problem with this book (other then the juvenile tone to it) is that it's completely unoriginal. All the tropes that have been plagueing YA are in this book: girl discovering she's a magical whatever and of course a uber special magical wahtever? Check. Love triangle? Check. Girl dumping perfectly decent boy for uber hot supernatural because being a human is so lame? Check. Insta-love interest? Check. Girl dumping her whole life for a guy she pretty much just met? Check. Nothing new to see here, folks. Move on.
It doesn't help matters that Tempest is a big Mary Sue (as if the name didn't give that away already) of the whiny and world revolves around guys kind and this novel is predictable as all get out. For younger tweens this is a perfectly okay book. But honestly I wouldn't waste my time because basically if you read the YA genre regularly, you've basically have already read this book. I really wish the mermaid books would step it up. I've yet to read a really good one and why are all of them aimed at the younger crowds? Older people want to read mermaid books too.
WHO SHOULD READ: younger teens into mermaids
MY RATING: Two out of Five gills

Sunday, October 30, 2011

In My Mailbox (59)

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.

I was good this week, only new stuff is the weekly library haul:

Raised by Wolves Book 1 by Jennifer Lynn Barnes-I've been meaning to read Barnes' stuff for awhile now, she has a lot of YA books she's written. Figured I would start with her newest series.
Fallen series Book 3: Passion by Lauren Kate.-Oh Fallen series, why can't I quit you?
Luminous by Dawn Metcalf-checked out mostly for the gorgeous cover.
Dustlands Book 1: Blood Red Road by Moira Young-FINALLY got a copy of this. I've been wanting to read it for ages.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book Review: Uncommon Criminals

TITLE: Uncommon Criminals
Book 2 in the Heist Society series
AUTHOR: Ally Carter
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: adventure, mystery, drama
PREMISE: Kat gets a new Mark: The Cleopatra Diamond but as she soon learns, even thieves get conned...
MY REVIEW: I've made it no secret that I've basically become a Ally Carter fangirl. Could the books be deeper and have better writing? Sure. Okay, yes, the idea of teenagers going around on dangerous heists is probably totally absurd but Carter makes all of this work in such a way that I don't give a damn, I just want to sit in on the adventures Kat has.
The series works due to intrigue, fun characters, great snappy dialogue, and a fast-paced plot that keeps you interested. Doesn't take much concentration, no. But it's still a enjoyable ride. I hope there's more in this series and I can't wait to read the next Gallagher Girls book series which I believe comes out next year which is TOO FAR AWAY.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Heist Society, Gallagher Girls fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five diamonds

Book Review: The Ghost and the Goth

TITLE: The Ghost and the Goth
Book 1 in the Ghost and the Goth series
AUTHOR: Stacey Kade
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: paranormal, drama, romance
PREMISE: Alona hadn't meant to get killed but here she is. Now her only hope is the deadbeat loser goth boy from her school...
MY REVIEW: I didn't expect much from this series. I figured it'd be cute and that would be all there was too it. Now to be clear, it's not phenomenal literature. But it is cute and a heck of a lot of fun. Also for a chick-lit oriented series the writing is not half bad.
The characters are relateable and more importantly are not uber Mary Sues/Gary Stus. They have personalities. One of the reasons I steered clear of this was that I was afraid it was going to turn into one of those popular kids vs goth kids things and naturally popular people would all suck or vice versa which tends to happen in those types of books. But it actually wound up being very balanced and fair to all social groups. It didn't stereotype and pointed out that EVERYONE has issues. Lets face it, that's a rareity in YA nowadays. So there actually was something poigntant going on within all the humor (it was hilarious) and romance (which was actually kind of decent all though it could have been developed better).
In the end I think this is a fun book and I'll definitely be picking up the second and anything else Stacey Kade has to offer (I believe she writes adult novels?). If you're tired of vamps and werewolves and want good old fashioned ghosts, give this one a try.
WHO SHOULD READ: ghost book fans, fans of The Mediator series
MY RATING: Four out of Five ouji boards

Book Review: Uglies

TITLE: Uglies
Book 1 in the Uglies series
AUTHOR: Scott Westerfield
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: dystopian, adventure
PREMISE: Tally can't wait to turn sixteen and finally be a Pretty but there's a snag in her plans: she has to betray a friend in order to do it.
MY REVIEW: Long before Hunger Games Westerfield was ahead of the game by writing a dystopian series. Sadly because they're everywhere now, this doesn't feel as fresh and as new to me as I'm sure to people who read it when it first came out. I sort of wish I found it before the dystopian trend happened. Oh well, no use crying over spilled milk. It's still a very good book either way.
Westerfield has become a favorite author of mine recently after discovering his Levianthan/Midnighters books. He's been around a few years and for good reason. His writing is solid, he's creative, he has good relateable characters, he helps teens think about issues without pandering or condescending to them.
So yes, because of the dystopians all out nowadays it doesn't feel new and shiny but this is definitely a solid book and I see why so many recomend it. Really looking forward to reading the rest of these.
WHO SHOULD READ: Westerfield fans, dystopian fans, Hunger Games fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five Pretties

