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Review: Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer

20 Oct

Series: Nightshade,  book #2

Published: July 26th 2011 by Penguin Young Readers Group

Details: Hardcover, 390 pages

My Rating: 2.5/5

My Summary:

In this sequel of The Nightshade series, Calla finds herself struggling with the consequences of having left her pack. She and Shay are being cared for by the Searchers, but the rest of her group, including Ren, are still with the enemies. I loved Nightshade, but was less than thrilled with this one. Too much talking and info dump. Not enough action. In the end, not much was solved, and it finishes off in a cliff-hanger. All in all, disappointing.

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Synopsis:

When Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemies, she’s certain her days are numbered. But then the Searchers make her an offer—one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack—and the man—she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side no matter what? Now in control of her own destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can endure and still survive.

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My Review:

Only 50 pages in, my “filler warning bell” started ringing. (The bell that rings when I see filler-signs, usually in sequels, see Linger or Desires of the Dead.)

I tried to ignore it, because I wanted to like Wolfsbane. I had been dying to read it ever since I finished the amazing Nightshade a couple of months ago. But the more I read, the higher the bell rang. And after another 100 or so pages I could no longer deny the fact that my “warning bell” had a valid point. The plot was definitely missing!

Throughout the first 250 pages, we follow Calla and Shay as they hang out at the Searcher’s quarters. Doing what you may ask?

Well, bickering. That’s what they do. They sit around and talk, joke, banter, discuss things and once in a while drink coffee or take a tour on the grounds. Then back to talking and joking around some more.

Literally 250 pages of dialogues, I kid you not!

You know, I’m usually a fan of dialogues, since they are a convenient way of showing what the characters are like, rather than the author telling us through descriptions. My problem with these dialogues though were that they seemed to have no purpose, other than serve as fillers.

A pattern that would repeat itself over and over again, was the following:

A vital piece of information needed to be delivered, maybe half a page at the most. But throw some bickering of the group in between that vital piece of information and voila! Three pages have been filled rather than a half.

It would usually go like this:

(One line of actual information)

“You’ll rendevouz with Grant tonight”, Silas said, pulling a crumpled piece of paper out of his jeans pocket. “I just got confirmation”.

(Start bickering)

Anika reached for the note. “Silas, we’ve talked about keeping correspondence neat”.

“I was in a hurry”. He shrugged.

“I wouldn’t touch that if I were you”, Connor said. “You don’t know where that’s been”.

“Shut up, you louse”, Silas snapped.

“Louse?” Connor laughed. “How deep did you have to dig for that one?”

(End bickering)

(One line of actual information)

(Start bickering..)

You see what I mean? It went on like this for the entire novel!

It also felt like Cremer tried so hard to make the searchers a likable bunch of people, that in the end, it felt forced. All their bantering and bickering felt like “Oh look at us! We’re so cool, deep and fun, we listen to cool music, we play guitar and on top of it all, we are kick-ass warriors who can wield all sort of lethal ninja-weapons”.

Sorry guys, but you did not impress me.

It felt more like a parody of other warriors, or as if Cremer had just read The Mortal Instruments and tried to create a new kind of Shadowhunters. Same type of bickering, same tight relationships, same weaponry rooms with enchanted weapons and the same type of enormous headquarters situated all over the world. There was even the same type of war going on against our parallel world, a demon world with black magic.

Only, in The Mortal Instruments it worked, because I saw it in action. It was an on-going thing, as in, they would head out and meet demons and fight them on a daily basis. Here, not so much. It was more talking and yada yada yada. I never felt any urgency, and I certainly never felt that they were skilled or talented. They made a huge fuss over preparing well and making plans, but when they actually went out there, it ended up being the most unplanned thing I’ve ever seen, which quickly went downhill as soon as they set foot on enemy territory. Skilled warriors? I think not.

Another thing that fell short for me was the love triangle. Surprisingly, because if you remember my review of Nighshade, I devoured Calla’s difficulties with choosing between her alpha mate Ren and the newcomer Shay. In this installment however, Shay has turned into an obnoxious macho guy who would not take no for an answer. Ren is practically absent the entire novel, save from a 3 second cameo appearance, and like most reviewers have commented, I missed him!

