Archive | 7:52 pm

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

5 Aug

Series: If I Stay, book #1

Published: April 9th 2009 by Dutton Juvenile

Details: Hardcover, 199 pages

My rating: 4/5

A beautifully written book about 17-year old Mia who one day heads out in the car with her parents and her little brother, only to wake up the next second in the aftermath of a terrible car accident. Only, she didn’t really wake up. As she follows her body which is rushed into hospital, she realizes she is a spirit trapped between life and death, and that she has the power to choose, whether to stay in this life or go. This is a wonderful little book, that somehow manages to be both heart-breaking and hopeful at the same time. A great read!

Oh, and there is a sequel, to be published in April 2011. It’s called Where She Went, and is written from Adam’s point of view (Adam who is Mia’s boyfriend in If I stay).

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Review: The Pace by Shelena Shorts

5 Aug

Series: The Pace Series, book #1

Published: August 19th 2009 by Lands Atlantic Publishing, LLC

Details: Paperback, 302 pages

My rating: 2/5

My summary:

I thought I would love this book, I really did. But I didn’t. It’s an interesting plot, a new take on paranormal. But the writing style put me off, it was so detailed that it detracted from the plot. I mean detailed as in relating too many irrelevant details, which prevented the story to flow. Each minute of the main character’s daily life was described, how she did her school assignments, how she ate her breakfast etc. I found it hard not to skim large sections. Also, the love interest felt too perfect and bland. Won’t continue the series.

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

Weston Wilson is not immortal and he is of this world. But, aging is not part of his existence,

and eighteen-year-old Sophie Slone is determined to find out why. In doing so, she could also uncover something about her own life expectancy that she may not want to know. Suddenly, immortality will mean everything and nothing all at the same time.

Intensely fascinating and rich with determination, The Pace brings together romance, mystery, and suspense in a compelling bond that is sure to have readers asking for more.

My thoughts:

I really thought I would love this novel. I so wanted too. It has got rave reviews at the book blogs, it is essentially a love story, and with a paranormal twist. Therefore it was a huge disappointment to realize that I didn’t love it..at all.

This is the story about Sophie, an 18-year old girl who lives with mom in California and attends an online high school. She literally runs into a guy at campus (car accident at parking lot), who seems oddly perplexed to see her there. They end up seeing each other again by chance, and the more she sees of him, the more perplexed she is as well. The guy is called Weston. Good looking, rich and with impeccable manners, he seems too good to be true. On one of their dates, after a little accident, she discovers that he isn’t entirely normal, and after that, bit by bit we get to know his background story.

The main problem for me in this book was the writing style. Now, I’m not normally that picky with writing styles. I’d have anything from the choppy Lisa Macmann’s to the somewhat simple Stephenie Meyer’s to the poetic and descriptive Gregory David Roberts, as long as it does the trick,  which is to transport me into the story.

The writing style in this book however, was so detailed that it detracted from the story. Details were related that had absolutely nothing to do with neither character development or the plot. They were tedious irrelevant day-to-day life details explained in a “she did this, then she did that, then she did this” – kind of way. Things like how she wrote a school assignment that had nothing to do with the plot would be described, like “she sat down by the computer, opened up a word document, stared at the white page, then started typing the title of the assignment, which was..”.

I have no interest in following the details of her school assignment, nor do I want to know how she eats her breakfast, or how exactly she types in books in the cash register at her work in the book store. Needless to say, it was hard not skimming through sections of the book, to get to the parts that really mattered, such as the developing relationship between Sophie and Wes.

My other problem with this book was that the two main characters felt kind of bland, especially Wes. He is just too perfect. Not one flaw, never doing or saying anything wrong. Never showing any emotions. It seems a bit ironic to say this, but he didn’t feel human.

So, would I recommend you reading this book?

Well, it does have an original plot, a new take on paranormal that is interesting. And there are apparently people out there who have no issues with the writing style, given the many rave reviews. So I’d say, go and see for yourself.

But I know that I will not attempt anything else by this author. I was not impressed.

Review: Gone by Lisa McMann

5 Aug

Series: Dream Catcher, book #3

Published: February 9th 2010 by Simon Pulse

Details: Hardcover, 214 pages

My rating: 3.5/5

My summary:

The wake series is a great series, which I’m recommending everyone to read. The last installment however doesn’t quite live up to the standard of the two previous books. That being said, I still enjoyed it, and loved getting to know more about Janies options. As a whole though, the book left me wanting more, thus the lower grade.

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

Janie thought she knew what her future held. And she thought she’d made her peace with it. But she can’t handle dragging Cabel down with her.

She knows he will stay with her, despite what she sees in his dreams. He’s amazing. And she’s a train wreck. Janie sees only one way to give him the life he deserves: She has to disappear. And it’s going to kill them both.

Then a stranger enters her life — and everything unravels. The future Janie once faced now has an ominous twist, and her choices are more dire than she’d ever thought possible. She alone must decide between the lesser of two evils. And time is running out….

My thoughts:

I read this, worrying about why people generally didn’t like this final installment of the Wake series as much as the first two books. And I get it now, why people didn’t like it as much. That being said, I still enjoyed the book. It’s only when comparing it to the first two books that I find myself slightly disappointed.

In this book there is no assignment. Instead, the plot revolves around Janie trying to make a decision on how to live her life. In Fade, she got an insight to one of her options, explained by Mrs Stubin. In Gone, she learns about her father, and thus learns more about the other option. All of this is interesting, and I loved getting to know more about Janie’s parents and their past. I completely understood the pondering Janie was going through.

So why was it disappointing then?

