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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bloodwitch

by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes


     Vance is a quetzal shapeshifter who lives with the vampires of Midnight in the 19th century.  He has had everything he could want, but when a man visits the vampires and speaks with Vance, his dreamlike life starts to crack as Vance begins to question the actions of his beloved guardians and rulers of Midnight.
     Vance has good conflicts, and even when he starts doubting, the vampires don’t change their characters.  The consistency is nice because it makes it harder for Vance and easier for the reader to understand him.  I did not like Vance as a character, though, and I felt that a lot of his thoughts and doubts were forced.  He would arrive at a state of mind suddenly and then sit there for a while instead of gradually coming to realizations, and, given what happened to him throughout the book, I’m not sure Vance really would have gotten to where he ended up mentally at the end.
     The world it is set in is well developed with indications of other countries and the depth of an entire world, not just the city it takes place in.  The relations between the different types of shapeshifters are interesting, as are the different talents they all have.  The characters represented different types of thought to make Vance think about what was best and what needed to be fixed.
     This is a 4.2.  There was a good plot, solid writing, and I liked all the characters except for Vance.  It is a soft, dense cookie, with nothing in it to interrupt the texture.  Things happened as expected without much surprise.  It is not large, but it is filling and afterwards, you feel satisfied with what you’ve eaten.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Curses and Smoke

by Vicky Alvear Shecter



   Set in Pompeii just before the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, Lucia is about to be married off to a much older man so her father can get money for his gladiator school.  Just weeks before the impending marriage, however, Tag, one of her father’s slaves, returns from Rome where he had been studying medicine so he could heal hurt gladiators, and an old friendship rekindles between them.  The relationship blossoms into something more, but both Lucia and Tag know it wouldn’t be able to cross their class difference even if Lucia weren’t already engaged to someone else.
     I liked the story and found that I was engaged in the characters and the story and wanted to know what would happen even without the element of Mt. Vesuvius adding the sense of impending doom.  Although I’m not an expert in Ancient Rome, from what I’ve read of other reviews, the book is historically accurate and should appeal to those interested in historical fiction.
     Tag was a good counter viewpoint to Lucia.  Lucia was somewhat ignorant and probably would have come off as whiney if the reader were not also given the other side of the story to balance it out.  Tag could point out her mistaken assumptions and he broke many of her beliefs about her father that were fairly clear to the reader as wrong.
     This is a 3.8.  I liked the story right up until the end.  I won’t give details because it’s the end, but I felt cheated and it wasn’t what I wanted at all.  But the writing and story were good and the setting was made well.  It is whipped cream.  It’s tastes good as you’re eating it, but when you’re done, it has dissolved away without leaving much

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Twyning

by Terence Blacker


     Efren is a rat living in the rat kingdom in the sewers.  When the king dies and new leaders are selected, they decide that humans are a bigger threat than they had previously believed and they decide to wage war.  Meanwhile, a human doctor who has been studying the rats decides that they are one of the biggest threats to humans, and he rallies the people of the city to attack the rats.  Then Efren and some human children meet, and both types of animals have to decide which side deserves their victory.
     Efren was a likable character.  He noticed that he had differences, but he accepted them and still tried to serve his kingdom as best he could.  The children, Dogboy and Caz, both have interesting back stories and conflicts that they have to deal with.  Out of all the characters, only Efren, Dogboy, Caz, and two others really try to understand anything about the other species.  This helps flesh them out, but the whole war between rats and humans seemed blown a little out of proportion.  If you accepted it as it was though, it was a pretty good story.
     The pacing was often off for me.  There were a lot of parts that should have taken a while but passed by fairly quickly and parts that should have gone faster that took a long time.  The individual scenes were alright; it was the overall passage of time that wasn’t quite right.
     This is a 3.2.  I liked the rats and their kingdom and the two children.  I didn’t like most of the other characters and parts of it dragged, but I did like the story as a whole.  It is like store-bought chicken pot pie.  It’s not store-bought because it feels generic but because it didn’t have the warm, savory, homey feel about it.  There are some things in the pie that you like and some that you don’t, but mixed up all together, it’s still pretty good.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Whisper

by Chris Stuyk-Bonn

     Whisper has lived in the woods ever since she was abandoned as an infant because of a disfigured mouth.  In her society, disfigurations are frowned upon, so she instead lives with a few others who were also abandoned and taken in by a man named Nathaniel.  The beginning is very expository because Whisper doesn’t talk much, and when she does, she whispers - hence her name - and the book takes a while for the book to get going.

     After Whisper is taken away by the father who abandoned her then moved again to the city and forced to work to give her father money, the story picks up.  Whisper meets other characters who also have disfigurations and learns how to live with her own and use the talents she has to make a living.  I enjoyed the middle when Whisper was growing as a character and learning new things and the story was developing.  However, partway through, a doctor offered to fix Whisper’s disfiguration, and while this was probably supposed to make Whisper struggle with her identity and how much her disfiguration felt a part of her, I felt as though it undermined the premise.  Their society was advanced enough to be able to identify her disfiguration - a cleft palate - and the doctor has fixed many of them before, but they still treat those with any sort of disfiguration as evil and abandon their infants in the woods.  When the book started, I thought that there was almost no technology and they all believed in magic, but that’s not the case.  They call Whisper a devil, but that’s the only time anyone seems to believe that there’s anything supernatural in the world.
     This is a 2.7.  The writing sometimes got really wordy and I didn’t like the world it was set in.  The world could have been fleshed out some more, but I did like the middle and the development that happened there.  This is like a cream puff with really good cream inside but with the outer dough somewhat lacking.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Unforgotten

by Jessica Brody

     This is the second book in the Unremembered trilogy, although I have not read the first one.  I still felt like I knew what was going on, though, and Unforgotten stands pretty well on its own.  It started out strongly, with Seraphina and Zen living in 1609.  Due to a technological advancement in the nearish future, both Seraphina and Zen have a gene that allows them to travel through time.  Seraphina was created by a company called Diotech, so she has enhanced physical abilities.  In the previous book, she had escaped from Diotech, and they now desperately want her back, so she is careful not leave any trace of her identity that Diotech would be able to use to find her.
     The time travel aspect was done well, although I wish some parts of it had been explored a little more.  I also liked the main plot.  It was engaging, interesting, and gave you enough information without giving too much away.  The climax and resolve, however, were really unsatisfying.  It took away from a lot of the rest of the book and I felt cheated at the end.
    This is a 2.2.  The overall writing style is good, and Seraphina and Zen were likable enough, but it was like eating a good sandwich and most of the way through discovering that there’s a worm poking out (the book was not bad enough for you to have bitten the worm - just see it).  The whole experience is ruined because of that little worm, and the worm signifies the end of the experience.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Just Myrto