Moreover, I no longer recognized Calla. She lost her spine in this book, and was walking around feeling lost and guilty most of the time. A shame, since Calla was one of my favorite heroines in Nightshade.

The ending is a cliff-hanger, and promises more of Ren, which I have to admit is intriguing. Nevertheless, I am considering ending the series here. Unless of course, the next book Bloodrose recieves stunning reviews.

Bloodrose to be released in January next year. For all you “Team Ren” out there, see a teaser chapter here.

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

7 Oct

Series: Matched, book #1

Published: November 30th 2010 by Dutton Juvenile

Details: Hardcover, 384 pages

My Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

About Cassia, who in a dystopian future where The Society control all, is matched with Xander and then finds out that it could have been Ky. Or could it? Once the doubts are there, she can’t stop thinking about Ky, and eventually falls in love. It’s slow-going, bogged down with irrelevant details and lacks any sense of urgency. I had a hard time getting to the end without falling asleep. Recommended for fans of Delirium.

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Synopsis:

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

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My Thoughts:

I have a theory: What you think about Matched, is what you think about Delirium, and vice versa.

As you know, I was not a fan of Delirium, and consequently I am not a fan of Matched. For nearly the same reasons as with Delirium. In fact, I could almost copy and paste my whole review from Delirium and insert the appropriate names and locations because really, they are that interchangeable!

Both are set in an all-controlling society who decides where you’ll live, what you’ll work with, who you’ll marry and how many children you’ll have. Both heroines, who are strikingly similar personality-wise, meet a boy who is an outcast of the society and hence forbidden. Both girls have been assigned a match who they should fall in love with. I could go on but you get the idea.

Instead, let’s move on to my issues:

Just like in Delirium, I had problems with the world-building in Matched. For instance, I thought it odd that people didn’t seem to create anything anymore. The Society had saved 100 of everything (poems, books, songs) but nothing new was being created? It appeared as if the only tool of creation was the long-forgotten pen. But wait, can you not write a poem on your computer? It just did not seem plausible and the whole oh-so-forbidden act of writing in cursive, which is what Ky secretly teaches Cassia, had me rolling my eyes.

Just like in Delirium, I thought the romance happened too fast. Cassia started to get drawn to Ky pretty much straight away, which given what happened with the micro card, is understandable. What I didn’t understand is how quickly she thought herself to be in love with him. They barely exchanged any sentences. And when they did, it was all very stiff or dramatic.

Just like in Delirium, there was a lack of urgency. It was too slow, and there were too many redundant passages that bogged everything down so that I ended up feeling every single one of the 384 pages.

Finally, I didn’t like the writing style, which seemed to try hard to be poetic but not quite making it. Let me give you an example (from page 175):

“Can I do it? I look out at the view from the top of the hill. The sky does not have an answer for me. The dome of City Hall in the distance certainly doesn’t. I remember thinking of the angel stories when I went to my Match Banquet. I don’t see any angels and they don’t fly down on their cotton soft wings to whisper in my ear. Can I trust this boy who writes in the earth?

Someplace deep within me – Is it my heart? Or perhaps my soul, the mythical part of human that the angels cared about? – tells me that I can.”

Now, some people might like this type of writing. Too me, it just sounds overdone.  It makes me notice the author (for trying to be poetic) rather than get immersed into the story. But then, that is just my opinion. If you like a flowery poetic language with plenty of side tracks and a few philosophical rhetorical questions thrown in for good measure – then this might be the book for you.

Or of course, if you loved Delirium.

It is however the end of the series for me.

The sequel Crossed to be published on November 1st this year.

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

10 Sep

Series: Delirium, book #1

Published: February 1st 2011 by HarperTeen

Details: Hardcover, 441 pages

My Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

I loved Oliver’s debut novel Before I Fall. This one however was a disappointment. The premise was interesting about a girl in a dystopian world where love is forbidden. But it turned out to be slow-going, with a sketchy world, a meek boring heroine and a shallow romance. The only good thing was the writing. Sorry to say I won’t continue the series.

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My Full Review:

As you know, I loved Lauren Oliver’s debut Before I Fall. Therefore it came as a bit of a surprise that her second book Delirium was such a let-down.