I think I just expected more, especially seeing as this is the final installment. I wanted more information, more resolvement. I would have loved more interaction between Janie and her father, Mrs Stubin and even her mother. But mostly, I would have loved Cabel to be more part of the plot. I understand that Janie needed some time alone to sort things through. But we never really get an insight into what Cabel is thinking. If compared to the last two books, he’s not part of this one much at all. And frankly, I missed him. The relationship between these two, their interactions and conversations in the previous two books is what made this series so good. At least that’s how I feel.

The ending. Well, without saying too much, it is OK, and sort of fitting to the story, and most importantly it ended on a positive note. However,  I still felt slightly dissatisfied. There were some unresolved issues left behind. I wish there was another book in the series to take care of those. I would have loved to know more of what happened next.

Unfortunately, this is the ending to the series, and I heard that McMann is not planning to write anything more in the Dream Catchers series. So this is it.

So would I recommend it?

Yes, because overall, it is great series. Original, great writing and with a wonderful love story. I’m glad I read it and I will definitely recommend it to others. Just make sure to lower your expectations somewhat for the last installment, as it is not as great as the first two.

Review: Fade by Lisa McMann

5 Aug

Series: Dream Catcher, book #2

Published: February 10th 2009 by Simon Pulse

Details: Hardcover, 248 pages

My rating: 4.5/5

My Summary:

Loved reading more about Janie and Cabel, such a wonderful couple! The assignment they are on this time is creepy, and Janie learns more about her abilities. Overall, great fast-paced read that I could not put down! I only wished each book was longer. Last book is called Gone.

My Full Review:

In this sequel we continue to follow the wonderful couple Janie and Cabel, and watch as their relationship deepens.  In the prequel Wake, Janie learns (to some extent) how to control her dream catcher abilities, and realizes how she can use them to help the police solving cases. Mostly positive stuff in other words.

In Fade, the inevitable negative side of her abilities sneaks up on her, and soon it feels as if her abilities are a curse rather than a gift. Every time she gets caught in a dream, it takes an incredible toll on her body, especially on her sight. She senses all of this, but doesn’t fully realize what she’s dealing with until it’s confirmed in a notebook written by the departed Mrs Stubin.

While reading the notebook she understands that she has two choices in regards to how she wants to live her life. And one of those choices does not include Cabel. It’s heart-breaking to watch Janie realizing the consequences of her dream catcher abilities, and I really felt with her along the way.

Meanwhile, they are on a new undercover mission for the captain. This time, teachers at their school are suspected of molesting students, but proof is needed. Janie is assigned the role of the bait in order to provide proof, an assignment proving to be quite dangerous.

In fact, I was a bit surprised that the whole undercover operation seemed to rest on Janie’s small shoulders alone. Not to mention the danger that the captain put Janie in. That did not seem like a believable scenario to me, like something that could ever happen in real life, rather it felt like a convenient plot devise in order to provide suspense.

That being said, it worked. I raced through the pages to find out what was going to happen. I swooned whenever Cabel was worried – which happened a lot, and my heart ached when Janie found out the horrible truths of her dream catcher abilities/curse.

So all in all, I’m loving this series, and can’t recommend it enough- and I’ve already thrown myself over the last installment Gone!

Review: Wake by Lisa McMann

5 Aug

Series: Dream Catcher, book #1

Published: March 4th 2008 by Simon Pulse

Details: Hardcover, 210 pages

My rating: 4.5/5

My summary:

A trilogy. About a girl who involuntarily slips into other people’s dreams whenever they fall asleep in her proximity. She meets Cabel, a troubled boy in her neighbourhood and they fall in love. It’s a short book, but still amazing – I read it in one sitting. Wonderful love story! Look forward to sequel Fade.

My review:

I loved this little book. I’ve read reviewers complaining about McManns choppy writing style but I thought it was refreshing. It was a straight-to-the-point type of writing. No rambling or endless passages of descriptions, just the core of the story written down in short sentences. And to me, the story flowed beautifully that way.

Janie, the protagonist is a dream catcher. Involuntarily so. Whenever someone in her proximity dreams, she gets sucked into that dream, whether she wants it or not. She doesn’t know how to control it.

One day, while driving on a street in her neighborhood she gets sucked into a particularly bad dream, and she soon learns that the owner of that dream is Cabel, a boy in her neighborhood. Cabel is a troubled boy, who’s got a pretty bad-boy reputation at school involving drugs and alcohol.

On a bus trip with school they end up sitting together, and this is where Cabel learns about Janie’s dream catcher ability as she suffers through the trip getting sucked into everyone’s dreams as her class mates take turns falling asleep on the bus.

I won’t reveal more, as it’s best if you discover that yourself. Let me just say that all though short this was a wonderful little story, involving one of the most believable literary couple I’ve met in a while, Janie and Cabel. They are so beautiful together it is absolutely heart-breaking. Both of them have had a rough start in their lives, living with practically non-caring parents. And to top it off, Janie has this weird little ability she’s trying to learn to control so that it won’t take over her life.

Very intriguing start to a series, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel Fade!

Also, if you’re like me, and really like the character Cabel, then you may be interested in reading Cabel’s point of view. Lisa McMann has written a couple of pages describing his thoughts of the first encounters with Janie, including the bus trip. Short but great read!

Check out Cabel’s side of the story

Deadly Little Lies by Laurie Faria Stolarz

5 Aug

Series: Touch, book #2

Published: November 9th 2009 by Hyperion Book CH

Details: Hardcover, 288 pages

My rating: 3.5/5

My Summary:

Ok, so the plot in the sequel is basically an exact copy of the first book. Another stalker, more doubts regarding Ben, more questionable admirers, same type of ending. I wish the story had moved forward instead. What I found intriguing in the first book just felt washed out in this one. I may still read the last book Deadly little games, out this year, to see if it gets better.