by Laurie Gray


     Myrto is the second wife of Socrates.  Historians disagree on whether or not Myrto existed because Plato never mentioned her, although others from that time period did, but this book assumes she did.  Myrto has no dowry, so she is married to Socrates, who takes her gladly.  At first, Myrto is hesitant about the relationship.  Socrates is much older than her, and his first wife, Xanthippe, is quick to anger and terrifies Myrto.  In order to avoid Xanthippe, Myrto goes into town everyday with Socrates and learns with his pupils.  Through these lessons, Myrto’s relationship with Socrates and his son grows.
     This was a peaceful book.  Nothing much happened as Myrto discovered herself and found her place in the world.  The way she questioned everything did begin to grate on me, but I think that style of thinking was part of the point of the book.  The writing was clear, but the characters were a bit undeveloped.
     This is a 2.8.  Not a fantastic book, but not terrible.  It’s good for people who like historical fiction and simple pondering.  It manages to skim over the repetitive days at a good pace and introduce some of the lifestyle of Ancient Greece.  It’s like a cracker.  It’s a little dry, but pretty good.  Kind of plain, but still enjoyable, and there are people who really like crackers and would really enjoy this book.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Killing Woods


by Lucy Christopher

     One day, Emily Shepherd’s father, an ex-soldier suffering from PTSD, stumbles out of the woods carrying the dead body of Ashlee Parker, a girl from Emily’s school.  Emily’s father pleads guilty of manslaughter, saying he was enacting one of his flashbacks from battle, but Emily is convinced that he didn’t murder Ashlee.  The story is told in the alternate viewpoints of Emily and Damon, Ashlee’s boyfriend.
   Sadly, there wasn’t much I liked about this book.  I didn’t really like the writing style, especially Damon’s voice.  I didn’t like Damon much at all.  He thinks like he’s trying to be a tough guy in his head, and his attitude changed significantly as a character depending on whether the reader was in his head or viewing him as Emily.  Emily was fairly decent as a character, and she had reasonable doubts about her father and dealt with the difficulties of being viewed as the daughter of a murderer in a reasonable way.  However, she also felt superfluous.  I don’t think much of anything would be lost if her chapters were cut out entirely.
     My main problem with the book was that it hinged on Damon waiting to remember what happened the night Ashlee died because he had been drunk and high.  He and his friends had been in the woods that night playing the Game, but they lied to the cops, saying nobody else had been in the woods, making everyone even more sure that the murderer really is Emily’s father.  I’m still not entirely sure exactly what the Game is.  Something that involves running around the woods with collars and fighting each other.  That really could have used some explanation and made the book a lot more disconcerting than it needed to be.
     This is a 1.6.  I didn’t like Damon, I didn’t like the plot, and I didn’t like the writing style.  There was too much waiting as I read.  It was not, however, as bad as some other books I’ve read.  It’s flavored water because it tastes artificial and a little overpowering in the wrong way.  Plain water would satisfy your thirst better.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Cold Calls

By: Charles Benoit

Three teenagers get mysterious phone calls.  There is no phone number and no trace of the call.  The call requires that each Eric, Shelly, and Fatima bully a specific person in a specific way on a specific day.  They are all supposed to call each victim names, bump into them in the hallway, and finish it off by pouring mac and cheese onto the victim's head, video it, and post it on Youtube.  If Eric, Shelly, and Fatima don't do what the caller demands then the caller will reveal a big secret about each one of them to everyone they know.  At first, these high schoolers don't know each other, but they meet when they are all sent to the same bullying program.  For the remainder of the book Eric, Shelly, and Fatima work together to find out who the mysterious caller is and how to get the caller to stop.

I was surprised by this book.  To me, the plot seemed sort of dumb.  Why would I want to read a book about some teenagers that are getting blackmailed into bullying someone?  It really did not sound interesting.  That being said, that isn't exactly what the book is about.  Most of the book focuses on Eric, Shelly, and Fatima figuring out how to catch the caller and the backstory of each character.  I was also surprised by the depth of the characters.  They were surprisingly realistic.  The motives were also very fitting for each character.  The motives seemed to build the character, not just take from it.  Overall, this book was pretty good.  It did lack some excitement and was slow from time to time, but other than that, the book was interesting.  The one thing I found the book lacked was a realistic antagonist.  The motive behind the "cold calls" was underwhelming.  The ending of the book also seemed a little clipped and unclear.  However, what I found to be unclear I don't think was intentionally ambiguous.  I just thought the writing confusing at the end.  This book was like broccoli -- pretty tasty but could have been better.  It had a good flavor but not one I would call excellent.   This book was a 2.25

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Winner's Curse

Written by: Marie Rutkoski

This book is like a tootsie roll lolly pop. You have to get through the boring outside before the delicious center, but the wait is definitely worth it.

Fair haired Valorian Kestrel is the daughter of a famous general who’s expectation of her is to join the military or marry. Kestrel is not encouraged to play her beloved piano, so when she accidentally overhears the auctioning of a Herrani slave who is a fellow musician, she uncharacteristically buys him from the market. She soon finds that he is a proud and unbeaten man, and she asks him for his complete honesty in all things. Kestrel learns from Arin many things about herself and his past, and she realizes that the conquered Herrani are not the helpless people she may have thought them to be. From their conversations, Kestrel begins to see the true nature of her society, her family, and of course, herself.

To be completely honest, the minute I opened this book I was ready to write a completely sub-par review. Oh no, I thought, another book about a badass princess. By chapter two, I was prepared for the general mediocrity that would be sure to come.

If I have ever pitched a book to a potential reader with the promise that it would “pick up near the end,” this is the book I was talking about. The beginning was typical and uninteresting. The second half though, is fast paced and absorbing. The plot is not boring at all, and it constantly is developing and moving into new territory. The characters don’t sit there mulling over one little snag the entire time. So that was good. I stress again, just get to the second half.

But what is really the best aspect of this book is the romance. Yay for romance lovers like me! In my opinion, the relationship between Kestrel and Arin is captivating. They are from two different worlds, and they are separated by their race and class. Neither wants to be in the position they are in, but both realize that they just have to suck it up and figure out a way to make it work. Kestrel is trapped under the expectant gaze of her military father, and Arin is a slave cast from his previously noble position. But don’t worry, this isn’t another princess-falls-in-love-with-the-stable-hand kind of novel. I think we’ve all had enough of those. This is a story about two people who are equal in every respect, except in the way that society perceives them.

The book also explores the nature of love of country; how loyalty to one’s people and heritage may not always be what is right.