Since the hype surrounding this book was massive I’m sure you’re familiar with the general plot already, but here’s a quick reminder in case you’ve missed it:

This is a dystopian novel, set in a time when love is considered a disease and the root of all the problems of mankind. The government has decided it mandatory that all 18-year olds undergo a surgery to remove the part of the brain that triggers and senses love.

We meet Lena, who only a few weeks before the operation does the unthinkable. She falls in love with a boy.

Okay, so the premise sounded intriguing and I was expecting a similar roller-coaster ride as the one I was taken on while reading Before I Fall.

Instead I was treated to about the most boring story I have ever read. I got to the end, but it sure involved quite a bit of struggles on my part. Let me explain why:

The plot is practically non-existent for the first half of the book and then some. Meaning, you could easily flip forward a few pages and not miss a thing. Oliver writes beautifully, I get that. But I wished she would have cut some of her descriptions as they bogged everything down. It felt like the book could have been slimmed down 200 pages and still kept the story line intact. It felt like there was so much fillers!

I also had a hard time connecting to Lena, the protagonist. Do you remember in my review of Before I Fall how I said that the heroine was a breath of fresh air from all the other ordinary plain and meek heroines out there. Well, unfortunately Lena falls straight into the latter category. She did not seem to have one single trait to make her stand out. Apart from maybe indecisiveness and low self-esteem. How Alex would fall for her and not her charismatic best friend Hana is a mystery.

The romance was (once again) of that “fall at first sight” type which I am beginning to loathe. After only a few weeks of knowing each other, Alex and Lena are already proclaiming their eternal love for each other, where they are literally ready to die for each other if so be it. Romantic? I don’t think so. Stupid is more like it.

The boy Alex seemed like a generic and bland perfect-type of guy. Always saying the right thing. No chemistry nor sparks in sight. Yawn.

The dystopian world was a joke. Now, as you know, if a story pulls me in, I am more than willing to suspense belief of an incomplete dystopian world. Here however, because of a non-existent plot, the many holes in the world Oliver had created were kind of hard to miss. A couple of things bothered me:

1) Why had the government decided that love of all things was to be considered dangerous, but not some other emotion, such as hatred, jealousy, fear etc? What had happened that made masses of people beg to be lobotomized, to have their love removed? None of this is explained more than a vague “love made people do crazy things“. Sorry Lauren, but I need more than that to believe in the world you’ve created.

2) I found it hard believing that the pre-operated teens could co-live with operated adults and still want to go through with the operation. Wouldn’t any normal teen who hangs out with both loving uncured teens and cured glazed-eyed adults realize that something is very odd about the way this society runs? Wouldn’t tons of teens oppose to this operation? In for instance Uglies,which deals with a similar world, Westerfeld solves this dilemma by keeping pre-operated and post-operated people separate. Which made much more sense to me.

3) I did not see how the government could think this made for a more peaceful society. There were obviously a lot of violence going on, what with the raids, the crypts and so on. All the violence in the book contradicted the whole notion that love was the root of all the problems/wars/disturbance of mankind.

4) The government is said to be very controlling. Yet it seemed as if the teens could get away with just about anything, such as break curfew a number of times, jump the fence to the wilds, hold huge parties in abandoned houses, listen to illegal music on the internet and so on. I certainly didn’t get the feeling that it was all that controlling and I never felt scared of the authorities.

If I were to sum everything up, while reading this book, it felt like I was the one who had been lobotomized, to have love removed, because the only feeling the book provoked in me was indifference. Needless to say, I won’t be continuing the series.

The second book Pandemonium to hit the shelves in March next year.

Review: Wither by Lauren Destefano

1 Sep

Series: The Chemical Garden #1

Published: March 22nd 2011 by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing

Details: Hardcover, 358 pages

My Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

In a dystopian world where life span has been shortened to only 20-25 years of age, Rhine is married off to a wealthy guy to produce children. I loved the original concept, but quickly got bored when I noticed that the whole book took place within the house, and that nothing ever happened. The romance was non-existent and the characters underdeveloped. Won’t continue the series.

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A few chapters in:

This dystopian book by debut author Lauren Destefano created quite a stir when it the shelves earlier this year, receiving quite a few stunning reviews. Enough to peak my interest. It is also found at the top of my “next book to read” – poll. Thanks as always to all who voted!

