Monday, April 29, 2013

New Rating System

Everyone knows starred reviews, which is why most of us go with them when we are review books. But I was getting tired with the old 3 out of 4 stars or whatever. So, my husband came up with a really great way for me to review novels.

First, I want you to think of your book shelf. There's the top shelf (or shelves), middle shelf (or shelves), and bottom shelf (or shelves). Think of the books you put on those shelves. I personally put books I love the most on the top, ones I liked on middle, and ones that were just okay on the bottom. Then there is the 'I never should have picked this book up' box next to the book shelf.

My husband and I were talking about recent books I've read and where I would put them on the shelf when he looked at me like he had just solved world hunger.

"Use your book shelf!" I thought he had possibly hurt his head, or suddenly gone crazy, so I just sat there looking at him blankly.

"Hu?" I really didn't have any idea what hew as talking about.

"Use your book shelf for you ratings. Ones you put up on the top shelf, on the middle, on the bottom and in the box!"

My husband is BRILLIANT! (and pretty frickin' hot!)

So that is my new Rating System.

Four star rating = Top Shelf
Two and Three star rating = Middle Shelf
One star rating = Bottom Shelf
Zero star rating = 'Never should have picked this book' box, or just The Box


Movie Madness Monday!!

Today's book to screen feature is . . . Divergent!

In case you couldn't read the title,
this is Divergent! 
There is no movie poster yet, but here is the image of the novel. I'm hoping that the movie poster is as cool, because the novel cover art ROCKS! The movie is currently in production, as in they are still filming in Chicago. In fact a favorite scene was being filmed at the Chicago farris wheel just in the past week. Those of you who have read the book, you know which scene I'm talking about. ;)

For those of you that don't know, the book Divergent is about a post-apocolyptic world where one large society (basically a city the size of New York) have seprated into 5 factions. These five factions have specific roles and duties within the society. At the age of 16ish the children of the factions can choose to remain in the faction they grew up in, or they can change factions. The story centers around Tris who chooses to leave her home faction and join another that is considered to be very dangerous. The story is totally unique and an amazing example of how deep and layered YA fiction can be. It truly is the heir to the Hunger Games throne. Some may even say it was better then Hunger Games. Don't kill me, I'm just saying some people say!!!!

First look at the production!!
The film is set to be released March 21st, 2014, so we have a wait. But there are many good movies set to come out between now and then to keep us occupied. The actors for the movie are an eclectic combination of well known and unknown actors. I love it!!! Shailene Woodley as Tris, Theo James as Four, Zoe Kravitz as Christina, Ashley Judd as Natalie Prior, Kate Winslet as Jeanine Matthews, to name a few. Out of all the casting, Theo James surprised me the most. He's not been in much, and most of his IMDB page I've never heard of. Except for UnderWorld. I'm a big fan of that franchise! But he seems a little old of Four. Four is supposed to be older then Tris by a few years, but I feel like Theo looks so much older then I pictured Four to be. However, it is amazing what make-up artists can do to actors. Maybe they'll make him look 18?

There are some great groups on facebook if you want to join the Divergent Nation. Also, the author Veronica Roth is very accessible to her fans. She updates her blog on a fairly consistent basis and tries really hard to make sure readers know whats going on in her world. I'm super excited for this movie and I hope they stay as true to the book as a movie can!!!!!

Divergent IMDB
Veronica Roth Blog
Divergent Fans fan site
Divergent Facebook page


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

Title: Kill Me Softly
Author: Sarah Cross
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 336
Ages: 13+
Review Rating: 1/4

Synopsis:

Mirabelle's past is shrouded in secrecy, from her parents' tragic deaths to her guardians' half-truths about why she can't return to her birthplace, Beau Rivage. Desperate to see the town, Mira runs away a week before her sixteenth birthday—and discovers a world she never could have imagined.

In Beau Rivage, nothing is what it seems—the strangely pale girl with a morbid interest in apples, the obnoxious playboy who's a beast to everyone he meets, and the chivalrous guy who has a thing for damsels in distress. Here, fairy tales come to life, curses are awakened, and ancient stories are played out again and again.

But fairy tales aren't pretty things, and they don't always end in happily ever after. Mira has a role to play, a fairy tale destiny to embrace or resist. As she struggles to take control of her fate, Mira is drawn into the lives of two brothers with fairy tale curses of their own... brothers who share a dark secret. And she'll find that love, just like fairy tales, can have sharp edges and hidden thorns.