Okay, yes, there is a certain amount of cheese, and yes, the names of some of the characters are less than creative. And yes, there is of course the obligatory dress scene, where the protagonist in question describes the every detail of her debut gown. Basically, if you are unwilling to read through the tea parties and debutante balls then this book is not for you. But what I think matters most in judging a book, is how you feel when you turn the last page (warning! It’s a cliffhanger!). What I was feeling when I finally reached the end, was that I wished I had the second book next to me so I could start reading immediately!

All in all, I would steer you away from this novel if you aren’t into the whole royalty and dresses thing. And if you had any doubts about the genre, it is one hundred percent a romance. If you hate romances, don’t even bother. If however, you are okay with a little cheese now and then and love this kind of novel, then I absolutely recommend it.

4/5 stars!

Landry Park

Written by: Bethany Hagen 

This book is similar to a packet of oyster crackers: tasty but not quite the same as the whole clam chowder.

Set in futuristic America, this novel follows Madeline Landry; she is the heir to her family's vast fortune but she's not so sure she wants it yet. America is controlled by the gentry, and the people are broken up into classes. First, there is the Uprisen, a select group of wealthy gentry who control basically the entire country. The heirs are expected to marry early and produce children quickly; this task falls to Madeline, and she is reluctant until she meets the very suitable and handsome David Dana. The second class of citizens is the middle class, people allowed to work in trades and service to the gentry and upper class. Finally, there is the lowest of the low, the Rootless, who handle the radioactive materials that provide the gentry with their endless wealth and power. The Rootless are sick and poor, and they are constantly dying as a result of the massive amounts of radioactivity they receive each day. The gentry, however, give little thought to these dying people other than to ridicule and look down upon their insignificant existences. But when Cara Westoff, Madeline's childhood tormentor, says that she is attacked by the Rootless, Madeline doesn't immediately believe her, and she feels she must sort out the truth. She travels to the Rootless community with David Dana, where she witnesses countless injustices. Her view of her previously idyllic home is completely changed, and she must decide how to handle her newly found awareness of her society. She must ultimately choose between justice and comfort.

This novel is a pretty good read. The plot is interesting and the story is fairly original. If you like princess-y type books and futuristic novels, this book is certainly a blend of the two genres. There are several plot lines to consider while reading, which is always more interesting than just one, so that is certainly a plus. In general, the book was good.

There are a few qualms I had that I might point out for consideration, however. Generally, the characters are of the slow variety; they do not catch on to simple plot points until long after the reader has. Along the same lines, they do not address their seemingly most relevant and intriguing problems first, instead they ignore them until there is no avoiding them. This is frustrating, as the reader obviously doesn't want to wait while the protagonist floats around, unaware or uninterested in their most pressing problems. Finally, and most importantly, the book was a little boring in some parts. I was never seized with the urge stop everything and read until I was finished. It was in some places a little drab.

The book in the end was not bad though, just a little slow. I would consider it for a quick read if you have the time. By the final couple chapters, it was definitely more interesting, and the pace did pick up.

3/5 stars!



Under Shifting Glass

By: Nicky Singer

This book was like one scoop of vanilla ice cream.  It was simple, smooth, cold, and delicious.  The coolness of the ice cream penetrates more than the simple flavor which only adds to the experience.

Under Shifting Glass was about Jess.  Her mother is having babies that are conjoined, a word Jess prefers to Siamese twins.  However, the father is Jess's step father Si.  At about the same time her mother has these babies her Great Aunt Edie dies.  On top of that, Jess also feels like she is losing her best friend Zoe.  Jess always played piano at Aunt Edie's house and her grand piano is really the only thing that Jess want's of Edie's.  However, Jess receives a bureau instead.  In the bureau she finds a flask with something that creates light, a beautiful, natural, iridescent, breathing light that only Jess sees.  Jess is haunted by the statistics the Si gives her about the number of twins that die when they are being separated.  Jess starts seeing parallels all over her life.  The dying of her relationship with Zoe to the possibility of one of the twins dying is the most relevant in the book.  Jess feels that somehow she is connected to the twins and their survival depends on her acting with love and grace rather than the hatred and jealously she can't help but feel.

This book was very focused.  It didn't talk about much other than what Jess was thinking in just the small amount of time the book took place in.  However, this wasn't really a problem.  The book felt complete.  Jess's character was extremely thoughtful and she made the book meaningful.  One of my only problems with the book was figuring out how old Jess was supposed to be.  She could easily have been 6 or 7 or she could have easily been 14 or 15.  Her relationship with Zoe and other schoolmates made her seem young yet her family treated her like she was older.  However, that was really the only problem with the book.  Each word in the books has a meaning and purpose.  There isn't any superfluous description or meaningless characters.  This was refreshing because it made the book simple yet sincere.  This book is a 4.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

There Will Be Bears

by Ryan Gebhart



   Tyson is thirteen, and he is going through something of a social crisis when the book starts.  His best friend, Bright, is gravitating towards a new group, and Tyson is struggling in several of his classes.  Instead, he spends time with his grandfather, who has promised to take him hunting, and Tyson can’t wait.
     Tyson loves bears.  A lot.  It’s almost all he thinks about and most of what he talks about, which got pretty tiresome.  There was basically nothing else to Tyson’s character except his crush on a girl from Texas, who also happens to really like hunting.  Tyson barely tells her a single true thing in all of his conversation with her.  His desire to go hunting led him down a questionable decision making path.  When his parents decided he couldn’t go hunting with his grandfather because his grandfather was sick and needed special care most days, he decided to sneak his grandfather out of the nursing home and out into the wilderness to shoot an elk.  Oh, and there’s a loose grizzly bear wandering around the one area they decide to go to that has been eating people.  But they had to go to that spot to shoot an elk.
     Most of the characters didn’t have a sense of characters.  They existed in an abstract way and did stuff, but they each had one personality trait if they were lucky.  The writing was straightforward and to the point, which normally doesn’t bother me, but it seemed really blunt here.  There was also slang, which just about always bothers me.  I don’t want to read about what people ain’t going to do, and nobody calls a grizzly bear a grizz (although I guess I shouldn’t say nobody - clearly Tyson does).  The tone of the book is similar to that of the cover.
     This is a 1.4.  It did amuse me quite a bit, just because of some of the ridiculous things that got written.  Other than that, the best thing about it was that it was short and I knew the end was coming.  If it was longer, I probably wouldn’t have finished it.  This is like eating the leaves of a carrot.  It’s something probably best left uneaten, doesn’t taste very good, but once you’ve taken a bite, it’s not so disgusting that it necessitates being spit out.  It might be a good book if you think the cover is really great, or if you also really like bears and hunting.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Ring and the Crown

Written by: Melissa de la Cruz

This novel seems to me similar to a weak cup of unsweetened tea.

