Friday, November 30, 2012

Feature & Follow Friday (9)

 Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Basically, follow me and say hi in the comments, and I'll follow you back!  

 This week's features are: Novel Reveries and Oh! Paper Pages.

 Q: Activity! Who is your to-die-for book crush? What do you think they look like? Add an image to make us all happy.

A: God, this is so hard. I had to refer to my Goodreads list of swoon-worthy men to decide. One of them would probably be Raphael from Angelfall, just because I have a thing for ass-kicking, snarky angels (who are written well). And I have a very fitting picture for him too: 
 Also, I really like Ash from Iron Fey because I totally dig his whole chivalry thing. For him, I chose Adam Gregory! 

 Now I want to reread these books again! 


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Review: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy, #1)Book: Paranormalcy 
Author: Kiersten White
Series: Paranormalcy
Publication Date: August 31st, 2010
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: 3 Stars

Evie's always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she's falling for a shape-shifter, and she's the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours.

But Evie's about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.
Don't you love it when true love triumphs between two inexperienced teenagers who happen to save the day because of their great capacity for emotion? It's so precious. It makes me weep.

Don't get me wrong; Paranormalcy isn't that bad. In fact, it can be even argued that it is one of the saving graces of the genre. The problem is that it just isn't anything new. Sure, I laughed, and I felt a little bit when characters died. But my general feelings are ambivalent. And when you read a book, is your only expectation that it not be gruesomely terrible, or even not bad? Especially after reading something like Days of Blood & Starlight, I needed something light, and this book did that for me. But I couldn't find any of the sort of depth and humanity that I did in Karou and her friends.

It was just so... meh. I can think of more thinks I didn't like about it than what I did like. For example, I didn't like the main character, Evie. Maybe it's a product of growing up, but I thought she didn't act her age. I can understand that she's been isolated from society, but does that really mean she has to go around calling everything cute and obsessing over pink things? There is this one part I remember where she said, "I even got a cute last name, Green." And the freaking out over lockers and high school things? It was cute (oh God, I sound like her now) in the beginning, but then it just became redundant. I got the fact that she was inexperienced. Also, Easton Heights sounds really dull. I prefer Gossip Girl.

The plot was... nice, I guess. It wasn't really anything new. Reth really interests me, though. He's so cruel yet attractive. Wow, I'm as bad as those Mary Sues. But Lend was too boring for me, especially compared with someone like Reth. If you're going to make one of your love interests a faery, you'd better match up. Lend is interesting, but in the end, if we deconstruct him, he's a teenage boy who reacts to things quite boringly. There wasn't even much wittiness tossed in there. He's supposed to provide a dose of normal, but I didn't quite like the normal that I got. Everything was mostly predictable, although I didn't expect what happened to Lisha.

I've been ragging on the book enough, though. I'm not giving it 3 stars for no reason; I did like some of the things that happened. Although the dialogue wasn't very witty, the way the book was written was very light-hearted, despite all the intense stuff happening. In that way, the normalcy helped ground it. I liked reading about Evie's interaction with the paranormal creatures that she bags and tags; there just wasn't enough of that. As far as supernatural YA goes, this is pretty decent.  
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Monday, November 19, 2012

Review: Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #2)Book: Days of Blood & Starlight
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Publication Date: November 8th, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?
A dream dirty and bruised is better than no dream at all.
I'm amazed how this book is so much bigger than what it is. There's something about the world that Laini Taylor has created that is so... universal. It's so difficult to explain, but while I was reading it, I literally felt like I'd entered an alternate universe that was magical but realistic. Unlike its predecessor, Days of Blood & Starlight is not centered around just a group of people or a painfully dramatic love story. It is, at its very heart, a book about war, death, and sacrifice.

At the beginning, I was agitated because Akiva and Karou were leading separate lives. I desperately wanted them to meet up and renew what they'd had, but as the book progressed, I realized that this desire wasn't realistic. The book begins with Karou as the new resurrectionist, making new bodies to resurrect the chimaera soldiers of Eretz. The White Wolf watches her constantly, and she's not happy. It starts off heavy and dark, unlike the last book, which I remember as starting off with her idiotic ex-boyfriend. Instead, there are the deaths of Brimstone and the rest of Karou's chimaera family suffocating her. Many of my fellow reviewers have expressed their surprise and apprehension at the bloodiness, but I welcomed this facet. The title has blood in it; we can't really expect flowers and rainbows.