Review: 

I really wanted to like this novel. Really. But I couldn't. The only thing that got me through this novel was the story. The story had some really potential. But the execution was very poor. So we start with Mira who has shown up at a casino called Dream. We are given a blow through of the events that have lead up to this point, which bothered me a little, but I figured that once we got into the bulk of the story we would go back and review it in more detail. Never happened. I discovered pretty early into the novel that this was normal. Rushing through details to get to the bits the author liked the best. Most of the character development was one dimensional, leaving us with a flash picture of the characters with no real life in them. 

The big relationship that Mira gets into that causes so much trouble doesn't make any sense. I understand what the author was going for, but we as the readers didn't get the feelings described. Mira falls in love with Felix, a main protagonist, almost on page one, but there is no legitimate reason given to the reader for this undying love described. Her relationship with the younger brother was much better fleshed out, causing real confusion from page one was to why she 'loved' Felix. 

While I did say the reason I kept reading was the story line, it was still a pretty weak component of the novel. It seemed to wander with the characters spending a lot of time just hanging out and not doing anything that moved the plot forward. Oddly enough, this is the second book I've read lately that included the fairy tale of Bluebeard. I had never even heard of it until I read Requiem by Lauren Oliver, so it was a surprise to see it pop up in a second book. The fairy tale idea (especially using the Grimm Fairy Tales, not the Disney) was a really good one. I do wish however that Cross had explained more of the Grimm versions because most Americans are not familiar with those versions of the fairy tales. We only know the Disney versions. So through out the novel I was having to piece together the tales from the Grimm versions, which got distracting. I'm sad to be disappointed in this, but it is what it is. 

Overall, if you like fairy tale stories, you'll be okay with this one. But it won't be going on my bookshelf any time soon. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Title: Requiem
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: YA Dystopic
Pages: 391
Ages: 12+
Review Rating: 2/4

Synopsis:

They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past.

But we are still here.

And there are more of us every day.

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancĂ©e of the young mayor.

Maybe we are driven crazy by our feelings.

Maybe love is a disease, and we would be better off without it.

But we have chosen a different road.

And in the end, that is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose.

We are even free to choose the wrong thing.

Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

Review:

I was so excited for this novel to come out. I put it on hold at the library and had to wait a painstaking month to get it! Once I did, I went right home and started it. But after a day or so, I knew this wasn't going to be like Delirium or Pandemonium. The first two novels in the series were full of interesting plot developments and characters that made you invest in what was going on. You really felt Alex and Julian's love for Lena. You walked right along Lena in her terrifying discovery of the way her world really worked. But at the start of Requiem, I felt like she had totally lost herself and her purpose. She had become a kind of whinny, unmotivated, little girl; not the character that I had come to know in the first two novels. She spends most of the novel trying to decide what she wants with Julian, and how to get over Alex. She complains through almost the whole thing about everything being unfair from her little love triangle, to the adults leaving her out of the planning of the battles. She doesn't do much in the way of actually helping the resistance besides the daily menial tasks of survival. 

Also, I have a hard time when authors decide to randomly change the format of the writing style. In books one and two, it is a first person POV from Lena. But starting with chapter two, we get the whole story also from Hana's POV, whom we haven't seen since book one. I didn't understand the choice to do it from both points of view because it didn't add that much to the story except for make you hate Fred Hargrove. Which might have been the reason for it, but it seems like a very extreme way to do it. There are quiet a few things with Hana's event's that also don't make any sense in conjunction with the rest of the novel. I'm guessing the author wanted the reader to know what the cure really did to the people, so we could see what the problems are with it . . . But I think we got it in the first two books, we didn't need an every-other-chapter deal to get it. 

The reason I'm giving it a little higher rating then I normally would with a novel I didn't particularly enjoy was the ending. The last twenty pages or so of the book pulled me back in. I once again cared about 'the cause' and the characters. Some really great things happen that I don't want to give away, but I really enjoyed how Oliver pulled together some great battle sequences and the high drama of war. She does end it on an interesting note. I know the novel is supposed to be the final in the trilogy, but she left it in such a way that she could continue the series very easy. The last half a page does delve into a more introspective idea of the novels, using the events as symbols for our own lives. I liked it, but I know many fans will be a little disappointed in it. 

Overall, I enjoyed the book series, but the ending was most definitely not the bang that I was expecting from reading book one. 