The Ring and the Crown follows the lives of several girls in the age of ball gowns and the London season. All have different tales of love and loss, but they all end up entwined in some small way. Each is a prisoner of duty, and each wishes to be rid of the bonds of responsibility to their families.

There are several different characters in this book, and I think the teaser on Amazon gives a good summary, so I won't try to imitate it. The link to the teaser is here.

De La Cruz's intended message of the book was clearly to show how strong women are, especially in the past when they were expected to do what is right by their families at all times. Women were married off for strategic or monetary reasons, and they were seen always as the weaker sex. Their misfortunes and bleak futures were demonstrated well in the novel. Unfortunately, the actual main characters, the women, did not live up to De La Cruz's intended message.

I did not particularly like this book, in fact I found it a bit boring. The stories of the women were not particularly riveting, and the secondary characters were mostly flat and one-sided. The women themselves did not seem strong to me. They seemed in some cases weak, but mostly just silly. I did not think that they acted with very much self respect on the whole, and that instead of emphasizing their right to freedom, they acted rashly and with petulance. They did not strike me as level-headed, diplomatic strategists, instead I was under the impression that they needed to grow up.

The women weren't all off the mark however, in fact there was one character that I did like. The Princess Marie-Victoria was the strongest woman in the book, and she did show a level of diplomacy and resilience in the face of injustice. She was certainly a redeeming character in an otherwise weak crowd of simpering females.

I suppose in the end, De La Cruz did make the point that women have to make many sacrifices and bear many hardships. I understood this well from the book, but it did not ultimately impress me. The women were largely shallow and concerned only with their appearance (except for the Princess). It is never enjoyable to read a book where most of the characters live up to their bad stereotypes.

If you really, really, enjoy princess-y type books, then go ahead and read the book. It is not a bad novel,  I just did not find it particularly impressive.

I do really like the cover art.

2/5 stars. 

Mistwalker

Written by: Saundra Mitchell

What else but lobster could you possibly eat while reading this fishy tale?

Willa Dixon is a relatively normal girl. Yes, she is destined to become a Lobster fisher, and yes, she has to work extra hard to balance the dwindling finances for her family, but besides that, she has a boyfriend, a job, and a regular best friend. Her life is tough, but not too unusual. That is, until one night her brother is murdered while Willa watches. The next year is a whirlwind of court cases, accusations, and sacrifices, as Willa is an integral part in putting the killer behind bars. She has to decide between her beloved fishing and her brother's memory, while trying to communicate with her angry father. She has pretty much got her hands full. And then, for some reason she keeps thinking about the abandoned light house near her town, despite the fact that nobody else spares the building a second thought, aside from passing around stories about the Grey Man, the resident spirit in the lighthouse. So when one day a mysterious boat bumps up against the shore right where Willa is sitting, she decides to get in. It takes her right to the lighthouse, where she discovers that the Grey Man might actually be real.

Phew! Okay, so as you can see, there's a lot going on. I liked this book, aside from one thing (which I will get to in a minute). Willa's non-supernatural life was fun to read about. The setting was interesting and unique, and I think Mitchell captured the ambiance of a slightly run-down fishing town very well. I definitely could see how Willa loved her little town and all the people in it. Thankfully, she was not an overly dramatic heroine, as so many are, and Willa was very much like a real girl, which was refreshing. 

The book is written half from Willa's perspective, and half from the Grey Man's, and I thought there voices were each unique and interesting. The Grey Man was slightly more poetic, and balanced well in his narrative was a mixture of desperation and fear for his future. Both voices were compelling. 

There was unfortunately a rather large flaw in the book. Everything up to the climax was engaging and entertaining, and then it just flopped. The final scenes were pretty much out of the blue and not believable enough. Suffice to say, the climax was not lead up to very well. This would not have been such a big problem if the climax itself had been good. But, it wasn't. Like all protagonists, Willa needed to save herself in the end. This was managed only through a ridiculous amount of luck and happenstance. The reader is given zero hints about a loophole in Willa's fate (this sounds a little confusing but there is no other way to describe it without giving away the book) and so I was completely surprised (and not in a good way) about the ending. It was as if the book wasn't fully planned out, so when the ending needed to be written, some unrelated idea was pulled out of a hat and stuck in the last chapter. 

All in all, this book was not bad, and until the ending it was fairly good. But, like all books, the ending is what the reader remembers most, and in this case I wasn't blown away. 

2.5/5 stars

I Become Shadow

by Joe Shine


     Ren Sharpe is living a normal life.  She just started high school and she’s working hard to fit in with the other kids.  Then she gets kidnapped in the middle of the night and taken to a secret facility owned by F.A.T.E. that trains bodyguards.  There’s a satellite that takes pictures fifty years in the future, and it took a picture of her gravestone, indicating she only lived to be fourteen, so they took her for their program.  They also know who is important in fifty years, and it’s their job to protect the world changers.  This is an interesting idea, but I didn’t understand why it was necessary.  If they know the future, wouldn’t they know the world changers aren’t going to be dead?
     After four years of intense training, Ren is assigned to Gareth Young, a student at the University of Texas.  She’s not allowed to actually contact him, but she does.  After all, she’s a student there too, as cover - and all her grades are fixed, so she doesn’t actually have to do any of the work.  They start falling in love, even though Ren still likes someone from her training and is keeping in touch with him.
     This is where things start going downhill.  People attack Gareth, and now Ren can use her training.  I just have no idea why people attacked him.  The explanations were so full of conspiracy theories that I have no idea what was going on for pretty much the second half of the book.  Ren runs around with Gareth, other people run after them, people from F.A.T.E. show up, and that’s about what I understood.  The underlying plot was lost on me.
     Ren’s internal dialogue was a bit different.  I didn’t find it particularly better or worse than the standard, just kind of different.  It worked well with her character, a carefree, think-of-me-what-you-will sort.
     This is a 2.7.  The premise, while interesting, did raise some questions that weren’t addressed at all.  If I were kidnapped and forced to be a bodyguard, I would at least wonder why they didn’t bother try to save me if they knew I was going to die.  I also didn’t really like Ren’s relationship with Gareth, and I didn’t like Gareth that much.  And there was that whole second half that was just confusing.  This is like chewing gum.  At first, there’s some flavor and enough to keep it interesting, but then the flavor goes away and you’re left wondering why you’re chewing a tasteless chewy thing and making your jaw tired.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Returning to Shore