What I really want to credit Taylor on is her perfect balance of hope and pain. I never knew how things would end, and there were always different conflicts popping up out of unexpected places after a problem was solved. It was really emotionally draining, actually. Karou is suffering at first, under the tyrannical rule of the Wolf, but then Zuzana and Mik find her and they add this beautiful atmosphere of sweet love and loyalty that I found enjoyable. Their relationship is much more fleshed out in this book, and it was realistic and adorable, which grounded the forbidden love part between Akiva and Karou. Their presence made the other chimaera seem more human, and I like that Taylor took the time to explore all these different characters and make them seem real. The book isn't told from just Karou's or Akiva's perspectives, but from the eyes of many different characters. Some of them only live for three pages before they die, but it adds a very holistic view, shedding light on what's happening in every corner of this alternate universe.

Also, like the last book, this one is not lacking in plot, especially since there are multiple plot lines running through the story. In the middle of the book, I think there are like... 10 deaths within 50 pages. Taylor brings her way with words back to this one, and everything is told in such gorgeous style. Her prose is the fairy dust on top of an already magical story. Although I'm a bit upset with how little Akiva/Karou time I got in this one, the ending was the perfect balance of desolation in hope. I am in awe.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Review: Iron's Prophecy by Julie Kagawa

Iron's Prophecy (The Iron Fey, #4.5)Book: Iron's Prophecy (short)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: The Iron Fey
Publication Date: September 1st, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Rating: 4 Stars

Meghan Chase is finally getting used to being the Iron Queen, ruler of the Iron Fey. Her life may be strange, but with former Winter prince Ash by her side at last, she wouldn’t have it any other way.

But when they travel to the Summer and Winter courts’ gathering for Elysium, the oracle from Meghan’s past returns with a dire prophecy: “What you carry will either unite the courts, or it will destroy them.” Now Meghan faces a devastating choice that may determine the future of all fey—and her and Ash’s unborn child…
Meghan and Ash's UNBORN CHILD?

Excuse me while I try to breathe.


Edit (11/8/12):
Finally stopped hyperventilating over Meghan and Ash's UNBORN CHILD to read this. Reading it made me realize how much I've missed Ash and Meghan. They're just so perfect together. Gahh. Also, Kagawa's wonderfully creative mind strikes again. I really liked that transition part where Meghan enters the Dream Pool, and of course the Wishing Tree was lots of fun too (big snakes yay)! The Lost Prince was kind of ehhh for me, since I didn't really like reading from Ethan's POV. It makes me wonder what it would be like to see something from Kierran's eyes, since he's the special one with three powers and whatnot. I'm all nostalgic, now. I'll have to go back and read that quote again where Ash pledges his undying loyalty to Meghan.

"My name is Ashallyn'darkmyr Tallyn, third son of the Unseelie Court...Let it be known--from this day forth, I vow to protect Meghan Chase, daughter of the Summer King, with my sword, my honor, and my life. Her desires are mine. Her wishes are mine. Should even the world stand against her, my blade will be at her side. And should it fail to protect her, let my own existence be forfeit. This I swear, on my honor, my True Name, and my life. From this day on..." His voice went even softer, but I still heard it as though he whispered it into my ear. "I am yours.”


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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review: Rebel Heart by Moira Young

Rebel Heart (Dust Lands, #2)Book: Rebel Heart
Author: Moira Young
Series: Dust Lands
Publication Date: October 30th, 2012
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Rating: 4 Stars
It seemed so simple: Defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba’s world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh’s freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.

What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants? In this much-anticipated follow-up to the riveting Blood Red Road, a fierce heroine finds herself at the crossroads of danger and destiny, betrayal and passion.
We ain't got time fer you to yell at me or fer me to tell you everythin that's happened, so I'm jest gonna cover the main points real quick an then I'm gonna kiss you, he says.

I think this book should've been titled LACK OF JACK instead of Rebel Heart. Just sayin'. For the second book in a series, it can be argued as a pretty darned good one. I still think the first was better (probably because there was more Jack), but this one is still pretty good. The old elements are there: the writing style that keeps the pace fast, the high adventure on the dustlands, and old characters like DeMalo and Maev, in addition to new ones like Molly and Slim, this crazy quack doctor guy who traffics weapons. Yup.

Young has definitely got a lot in her bag of tricks. The book started off slightly slow, but by the halfway point, I was flipping pages with fury. Last time, in Blood Red Road, the scene with the giant worms is what stays in my mind. This time, it's the river of snakes and the headhunters. Very intense. It was a bummer that Jack didn't come in until the last twenty-so pages, but I'm not disappointed at all with the direction of the book. There were always new problems arising, and it kept my mind off of Saba's failed long-distance relationship.