Review: The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

5 Aug

Series: The Dark Divine, book #1

Published: December 22nd 2009 by EgmontUSA

Details: Hardcover, 372 pages

My rating: 3.5/5

My summary:

About Grace, a dutiful pastor’s daughter who is drawn towards bad boy Daniel, a childhood friend who has suddenly come back after mysteriously dissappearing 3 years ago. What happened then and what is the deal with Daniel?

I really thought I would devour this. Instead I found it slow. Only after about 200 pages or so things start happening and I found myself glued to the last part. Sequel out this year.

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

Grace Divine—daughter of the local pastor—always knew something terrible

happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared and her brother Jude came home covered in his own blood.

Now that Daniel’s returned, Grace must choose between her growing attraction to him and her loyalty to her brother.

As Grace gets closer to Daniel, she learns the truth about that mysterious night and how to save the ones she loves, but it might cost her the one thing she cherishes most: her soul.

My thoughts:

I have mixed feelings regarding this book. It was pretty slow, and I was actually struggling a bit to keep up my interest. Then, in the last few chapters it redeemed itself, and ended with a big bang that really makes me want to read the sequel.

So where does that leave this book, in terms of grading I mean? Hmm..still deciding.

The story revolves around Grace, a dutiful pastor’s daughter, who is drawn towards bad boy Daniel. Daniel is a childhood friend who mysteriously disappeared three years ago after an accident (or was it an accident?) involving Grace’s brother Jude.  Daniel and Jude are since then not on speaking terms, to say the least. Daniel is now back, and even though Grace knows she better stay away from him – for loyalty to Jude, of course she can’t help but do the opposite.

Daniel is clearly a bad boy, and at the start of the book I was a bit irritated at the way he treated Grace. She’s going out of her way to help him and gets nothing in return. Like, what’s your problem? Then, that changes and he seems all right. Yet, we are still wondering through most part of the book what exactly is going on with him. Something is clearly not right.

Grace and Daniel also fall in love with each other, and this may be where it fell short for me  in the first part of the book. I just didn’t really feel that. It felt as if she just saw him and boom, she was in love. Then again, Daniel is a childhood friend, and Grace did have a crush on him already back then, so it really isn’t surprising that those feelings resurfaced so quickly again. Still, for me as a reader I didn’t feel it. I think I would have needed more background story of how it was back then, before Daniel disappeared, to see them as just friends. That would have made the “falling in love” feel more real.

By the end of the book, it is finally explained what exactly happened three years ago, and what the deal is with Daniel. If you haven’t guessed it already, there are some supernatural elements here. I won’t say what exactly as it is best if you discover those as you read. The ending is great, and like I said before, it promises a great sequel.

Overall though, the plot was so slow and weak at first, that I won’t give it a 4. However, my hopes are up for a better read in the sequel The Lost Saint, out in December this year.

Review: Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead

5 Aug

Series: Georgina Kincaid, book #1

Published: March 1st 2007 by Kensington

Details:  Paperback, 343 pages

My rating: 3/5

My summary:

Start of a series, by same author as Vampire Academy. About a succubus who seduces and pleasures mortal men (while sapping their life energy), but also longing for what she can’t have, a true love. This was ok, not as bad as Bitten, but not great either. Good writing but a weak plot. I may read another one in the series to see if it gets better.

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

Succubus (n.) An alluring, shape-shifting demon who seduces and pleasures mortal men. Pathetic (adj.)

A succubus with great shoes and no social life. See: Georgina Kincaid.

When it comes to jobs in hell, being a succubus seems pretty glamorous. A girl can be anything she wants, the wardrobe is killer, and mortal men will do anything just for a touch. Granted, they often pay with their souls, but why get technical?

But Seattle succubus Georgina Kincaid’s life is far less exotic. Her boss is a middle-management demon with a thing for John Cusack movies. Her immortal best friends haven’t stopped teasing her about the time she shape-shifted into the Demon Goddess getup complete with whip and wings. And she can’t have a decent date without sucking away part of the guy’s life. At least there’s her day job at a local bookstore–free books; all the white chocolate mochas she can drink; and easy access to bestselling, sexy writer, Seth Mortensen, aka He Whom She Would Give Anything to Touch but Can’t.

But dreaming about Seth will have to wait. Something wicked is at work in Seattle’s demon underground. And for once, all of her hot charms and drop-dead one-liners won’t help because Georgina’s about to discover there are some creatures out there that both heaven and hell want to deny…

My thoughts:

This book is written by the same author as The Vampire Academy, which is an highly acclaimed vampire series. I’ve also read a couple of good reviews and so I decided to give it a go, despite the synopsis which sent off a couple of alarm bells.  You see, it revolves around  a succubus, who feeds of sex from mortal men. It felt like this could be one of those adult romance type of novels, which really are porn disguised in a paranormal romance package.

I’m relieved to say that no, it wasn’t that bad. Yes, of course there is some sexual content, as we are dealing with the life of a succubus, but it never felt like it was too much. It was there to move the plot along. So in that aspect, all good.

I like the writing style as well. It wasn’t poetic or anything like that. But it was kind of easy-going. It had a flow which made you get into the story very easily.

Still, despite all this, I wasn’t blown away by the book. And I’ll get to why in a moment.

The main character Georgina is a charming and witty girl who works at a book store in Seattle, living a relatively normal life. She is also a succubus, which means she feeds of sex with mortal men, in which she sucks their life energy.

She hates it though and refuses to destroy good mortal men, and as such, prefers feeding of scums, guys with low moral values. Her friends include, apart from the mortals working in the book store, a vampire, a demon and an angel.

When we are introduced into the story, Georginas favorite author has just arrived to town. A charming guy called Seth. And here begins her struggles with liking him but not wanting to give him too much encouragement, because obviously any sort of physical contact would be impossible, seeing as that would destroy Seth.

Seth is not the only love interest though. There are several other guys around in this book, all utterly charmed by Georgina of course seeing as she is a very attractive woman, due to her shape-shifting abilities (as part of her being a succubus).