by Corinne Demas


     This is a story about a girl whose mother just got married for the third time, so she is sent to spend the summer with her father while her mother is on her honeymoon.  Her father lives on a small island along Cape Cod and is determined to save a local species of turtles.  Although at first Clare is hesitant and slightly uncomfortable around her father, who she hasn’t seen since she was very small, they grow to like each other by the end.
     Though not particularly fast paced, Clare manages to have enough activity to keep the reader engaged.  It’s a fairly short book, so I didn’t really expect much to happen.  Clare herself is a pretty realistic character.  Her emotions and reactions were fleshed out and they were what I would expect a girl in her situation to feel.  The other characters, however, were lacking.  They were there more for Clare to react to and seemed very flat and more like names floating around the page than actual people.  Even the father, who was a major part of Clare’s internal development, left a lot to be desired.  I wish the book had been a little longer and the other characters and their relationships with Clare had been developed more.  It would have made the book much more poignant, but instead, it was more of a flat read.
     The back cover description hints at a lot more development than was actually in the book.  There was a bunch of personal development for Clare, but the other subplots - the memory lane, her father being the town crazy - hinted at on the back cover are more like caricatures of what’s in the book.  The cover is also more bleak than the story deserves.  It’s serene, but not depressingly so like the cover indicates.  Imagine a blue sky and the girl looking towards the horizon instead of towards the ground.
     It is a 2.85.  It’s not something I would devour, and not something I would reread (though some might, depending on the type of book you like), but it was nice in a quiet, serene sort of way, and I think that some of Clare’s realizations were done really skillfully.  It is a piece of cheese.  Something to be eaten slowly in a relaxed way, but also something that is over pretty quickly.  It is soft, and it’s not a sharp tasting sort of cheese, but a mellow one that you enjoy while it’s there and appreciate what it gives you even though it’s not very filling.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Song of the Quarkbeast

Jasper Fforde


     This is the second book of the Chronicles of Kazam.  Jennifer Strange is acting manager of Kazam Magical Arts Management, which is a company that provides magical services for its customers and manages general magic usage.  The main character, Jennifer Strange, is acting manager of Kazam while the real manager, the Great Zambini, is stuck in some sort of teleporting limbo.
     In this book, Conrad Blix, head of Kazam’s rival iMagic, hatches a plot to gain complete control over general magic management.  Although this is the main storyline, there’s still a lot of other stuff going on, mostly whimsical sorts of things.  There are all sorts of fun little things popping around, like the Transient Moose or the light ball that runs on sarcasm.  The ending ties everything up nicely, and Jennifer manages to pull things together in clever ways.
This is a 4 and like Funfetti cake.  It was fun to read, and there were all sorts of fun little bits stuck around the story.  The plot wasn’t the thickest, but it was engaging.  The book was a good length.  This is a good story for anyone looking for a light, fun read.  And it takes place in the Ununited Kingdoms, which is just fun to say.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Of Metal and Wishes

Written by: Sarah Fine

This book would go nicely with some dark chocolate wrapped in tinfoil.

After Wen's mother dies, Wen is forced to move into a cramped apartment in the local factory with her father. Now, instead of embroidering beautiful fabrics with her mother, it's her duty to stitch injured workers back together under the wing of her unfamiliar father. Despite the strange novelty, Wen adjusts to her new life with little complaint. That is, until the Noors show up at the factory. She meets Melik, an intelligent redhead who often invades her thoughts, and she begins to think that maybe the Noors are not the self-serving pigs the Itanyai (her people) painted them as. As her affection for the boy grows, she must choose between the Itanyai and the newcomers. Oh, and all this while balancing a tedious relationship with the factory's resident ghost boy, whose seemingly well-intentioned "gifts" sometimes cause more trouble than they're worth.

I enjoyed this book a lot! I appreciated the change in culture (so many of our protagonists are white Americans or Europeans); in fact, one of the prominent themes in the book was the difficulty of bridging the culture gap between people. The story was unique, definitely not a vampires-and-werewolves spin-off. The relationship Wen had with her father was intriguing to watch, and seeing how she grows up without the presence of her mother is both heart-wrenching and inspiring. She is an impressive protagonist.

I was drawn in by the relationship between Wen, Melik, her father, Ghost Boy, and general society. How Fine depicted the constraints on young people and woman in Wen's society was engaging and thought-provoking.

However, I do have one critique. I thought that Ghost Boy's realm underneath the factory was a little hard to believe. Yes, he is a master of metals, but the world Wen lives in is not the same as his world. There was just a little too much suspension of disbelief needed to make the story copacetic. Wen lives in a hard reality, and when the factory workers clashed with Ghost Boy, I felt just a tad uncomfortable, almost as if I was watching Dumbledore and Lizzie Bennett face off in a battle of wills. They're both great, but they just don't belong in the same realm.

Despite the one or two inconsistencies, I thought the book was overall pretty good. The writing was not exceptional, but it was still sound. The characters probably won't make you weep and laugh, but they were still relatable. If you are looking for a new book, and you finished your must-read pile, I would recommend this one.

3.6/5 stars!

Love by the Morning Star

Written by: Laura L. Sullivan
This book would be paired nicely with some fresh lemonade and raspberry tarts (it's just such a genial novel, it needs some genial foods).

I LOVED this book. It’s just great. Seriously. Read it. But perhaps before I launch headfirst into telling you why it’s so wonderful, you might want a little background.

Set in the late 1930’s during the second World War, the novel follows Hanna Morganstern, a half-Jewish girl who has to pack up and move away from her beloved cabaret in Germany to stay with distant relations, Lord and Lady Liripip. Hanna expects a certain degree of hostility from her unfamiliar family members, but she does not expect the treatment she is faced with when she arrives. She is unceremoniously directed below stairs and informed that she will be working as a kitchen hand.

Meanwhile, Anna Morgan enters stage left, a prideful, self-centered Aryan working for the Nazi party under the heavy-handed command of her father. She is supposed to be working as a maid so she can spy on the family, but instead is invited to stay in the upstairs chambers and is treated as a welcome guest. She says nothing about the obvious mix-up, reassuring herself that she deserves this life of luxury she has accidentally stepped into. Lord and Lady Liripip are very accommodating; after all, she is family… right?

Hannah and Anna are all mixed up, but neither is willing to run to Lady Liripip and tattle, for their own reasons. When the youngest Liripip, otherwise known as Teddy, enters the picture, the girls both fall a little in love. But no one really knows who is who, and inevitably some unforeseen snags occur.

This tale of love is entertainingly sweet and whimsical, and I invite you to watch the story unfold as you laugh and gasp along with the characters. I felt like I was watching a fast-paced, witty cabaret skit, where each of the characters peeped in through the wrong door at the exact right second. Yes, it’s a little hard to explain. Suffice to say, it was really quite fun. Not often to I laugh out loud to the lines in a book, but in this case I couldn’t resist as I was regaled with the whimsical romanticisms and sharp verbal barbs of the characters.