The men who do have big roles in this book are DeMalo and Lugh. One is a loon, and the other is a dickhead. That's just how it is. I share the sentiments of many of my fellow reviewers in that I think Lugh is a stuck-up, stubborn douche. From start to finish, I had no idea why Saba loves him as much as she does. He does nothing except complain and throw a block into their plans, then sulk because people don't trust him enough to do what he wants to, since he was rotting in a room for the longest time. And then he treats Maev like trash, then refuses to tell her he loves her, and finally blames Saba for everything. There is literally nothing redeeming about him. Speaking of Maev, though, I didn't understand why they would love each other. There was no indication of any budding relationship besides a mutual attraction because they were both hot-blooded, male and female, and not related. Not good ingredients for a relationship. DeMalo, in contrast, is this cold-hearted bastard, which doesn't really surprise me. What he convinced Saba to do, however, did.

I was pretty disappointed in Saba throughout the book. Although she has the same skill with weapons and fighting, she shows it less and spends more of her time being confused by all the men in her life and obsessing over Jack. She seemed less independent, I guess, and I didn't like that she always had a whole team of people backing her up, especially because she took responsibility for so many of their deaths. She made a lot of bad decisions in this book, and some of them were unwarranted, which is why I don't really like her in this book.

Jack does come back, and I think Young gives him and Saba a satisfactory ending. He seems better than he was in the last book, but there's not much for me to fully gauge his personality. But I do hope that he stays in the next book. Anyway, Rebel Heart didn't disappoint. It had all the elements of BRR, though it still lacks that strong characterization that I would like. Hopefully, Young also clears up the confusion about the Wrecker civilization and is able to solve this big problem that she's created in the first place. But she's awesome, and I have complete confidence in her.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (9)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 
Ink by Amanda Sun 
Publication Date: June 25th 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Ink (The Paper Gods, #1)

I looked down at the paper, still touching the tip of my shoe. I reached for it, flipping the page over to look.

Scrawls of ink outlined a drawing of a girl lying on a bench.

A sick feeling started to twist in my stomach, like motion sickness.

And then the girl in the drawing turned her head, and her inky eyes glared straight into mine.

On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.
Look at that cover! So gorgeous and artsy. And the blurb sounds kickass, especially the part about Tomohiro. Any guy with connections to the gods is a guy I'll like. Reminds me of that one TV show I loved watching when I was a kid about the magic chalk that could make characters come to life... I can't for the life of me remember what it's called, though! 


Monday, November 5, 2012

Review: The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Assassin's Curse (The Assassin's Curse, #1)Book: The Assassin's Curse
Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke
Series: The Assassin's Curse
Publication Date: October 2nd, 2012
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Rating: 2.5 Stars

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.
"How could he not see all the beauty that was out there--the starlight leaving stains of brightness in the water, the salt-kissed wind?"

I kept waiting for The Assassin's Curse to get better, but it remained a clusterfuck until the very end. I mean, I can't say there weren't good things about it, because there were. After all, just look the blurb. I like pirates and loot and rum and all that good stuff. I also like assassins, because who doesn't love killing? So I go into this book expecting lots of arrrr matey type things, and adventures swinging on a ship, but I got none of that. Instead I get poor character development and the barest mention of ships and some obscure assassin club (I think that's what it is...). 

Clarke promised us a lot of things with this book. With the cover, with the premise, with everything. Unfortunately, she didn't deliver. My biggest problem with this book is that there's way too much stuff integrated for it to make sense. First you've got your pirates, then you've got your wizards and witches, and then you've got assassins who can do magic too, except it's blood magic. It's way too much information to stuff into one book without making things sound ridiculous and random. When Naji and Ananna get stuck on the island, I thought that they were there because the island was supposed to help them. But then Naji mentions this wizard dude, and I'm like "what the hell is going on?" This happened multiple times. Sure, it's easy to get lost in the adventure of Naji and Ananna zipping around from place to place, but if you stop and think about it, why are they going to all these places? It's like a goose chase that they already know is futile, yet they keep doing it anyway. The ending to the book is even more ridiculous, even cheesy. I really expected more than that. It was such a bullshit blowoff so Clarke could write another book. 

That's the plot. The characters are just... ugh. Naji sulks, Ananna moons after him, and generally their attitudes put me in a bad mood. Which sucks, since Ananna actually gave me hope. In the beginning, when she knees her fiance in the balls, I was cheering for her. But then she meets Naji and she turns all gloomy and moans over her plainness, and I just knew this wasn't heading for anything good. There wasn't even a damned kiss in this book. Granted, it would've been weird and even more out of place if there had been one, so maybe Clarke used some good judgment there. I found no reason to believe that she'd fallen in love with him, especially since he treats her like crap sometimes and completely shuts her out otherwise. Nothing about him caused me to like him, especially the way he totally fell under Leila's spell in the beginning. Not cool, bro. 

In short, I got through this book relatively painlessly, but when I separated myself from the situation, I realized that this book misses so many things. That's why I feel so apathetic towards it. It's a good example of a situation where too many good things mashed up together can make the entire project go sour. 
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