And so, here I am a few chapters in:

As we enter the story, a couple of girls have been kidnapped, and 16-year old Rhine is one of them. She and two others are picked out and taken to a big mansion where preparations start to make all three of them wifes of the Governor Linden.

Meanwhile, we learn that genetic modifications of the human race has sucessfully cured cancer and other diseases. But now it has backfired, and created a uncurable virus, which kills men at the age of 25 and women at the age of 20. People desperate to find a cure kidnap young girls to be mated and experimented upon with young men.

Yes, this is truly a grim world. But intriguing, as I have absolutely no idea of what will happen (and you know how I love unpredictability in my books!). Rhine has just tried on her wedding dress for the first time, and is about to get married, along with the other two girls. Will she be able to escape? Will they find a cure?
 
 



 
 
After finishing the book:

Okay, so I’m gonna cut to the chase here: I did not like this book.

Surprising actually, because I thought I would, considering that favorite web sites such as yareads rated it 5/5.

Now, the reason why I disliked it, wasn’t because of the serious topics dealt with in this book. Topics such as polygamous marriages and a child brides. None of that shocked me. I’ve read and seen a bunch of books/movies far worse than that.

Nor did I care too much about the dystopian world not being sufficiently built up, like so many other reviewers have commented on. I did notice it, for instance that it seemed a bit strange that Rhine was able to roll around in silk, take bubble baths, and eat strawberries when supposedly the entire world (except the states) were lying below water. I also found it strange that when so many orphans were running around on the streets (given their parents’ premature deaths), there was still a need for “gatherers” to force girls to marriage rich men and produce babies. I mean, wouldn’t there be an abundance of orphaned girls willing to do this in exchange for food and shelter?

Yet, I can easily forget holes in a dystopian world if the story pulls me in, and this my friends, is where it fell short for me. Not the serious topics, nor the plot holes of the dystopian world, but the story itself.

You see, I found the story lacking. Rhine is taken into this house with her two sister wives, and forced into a marriage with Linden. Then what?

We learn that Linden is completely innocent (or naive) regarding how his three wives ended up in his house. His father is apparently the mean one. We are told repeatedly how that father is a huge threat, and yes, he is obviously not kind judging by the first chapter. Yet, we never actually see any proof of the supposed threat that he is, apart from the fact that he has this cellar where he performs dissections of bodies that have died in order to find a cure. Sorry, but that does not qualify as a big threat.

We learn that Rhine has a twin brother and is desperate to find a way out. Yet, I didn’t really see why she was so desperate. Sure, the house was a prison, but certainly a very comfortable one. Especially if compared to the harsh realities of the world outside. Linden is infatuated with her and grants her every wish, which makes me wonder: Why not just ask him to have her brother being brought there? Problem solved!

The whole book seemed to revolve around her wanting to escape, yet nothing ever happened. She would lie in bed, have a manicure, eat some strawberries, take a walk in the garden, lounge with her sister wives in the drawing-room, take a bubble bath, order some food and repeat the whole process again. Lie in bed, have a manicure, eat some strawberries…you get the idea.

It got so tedious after a while it took all my will power to keep going.

There is a tepid romance as well involving a staff-boy and Rhine, but seeing as he was absent for most part of the book, it was hard to care or feel anything for those two.

The only thing that I liked was the relationship that developed between the sister wives, and how they stood up for each other. The character that stood out the most was quiet Jenna. I liked her.

Other than that, it was just plain boring.

The sequel is called Fever, to be published in Feb 2012.

Review: Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater

1 Sep

Series: Books of Faerie , book #1

Published: October 1st 2008 by Flux

Details: Paperback, 325 pages

My Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

About gifted musician Deirdre who meets and falls in love with mysterious Luke, who may or may not be a one of the faeries who are after her. Too many plot holes, a romance that happened way too fast, a Mary Sue heroine and underdeveloped secondary characters made this a boring read. Only the writing was good.

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My Full Review:

Meh! That was my reaction after finishing this book. To be honest, I had a hard time finishing it since my mind kept wandering off as soon as I opened the book. Not a good sign at all.

Why?