Monday, October 24, 2011

Book Review: 13 to Life

TITLE: 13 to Life
Book 1 in the 13 to Life series
AUTHOR: Shannon Delaney
CATEGORY: young adult
GENRE: werewolves, mystery, romance, urban fantasy
PREMISE: When Pietr comes into town he messes up Jessie's quiet life.
MY REVIEW: Okay admitedly I had low expectations for this series. While it did now blow me away, I was a lot more impressed then I thought I would be. The thing that hindered the book for me was the teen drama/romantic shenanigans. Seriously, I'm beginning to think YA authors should just cut out romances entirely now because lately all the books I've read have had their quality lowered by the insiped romance.
But when this book did not focus on the yawn worthy teen drama it knocked it out of the park. I was intrigued by the mythology, I dug the character stuff, even while the romance bored me to tears I did sort of find myself liking the main couple, and the writing was actually kind of good. The only thing that bothered me, other then the insepid romance was the Jessie/Sarah thing. That made NO SENSE whatsoever. You seriously expect me to believe someone is going to try and be your best friend after you've been a bitch to them before and you KILLED THEIR MOTHER? No one is that much of a good person. Also I'm sorry, but why the hell isn't Sarah in jail?! I don't care how old you are or if the family forgives you, you kill someone in a accident you do time. It's a little thing called involuntary manslaughter and yes, teens can be convicted of it I believe or at the very least get sent to Juvie. That whole scenario made no sense whatsoever.
Other then those issues I dug this book a lot more then I thought I would. Will definitely be picking up the next two books in the series. I just hope there's more focus on plot and less on teen drama in the coming books.
WHO SHOULD READ: werewolf fans, Twilight fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five russian dolls

Sunday, October 23, 2011

In My Mailbox (58)

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

Bought at Barnes and Noble:
Song of Fire and Ice Book 2: A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin-If you have not read this series yet, do so. The hype is actually right about this one.
The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series Book 4: The Necromancer by Michael Scott-It makes me sad that this series doesn't get as much buzz as it deserves. If you've never heard of it, read the first book The Alchemist.

From the library:
Heist Society Book 2: Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter-If you have not checked out Heist Society or Gallagher Girls yet, do so now.
Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs-Mermaid book thing I've been meaning to check out.
The Ghost and the Goth Book 1 by Stacey Kade-Finally got ahold of a copy of this via interlibrary loan. Been wanting to read it for a while now.
Hourglass by Myra McEntire-YA debut that got a lot of buzz this year that I'm eager to read.

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

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Book Review: Born at Midnight

TITLE: Born at Midnight
Book 1 in the new Shadow Falls series
AUTHOR: C. C. Hunter
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: urban fantasy, romance, mystery
PREMISE: A girl gets sent to a camp for abnormals like werewolves, faeries, witches, and vampires.
MY REVIEW: Here's the thing, Born at Midnight isn't horrible. It's very relateable for teens I suspect. There is a interesting enough plot in the background. I also rather enjoyed Della and Miranda. Even the writing is somewhat decent.
However it's what I call a safe book. There isn't anything new or groundbreaking going on here. It feels like a mish mash of Percy Jackson/House of Night/Twilight. Also I found Kylie and her constant flip flopping between guys to be VERY IRRITATING. Seriously, do teen girls really act like this nowadays? I haven't been a teen for some time so I don't know for sure but in my day if a girl did the stuff Kylie did with three guys like she's doing in this book, well I'm sorry she would have been called a slut. Which is ironic considering how many times Kylie herself calls other girls a slut but the other girls aren't flirting with three guys at once (hence why this reminded me of House of Night). Granted I'm in the midwest but still...the book felt preachy a lot which I found strange considering the characters didn't exactly practice what the book was preaching. Stuff like this and the sex/drug/cursing talk just sort of made the book feel like it was trying too hard to be cool you know? Also can we say sloppy world building? Kylie herself while never getting to Zoey Redbird heights had the tendency to be Mary Sueish and a hypocritical one at that.
For a first book it's okay and there is enough here that I may be picking up the second book. But I just think the author could stand for a lot of improvement and could we have a little less focus on multiple love interests and more focus on the far more interesting plot part?
WHO SHOULD READ: House of Night fans, Twilight fans
MY RATING: Three out of Five cabins