Also, Delirium, book one of the series, has been picked up by 20 Century Fox studios for a TV show in the Fall of 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Movie Madness Monday


The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones is our Movie Madness Monday feature today. Now I've got to be totally honest with this one. I didn't read the whole book. About three years ago, when the first book came out, I read about half of it, got bored and put it down. But when the movie trailer came out, I was rethinking my choice of not finishing the novel.

It. Looks. Awesome!!!!!!!!!!

The actors chosen to portray the characters were perfect. I absolutely love some of the actors in the cast. Lily Collins as Clary Fray, Johathan Rhys Meyers as Valentine Morgenstern, Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace Wayland, Lena Headey as Jocely Fray headline the show and I am so excited!! Check out the trailer, then go get the book (which is what I will be doing), then go see the movie on August 23, 2013. 

The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones IMDB
Shadow Hunters Site
The Mortal Instruments Wiki page

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Opal by Jennifer Armentrout

Title: Opal
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genre: YA Paranormal/Romance
Pages: 382
Ages: 18+
Review Rating: 2/4

Synopsis: 

No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well... There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different... And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.


Review: 

When I finished Onyx, I searched like a mad woman to get to the next book. I literally looked everywhere, two different library systems, ebook rentals, friends, but no one had it to borrow. So I started looking into buying it (and while I'm a book lover, I am also a penny pincher, so if I can get it without buying it, I will!) Both Barnes and Noble had it, as well as Amazon and iBooks. I finally decided on iBooks because I had a credit on my account. But if you're going to buy Opal, I would suggest BN. Their price was half of what it was with iBooks.

So, it downloads and I dig into the juiciness that is Katy and Daemon's world and . . . begin to loose interest. It took me a week to read this novel. I thought it would be like the rest, action packed and full of drama, but it wasn't. The plot in the previous two books had been rip-roaring fast, happening in only a few weeks. But this one took where Onyx left off and dragged until just before graduation. That's like November to May. While things were still happening, there were chapters that I felt like didn't have anything going on. When things began to pick up, they would REALLY pick up! And those bits were so exciting. But the bulk of the novel felt like it was wondering.

The book picks up right where we left off in Onyx and the whole gang are trying to pick up the pieces of their life after the death of Adam and Katy's torture and Dawson's return. Dawson is an interesting character because he could have had some really awesome development, throwing a wrench in things. But he was more single faceted, obsessively focused on getting Beth back. Armentrout didn't really give him much in terms of depth and power in the story. Which made me sad because I was really excited to see Dawson for the first time. 


The end of the novel is pretty amazing though! The last 10 pages are intense and leave you hanging, chomping at the bait for the next one. 

A note about the age appropriate content: I have some very strong views on sexuality. I am conservative and was raised that sex should be between husband and wife. There are two scenes in the novel that I felt were completely inappropriate for a teen novel. While I'm not naive to the way the world thinks, I don't feel sex before marriage should be encouraged or described in a graphic sort of way. Because of this I am giving this an 18+ rating with a warning that there are two sexual scenes in this novel that are not age appropriate for teens.

I will probably continue reading this series, but I think it's going to be taken off of my ultimate favorites list. At least after book two.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Movie Madness Monday . . .

Welcome to . . . MOVIE MADNESS MONDAY!!!!

This new feature on my blog will be every Monday, and discuss my second favorite things . . . MOVIES!!!

While everyone knows about the hunger games and it's phenomenal success, I wanted to talk about a lesser known book to screen project. The Vampire Academy. These books started out small. It was one of the many vampire novels on the shelves, and at first seemed to start and end there. But it was original. How often can you say that about any vampire novels that have come out in the last five years? It was a completely new take on the vampire mythos. The second thing that made the books stand out in a sea of vampire heroins, was Rose. She is powerful, strong willed, stubborn (but in a good way), attractive and independent girl. She is the type of young woman I would have liked to have been at her age. She in fiercely loyal and will do anything for those she counts as friends. Her character brought these books to life. You felt what she felt from page one. Richelle Mead did an amazing job creating a character that I would feel proud if my daughters counted her as a role model.

The fandom of these books (six in total) really pushed for this movie. I remember getting a friend request from a Facebook page The Official Vampire Academy Movie. Within a year, the page had over 250,000 likes and active members from around the globe. The creators of this, and other pages, became crucial to getting the movie made by contacting producers, showing the success of the novels and pushing directors to really see them. Richelle Mead's Facebook page also started to get a lot more traffic because of these books and rumors of a movie.