A couple of reasons:

Firstly, the romance is of the “fall at first sight” kind, and geez am I getting tired of those type of romances. Deirdre falls head over heels with this outwordly guy Luke, who shows up out of thin air one day to play with her on a competition. All we know of Luke is that he is good-looking and seems to be hiding something. Not much to fall in love with if you ask me. He is of course also suggesting that it’s dangerous for her to be with him. He’s not good for her, yet he can’t help being drawn to her at the same time.

Now, where have we read this before? Yawn.

Secondly, Deirdre discovers that some faerie folk, or rather a very powerful faerie queen is after her. Why you’d ask? Well, Deirdre, it appears, has some serious powers herself, which is intimidating the queen.

Now, about those powers: I like when a heroine discovers her strengths and tests them out, but this got a bit too ridiculous. I mean, Deirdre’s powers were at first limited to some kind of telekinesis, such as move a leaf across the floor with her mind. Then suddenly, she could build walls around herself, create giant hands to push dangerous creatures away, outrun hounds, start cars from a distance, read minds and what not else. I mean seriously, it’s not much fun when the heroine is this “can do all” – girl. What’s the challenge in that? I’d rather the author would stick to just one supernatural power.

Thirdly, there were threads left hanging just about everywhere. Things happened for no reason at all, and much was left unexplained.

Beware of spoilers:

For instance, I never got the whole story behind the aunt and why she acted the way she did. And why were all the four-leaf clovers left for Deirdre to find? What was the point of that? And how come Deirdre had access to Luke’s memories when he wasn’t even there? What happened to Rye the dog and how was it involved in the whole thing? Most importantly, if the queen just wanted Deirdre killed, why not just get it over and done with instead of going through all her loved ones first?

End of spoilers

In short, a lot of what happened didn’t make much sense. Or rather, it felt like it happened because it was convenient for the plot at the time. I also never got a feel for the characters, and consequently never really cared what happened to either one of them.

The only redeeming quality about this book was the writing, which is shown in the well drawn descriptions of the faerie folk. Stiefvater sure knows how to write beautifully. It’s a shame that the rest fell flat.

There is a companion novel called Ballad, but this is the end of this faerie journey for me.

Review: Illusions by Aprilynne Pike

12 Aug

Series: Wings, book #3

Published: May 3rd 2011 by HarperCollins Publishers

Details: Hardcover, 375 pages

My Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

The previous two books in this series, Wings and Spells were not amazing, but enjoyable. Unfortunately this book is less than enjoyable, with no plot to speak of, no Avalon in sight and instead centering around an irritating love triangle between Laurel and her two boys. This is the end of the series for me.

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Synopsis:

Laurel hasn’t seen Tamani since she begged him to let her go last year. Though her heart still aches, Laurel is confident that David was the right choice.

But just as life is returning to normal, Laurel discovers that a hidden enemy lies in wait. Once again, Laurel must turn to Tamani to protect and guide her, for the danger that now threatens Avalon is one that no faerie thought would ever be possible. And for the first time, Laurel cannot be sure that her side will prevail.

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My thoughts:

I have one word for this book.

Filler.

That’s all it was. Pure filler. Let me explain it to you:

There are 36 chapters in this book. Chapter 1 to 34 are devoted to the love triangle between Laurel, her human boyfriend David and fairy guardian Tamani. In other words, that’s 34 chapters of “should I choose this boy or that boy”, with no resolution at the end of it, I kid you not. Chapter 34 to 36 finally gives us a plot and some action, before it abruptly finishes in a.. yes, you guessed it right, a cliff hanger!

Now, the synopsis of the book promises something else entirely. I quote:

“Once again, Laurel must turn to Tamani to protect and guide her, for the danger that now threatens Avalon is one that no faerie thought would ever be possible.”

Okay, did I miss something here? Danger, where? Apart from one page of sudden troll action (and chapter 34- 36), there was no danger anywhere. I certainly never felt that Laurel was threatened, and besides, she had about 200 sentries protecting her, plus of course her two suitors watching her every step. Was Laurel in danger? Nope, did not feel it, at all.

What I did feel was irritation. The main reason being the love triangle.