Book Review: The Magnolia League

TITLE: The Magnolia League
Book 1 in a new series
AUTHOR: Katie Crouch
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: witches, urban fantasy, mystery
PREMISE: Alex goes to live with her grandmother in the south and learns that she is the heir to a powerful society embroiled in deep magic.
MY REVIEW: I'm somewhat embarressed to admit it, but I really liked this a lot. Why am I embarressed you ask? Because while I liked it, the novel is cheesy. Like almost every YA trope you can think of is in here cheesy. Also it stereotypes a lot. But to the author's credit for every southern/hippie stereotype that was in there she threw in a character who went against the stereotype. Also Alex was a rather frusterating main character who constantly flip-flopped all over the place and once again, it had a boring stock romance that was predictable.
But for all its cheesyness and slightly frusterats something intrigues me about this series. The dynamics between Alex, Hayes, and Madison were interesting too me for one. There's also a somewhat interesting plot here involving magic and there's very interesting world building going on. Writing is also decent but considering the author has written adult books before this I'm not surprised about that. This book just had a lot of stuff in it that tends to make me happy (such as Dex and Madison who are by far the best parts about this thing).
There are definite twists at the end I wasn't expecting and it makes me eager to read the next book. So a fantastic series? No. It's very generic in terms of YA. But it is a entertaining book and not horrible. There's definitely a lot to like here and keep you hooked.
RATING: Four out of Five white gloves for a decent read.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Book Review: Shift

TITLE: Shift
Book 2 in the Shade series
AUTHOR: Jeri Smith-Ready
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: Paranormal, mystery, romance
PREMISE: Aura deals with her complicated romantic life while trying to discover what her and Zachary's birth have to do with the Shift.
MY REVIEW: Okay I admit to loving the first book in this series a lot when it came out last year. Aura was sassy, she was proactive, the love triangle actually made sense and I got how she could be torn between them, and the world building was really interesting. Also ghosts! No one writes about ghosts anymore it seems. So you can understand why I was rather pumped for the second book this year.
Now I'm not saying I was hugely disappointed because this is still a rather good book and I still greatly enjoyed it, but I will say I didn't love it as much as I loved the first book. Part of my issue is the whole ghosts coming to life thing. I've never been a fan of that scenario and while the author did try her darnest to have it make sense a large part of me was still like "really?"
My other issue was Zack and Aura in this book. The way they went about things in this book romantic wise was a overdramatic mess that made me roll my eyes a lot with the melodrama. Granted, still better then half the love triangles out there because at least I understand motivations here and Logan/Aura's relationship is one of the sweeter ones in YA lately (and I dare you not to sniff at what Logan eventually does in the end) but really the romantic shenanigans were vaguely annoying and to me it dragged down the plot a lot.
Still like this series and the author and really looking forward to Shine because the author did leave some very interesting stuff here. Just saying...not as fun and as likeable as the first.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the first book, paranormal fans, Mediator fans, ghost fans
RATING: Four out of Five red dresses for a good read that maybe wasn't as good as the first book.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book Review: Entwined

TITLE: Entwined
AUTHOR: Heather Dixon
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: retellings, fantasy
PREMISE: A retelling of the classic fairytale the Twelve Dancing Princesses.
MY REVIEW: I've been waiting for a good retelling this year. Most of them have just been passe so far though. But this one I just loved so much. It's well written, stays true to the fairytale but also offers new insight to it, is fun, and has decent character developement. True being a retelling it has a predictability factor and the romance didn't really do anything for me as cute as it was. But all in all I really enjoyed this one.
One thing it did that I liked was that it actually went into the father's relationships with the princesses because honestly that has always been something that I wish more of the Twelve Dancing Princeses did. I've always been intrigued by the King with these twelve daughters who probably had no clue what to do with them. It also gave motivations for why the girls danced in a obviously evil place to begin with and so on. Also the sister relationships were fabulous. For the record, Bramble is made of total win in my book.
If you've been looking for a fairytale retelling this is one of the better offerings this year.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairytale, fairytale retellings fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five dancing slippers

Book Review: Awaken

TITLE: Awaken
I believe this is the start of a new series?
AUTHOR: Karen Kacvinsky
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: dystopian, drama, romance
PREMISE: A girl in the future meets a boy who tries to get her to see past her society's reliability on technology.
MY REVIEW: Let's face it, thanks to the success of Hunger Games, dystopians have sort of become the new vampires. They're everywhere (and thankfully most of them are better then the vampire genre). So it's easy to see why people probably overlooked Awaken this year. It's a shame too, because I think this is one of the better ones. Yes, the romance is rather obvious and probably not as interesting to people as say Matched but the good writing and character developement going on in this more then make up for the lackluster romance which while the poorest part of the book is still decent at least. I mean it's rather refreshing having a guy encourage a girl to be more independant and not rely on him.
It does sort of hit you over the head with the don't rely too much on technology message but this dystopian had what the more popular Matched and Wither did not for me: a actual plausible world. I can picture this world happening. Also one of my issues with Matched/Wither was that I couldn't see how people let things come to the way they were (especially in Matched when it was clear people weren't happy with the society but they didn't DO anything either) in this one the author gave plausible reasons for how this world came to be and why people let it continue. That's the trick with dystopians for me: making people believe that this world could happen. Some dystopians succeed very well in this while others...not so much.
This is like Delirium where it's quieter then most dystopians and I honestly don't mind that. I don't know if the author is making this a series/trilogy but considering the way it left off I'm pretty sure she is. Or I hope she is because no way can you leave it like that. Either way, I'm definitely keeping an eye out for this author's stuff in the future.
WHO SHOULD READ: dystopian fans, fans of Delirium, fans of Matched,
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five computer consoles