Even though this is a romance, Anna is not a mooning maiden. She is sharply clever, and has a way with words that is endearing, if over-abundant. Even when felt obliged to throw herself onto her bed and sob over her ill-luck, she was never pitiful, and presently someone would toss a witticism her way to lighten the mood. she does not wallow in desperation, like so many other wide-eyed protagonists.

The atmosphere of the novel is sweet and light, but in such a way that one begins to comprehend the most weighty and frightening realities of WWII. There are two levels to this book, I think; on the surface, it is a spectacle of light and comedy, but underneath there is an earnest profundity to the story. Just like Anna’s father and his shows, the plot seems strictly entertaining on the surface, but holds deeper meaning if observed carefully.

My one warning would be that the novel is written in a very specific style of writing. I love it, but not everyone will (It’s pretty simple, if you like it, you like it, but if you don’t, you don’t). I hope you pick it up even if you don’t feel like taking a chance and give it a read, because if you don’t like the writing style, I promise you’ll know pretty quickly off the bat. It won’t be a waste of time.

Ok, so basically you MUST read this book!

Drum roll please… 5 stars!

5/5 stars!!!!!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sekret

by Lindsay Smith


     Yulia lives in Communist Russia, and her family is hiding from the government.  She is able to see past memories of people and things when she touches them, and she uses this skill to bargain in the black market until the KGB finds her and forces her to work in their program training psychic spies.
     I liked the premise of the book, and it’s different than a lot of books I’ve read.  The writing was fairly fluid, though at times, I wish some events were tied together more fully.  I also would have preferred more training sessions.  Yulia gains psychic powers without the reader really knowing, and that made it slightly confusing, which could have been helped if some of the training sessions were shown instead of mentioned in passing.  Some of the psychic powers were a little inconsistent, which also may have been helped by some training session scenes.
     The characters themselves were pretty consistent, though.  Yulia had understandable motivations, and her actions were in character.  I liked the backdrop, and the other characters were distinct and well developed.
     This is a 3.6.  I liked the idea, and it was fun to read despite a few continuity hitches.  Like oatmeal, it was satisfying enough.  There were patches of brown sugar that were great, but also small bits that weren’t quite cooked and made it so the texture wasn’t quite uniformly good.  But it’s only a couple bits, and there’s enough brown sugar, and the rest of it is just about the right texture that it’s pretty enjoyable.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Kiss of Deception

by Mary E. Pearson


Princess Arabella Celestine Idris Jezelia, more commonly referred to as Lia, is the First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.  This means that she has the gift of knowing, a sort of psychic power.  Or, it should mean she has the gift, but Lia hasn’t seen a sign of it in herself.  This is hardly high on her list of concerns, however, as she plots her escape with her servant Pauline to avoid the arranged marriage to the prince of Dalbreck.  They run to Terravin, a small town some way away from the castle, and they begin an almost idyllic life as barmaids at the local inn.  They are pursued, however, by an assassin from Venda, a neighboring kingdom that wants to undermine both Morrighan and Dalbreck, as well as Lia’s would-be husband, the prince of Dalbreck. The main story is told from Lia’s viewpoint, but there are also chapters from both the assassin’s viewpoint and the prince’s viewpoint.  They enter Lia’s life together while she works at the inn and take on alternate identities, Rafe and Kaden.  The identities are also kept a secret from the reader, however, so there will be chapters from Rafe of Kaden as well as from the assassin and the prince.  The assassin and the prince chapters are used when the character does something very telling that would give away which was which.  Although it’s possible to figure out who is who, it did add a bit of fun to the book.  Overall, however, I disliked having the prince and assassin viewpoints.  It gave the reader a lot information, and the story relied heavily on other elements of the book to keep the reader interested such as, writing style, general plot development, and especially romantic tension.  Although the writing style and general plot were pretty good, the romantic tension brought the book way down for me.  First of all, the assassin falls in love with Lia, who he is supposed to be killing.  The justification for this was really shaky.  I’m not sure there really was justification; it felt more like a plot device than something his character would do and a good example of insta-love.  The prince was pretty much expected to fall in love, and I was okay with his romance.  He was there because he wanted to know who this girl was.  She was daring enough to run away from a life she didn’t want, and as someone who also wasn’t looking forward to the arranged marriage, he was fascinated by her.  Another annoying thing about having Rafe/Kaden and assassin/prince viewpoints was that, to keep the identities hidden, Rafe and Kaden couldn’t be fleshed out too much and acted very similarly.  Unfortunately, they both act like lovestruck men with little thought except for the girl, and oddly, neither one acts (though they do have a few thoughts) as though they mind that Lia is clearly showering both with affection.  This part of the book was really tiresome, and the characters frustrated me.
About two-thirds of the way through, however, Lia finally realizes what her rash decision of running away has caused - mainly, now Dalbreck is mad at Morrighan because her marriage was supposed to cement an alliance between them, and their separation means they are weak before the force of Venda.  This is where it starts to pick up.  The identities of Rafe and Kaden become known, so they get fleshed out, and the world also gets some character.  Lia works to figure out why her gift isn’t manifesting, she travels some, and all the characters start doing more.  In the first part of the book, none of the characters seemed to be doing anything.  Lia, of course, is trying to do nothing, but the others just keep putting things off.  Also, everyone who needs to is able to find Lia and knows who she is even though the point of her running away was to leave the royal life behind.
This is a 2.9.  I can’t quite give it a 3.  The characters bothered me too much even though I liked the concept and the main plot and I really couldn’t stand the romance.  It was like reaching into a box of Valentine’s Day chocolate.  It’s chocolate, so you think you’ll really like it, and I like fantasy and the ideas in this book, but upon biting into it, you discover it has the filling that you usually give away.  For me, that’s coffee or coconut.  It looks so appealing, and it is still chocolate, but that filling is hard to get around.  It might be just right for some people though, so pass the book along.  And it’s Valentine’s Day chocolate because that love triangle is so dominating.
(Also, I don’t think this cover is the one used on published books, but I like it way better than the one with the girl staring off in the distance.)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Dark Metropolis