Now, if you’ve read my blog, you know I have nothing against love triangles, if they’re done well. This one however is ridiculous, and even more so since it’s the center theme of the book. Laurel’s indecisiveness annoyed me to no end. She kept bouncing back and forth so much that it had me feeling dizzy. She behaved like a spoiled child that wants to have one’s cake and eat it too. She would chastise David for being jealous, then go on and kiss Tamani. Then she would tell Tamani off for pursuing her, and in the next second throw a tantrum when he flirted/danced/talked to another girl. Seriously? My 6-year old cousin behaves more mature than that.

I was not impressed.

What would have saved this book for me, was a lot less teen-age drama and more of Avalon. I loved Avalon in the previous book Spells but here we only got a very brief glimpse of that world when Laurel visits her mentor Jameson. Other than that, it all takes place in the human world, with highschool, teen-age drama, teen-age angst and the obligatory school dance to finish things off.

There is one more book in the series to be published next year, but this is the end of the series for me. One more word of “David or Tamani” and I’ll be screaming out loud.

Review: The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

18 Jul

Series: Maze Runner, book #2

Published: October 12th 2010 by Delacorte Books

Details: Hardcover, 360 pages

My Rating: 2.5/5

My Summary:

Second installment of The Maze Runner trilogy. Thomas and the gladers discover that the maze was only the beginning, as they enter phase two in the trials set up by WICKED. Interesting world, but would have liked less trials, and more on the background of the project. I also keep having issues with the underdeveloped characters. Won’t continue the series.

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A few chapters in:

The Maze Runner told the story of a couple of teen boys who find themselves in the center of a giant maze, with no recollection of their pasts. I didn’t outright love the book, but I thought it was intriguing enough to want to read the sequel. The ending in particular had me hooked as it promised revelations about the reasoning behind the maze, and more on the dystopian world outside.

Enough said, I started reading The Scorch Trials and I’m now a few chapters in.

We enter the story exactly where The Maze Runner ended. Thomas and the other gladers have been rescued and are enjoying their first night of good sleep in dormitories provided by the rescue team. But that peaceful sleep shatters the next morning when all hell breaks loose.

The first thing they notice is that their dormitories are surrounded by screaming “cranks” – which is what the insane disease-affected people are called. Then, they discover that the entire rescue team has been murdered in the kitchen. Thomas finds that his friend Theresa has disappeared and in her place there is a new boy, Aris, who appears to have come from another group who also went through the maze.

Not surprisingly, Thomas already overfull head is now swarming with a million new questions. As is mine. Thankfully, just as my head is about to explode with questions, a man appears in the dormitory. And he reveals the following:

The Maze was phase one of a series of tests which essentially were designed to monitor the reactions of the human race, and pick out who is the most fit to fight the world catastrophe which is currently going on in the world right now. The man also tells them that Phase two is about to begin, which is predicted to be even tougher than the maze (if that’s possible).

The next day the boys are instructed to march outside the dormitories, into the blaring sun of a destroyed world in order to complete phase two. And this is where I am now. The boys are marching through a desert land towards a city, and I can only imagine what they will encounter there. Crazy cranks for sure..but what else?

 
 
 

 
 
 
After finishing the book:

I can’t help but feeling a bit disappointed. I read this sequel in order to understand why someone would put the boys through the maze. I read it in order to find out more of the dystopian world outside. None of that materialized here.

Instead, we got a rehash of the maze runner. The only thing that changed were that the boys now knew that they were being put through some kind of trials. Apart from that little detail, it was the maze all over again. The boys stuck somewhere, where they had to survive various “variables” thrown at them, all directed by the creators of WICKED. In the end, the sequel didn’t bring us anything new. It felt very much like a middle book, whose only goal was to take us readers to the book three where the BIG CONLUSION will be revealed. I could have easily skipped the book entirely and gone straight ahead for the final book The Death Cure instead, and not feel the slightest lost.

The biggest downfall however were the lack of development in the characters. I said it in The Maze Runner, and I’m saying it again here. I could not connect to the main character Thomas. Which is strange, since I’ve been following him through two full books now. I’ve been watching him being beat up, betrayed, kissed and what not else, and all I feel is nothing! I’m wondering if it is because he’s got a bit of that Mary Sue syndrome, always doing the right thing in every situation, always good at everything he does. I’ve never been a fan of characters that are too perfect. Yet, even so, it’s strange that I care so little about him.