While Georgina is running around not wanting to get too close with any of the guys that she likes, yet doing exactly that, a murder mystery is going in Seattle. Someone is killing immortals, i.e. vampires, demons etc. And somehow all this is linked to Georgina. She’s getting these mysterious notes from someone who appears to be the killer.

So yes, you might have guessed it already.. I thought the plot was pretty weak. I didn’t believe in the murder mystery – it seemed to have only been thrown in there in order to create some suspense. It also got a bit tiring with Georgina’s all love interests. I mean, if she had such an issue with guys being attracted to her, why not just turn of the charm or shape shift into a less attractive woman? Problem solved! Also, the love interest Seth felt quite bland. Yes, he was a nice guy but he lacked charisma.

I did however root for one side character. I won’t say who, but if you read the book you might guess who I’m talking about. I am kind of curious to see if he will play a bigger part in the books to come. So even though I wasn’t too impressed by the start of this series, I think I might read another to see if it gets better.

Review: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

5 Aug

Series: Perfect Chemistry, book #1

Published: January 1st 2008 by Walker Books for Young Readers

Details: Paperback, 360 pages

My rating: 5/5

My summary:

A story about two teenagers, she rich from north side of town and he a gang member from the south side of town, who are reluctantly paired up in chemistry class, then end up falling in love. All though there are no paranormal elements here, this is a wonderful read.  I was practically glued to the pages, reading it in one sitting. The love story blew me away!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Full Review:

Synopsis:

When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created “perfect” life is about to unravel before her eyes. She’s forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she’s worked so hard for—her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect. Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more.
In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.

My thoughts:

Simply put, amazing book. I knew from all the rave reviews that this was a WOW-sort of book, and I had high expectations. Amazingly, it still exceeded those expectations. I was blown away!

Simon Elkeles has created a wonderful story that will get under your skin and stay with you for a while. I don’t know how she did it. The story is not that original, far from actually. In fact,  when I first read the summary, it felt sort of cliché. Cheerleader gets teamed up with bad boy in chemistry class and finds out that well, they have a lot of chemistry going on. And the book cover doesn’t really help. Let me just say, it’s not the sort of book I would want to be caught reading on the subway.

So what then makes it so special?

It is essentially the writing, and the character development.  You can literally feel the two main characters falling in love as they get to know each other better. It’s so real you feel and breath with them, you feel the pain of each obstacle as if it were your own and the joy when they start understanding each other.

The book is told in alternating POV’s which is great, as you get an insight in both characters thoughts, thus realising what they are both struggling with, and the perception they have of each other, and how that changes over time. Alternating POV’s is not always great, and I often find that authors don’t distinguish the voices enough. They end up blurring into each other, making the story somewhat confusing for the reader. For instance, I felt this problem with Shiver.

In Perfect Chemistry however, the voices of Alex and Brittany are so clearly different that not once did I stop and wonder who was who. One aspect which helped, and also made the story telling more authentic, was the Spanish phrases thrown in here and there into the POV of Alex. I loved that. It made him feel even more real. Brittany felt very real as well, and I completely bought the troubles she had, despite being rich, beautiful and the most popular girl in school.

All in all, this is a great book about a great love story where you really root for the main characters, I think I dare say as much as I rooted for Bella and Edward in Twilight. There is a sequel called Rules of Attraction, which follows Alex’s little brother Carlos in quest for happiness in his life. Apparently, this includes a great love story too. Needless to say, I am very eager to get my hands on this book!

Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

5 Aug

Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls, book #1

Published: August 1st 2009 by Scholastic Press

Details: Hardcover, 392 pages

My rating: 3.5/5

My summary:

A sweet story about a human teenage girl who falls in love with a werewolf. The story focuses on their relationship and their time together, describing their dialogues in details, a bit like in Twilight. Not nearly as addictive as Twilight though. This relationship was almost too sweet. Still enjoyable read, especially towards the end. The sequel is Linger, out in July this year.

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human … until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human–or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

My thoughts:

I admit I had high expectations for this book. It was compared to Twilight with glowing reviews. I read several blogs claiming it to be even better than Twilight.

And I loved the idea with a book based on a relationship, and not any relationship, but that between a girl and a werewolf. It all seemed very romantic and promising.

So, did I love it?

No, I am truly sad to say I didn’t love it. It was not as good as Twilight. That being said, I did enjoy it. And I plan to continue the series. It was interesting, it just didn’t blow me away.

The story centers around Grace who has always been drawn to the wolves in the woods surrounding her town, in particular this one wolf with yellow eyes. One day she encounters a boy with yellow eyes on her porch. He’s wounded and she ends up taking care of him. The boy is Sam and we learn that he is in fact a werewolf, who has just now shifted into his human form.

Sam practically moves into Grace’s bedroom, without the knowledge of Grace’s parents who are for the most part of the story never really there. They end up falling in love.

Now, what I just described is the first part of the book. I should have been glued to these pages watching them falling in love.

But I wasn’t.

In fact, I found this first part to be the weaker part of the plot, and I find it hard to explain why. It was as if as soon as they met, they were in love. No growth, no obstacles, no doubts, all very lovey-dovey and sweet. Maybe that’s why I didn’t buy into it. Or maybe it was because Grace never really made an impression on me. I never really related to her as she just never stood out as a character. A bit too bland somehow. Sam has slightly more character.

But really, I find it hard to explain. I usually love reading about this type of relationship and I am not sure why this didn’t stick with me.

Their story is told with alternating POV’s, which is something I usually like too. The voices of Sam and Grace however sort of melted into one. They were too similar. A couple of times I had to double-check which POV I was reading – Sam or Grace’s. That could also be one reason why their love didn’t stick with me.