Book Review: Wrapped

TITLE: Wrapped
AUTHOR: Jennifer Bradbury
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: historical fiction, mystery
PREMISE: A girl investigates a curse in victorian england.
MY REVIEW: I honestly had no idea what to expect from this book going in. There were next to no reviews about it, I've never read the author's other book Shift and the summary wasn't really informative. Thankfully this turned into a pleasant surprise book. Granted there were a few things I found iffy such as the plausibility of it all, the one dimensional and obvious villain, and it is guilty of dragging a bit.
But on the whole this was a fun historical fiction book which is good because I've been rather disappointed by the historical books this year. Really guys, what's up with this genre this year? It was so nice last year and you have so many this year so really, what gives? But this one was one of the better historical offerings of the year. The main character is pleasant, while the romance is obvious it's sweet and fun so I don't mind it, the mystery is fun and it combines two things I love: victorian england and ancient egyption stuff. Got to give the author kudos for pulling that off in a slightly believable way. Also the writing was actually decent.
While it is a slightly quieter book then YA readers are probably used too these days I dug this and will now be looking into the author's other book, Shift.
WHO SHOULD READ: historical fiction fans, ancient egypt fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five curses

Saturday, October 15, 2011

In My Mailbox (57)

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. Since I haven't been able to do this for two weeks (darn work...) I'm going to include bought books from the last two weeks as well as this week. As always all the links in this post go to the book's Amazon page if you want more info.

Downloaded to Kindle (aka I love the new monthly deals thing they're doing way too much):
Pretense for Murder by Karen L. Abrahamson-Freebie that's a mystery with a paranormal twist apparently. Some point in time I will start to actually get to all these mysterys I download...
The Bloodhoud Files Book 1: Dying Bites by DD Barant-UF I've been curious about. Currently on sale for 2.99
The Paranormals Book 1: Jenny Pox by JL Bryan. Currently a freebie. Another UF thing.
Night Huntress Book 1: Halfway to the Grave by Jeanine Frost-One of the many UF book series I'm trying out. Now currently 1.99 on Kindle.
Mistborn Book 1: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson-I've heard many good things about this adult fantasy/steampunk series. It's now back to regular pricing though.

Bought at Barnes and Noble:
The Steampunk Chronicles Book 1: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross-I've been eager to read this one for awhile and I finally gave into that gorgeous cover. ;pets the pretty;
Paranormalcy Trilogy Book 2: Supernaturally by Kierstan White-FINALLY got my hands on a copy of the sequel to one of my favorite books from last year. Can't wait to finally read it.

From the library this week:
The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch-Apparently about witches which is why I picked it up. We need more YA books about witches.
Shadow Falls Book 1: Born at Midnight by C. C. Hunter-Paranormal thing that looks interesting.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick-I read this way back when it first came out and remember loving it. I'm super pumped for the movie (coming out on my birthday!) and am rereading it to refresh my memory.
Shade Book 2: Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready-Shade was another favorite from last year so I'm really eager to get to this one.

That's all for me! What did you get in your mailbox?

Book Review: Mercy

TITLE: Mercy
Book 1 in the Mercy Trilogy
AUTHOR: Rebecca Lim
PUBLISHED: 2011 (in US)
CATEGORY: Young Adult
GENRE: angels, urban fantasy, romance
PREMISE: Mercy goes from body to body in exhile helping humans better their lives.
MY REVIEW: If I can sum up one word for this novel, I would say pretentious. It felt like the author thought she was doing this great thing when really all it was is just another cheesy YA angel book. Granted, there is some creativity and ideas going on here. I was intrigued at first by the mystery of the sister, Mercy's purpose, and the main plot idea. But all that is derailed by tropes upon tropes and bad writing.
First of all, Mercy is a Mary Sue of the worst kind. She's one of those "I'm deep and all other women are shallow and have problems I must fix for them" type of Sues a la Anita Blake and I seriously hate that. Seriously author you must hate other females don't you? At least that's the conclusion I have to draw when Mercy snarks about other females automatically after only one conversation but miraculously has no problem with guys (who of course all think she's awesome). The amount the B word is used to describe females in this book is ridiculous. Especially when one considers Mercy is supposed to be an Angel. If she's an Angel why does she curse so much, thinks rude thoughts about people who don't praise her, and on one occasion drink? Look, I don't like the goody two-shoes angels either (see my rant about Halo) but this is rather ridiculous.
The book is also not helped by how of course Mercy winds up being special, she has a insta romance with the emo brother who has little to no personality either, I didn't at all understand why Mercy was put into Carmen's body in the first place (insecurity doesn't really seem to be a needs a angel problem), the rushed ending, dragging middle, and again bad writing with cheesy dialogue. Oh, also it pays no attention to angel mythology whatsoever.
It's a shame too, I had such high hopes for this one. But sadly it's yet another angel book that I didn't like. I really need to stop trying these things out so far I've only found like three that I actually like and one of those (Hush Hush) is honestly not that great, it's just a guilty pleasure. Sigh, angel books, why can't you be better?
WHO SHOULD READ: angel book fans, Hush Hush fans, Fallen fans
MY RATING: Two and a half out of Five choirs