As of a few months ago, the movie was given a green light and casting began. We do have our three main characters, Rose, Lissa and Dimitri. They will be played by:
     
Danila Koslovsky, Zoey Deutch, Lucy Fry

I'm super excited about this novel becoming and movie and I REALLY REALLY hope they stay true to the elements of the book that made it so good.

For more information about the movie, you can go to the following links and check them out!!!

The Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters IMDB
The Official Vampire Academy Facebook page
Official VA Movie on Twitter


 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Update on the coming weeks

More like this . . .
For those of you that don't know, I am a student at the University of Utah and finals are coming up soon. I'm also a vocal performance major, so I have what are called Juries at the end of the semester. No, not the
 sitting in a dusty courthouse listening to someone's sob story. They are a performance evaluation with all the professors in the vocal performance department. So, I've been studying like crazy and will be for the next few weeks until Juries are completed on April 30th. I will try my hardest to post as often as possible, but I'm not going to have as much time to read as I would like.

Not this!!
Please hang in there with me!! Also, I have a new feature that will be coming out on Monday's that I am REALLY excited about! Check in on Monday for some cool info and book gossip!!!


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Title: Gilt
Author: Katherine Longshore
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Pages: 406
Ages: NA
Review Rating: DNF (Did not finish)

Synopsis:

When Kitty Tylney's best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII's heart and brings Kitty to court, she's thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat's shadow, Kitty's now caught between two men--the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat's meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head. 

Review: 

I just couldn't get into this book. I picked it up because I had seen such high reviews online for it. Plus I really enjoy historical fiction. But this novel was so slow and boring! I got to page 72. And nothing was happening!!! Yes, Cat got sent to court, but that was it. In 72 pages. The main character also bugged me. She just let Cat walk all over her, tell her what to think, do and say. She had no back bone whatsoever and that really bothered me. From all the other reviews I've read, I expected to it to be really interesting from the start, but for me, it did nothing. Like a flat line. 

From reading the synopsis, you would think the action starts on page one. But no. There is no 'thrust'ing into the court. At least, 72 pages of dragging dialoge and boring plot line doesn't bring to mind 'thrust'. 

I know others had really enjoyed this book, but me, not so much. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Sweet Evil


Title: Sweet Evil
Author: Wendy Higgins
Genre: YA Paranormal/ YA Romance
Pages: 453
Age: 14+
Review Rating: 4/4(!!!!!!)

Synopsis:

Embrace the Forbidden

What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences?

This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.

Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She's aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but Anna, the ultimate good girl, has always had the advantage of her angel side to balance the darkness within. It isn't until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He's the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.

Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?

Review:

WOW! Just WOW! I really need to learn to stop beginning a novel at 8:00p because I just end up staying up all night long!!! This time it was 3:00am when I finished and went to bed. Yeah, I'm not going to be able to do that to many more times without it really cutting into my day life. But this book was so good, for multiple reasons.

Reason #1. HOT GUY!! Kaiden is physically hot, but more so then that is the tenderness and the vulnerability that we see in him through the novel. He is the son of the Duke of Lust, so we know what to expect from him. But he totally surprises us again and again, by caring for Anna and not wanting her to become corrupt.

Reason #2. AMAZING MYTHOS! I've read many a paranormal romance in my time, vampire, werewolf, ghost, alien, angel; but this is the first time I have read ANYTHING like this. The world she creates with the demons/fallen angels is absolutely amazing. One thing we don't see a lot of in YA is logic, but her world of demons and their children, the Nephilum, is completely logical. Only powerful demons can successfully posses a human body, and they only have one child because of population control. Each of those children must "work" for the father in whatever sin in his specialty. Besides being logical, it was just plain cool! I loved watching as Higgins worked in the less obvious sins with the nephilum. Such as wrath, and gluttony.

Reason #3. The storyline wasn't based around the love story. Yes, the love story is a pivotal point of the story, but it isn't THE story. Higgins weaves a really complex and interesting plot from the beginning. There are layers that I can tell have just been touched, and hopefully will be brought up again in book two. She gave the plot time to breath, to really create a story that had depth and moved forward at a good pace.

Also, the description on the back of the book isn't an accurate portrayal of the novel. It focuses on an extremely small part of the book and doesn't give a good picture of the novel itself.

This book literally had me from page one, and I didn't stop until it was finished. It's a read-in-one-sitting, stay up all night, blurry-eyed the next day kind of novel. But totally 100% worth it!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Upcoming Book Reviews

Went to the public library and came home with a nice amount of books! Be watching for these upcoming titles in the reviews. Also, remember to frequent your public library, and maybe you'll find you new book best friend :)!