It gets better though. Stiefvater has created an interesting werewolf myth, where the cold is the factor that changes the human into wolf form. Hence, the cold is the enemy here, and the colder it gets as it nears towards winter, the harder it is for Sam to stay in his human form.

To complicate things further, Jack, a boy in school has died, or has he really? It appears as if he is seen around the woods with the other wolves, creating all sorts of problems. His sister Isabelle, is on to something and she starts questioning Grace about the nature of the wolves.

In the second part of the book, suspense is heightened, as we want to know what is going to happen. Will Sam remain in his human form? Will the secret of the wolves be revealed? What will happen to the missing, supposedly dead Jack?

In the second part of the book, I got hooked and I had a hard time leaving the book. I loved all the secondary characters, in particular Isabelle, and I’m eager to see what direction she will take in further books.

So all in all, despite the fact that it didn’t live up to my (very  high) expectations, I did enjoy it, and I’m looking forward to read the sequel Linger.

Silk by Alessandro Baricco

5 Aug

Series: No, stand-alone book.

Published: August 25th 1998 by Vintage

Details: Paperback, 112 pages

My rating: 4/5

Amazingly beautifully written book about a married silk trader who travels to Japan for business and falls in love with a girl. I loved the poetic language and how the story felt so complete, considering this little book is not even 120 pages long. A joy to read.

Review: Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

5 Aug

Series: Women of the Otherworld, book #1

Published: September 7th 2004 by Plume

Details: Paperback, 436 pages

My rating: 1/5

My Summary:

Book written in Sidney Sheldon style but involving werewolves. Flat characters and a stupid plot that had me alternating between frowning and cringing while reading it. I could not get through the book. And I’m still baffled by all the good reviews it got.

My Review:

I have been navigating for a while in the paranormal jungle, generally avoiding the adult paranormal romance section – especially those with cheesy covers. But then, after having read a great deal of “best debut of the year!” type of reviews of Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten, I decided to give it a try (cheesy book cover or not).

I should not have bothered. It was so bad, I couldn’t finish it. And this is coming from someone who always – I mean always – finish books I’ve started. Sometimes I wonder why I need to finish books, it’s almost like a compulsive order, like I have to. Or I suppose it’s because I stay optimistic until the very end, thinking that maybe the book will redeem itself. You never know, right? Well, I’m getting sidetracked I know. Point is, me not finishing a book is an extremely bad rating.

That being said, the first chapter wasn’t that terrible. We get to know Elena, a young woman and journalist in Toronto, Canada who lives together with her wonderful boyfriend Phillip. All good there, except for the fact that Elena is a werewolf. She keeps this a secret, and tries to live a normal life as much as she can. Sometimes though, she can’t hide her werewolf instincts and shapeshifts to go for a run in the outskirts of Toronto. It’s on one of these runs that we are introduced to the story, and in that first chapter I thought the descriptions of her transformation as a werewolf  were quite well drawn.

After that chapter though it goes downhill, in terms of everything – plot, characterization, descriptions. Her werewolf pack, where she used to live contact her as they are having problems with a rough mutt (a stranger werewolf killing humans). She flies to New York to meet up with them, shaking up memories at the same time seeing as this is the first time she meets her ex-lover, the werewolf Clay. Clay was the love of her life, yet he was also the one biting her, fully knowing that she may not survive the transition. Not surprisingly, Elena views this as a betrayal. Yet, not many chapters in, she goes and have sex with him, without having second thoughts about her loving boyfriend in Toronto.

I don’t know, the whole thing just oozed stupidity. Elena’s inner monologues, and there are many of them, don’t make much sense, or are just plain boring and whiny. The werewolf world-building with only 35 male werewolves and one female wolf didn’t make much sense either – I mean 35 wolves in  the whole world – really? The dialogues seemed contrived, as if taken from a soap-opera series, and I couldn’t relate to Elena. She was trying to be all tough and witty but it just came out false sounding.

To me, this book wasn’t much better than any of the lesser Harlequin novels out there, and I honestly for my life can’t understand all the great reviews it has received. But I’ve learnt one thing and that is to be more careful regarding rave reviews, and not to forget that we all have different tastes.

Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

5 Aug

Series: Caster Chronicles, book #1

Published: December 1st 2009 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Details: Hardcover, 563 pages

My rating: 2.5/5

My summary:

Tale of a human boy who meets a caster girl and falls in love. Even though well written, and funny and quirky at times (with great secondary characters), it was way too slow. And I didn’t feel the love between the main characters Ethan and Lena. I’m sorry to say it all fell flat for me and I won’t be continuing the series.

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

My thoughts:

So I jumped on the bandwagon and got myself a copy of Beautiful Creatures, which was proclaimed to be the next Twilight.

I was hoping for another love story with paranormal elements that would blow me away. I’m sad to say that I wasn’t.  I did however like the book. It wasn’t bad, but  it was no page-turner either. In fact, I had no problem at all leaving it for a few weeks midway through, to read a couple of other books in between. Never a good sign.

The main flaw for me was that the love story did not feel real. The narrator Ethan keeps telling us how much in love he is with Lena, but I just didn’t believe it. It felt more to me that they came together because destiny had decided that. It was almost as if they didn’t really have any choice, and kind of just went along with it.

Maybe more room was needed for the romance to blossom into something real? As it was now, almost as soon as they met, weird stuff started happening and the story pretty much turned into solving the mystery of Lena’s curse, rather than of them falling in love. I don’t know, I’m just guessing here why the love story fell flat for me.

I also found the book too slow. The background of the curse of Lena’s sixteenth birthday is explained somewhere midway through the book. Then the seemingly endless wait for her birthday begins, and this wait essentially continues until the final pages. Not much happens in between – apart from lots of worrying and a fruitless search for a cure to Lena’s curse.