Book Review: The Dead and the Gone

TITLE: The Dead and the Gone
Book 2 in the Last Survivors Trilogy
AUTHOR: Susan Beth Pfeffer
CATEGORY: Young Adult
GENRE: dystopian, science fiction, drama
PREMISE: In other parts of the world in New York we see how young Alex copes with the consequences of the moon being knocked out of orbit.
MY REVIEW: I loved Life As We Knew It which I first read last year on a whim. This book is a bit of a companion to that one. It takes place at the same time but deals with Alex in a different part of the world. I will say I didn't feel as much a connection to Alex as I did to Miranda but his stuff is still as bad as hers, if not worse.
What really gets me about this series is the amount of thought and detail Pfeffer puts into making this feel as real as possible. If this happened, I could totally see this scenario becoming real. It's also really interesting seeing how differently Alex's experiences with it were as opposed to Miranda and it makes sense, different upbringings/places deal with stuff differently. For instance in this one there's a lot of wrestling of faith more then Miranda's because Alex's family was more religious then hers.
So maybe it wasn't as personal as Life as We Knew It but it's still pretty good and just as fascinating to read. I can't wait to finally read the third and discover what happens.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Life As We Knew It, dystopian fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five moons

Book Review: Where She Went

TITLE: Where She Went
Mia Hall Book 2
AUTHOR: Gayle Forman
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: drama
PREMISE: Adam and Mia meet up years after her accident and a rough break up.
MY REVIEW: Okay I was not as enthralled with If I Stay as everyone else seems to be but this book I'm definitely giving kudos to the author. Granted, it still has that Lifetime Movie feel and I feel it was a little cliche that (spoiler) they found each other again in the end and that made everything worth it. But still this was a lot better for me then If I Stay.
For one, I bet no one was expecting Forman to go this route when they asked her for a sequel. They probably wanted happyness and roses after the accident and I love that Forman wasn't afraid to not give them that. Accidents leave scars and Mia's accident in particular was rough because of all she lost, it would have been unrealistic if she had moved on so easily. I'm glad the author gave everyone flaws and issues and had them work through it in a way that was believable and thoughtful at the same time. For me these books are really interesting character studys and lets face it, we don't get much of that in YA. Plus as a bonus, her writing is really good.
So I give these books a thumbs up even I do find parts of it a bit contrived and cliche the writing and character stuff more then make up for that.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of If I Stay, contemporary book fans, fans of Piccoult
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five cellos

Book Review: The Poison Diaries

TITLE: The Poison Diaries
Book 1 in the Poison Diaries series
AUTHOR: Maryrose Wood
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: historical fiction, fantasy, romance
PREMISE: A girl who lives with her father in a medical garden finds her life altered when a mysterious boy is brought to their doorstep.
MY REVIEW: Yet another book I wanted to love more then I actually did. There is a lot to like here. I love the gothic feel to it, the research the author obviously did really shows and is explained wonderfully and with good writing, the interesting use of magic and plants, and the themes of loss and innocence and such.
But all that good stuff was hampered by the fact that it drags a LOT. The main female character is pretty useless and has little personality to relate too. The romance is boring and predictable even if it is rather sweet. I sort of felt like this would have been better in Weeds point of view to be honest. Her was pretty much the most interesting thing in the book but we never got a sense of who he was either so it became a bit frustrating.
I am curious to see where this series goes and am looking forward to Nightshade because of where the author left it. I'm hoping that what happened at the end is a way for the female character to actually become stronger and more useful.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of gothic type novels, historical fiction fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five belladonnas

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Book Review: The Time Traveling Fashionista

TITLE: The Time Traveling Fashionista
Book 1 in a new series
AUTHOR: Bianca Turetsky
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: historical fiction, fantasy
PREMISE: A girl tries on a dress and is inexplicably sent back in time to the 1920s on the Titanic.
MY REVIEW: Okay first of all I have to give major kudos to the artist and design of this book. First time I saw it I did a major fangirl. The fashion illustrations are beautiful and the design/packaging of the book are a major happy for this artist. I just wish the story/writing lived up to the beautiful design of the book.
You can tell this is the authors first book. She does all the amateur mistakes: tell don't show, long desriptions of what everyone's wearing/settings because of course that's the important part of the plot, whiny heroine who naturally hates her normal charmed life which is actually very good (seriously, she's even popular!), predictable plot with a lot of conveniances, and it all just shapes up to be a rather dull time travel tale that makes no sense. Seriously I am sick of these random time-travel devices with no explanation for HOW they transport you. I can forgive it on Doctor Who because the Doctor is an alien and time travel is the main purpose of the TARDIS (and they do sort of give plausible explanations for how it works). But why the hell do these random fashionista women have gowns that transport you to random times? How does it even work? Oh and they aren't even going to have the decency to help you leave? I don't think so, author. Try again.
I wanted to like this book, I really did. I love history and fashion, I SHOULD like it. Unfortunately I can't ignore all the huge gaping plot holes in this or the very juvenile tone to the books or how the character is one giant Mary Sue that almost rivals Bella Swan. Honestly the only people I can really recomend this book to in seriousness is maybe younger Gossip Girl fans. Everyone else...I wouldn't bother.
WHO SHOULD READ: younger YA crowd into stuff like Clique/Gossip Girl, fashion gurus
MY RATING: Two out of Five corsets