Onyx by Jennifer Armentrout

Title: Onyx
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genre: YA Paranormal/ YA Romance
Pages: 366
Ages: 14+
Review Rating: 3/4

Synopsis: 

Being connected to Daemon Black sucks…

Thanks to his alien mojo, Daemon’s determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarro connection. So I’ve sworn him off, even though he’s running more hot than cold these days. But we’ve got bigger problems.

Something worse than the Arum has come to town…

The Department of Defense are here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we're linked, I’m a goner. So is he. And there's this new boy in school who’s got a secret of his own. He knows what’s happened to me and he can help, but to do so, I have to lie to Daemon and stay away from him. Like that's possible. Against all common sense, I'm falling for Daemon. Hard.

But then everything changes…

I’ve seen someone who shouldn’t be alive. And I have to tell Daemon, even though I know he’s never going to stop searching until he gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them—from me?

No one is who they seem. And not everyone will survive the lies…

Review: 

Jennifer Armentrout once again has delivered a stellar novel that pulls you in and doesn't let go. First I want to say that Katy and Daemon are one of the cutest couples in YA lit right now. Daemon's unrelenting pursule of Katy is the type of dedication that every girl wants in a boy. However, Katy is having some issue because of the bond created in book one, Obsidian. This creates a good amount of tension and also a good reason for Katy not to trust Daemon's advances. Thus enter Blake, who seems to know everything about everything and of course Katy doesn't seem a little suspicious. That is strike one for me with Katy. Yes I understand that she is young and impressionable, but come on. He knows everything? And she doesn't question it? At this point the read is totally on Daemon's side because Katy is just being an idiot! But surprisingly it doesn't make you dislike Katy, just think she's being very nieve! 

Throughout the novel there are hints that something is wrong, but Katy always seems to write them all off, which is very annoying as a reader because we know something is wrong as well. So throughout the novel I was getting frustrated because Katy was ignoring blatent signs that something was off. Either with characters or situations. It's creates some good tension for the reader, but it does leave one feeling like Katy could use a few lessons in common sense. But it is forgivable because you understand Katy want's so desperately to feel 'normal'. (Which is highly overrated!) 

There are some changes in this novel with Katy that I like. She's really wanting to stand on her own two feet. She's determained not to be a victim again. Which I really like. A lot of female characters in YA romance just let the guys do whatever they want, and expect to be protected. Or they are exeedingly stupid and walk INTO dangerous situations even though they know it's stupid. But here we have a refreshing moment where a young woman is taking it upon herself to become strong. Love that! 

The story-line in this second novel is much stronger then the first. It's has quiet a bit more depth and you really begin to understand how dangerous it is for the Lux and the humans who are involved with them. I'm glad that Armentrout didn't take the easy way out and just rely on the relationship between Katy and Daemon to fuel the story, which was already done in book one. 

Over all, I really enjoyed this novel, it's characters, and the story-line. Going to go get the next one. Right. Now!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout

Title: Obsidian
Author: Jennifer Armentrout
Pages: 361
Genre: YA Paranormal/Romance
Ages: 14+
Review Rating: 4/4

Synopsis:

Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I'd pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring.... until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something...unexpected happens. 

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon's touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I'm getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades. 

If I don't kill him first, that is.

Review: 

I had been on the hunt for a good, make your skin heat up, love the tension YA romance for a while. And let me tell you . . . I FOUND IT!!!! I picked this up after reading some rave reviews on Goodreads.com and the reviews were spot on. I started the novel at 8p and ended at 2a. Seriously. Straight through!! The story starts off pretty stereotypical of all romance novels, YA or adult, where the main character meets a standoffish, rude, sexy, undeniably alluring and physically the peak of human perfection male. She also lives next door to said perfection. While this is pretty clique, I love it. To quote RED "It's awful, just awful . . . I love it!" 

The real meat of the story begins when she finds out that Daemon and Dee, the amazing sister of the sexy Daemon, are . . . ALIENS! Because I read the back of the book, it wasn't surprised by the reveal, but the way it was done was pretty cool. The aliens themselves were awesome! I really liked the world that Armentrout created. It was very creative and unique. I'd never heard or read of anything quiet like it. The bad guys in this novel were also pretty cool, exact opposites from the heros. I do wish that Armentrout expounded more on where the Arum, the bad guys, came from. 