What I did like about the book though was the descriptions of the small town surroundings. The narrator’s voice is very likable as he describes all the people around him. The secondary characters are vivid and charming personalities and I found myself chuckle out loud quite a few times. So in that sense, I liked it, as it’s well written and witty.

But despite that, it is nowhere near comparable to Twilight. It’s definitely not as addictive, and I didn’t buy the romance. I enjoyed some parts of the book though, and some of the secondary characters, but not so much that I will continue the series.

Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

5 Aug

Series: Hunger Games, book #2

Published:  September 1st 2009 by Scholastic Press

Details: Hardcover, 391 pages

My rating: 5/5

My Summary:

Ok, so finished this sequel to the Hunger Games in record time. Suspense from start to finish. And ending with a cliff-hanger again, so can’t WAIT for the last book Mockingjay, out this month!

My Full Review:

Like everyone else in the blogosphere, I absolutely loved The Hunger Games, and I was dying to read the this sequel Catching Fire. Even though my expectations were rocket high, it did not disappoint. Just like the first book, I was sucked into the story and literally read the whole thing in one sitting.

It begins where it left off in Hunger Games, with Katniss and Peeta returning to district 12 after winning the games. At the end of those games, Katniss pulled out deadly berries, forcing The Capitol to accept both her and Peeta as winners, or else they would have committed suicide. This little act of rebellion has not gone unnoticed, and the 12 districts of Panem are now boiling under the surface, so much in fact that President Snow himself pays a visit to Katniss house. He tells her that she better try to calm down the situation while touring the districts on the following victory tour, or else someone she loves will pay.

Beware of slight spoilers:

Katniss and Peeta head out for the Victory tour, looking every bit in love as ever, reinforcing the false view of start-crossed lovers who pulled out those berries in an act of love, rather than rebellion. None of this matters though, as the next Hunger Games is announced as a special 75th Hunger Games. Tradition states that every 25th year, a twist is to be introduced in the Hunger Games. This year, not surprisingly, President Snow has come up with the twist that the former victors have to enter the arena, one girl and one boy from each district, thus throwing Peeta and Kaniss into the Hunger Games round 2.

Meanwhile, it seems as if some districts are rebelling – all though The Capitol is doing their best to silence the news. There are also rumours circulating regarding district 13, which was supposedly completely destroyed as a punishment for the previous attempted rebellion. But what if district 13 still exists?

End of spoilers

There is more, but I don’t want to give too much away. I loved every bit of it though. It was as much of an emotional and action-packed roller-coaster as the first book. Once I started I simply could not let it go. The ending left me aching for more. What a terrific trilogy this is turning out to be, I am truly amazed by the story-telling abilities of Suzanne Collins! If you haven’t read The Hunger Games yet, what are you waiting for? Do it now!

Review: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

5 Aug

Series: Hunger Games, book #1

Published: October 1st 2008 by Scholastic Press

Details: Hardcover, 374 pages

My rating: 5/5

My summary:

One of the better books I’ve read in recent years. Impossible to put down. All though brutal at times, also sweet, full of warmth and with great characters. The story is so good that I find it hard not rattling on about it to everyone I know. This is simply put a must read!!

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

Life in District 12 isn’t easy for Katniss and her family. Ever since her father died the girl has spent her time saving her mother and little sister Prim from starvation by hunting on forbidden land. But worst of all is reaping day. Once a year the government chooses two children from each of the twelve districts to compete against one another in a live and televised reality show. Twenty-four kids and teens enter, and only one survives.

When Prim’s name is called, Katniss exchanges herself without hesitation to compete alongside the baker’s boy Peeta. To survive in this game you need to win the heart of your audience, and so District 12’s trainers come up with a plan. Why not make it as if Peeta and Katniss were in love with one another? But in a game where only one person can live, Katniss will have to use all her brains, wits, and instincts to determine who to trust and how to outwit the game’s creators.

My thoughts:

Wow, that’s all I can say, really wow! I heard about this book, it was generally people raving about it on various book-blogs and I considered reading it. Still hesitant, because it seemed so brutal and I wasn’t sure if I was up to reading a “lord of the flies”, with kids running around beating each other to death. But as I accidently happened across the book at the local library I decided to give it a shot, and boy am I glad I did!

If I’ve called other books page-turners, I think I’ll have to invent a new meaning for the term, because this was such a page-turner that no force in the universe could have made me put the book down, once I started! It’s a 400+ pages book and I literally read it in one sitting, cancelling all other activities I had planned for the day. The story is so good, that at times I had to stop and just marvel at the turn of events the author had created.

But here I am rattling on..let’s get to the review:

As seen in the synopsis, this is the story about Katniss who in a dystopian future takes the place of her sister in the yearly tournament Hunger Games. The Hunger Games have been created by the Capitol (the government) to ensure the people in the districts are reminded each year how helpless and powerless they are up against the Capitol. This is to prevent the people to rebel, which is something that happened many years ago.

Each year, each district is forced to send two of their kids to fight against their lives in an arena filled with dangers, created by the Capitol. Only one kid is allowed to survive.

Katniss, our heroine is from district 12. Ever since her father died in a mine explosion, and her mother consequently went into a depression, she has been the food supplier of the family, mainly hunting game out in the forbidden woods outside the district.

She is a tough girl, and as a reader you believe and vote for her straight away as someone who actually might make it alive through the games. Complications arise though when the other kid from district 12 is chosen, a boy named Peeta. He seems like such a good boy and well, without saying too much, let me just say I rooted for him pretty much immediately. But only one is allowed to survive, right?

We enter the Hunger Games, and there are some turn of events here that literally had my gasping out loud. Yes, there are 24 kids here, who are to be slaughtered in  a number of ways. Yet, seeing as we are following Katniss, who is not present at most of the deaths, it’s not as cruel as you might think. Instead, as a reader you focus on her, and how she will survive. I don’t like when things get too cruel and dark. Generally, I need some heart and warmth to keep me going in a book. But let me assure you, that despite the cruel premise in this book, there are some real heart-warming moments. That’s what makes it so good.