Book Review: Overbite

TITLE: Overbite
Book 2 in the Insatiable series
AUTHOR: Meg Cabot
GENRE: vampires, urban fantasy, romance
PREMISE: Meena gets wrapped up in a vampire plot once again when her ex Lucian returns from hiding.
MY REVIEW: Insatiable was one of my favorites from last year so admitedly I probably had higher then normal expectations for Overbite. Cabot goes an unexpected route with this second book and I have to say, I liked it. I was maybe not totally thrilled with the ending but I like Cabot's tendancy to surprise me. It's why I keep reading her stuff she does things in ways I don't expect and then once I think about it, it makes sense.
One of the things that intrigue me so about this series is not only how it cleverly pokes fun at the vampire genre but how Meena acknowledges Lucian has evil tendancies. One of the most exasperating things in vampire novels for me is how much the female excuses all the bad their vampy boyfriends do by saying "oh there's good in him, really!". While Meena does think there's good in Lucian she does not use that as an excuse for all his a-hole behavior and calls him out on it. She goes, "dude I sort of love you but seriously, what the hell?" It's just so refreshing to see in this genre of excusing bad behavior because you're in love.
This second book felt a bit final so I don't know if we're going to be getting a third book (although that thing with the tourists was never solved...) but if we do I'll be happy and if we don't I'll be satisfied.
WHO SHOULD READ: Cabot fans, vampire fans, those that read and liked Insatiable
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five cross necklaces

Book Review: The Coven's Daughter

TITLE: The Coven's Daughter
AUTHOR: Lucy Jago
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: historical fiction, fantasy
PREMISE: A girl gets accused of witchcraft and wrapped up in political plots in historical england.
MY REVIEW: There is a lot to like about the Coven's Daughter. It's decently written, it's creative, and some of the political aspects were very intrigueing. This is a novel that had to grow on me though because it's also rather slow and a bit dull at times.
The romance didn't really do much for me and I found the main character a bit two-dimensional but everything else was really good for a first book. I hope to see more from this author in the future. I just hope she works on making things a little more interesting in the beginning because I imagine there's a lot of people who gave up very early in this book out there.
WHO SHOULD READ: historical fiction fans, fans of witches
MY RATING: Four out of Five cauldrons

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Book Review: Dark Mirror

TITLE: Dark Mirror
Book 1 in the Dark Mirror series
AUTHOR: M. J. Putney
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: historical fiction, fantasy, time-travel
PREMISE: In a time where magic is seen as a curse among the rich, a girl is sent to a school to be cured of her magical gift.
MY REVIEW: This book has a lot going for it, I will give the author that. It's creative, the world building is interesting, some stuff is fun, and for the most part I enjoyed it. However there were a few nagging details that kept me from being in love with it.
First the main character is a huge Mary Sue. Not Bella Swan level or anything but she's a bit too perfect for my taste. I also didn't care for the tell don't show sort of writing that the author uses which brought down the book a lot in terms of quality. Also the main romance made no sense to me. They had no chemistry at all. It would have made more sense for her to end up with Jack because at least Jack was mildly interesting and they had some chemistry. I also was rather irritated at the constant villainfication of Cynthia who in my mind was far more interesting then the bland main character. Also the time travel was very random and unneccessary. Honestly, what's with all the time travel in YA lately? I don't mind it but you could at least work out a plausible way for it to happen other then oh hey look, random mirror/object that telaports people! Seriously authors, did you all watch Doctor Who one too many times and decide you wanted time travel in your books or something?
But it's still a decent enough first book and I'm a little curious about where this is going to go. I just hope the author works on the amateurish part of the book and make details more clear because I'm still a bit confused about how this magic thing even works. Very decent library read.
WHO SHOULD READ: historical fantasy fan, fans of time-travel plots
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five time traveling mirrors