That first time that Daemon and Katy kiss, WOWZA! The thing I loved about this novel was that Armentrout walked that fine line of sexy, leaving the reader a little breathless, but not crossing into something that I would feel uncomfortable with letting my daughters read. She really makes you feel the connection between the two, on a physical and emotional level. Plus the reason they have to be around each other is pretty cool! 

Overall I loved this novel and totally fell in love with Daemon and Katy! 



Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Title: Bloodlines
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: YA Paranormal
Pages: 421
Age: 10+
Review Rating: 1/4

Synopsis:

Sydney is an alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of human and vampires. They protect vampire secrets - and human lives. When Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she's still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far worse. Jill Dragomir - the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir - is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill's guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the last place anyone would think to look for vampire royalty - a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. But instead of finding safety at Amberwood Prep, Sydney discovers the drama is only just beginning...

Review: 

I was extremely disappointed in this novel. It is kind of rare that I read a paranormal/urban fantasy novel that really don't like, but this one really wasn't very good. To start with, Sydney wasn't a strong enough character from the Vampire Academy (VA) series to start a split off series with. While she is good as a secondary character, she isn't strong enough or interesting enough to be a main character. Through the whole novel, I felt Mead was resting on the success of the Vampire Academy series, instead of really investing in the character and story line of Bloodlines. Yes, one of our favorite vampires is in it, Adrian, but he doesn't take a prominent role in the story. It made his purpose was only to bring in fans of Adrian's from VA. 

The story line was one dimensional and wandered. The whole idea that Sydney had to protect Jill was kind of ridiculous as Eddy from VA is there to protect her. Also the climax of the novel seemed to have appeared out of no where and was totally left field. Hints of the main conflict were dropped through out, but Mead doesn't make it a big deal to the character, so it isn't to the reader. 

If you're wanting something that was along the times of VA, read a different series. This may have some of the same character, but doesn't feel like it was written by Mead. 

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Title: Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: YA Dystopic
Pages: 525
Ages: 13+
Review Rating: 4/4

Synopsis:

One choice can transform you--or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves--and herself--while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable--and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.



Review: 

Veronica Roth has done it again! 

Sequels are always a little iffy, sometimes good, most times horrible. But Roth has delivered on a sequel that keeps up with the first novel! We start immediately where we left off in Divergent, with Tris and Four running from the destruction of the Abnegation Faction. We don't really miss a beat, diving into the meat and bones of the story. One thing Tris tries to deal with, and fails most of the time, is the emotional ramiffications of what she did at the end of Divergent. We see this influence her decisions throughout the whole novel, including distancing herself from her support system of friends and family. 

There were some serious twists and turns in this novel, ones I totally didn't see coming. In this novel, we find out what it truly means to be divergent. A major surprise ending that I don't think anyone will be able to guess. Our wonderful, sexy, and mysterious Four gets a little more of a back story in this novel, as we get to see cracks in the mask he constantly wears. Tris and Four still have a nice and strong connections, but it is definitely tried through the whole novel. However, there isn't as much romance in this novel as was in the first. There just wasn't any time for Tris and Four to be making out while on the run from the evil Erudite faction!! 

The cliffhanger ending to Insurgent will drop your jaw and leave you breathless. Amazing novel and a must read for fans of the dystopic!!!

Abandon by Meg Cabot



Title: Abandon
Author: Meg Cabot
Genre: YA 
Pages: 320
Age: 13+
Review Rating: 2/4

Summery:

Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can't help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she's never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she's moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid. Only she can't. Because even here, he finds her. That's how desperately he wants her back. She knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven, yet she can't stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.
But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

Review:
It took me a while to read this book. I had seen it on the shelf a few times, but because of previous experience with Meg Cabot's books, I was a little weary. And while I enjoyed it, it was the stereotypical Meg Cabot novel.

The thing about this story that I enjoyed wasn't the characters. It was the way Meg Cabot wove the story. I honestly was surprised with how it ended. The whole book is based on the mythology of Persephone and Hades. Original myth is that Hades fell in love with Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. Because Demeter would not have accepted Hades as a suitable groom for Persephone, Hades decided to kidnap her. After Demeter learns of what Hades has done, she doom the planet to a forever winter if Hades does not return her. Eventually, after much coxing, Hades agrees to let her up for a season, but she must come back down to the Underworld to him. Demeter agreed to change the world back to summer when Persephone came back to her. And that was how the Greeks explained the changing of the seasons.