by Jaclyn Dolamore

Thea waits tables by night, and by day, she takes care of her mother, who is plagued with bound-sickness; her mother was magically bound to her husband when they were married, but Thea’s father disappeared in a war.  Those who are bound-sick are taken away to the asylum, and Thea lives in constant fear that someone will notice her mother’s deteriorating mental state and that she will be left entirely alone.  Then Thea meets Freddy at the Telephone Club, where she works, and her friend mysteriously disappears.  Thea is thrust into parts of the city she didn’t know existed and, along with Freddy, discovers the darker aspects of their community.
Although there was a lot going on for just about all of the book, there was a severe lack of depth to the world.  There was magic, but it was only mentioned or used in direct relation to the plot.  The magic wasn’t part of the world except as it was used to make the story work.  The characters also did very little that wasn’t directly related to the main storyline, and they didn’t seem to have lives outside the plot.
The book was fast paced, but it was also evenly paced, which I enjoyed.  I hate books that have a lot of depth and build-up only to reach the climax and end in about ten pages.  This book did a good job of building up, and realizations were made at the right times with enough spacing so the ending wasn’t rushed, but it still kept moving.  However, the climax was a little anticlimactic, which was pretty disappointing.  There were several realizations, some characters made decisions that were questionably in-character, and there was too much of the characters talking at each other and trying to convince everyone that they’re right.  The main thing that really bothered me was that, after significant sneaking and hiding of plans, characters simply revealed what they knew to each other for no apparent reason.
This book is a 3.2 and comparable to a small piece of white chocolate.  For the most part, it was enjoyable to read, like white chocolate is enjoyable to eat.  However, there isn’t much past the short burst of sweetness, and there isn’t any nutritional value.  This book is good if you like plot-driven, fast-paced books that aren’t too thought provoking.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Hungry

By H. A. Swain. Published this month.

      
Thalia Apple lives in the not-too-distant future where all food is gone. Wars, famine, and plagues have eradicated all plants and animals save humans. It's only thanks to One World corporation that humans receive Synthamil and inoculations that provide nutrition while balancing hormones and suppressing hunger. Thalia's mother and father are renowned scientists and engineers within One World corp, so they live in relative luxury. However, Thalia thinks differently from the rest. She resists One World's vapid consumerism and likes to learn about the past where farmers grew and ate their own food and made things with their hands. Recently, she has been feeling something strange inside: she feels hungry. Soon she learns that the world is nothing like she knew, and some rumors have more truth than she thinks.

       I read this book on a recommendation and I believe it was well placed. This book is very commendable as a futuristic dystopian, providing insight into several niches of society: the ultra rich, the very poor, and several in-between. It goes past the simple overlord class/working class trope, which I appreciate. The only downfall in the worldbuilding is due to Thalia's ignorance about specific events in the past, which I find frustrating. I want to know more about how One World became so powerful. I guess I will have to wait for a sequel.
      
The plot is a bit slow to start. In fact, I was bored. However, I kept the recommendation in mind and stuck it through to the end; it gradually became more interesting. The ending swooped down in a bit of a rush and left plenty of room for more, so I am expecting a trilogy in the making.

       Overall I like the story. Looking back, events are a bit cookie cutter and happen conveniently, some characters are irrational, (they are only human, but dang are they annoying), and once or twice I could guess the plot before it happened. Despite all this, I see no real issues in the story or its telling and I pass on the recommendation for the sake of a good distopian.

       I rate this book a 3.5. It's definitely a worthy choice for a rainy day, but since I wasn't captured in the very beginning I won't go the full 4 stars. As a food, I compare this book to an artisan hamburger. It was crafted with forethought, but the bun is a bit too big so the first bite is just bread. After that, it's pretty good all the way to the end.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What We Saw at Night and What We Lost in the Dark

By: Jacquelyn Mitchard

I decided to review these two books together because the plots were so closely linked.  It would have been hard to review the second one in a separate review from the first one.  First, I just want to say that I think the covers are absolutely beautiful.  I think the silhouettes and the colors are really pretty. I also think that the the number of silhouettes on each cover is interesting to think about after reading the books.

















 The idea behind these books is that there is a genetic disease called XP, which is basically a fatal allergy to the sun along with other symptoms.  Most people with XP die young.  As a result the three characters in the first book Allie, Juliet, and Rob decide that they don't want to miss out on life and do things that push the limit of existence.  In What We Saw at Night, they learn parkour (this is the first one).  However.  What the book is really about is a serial killer.  Allie, the main character, sees this man with a blonde streak through his hair several times with a dead girl in his hands.  Allie makes it her mission to find out more about this man.  Even though Rob and Juliet don't see the man they believe her even though many people don't.  The second book has a lot to do with what happens at the end of the first one.  What We Lost in the Dark focuses more on the relationship between Rob and Allie, which starts in the first, and Allie's effort to catch the Serial Killer from the first.

Overall, I would give the duology a 2.3.  However, individually each book would be very different.  The first book would probably be a 1.35.  It had some good points to it but some bad as well.  It had an interesting idea but everything worked out just a little too nicely.  Everything went just a tad too fluently for the serial killer.  Also, I didn't feel very connected with the characters.  I felt removed from the book.  It was as if I was watching someone read it rather than actually reading it myself.  Also, whenever something more fast paced happened I found the writing confusing.  Even after reading the passage two or three times I still would be confused.  However, What We Lost in the Dark was much better.  I would give it a 3.25.  I found the characters more interesting and the plot was a little more clear.  The first one lacked direction and the second one didn't.  That being said, the climax of the second, which was the climax of the duology, was sort of anticlimactic.  It just sort of happened and then it was over.  And then the book was over.  This book was like somebody else's strawberry short cake.  It has the potential to be fantastic, light, fluffy, and delicious, but, unfortunately for you, someone else is eating it.  The strawberry short cake's potential is just out of your reach.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Allies and Assassins

by Justin Somper


When Anders dies, his younger brother, Jared, who is only sixteen, must take his place as Prince of All Archenfield.  Most of the plot is focused on catching Anders’s assassin, and Jared befriends Asta, the physician’s niece and apprentice, as they attempt to crack the case together.  Jared doesn’t know where to begin, inexperienced as he is, and he is unsure which members of his council he can trust.
Despite his constant self-doubt as well as other characters pointing out his youth, I found most of the other characters to be much more naive than Jared.  The Twelve, along with the heir to the throne, make up Jared’s council, and they are heads of various jobs including the palace cook, the guard, the beekeeper, and the executioner.  They swallowed false leads with surprising gusto and seemed perfectly content to sit by as people were murdered around them.  Most of them were barely fleshed out, and there were minor character inconsistencies.  The beekeeper, for instance, is introduced as using few words, speaking only when she has something important to say, but later, another character rebukes her by saying that the beekeeper likes listening to her own voice too much.  There were a few characters, such as Jared’s younger brother, that fell by the wayside and half the time I forgot they existed.
Jared also had some character flaws.  He was inconsistent about his feelings toward Axel, the head of the guard, sometimes thinking about how close they were and feeling comfortable in his presence and at other times sure that Axel was going to kill him.  His behavior, as well as Asta’s, can only be described as bumbling at times.  His mistakes would work out half the time, as the plot required, and it got a bit tiresome when his rudimentary tactics brought out convenient answers.
That said, there were parts of the book I enjoyed.  There were some really nice passages, and the plot was, for the most part, fairly engaging.  There were a couple scenes that I think would be better to be left out - they were a little too revealing.  I think the next one in the series might be better because a lot of this book was set-up.
Overall, this is a 3.  There were solid parts but also a lot of parts that made me want to give up on the story and the characters.  It was like a cinnamon raisin bagel.  I love cinnamon and bagels are pretty great (though not as exciting as doughnuts), and this is a genre I enjoy, but some of the plot pieces and characters need to be picked out like raisins or they add an unwanted squish to the taste.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Tim Defender of the Earth

By: Sam Enthoven

Imagine a giant bowl of green Jello.  You find it amusing for no other reason than the way it jiggles back and forth after just a slight tap.  This is sort of how I feel about Tim Defender of the Earth.  It was amusing but I not always because of the actual content of the book.  Sometimes just the idea of what was happening was funny.