I really only have one minor criticism, and that is the ending, which clearly needs a follow-up. It’s not exactly a cliff-hanger but you will want to read the next book, Catching Fire, pretty much straight away.

Review: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

5 Aug

Series: The Body Finder, book #1

Published: March 16th 2010 by HarperTeen

Details: Hardcover, 327 pages

My rating: 4/5

My summary:

About a girl who “senses” murdered bodies. This is a sweet first love story with many similarities to Bella and Edward, allthough no vampires involved. There is also a murder mystery which to me was the weaker part of the book. Still very enjoyable read.

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

A serial killer on the loose. A girl with a morbid ability. And the boy who would never let anything happen to her.

Violet Ambrose can find the dead. Or at least, those who have been murdered. She can sense the echoes they leave behind… and the imprints they leave on their killers. As if that weren’t enough to deal with during junior year, she also has a sudden, inexplicable, and consuming crush on her best friend since childhood, Jay Heaton.

Now a serial killer has begun terrorizing Violet’s small town… and she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

My thoughts:

I heard a lot about this book on various book blogs, usually in rave reviews.

It can be  classified as paranormal romance with suspense. The romance is not paranormal per se, as in both people are actually human. The main character Violet however has some unique paranormal abilities.

Her paranormal ability is that  she senses bodies of those who have been murdered. It is as if she has a sixth sense, capturing some kind of energy that eminates from murdered bodies, that is; bodies that are not in peace. This may sound strange but is very well described in the book, and you can practically sense it as you are reading it.

Violet lives in the small town Burke with her family. Her best friend and childhood friend is Jay. We enter the story where Violet is starting to have feelings for Jay. At about the same time girls start disappearing in and around her town, to be discovered murdered. Seeing as she can sense not only the victims of the murders but also the murderers themselves, Violet decides to try and capture the murderer herself.

It sounds like a book centered around the capturing of a murderer,  but really, most of the book is romance. The murderer is constantly  lingering as a threat in the background but the main focus of the story  is the relationship between Violet and her love interest Jay.

That doesn’t matter though  as the romance is really sweet. It’s an all-consuming first love kind of romance. And even though Jay is not a vampire, (he’s just a normal guy) he reminds me a little of Edward in terms of his personality, slightly overprotective but really sweet. Come to think of it, Violet sort of reminded me a Bella too, in how she’s constantly trying not to cause anyone trouble, hates to be the center of attention and manages to put herself in danger all the time.

The suspense was well written but had a couple of logical gaps regarding some parts of the plot. I just didn’t buy that a serial killer would behave the way he did in this book.

But as I said earlier, that doesn’t really matter as the romance is the focus of the story, and as such is one of the sweetest romances I have read in a while. So all in all, this is a page turner which is definitely worth the read.  Apparently there is a sequel coming out next year, Desires of the Dead, which I’m very happy about. I would love to read more about Jay and Violet!

Review: A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

5 Aug

Series: No, stand-alone book

Published: September 21st 2005 by Graphia

Details: Paperback, 282 pages

My rating: 4/5

Summary:

Haunting tale about two ghosts who inhabit human bodies and fall in love. The love story is not the main theme though as focus is gradually shifted towards the issues following their possession of the bodies. I had a bad gut feeling throughout the whole book, as if something terrible was going to happen, yet I couldn’t let it go. Interesting story that had me thinking.

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

Someone was looking at me, a disturbing sensation if you’re dead. I was with my teacher, Mr Brown. As usual, we were in our classroom, that safe and wooden-walled box – the windows opening onto the grassy field to the west, the fading flag standing in the chalk dusty corner, the television set mounted above the bulletin board like a sleeping eye, and Mr Brown’s princely table keeping watch over a regimen of student desks.

My thoughts:

I started reading this book thinking it was going to be about two ghosts who fell in love. Which it was, but as the story unfolds, it ends up being about so much more.

Essentially, this is the story from the point of view of Helen, a ghost who has been stuck between hell and earth for 130 years, without really knowing why as she can’t remember her living life. She assumes she must have done something horrible to be stuck this way. She is terribly lonely, and the only company she gets is from watching the living people she has been attaching herself too during these years, her “hosts” as she calls them, who naturally cannot see her.

This goes on, until one day she’s noticed by a boy,  in the class room in which her current host is teaching. The boy, called James, turns out to be a ghost too, but is inhabiting a living boy’s body (Billy), whose soul has left. They get to know each other, and together start looking for a body for Helen, so that they can be together. They find that body in Jenny, a girl whose soul has left too. Once Helen is in her body, their relationship blossoms into a love story, and all might have been well there, hadn’t the pasts come back to haunt them.

The pasts haunting them are not only those of James and Helen, who suddenly start remembering bits and pieces of their former lives, but also the pasts of their bodies, Jenny and Billy. There were reasons why the souls of Jenny and Billy left their bodies, as James and Helen soon find out. Billy is a bad boy and white trash, who’s soul left in a haze a drugs, stemming from unresolved family issues. Jenny on the other hand appears to have had the perfect family life, all though on a closer look, had her soul slowly suffocated by all too controlling and conservative parents .

If I were to summarize the book, I’d say that in the first half of the book, I was eagerly turning pages to find out how the relationship between the ghosts James and Helen would play out. In the second half of the book, tension creeps in gradually, as the focus is moved from the love story and onto the issues of the bodies (Billy and Jenny) and problems arising when James and Helen are not behaving as they are expected. Basically, throughout the second part of the book I had a feeling everything was heading towards disaster, which in a way it was.