The way that Meg changed the story to fit today, morphed theology into a modern fairy tale was good. So Pierce dies and goes to the Underworld and there she meets John, the mysterious man from her past. It's pretty neat how Pierce and, in so doing, us, piece things together and figure everything out in the end.
While her characters are fairly stereotypical to a Meg Cabot book, I did enjoy it. If you are wanting something that has a lot of depth of character or storyline, pass up this one. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey


Title: Jessica Rules the Dark Side 
Author: Beth Fantaskey
Genre: Teen Paranormal/Romance
Pages: 320
Age: 12+
Review Rating: 3/4

Synopsis:

“I should sue the people who designed the My Little Pony Crystal Rainbow Castle I played with in kindergarten. They led me to believe that castles were filled with rainbows and cupcakes and pastel-pink furniture. Not stone and fire and . . . blood.”
Eighteen-year-old Jessica Packwood is having a hard enough time feeling regal with her new vampire husband, Lucius. But when he’s charged with murder, Jessica’s suddenly on her own. She knows that with no blood to drink, Lucius’s time is running out. Can she figure out who the real killer is—and who she can trust—before it’s too late?

Review: 

Having loved the first book, I was a little hesitant to read this one. I've seen it on the shelf for a while, but never could bring myself to pick it up because I really enjoyed the first one. But finally on Tuesday, I picked it up and took it home with me. And I am glad I did. 

The novel opens after the wedding of Lucius and Jessica. I was a little lost because the novel was giving us detail that seemed like we should have already known them, however they had not been talked about. After a little digging I found out that on her website is the actual wedding of Lucius and Jessica, along with a secondary story started with Mindy (Jessica's bff) and Lucius' best man Raniero. So do yourself a favor and read that whole story on her website before reading this second book

We jump in pretty quickly with the state of affairs for the lovers, and they are not looking all that good. Jessica is slowly losing herself to worry and stress, unable to cope with the prospect of having to rule a whole group of people that are so much older and more experienced then herself. We see that Lucius still believes in her, but is beginning to make plans to keep Jessica away from the responsibility of ruling as much as possible. He is still the very powerful, beautiful, sensitive guy yet doesn't have a problem showing his displeasure with situations. 

We are pulled into a world of political intrigue, where many believe Jessica and Lucius will fail, and only a few allies are to be found. The mystery is quiet simple, but it is a teen novel and isn't expected to be overly complicated. 

Because Jessica and Lucius are married now, Fantaskey brings in two characters that will hype up the romance for us. Mindy and Raniero have an interesting past with each other and they meet up again at the castle in Romania. The romance between the two I felt was a little dull. It could have been much more, especially with some revelations that come later in the book, but Fantaskey decided to keep it pretty surface level and immature. 

Overall this was a good, not great, but good. I'm glad I decided to read it, however the romantic element that made me really love the first book wasn't really there. Reading Jessica come into her own power was great! I really did love that. 




Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantasky



Title: Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side
Author: Beth Fantasky
Genre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
Pages: 368
Age: 14 +
Review Rating: 3/4

Summery:

The undead can really screw up your senior year . . .
Marrying a vampire definitely doesn't fit into Jessica Packwood's senior year get-a-life plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth and he s her long-lost fiancé. Armed with newfound confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire s Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess. But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war and save Lucius s soul from eternal destruction.

Review:
Let's be totally honest here. That title, SUCKS! But the book, pretty good. Really clique, but good. Because it was a vampire novel, I felt the need to read it. It's a weird compulsion thing I have. If there are vampires in it, I've got to read it. And starting out, I didn't think this was going to be much better then those cheesy teen romance novels. But . . . as it seems lately, I was pleasantly surprised.
The introduction to the main character is straight out of a horror film. She is waiting for the bus in the early hours of the morning, when a man steps into the light of a nearby street lamp and says her name. Okay, can you say corny? It goes on to have him mysteriously appear in her English class and give her a pen to write with, while staring at the cut she had on her finger where the blood was dripping. At this point in the book I was ready to put it away. There wasn't much more I could handle.
But when the mother notices this young man/boy and stops to talk with him, that's when things get interesting. Turns out Jessica is a vampire who was given to her parents by her biological parents because the villages were going to kill them. When she was born, she was betrothed to a boy from a warring clan of vampires in hopes that a peace could be sustained. So this man/boy is here to collect on that betrothal.
The book was surprisingly introspective, with the characters spending a lot of time on figuring themselves out and what their place in the world is. With grace, both characters navigate the pressures of being teenagers, as well as the added pressure of ruling two warring vampire clans.
The character that impressed me the most was Lucius. He came from royalty and had grown up with the knowledge that he would one day marry Jessica and rule over the vampire clans with an iron fist. Beth Fantasky does a great job of portraying the psychological effects that would have on a teenager and how it would morph/shape their choices.
All in all, I really liked it and had a great time in Jessica and Lucius's world.

Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale




Title: Actor and the Housewife
Author: Shannon Hale
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pages: 352
Ages: 18 +
(because of subject matter such as children, marriage, pregnancy)
Review Rating: 4/4 & 2/4 (I'll explain) 

Summery:
What if you were to meet the number-one person on your laminated list—you know, that list you joke about with your significant other about which five celebrities you’d be allowed to run off with if ever given the chance? And of course since it’ll never happen it doesn’t matter…

Mormon housewife Becky Jack is seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she meets celebrity hearththrob Felix Callahan. Twelve hours, one elevator ride, and one alcohol-free dinner later, something has happened…though nothing has happened. It isn’t sexual. It isn’t even quite love. But a month later Felix shows up in Salt Lake City to visit and before they know what’s hit them, Felix and Becky are b
est friends. Really. Becky’s husband is pretty cool about it. Her children roll their eyes. Her neighbors gossip endlessly. But Felix and Becky have something special…something unusual, something completely impossible to sustain. Or is it? A magical story, The Actor and the Housewife explores what could happen when your not-so-secret celebrity crush walks right into real life and changes everything.

(This review may contain spoilers) 

Review:
The first thing that I have to say about this book is . . . WTF! Okay, let me explain. I started reading this book in an empty movie theater while waiting for the film to start. I'd just happened to have it in my bag because my sister said I should read it. She actually said 'Oh my gosh, you have to read this book. It's amazing!'. So, taking her as a credible source, I decided to read it.
I start the novel and am very happy with what I'm getting so far. Cute wit, funny banter between the characters. Becky Jack would fit right in with my family and the way we harass one another. Felix sounded like a debonare kind of man that I would like to be best friends with. But I figured this book was heading down the path to them eventually getting together.
Life happened and I left the book for about 6 months before picking it up again. I decided to listen to it while I was at work, which turned out to be quiet an ordeal because I would burst out in laughter every five to ten minutes. Because the book was fourteen hours long and because I only could listen to a few hours at a time at work, it took me quiet a while to get through the first half of the book. But leaving work for the weekend, I decided I had to know what happened, and didn't want to wait until work on Monday.
So, I sat in my office the next day, doing nothing but listening to the book. Literally, I laid down on the couch and listened for 7 hours.
Through the course of the book, Felix and Becky's friendship grow and they help each other through hard times such as divorce, affairs, death etc . . . And also they are together through the good times as well, selling a film script, church socials etc . . . While the relationship is unbelievable in the fact that his is a celebrity and she's just a housewife, the human aspect of their friendship is very believable. You feel like you are looking into the relationship of something special, something that is truly a fairy tale.
After Becky's husband dies of cancer, she spends three years alone, mourning the loss of her sweet Mike. But as the reader, we all see this as a chance for Felix to finally declare his love for her and she can give into the love that he offers.
He begins to woo her, he begins to court her like every woman dreams. Flowers every hour on the hour, presents randomly place throughout her life, music playing and finally him moving to Layton, UT to be closer to her. He starts getting to know her four children, helping them in school and with social problems. He has pretty much won all of our hearts by this point, but still has yet to convince Becky to take the next step and be his.
So when the pivital moment comes, and she decides to take it, you could have heard me cheering for miles around.
BUT . . .

SHE DOESN'T ENJOY IT! That was the WTF moment from the beginning of this review. She spent a total of 400 pages making us fall in love with Felix, with Becky and with their relationship but then doesn't let us enjoy the two of them together. ARE YOU KIDDING ME! I was so pissed off because I wanted them to have this moment where they realize they love each other. Where they stare into each other's eyes and just know they were meant to be in this place, at this time, together. But instead, what happens? Becky is thinking about Mike the whole time, about his kiss and how it is different then Felix's, how much she misses him. She actually has to keep pulling her mind back to the moment. With this hot actor that she has fawned on over and over for years, and she is needing to force her mind back on the current situation. His lips on hers!