Tim Defender of the Earth was a book about a giant dinosaur who British scientists created beneath London.  He learns that he is and ho to be the Defender of the Earth from a giant 9 million year old kraken.  This dinosaur's name is Tim, hence the name of the book.  He defends the Earth from a swarm of nanobots that can genetically modify anything so that they can turn anything into anything else which includes into more nanobots.  There are also two human characters, Chris and Anna.  I just thought I should mention them because they are also sort of important.

This book was very funny and the characters were pretty good, too.  Overall I like the book and it was very entertaining.  It is also a very fun book to talk about because of the overall plot of the book.  This book was a 3.4 star book: solid and entertaining.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Chorus

By Emma Trevayne


This is the sequel to Coda, an intriguing futuristic story about a society that is controlled by addictive music until a boy named Anthem creates his own music and leads a revolution.  Chorus is the story of his younger sister, Alpha, who has moved to Los Angeles and is working hard in school so she can discover a cure to strange and powerful flashbacks that have been haunting her and her twin brother, Omega. There was a lot that bothered me about this book.  There was one of the most pointless deaths I have read (which I won’t expound on to avoid spoilers) as well as a character just being able to guess a super important password, which is something that always bothers me in books.  When setting a password on a top-security system, it’s not going to be something that someone can just guess. However, what bothered me most of all was that the author hid relevant information that the main character knew.  For the first few chapters of the book, Alpha is worried.  But does she say what she’s worried about?  No.  The worry is a primary driving force to Alpha’s character, and the reader is kept in the dark.  The back cover states that “it takes only one call to bring Alpha back to the brother that raised her ... and to the Web.”  And the call comes at the end of the third chapter.  So this is when the reader is finally told what’s bothering Alpha, right?  Wrong.  She and her friends are set into a frenzy, immediately packing up to go back to the Web.  They were clearly all prepared for this and they all know exactly what’s going on, but the reader doesn’t.  It isn’t until almost forty pages in that it’s finally revealed that Anthem is dying.  There were hints - a snippet of dialogue, for instance, but the connection between the call and Anthem’s illness are thin and I only found them when I went back to reread the beginning and was looking for them.  All it would take is one explicit thought of Alpha’s to flesh out her worry and save the reader a lot of confusion.  Maybe this was mentioned at the end of Coda, but I read that a long time ago (when it came out as a galley), and again, all it would have taken is a simple thought and everything would be clear. Because of things like this, the story was difficult to follow at times.  There was a lot of inferring left to the reader, which can be good at sometimes, but it happened way too much in this story.  It made me think in the wrong way - not a thought-provoking thinking, but more of trying to piece the plot together thinking.  The author took the “show don’t tell” a little too far.  It’s one thing to wonder about motivations, secrets, or plot twists, but another thing to wonder about what happened five pages ago.
This book is a 2.  There was nothing especially special about this book and there were too many things that bothered me peppered throughout.  There were some old characters and some new ones.  There were some cheap plot devices, but there were also a few interesting concepts, though nothing that wasn’t done better in Coda.  If Chorus were a food, it would be overly-processed chicken.  The chicken is dependent on packaging to sell itself, and you’re not really sure what you’re eating as you chew.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

In the Shadows

by Kiersten White (text) and Jim Di Bartolo (art)



Charles is sick with a disease that doctors cannot cure, so his father sends him to a boardinghouse for fresh air with his brother, Thom.  There, they meet sisters Cora and Minnie as well as another boarder named Arthur.  Together, they delve into secrets left by Arthur’s father that seem to be following Charles and Thom in the form of a group of mysterious strangers.  It struck me as gothic in tone, complete with hidden pasts and witches.
Overall, this book was flat.  It is told in sequences of pictures (done by Jim Di Bartolo) alternated with text chapters (done by Kiersten White), and it seemed as though the authors skimmed over the story like an in-depth summary rather than really digging into it.  The entire time I read it, I felt emotionally detached.  The characters weren’t fleshed out and the depth of plot and world was hinted at rather than explored.
This book is a 2.2.  I’m left with very little to say about it given the lack of feeling I was left with after finishing.  There was some mild confusions over what I had just read.  It was like a cereal bar.  It’s not terrible, but you eat it, you finish it, and you go on with your life.  Eating the cereal bar is barely a blip in the day, which is how I felt about reading this book.  It’s good for a quick read if you need something to use up some time.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Kiss of Deception 
By Mary E. Pearson
I would recommend for this book trail mix to go along with all of the time they spend on the road.
Lia is a princess and a first daughter in a world where the eldest daughters are always married off often for political gain. Her father has decreed that she is to marry the Prince of Dalbrek , a near by kingdom with which they seek to improve relations. Lia, who has never met this prince and is known for her quick temper, is livid and has no desire to follow tradition and be condemned to an uncertain life not of her choosing, so she takes her fate into her own hands and runs away with only her faithful servant Pauline, but she is pursued. Lia also had two love interests, Rafe and Kaden, who are more then they seem.
I really liked Lia as a character. She didn't complain very much and when she didn't like something she took it into her own hands to change her situation. She is also smart and has a quick temper. She stands up for herself and doesn't rely on other to things for her. At the same time she is very likable and relatable. She reacts realistically to events that happen around her. I also liked the implications about who she is and what power she has, and hope to see where the author takes it in the future. While in the beginning she takes a little warming up to I really enjoyed her as a character. The other characters were enjoyable as well. They were all developed with their own quirks and secrets to be uncovered.
The world itself was also very interesting with its own religion that Lia seems to respect and scorn, as it has governed her whole life. There was a lot of interesting things interspersed throughout the novel, and the author only gives you a taste of the world was a whole leaving some things to be developed later.
While I did love this book over all the one part I did not like as much was the beginning. I felt like it dragged a bit and that it took a while to get to know Lia's character as who she is, not as the princess running away. Overall The book was very strong. I just felt the beginning could have used some improving.
4/5 Stars

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