Friday, October 7, 2011

Book Review: The Demon's Lexicon

TITLE: The Demon's Lexicon
Book 1 in the Demon's Lexicon Trilogy
AUTHOR: Sarah Rees Brennan
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: urban fantasy, drama
PREMISE: in a world of demons and magic, Nick and his brother Alan have survived on their own by relying on each other. Then two kids show up and change everything...
MY REVIEW: Oh my God, why didn't I pick this trilogy up sooner?! I had heard of it and everyone kept reccing it right and left but I just never got around to reading it. Well I finally saw a cheap copy in Books a Million (seriously best chain store ever. Their bargain book bins are glorious) and picked it up. I'm not sorry I did either.
This book has good writing, interesting characters, engrossing storytelling, action, a wee bit of romance (but not the sappy annoying kind thank god and it's relagated to subplot like romances should be in fantasy books), humor, and most important: creativity. Granted while reading sometimes felt the author went a tad over the top with trying to make her book too edgy. She didn't need to do so because it was a good solid book without all that. Also sometimes Nick angsted a bit too much for my tastes but it never got to Bella Swan levels and he did stuff so I'm not going to complain about that too much.
But seriously if you haven't read this trilogy you totally should. Just be warned, it's dark. If you like happy tales with moral characters or sappy love triangles this is not for you. But if you don't mind darkness in your YA enjoy.
WHO SHOULD READ: Holly Black fans, urban fantasy fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five long swords

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Review: Steel

TITLE: Steel
AUTHOR: Carrie Vaughn
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: historical fiction, time travel, drama
PREMISE: Jill is a fencing obsessed teen who is sent back in time where she has to work on a ship with real pirates.
MY REVIEW: I wanted to love this one so much and to be clear it has lots of good things going for it. Jill is a decent character, the descriptions and research into real pirates was very well done, lots of action, and it gets an automatic cool factor because it's about pirates.
Unfortunately some stuff keeps it from being so awesome. It drags a lot in the middle. No logical explanation is given for how Jill ended up in the past. I felt the ending was abrupt and sudden. I also never really saw a POINT for it all. Really, what was the point? To get her to stop obsessing over failure? Enjoy herself? WHAT?
So while I loved the idea of this book, the execution of it...not so much. Which is a shame because it starts off really good. Rec it for a library read, that's about it.
WHO SHOULD READ: pirate fans, historical fiction fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five rapiers

Book Review: The Vespertine

TITLE: The Vespertine
AUTHOR: Saundra Mitchell
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: historical fiction, paranormal
PREMISE: A girl sees visions and enjoys the fruits of labor her gift brings until bad things start to happen and people believe she is the cause.
MY REVIEW: Okay I admit, I may have had some unrealistic expectations for this because I really liked Mitchell's first book Shadowed Summer and was looking forward to her doing historical fiction. That's totally my own mistake really. So it wasn't really the author's doing that I felt disappointed by this.
I think this was the case of expecting one thing and getting another and not being pleaseed with what I got. This book is completely different from Shadowed Summer. It's like it's a totally different author writing it and I must say I would like the previous author to come back please. While the writing, historical research, and plausibility were all sound, this lacked the interest I had in Shadowed Summer. Frankly, it was dull. Characters were uninteresting, plot was predictable and moved at a snails pace, romance was blah once you realized it was insta-love, and I was frustrated by lack of explanation for the main character's gift and apparently I'm not supposed to wonder at all about that, I'm just supposed to care about the day to day melodrama.
But this could just be me and my expectations talking so I'm going to say check it out from the library and see for yourself.
WHO SHOULD READ: historical fiction fans
MY RATING: Three out of Five ribbons

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book Review: The Last Little Blue Envelope

TITLE: The Last Little Blue Envelope
Sequel to 13 Little Blue Envelopes
AUTHOR: Maureen Johnson
CATEGORY: Young Adult
GENRE: Drama, Romance
PREMISE: Ginny gets an email from someone saying he's found her stolen backpack with the last envelope Ginny thought she'd never get to read...
MY REVIEW: Johnson's writing is pretty consistant from what I can tell so pretty much all I have to say about this book is a repeat of what I said about the first one. It's cute, the writing and characters are good, I just wasn't totally in love with it but I do see why Johnson is popular.
The biggest draw for me was the humor in this, the bohemian aunt (I love wild artsy relatives in tales, don't you?), awesome and accurate descriptions of Europe, and oh hey look actual character growth!
But really it wasn't anything ground breaking and the plot was rather predictable. Personally I am far more excited to read Johnson's new book In the Name of the Star because it's historical paranormalish with mystery as well and I think Johnson's great writing is tailor made for those genres so I can't wait to read what she does with them.
WHO SHOULD READ: Maureen Johnson fans, fans of 13 Little Blue Envelopes
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five envelopes