The ending was suprising, as I didn’t see it coming, but I liked it (it’s positive) all though it does leave quite a few open ends. In short, this is a book that will take you by surprise, and make you think long after you’ve turned the last page.

Review: Wings by Aprilynne Pike

5 Aug

Series: Wings, book #1

Published: May 1st 2009 by HarperTeen

Details: Hardcover, 294 pages

My rating: 3.5/5

My summary:

Quick enjoyable read about a girl who discovers she’s a fairy. With a love triangle. All though easy read, I felt it was a bit too childish for a 30+ year old. There is a sequel, Spells.

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful—too beautiful for words.

Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings.

In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.

My thoughts:

There are many books out there which are proclaimed to be the next Twilight. Wings by Aprilynne Pike is one of those books, probably since the story includes both romance and paranormal elements. On top of that, it’s been recommended by Stephenie Meyer, and I like her book recommendations. She’s the reason I read Hunger Games! So for me, this was a good premise, being both ‘twilight’-esque and recommended by Meyer.

Wings is the first book in a series of four. It follows Laurel,  a 15-year old girl who discovers that she is a fairy. It starts with Laurels first day at school when she befriends a boy, David.  Along with him, we learn about Laurel and how she has always been slightly different than everyone else. When she starts growing wings on her back she realizes just how different she is. She also meets Tamani, a boy of her kind who helps her exploring the new world she belongs to, yet didn’t know existed. With Tamani in the picture, a love triangle is formed where Laurel has problems choosing between the two.

This was a very easy read. Actually, it was almost too easy, that is, I felt as if I was reading a pree-teen book rather than YA. I have read quite a few YA books this year and all though they are about teens, and generally aimed solely at teens, I usually have no issues with that. But in Wings, the language felt childish, which bothered me a little.

In saying that, it still kept my interest, all though I thought the boy David was a bit bland. I mean he was nice, interested in Laurel and all about helping her, which is good. I think the problem was that he lacked personality or charisma. He jokes himself about being a science nerd, and I couldn’t help but agree on that.

So when the charismatic Tamani jumped into the picture midway through the book,  I rooted for him immediately, and so the second half of the book was much better. Needless to say I’m Team Tamani. The ending leaves you wondering about what decisions Laurel will make, as for her new life as a fairy and the love triangle.

In short, I thought Wings was an enjoyable read – I read it in about 2 days – but it is also easily forgettable. There is a sequel out called Spells, which I probably will read at some stage, but I don’t feel any need to rush out and get it just yet.

Review: Hush Hush by by Becca Fitzpatrick

5 Aug

Series: Hush Hush, book #1

Published: October 13th 2009 by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing

Details: Hardcover, 391 pages

My rating: 4/5

My summary:

About a human girl who meets an handsome and seemingly paranormal/dangerous boy in school. Despite the fact that this boy is far from an Edward, definitely more dangerous than trustworthy – I loved this book. Well written, it felt like I was inside the story and I couldn’t let the book go. The only downside was a rushed ending with a few logical gaps. Sequel Crescendo out later this year.

See my full review below:

Synopsis:

For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her…until Patch comes along.

With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment, but after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends.

She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is far more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen – and when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

My thoughts:

Read or not to read..? That’s how I went for quite some time with Hush Hush. I was reluctant since the love interest Patch seemed like such a psychopath, yet I was intrigued because it fit the type of book I like, paranormal romance. I read lots of reviews, which just told me that people either hated or loved this book, not really making my decision any easier.

Then finally, I’d become  so curious that I had to read it anyway!

And well..I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised. This was far better than I thought! I was thinking that I would find Nora boring, Path a psychopath and Vee unbelievably  stupid. While I can understand these views (there is definitely some truth in them) it was still a very enjoyable read.

The story centers around Nora Grey, a 16-year old girl who lives in small town in Maine, mostly hanging out with her best friend Vee. Nora and Vee are pretty much the opposite of one another, Nora being the responsible always-doing-her-homework kind of girl  while Vee wants nothing but party and talk about guys.

The book starts when Nora gets teamed up with this new and mysterious boy Patch in biology class. Patch seems to know everything about her, which is a bit unsettling (to say the least). Not only that, as soon as he enters her life, she seems to have gotten herself a stalker, someone bent on hurting her. Has Patch anything to do with that or is it all just pure coincidence? Through most of the book you’re left wondering along with Nora, who Patch is and what his motives are.

To make things even more complicated, Nora finds herself attracted to Patch, so even though she feels he is not good for her, she can’t help but feeling drawn towards him.

I thought the book was well written, and very easy to get into. All the characters were well-developed and believable, and I completely bought Nora’s confusion regarding Patch. The one thing I didn’t believe in was the ending. It felt like there were too many things thrown in there so that it got a bit messy, as in too many villains with motives that weren’t properly explained. It was as if Fitzpatrick just needed to create some suspense at the end, but hadn’t quite thought things through. Apart from those final pages though,  it was a great read.

There are a lot of question marks left hanging after finishing this book, mostly regarding Patch and his motives. I’m still not entirely sure of what he is up to with Nora. But then, I suppose this is also what is keeping my interest.

In short, Fitzpatrick has certainly managed to create a really fascinating bad boy character in Patch and I’m eagerly looking forward to continue the story of him and Nora in the next installment of the series Crescendo, due out in October this year.

Extras by Scott Westerfeld

5 Aug

Series: Uglies, book #4

Published: October 2nd 2007 by Simon Pulse

Details: Hardcover, 417 pages

My grade: 3/5

Fourth book in the Uglies series, more a companion book than sequel. The setting takes place a couple of years after “Specials”, and follows a new heroine, japanese Aya. I didn’t think it was as good as the rest. It felt a bit like a bleak reproduction of the first book Uglies and only picked up for me half way through when Tally (heroine in the first 3 books) shows up.