Monday, October 3, 2011

Book Review: Fantasy Lover

TITLE: Fantasy Lover
Book 1 in the Dark Hunter series
AUTHOR: Sherrilyn Kenyon
GENRE: romance, urban fantasy, mythology
PREMISE: Grace's friend Selena talks her into a ritual that summons a sex slave.
MY REVIEW: Here's the thing, this series is very obviously just meant to be silly fun romance a la harlequin and there's certainly nothing wrong with that. I've enjoyed many a harlequin book back in my day (specifically the cowboy/historical ones). That said, I'm scratching my head over the fact that this is not only a bestseller series but recomended right and left as a great UF read. Um...sorry y'all but no. Fine for a quick romance fix but great book period? Hardly.
The writing is decent enough and I do like what the author did with the mythos even if a lot of it was badly researched (specifically the stuff on Sparta. Given what I've read about Sparta Julian's backstory makes NO SENSE). I also admit the sex was hot. But like I said, this is nothing more then a nonsense plothole filled excuse to write about sex with a Spartan soldier. Characters are stereotyped, stuff makes little to no sense (Grace who has trouble trusting men is a SEX THERAPIST? What?), it's predictable, the heroine is basically useless and needs to be constantly saved, and there are many many eye roll worthy scenes such as the fact that (spoiler!) the curse can be lifted by Julian having a marathon of sex with the same woman. Really, author?
But again, I think the author was just trying to write romance so she could make a living you know? I'm sure she didn't expect the series to be treated the way it is now. This is just one of the many confusing things about the publishing world I guess. If you want a quick romance read with no brain power to it, this fits the bill. If you want something actually good, I say don't bother.
WHO SHOULD READ: romance fans, Gena Showalter fans (same sort of style)
MY RATING: Two out of Five naked men fighting

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Book Review: Fairy Bad Day

TITLE: Fairy Bad Day
AUTHOR: Amanda Asby
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: faeries, urban fantasy,
PREMISE: Emma was always sure she wanted to slay dragons. Then some boy goes and steals her spot and she winds up being a faerie hunter instead. LAME. That is until a huge faerie no one else can see shows up...
MY REVIEW: I honestly had no clue what to expect from this book. The idea sounded fun and I loved the cover so I picked it up. Things like this can either turn out to be really bad or a pleasant surprise. Thankfully this one turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The biggest draw for me was the humor of it. I have a fondness for cheeky humor like this (hence my love affair with Wizards of Waverly Place, Percy Jackson, and so on) and the minute the three faeries showed up and it was revealed that the way to bribe them was with skittles (specifically red ones) I fell in utter love with this book.
Granted the book is somewhat juvenile in tone. Emma is a bit of a whiner in the beginning and the only thing that kept me from chucking the book across the room was that her friends called her on it and didn't indulge her (also may I say Tyler and Loni are awesome?) and she realized she was being whiny and had self-awareness. There are also a few deux es machinas in this and the romance was predictable but at least I can root for this couple.
But seriously this is a fun cute book. I'm definitely going to check out Zombie Queen now. This is also a decent read for the younger crowd as it's pretty squeeky clean. I personally kind of hope there's a sequel but if not I'm content with the way the author ended this.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Zombie Queen of Newberry High, fans of kick butt girls
MY RATING: Four out of Five red skittles

Book Review: A Long Long Sleep

TITLE: A Long Long Sleep
First of a new series?
AUTHOR: Anna Sheehan
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: dystopian, romance, retellings
PREMISE: A girl in stasis wakes up a hundred years into her future.
MY REVIEW: Well the title to this book is rather apt because honestly I was half asleep reading this it was so boring. The only mildly interesting things going on in this book is the future world building but the author doesn't focus on that. Instead it's Rosalind and her romantic exploits which are not as interesting as the author thinks.
In other words there's nothing new to see here, folks. Writing was passable (though full of annoying habits that were picked up from Twilight. Obviously the author is a Meyer fan. She even uses the ever annoying chaigrin word). Characters were rather bland. Ending was a bit obvious. Main character was...dumb. I'm sorry you seriously expect me to believe Rosalind is that naive or self-sacrificing that she never realized that her parents putting her into stasis all those times when she didn't need to go in was wrong? Seriously?
I originally was intrigued by the idea of Sleeping Beauty done in a dystopian manner but unfortunately this is more Sleeping Beauty after ever after and thus it's just boring and rather predictable. The author tried, I'll give her that. But ultimately this book was a big snore.
WHO SHOULD READ: Twilight fans
MY RATING: Two and a half out of Five roses

Book Review: The Lost Hero

TITLE: The Lost Hero
Heroes of Olympus Book 1
AUTHOR: Rick Riordan
CATEGORY: Childrens/Middle-grade
GENRE: Adventure, mythology
PREMISE: Three kids find out they are demi-gods and wind up going on a quest.
MY REVIEW: I admit it, I was skeptical when this spin-off series came out last year that's why it's taken me awhile to get to it (that and I needed to finish Percy Jackson first) but Riordan managed to pull it off in a clever way. Clare, take note, THIS is how you continue a popular series.
Riordan went about this in a smart way. He introduced brand new characters for us to get to know and they are just as interesting and entertaining as Percy (though I do miss Percy's ADHD induced commentary about the gods...). We get glimpses of old characters (hey there kick-ass Annabeth!) and we get an expanded lookt at things that Percy doesn't like life in other cabins as well as a hint of...well I won't spoil it for those who haven't read it but oh Riordan, you are clever.
Basically this one did not disapoint. Honestly my only complaints are the usual things with this series (deus ex machinas, cheesy dialogue, etc.) and also no Dionysus oh and the romance angle was a bit blah compared to the entertaining Percy/Annabeth relationship. But I am definately looking forward to Son of Neptune.
WHO SHOULD READ: those finished with the Percy Jackson series
MY RATING: Four out of Five mechanical dragons