And that goes for the rest of the characters. Apart from maybe Minho, I couldn’t have cared less who died and who survived. Granted, we know very little of the other characters, which in itself is another fault of this series. When they start off on their phase two journey in this installment, there are twenty or so boys in the group. Yet it seems as if Thomas (as well as the reader) knows of only Newt, Minho and Frypan by name.  The rest of the group is reduced to nameless stand-ins, only there to be killed along the way (in order to spare the main characters).

I wasn’t a big fan of the romance either. I mean, it felt like Thomas had more chemistry with Minho than with Teresa. Likewise with Brenda. There was just nothing there, and I consequently got tired very quickly of all the angst regarding these two girls. I wish it had been skipped all together.

The question is now: Will I continue the series?

These first two installments are promising a final conclusion to the series that will explain the grand scheme of the WICKED . Only, I am almost positive I will end up being disappointed again, just like I was disappointed with the escape from the Maze.

You see, I don’t think there is a brilliant solution. There is all this talk about variables and killing patterns and how it’s all supposed to bring them closer to a cure. Considering the awful things these boys have gone through, there has to be a seriously brilliant solution to explain all this, and frankly, I don’t think there is one. Dashner did not deliver in regards to “the solution” to the maze,  and I have a strong feeling he will fail to deliver in the last installment as well. Hence, I’ve decided to leave this series.

The final installment The Death Cure to be published in October this year.

Review: The Awakening by L.J. Smith

4 Jul

Series: Vampire Diaries, book #1

Published: June 26th 2007 by HarperTeen

Details: Paperback, 200 pages

My Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

About popular girl Elena who falls in love with vampire Stefan. Problem is, Stefan’s evil vampire brother has decided he wants Elena as well. This underdeveloped story, with contrived dialogues and shallow characters is clearly aimed for young teens only. I could barely get through the book.

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My Full Review:

I recently decided to give the Vampire Diaries a go, which is why I’m now sitting with The Awakening in my hand. With doubts creeping in: What the heck was I thinking?

Anyone who has been following blogs and reviews knows that this series hasn’t exactly received what you’d call high praise. Why then torture myself through another crappy novel? As if Evernight wasn’t enough suffering for one month.

But I suppose it’s for the same reason as when I want to see a supposedly crappy but very much talked about movie. I get this strange urge to see it just so that I can form my own opinion. (I remember watching The Da Vinci Code for this very reason.)

And let’s face it. Vampire diaries is a talked about series, most likely due to its resemblance to Twilight (note that it was published before Meyer’s work)  and to the succesful tv series which is airing at the moment.

Enough said, with these whopping high expectations, I’ve plunged into the world of Elena, Stefan and Damon (of course picturing them all as the actors in the tv series – hard not to!).

We enter the story as the beautiful and popular girl Elena returns to school after a summer in France to discover that a new student has enrolled. And not just any student but an outwordly-looking handsome young boy who seems to have no interest whatsoever in Elena.

Frustrating to say the least. Well, at least for Elena who is used to get anything she wants, especially when it comes to boys.

After a couple of weeks of “suffering” the ignorance of Stefan, as the boy is called, she is molested by another boy at a cemetery. Who comes to her rescue? Yes, you guessed it right. Stefan.

Despite a few eye-rolling moments here and there, I was sort of enjoying it though, as I found myself turning pages hoping to see some chemistry when Elena and Stefan finally got to know each other.

Well, turns out I should not have been bothered.

On that first night, when Stefan rescues her from the cemetery, they kiss. After that, Elena’s first words to Stefan (and I repeat first words), are I love you.

I mean, come on!

It’s explained that Elena and Stefan need no words to communicate to each other, because they just feel what the other one feels. Really? They have barely exchanged greeting phrases and they already know each other that well?

To me, that just signals a lazy author who can’t care enough to create some dialogues between our main characters.

When they eventually do talk (a couple of pages later), it’s generally something dramatic such as I love you, I’ll protect you, I’ll always be there for you, or something along the same lines. What happened to normal conversations?

Bah!

Once I established that this contrived soap-opera relationship was to be the main theme of the book, it was hard not to just drop it on the spot. But there are only 200 pages of the book, and I figured that if I’d got this far, I might as well continue.

At least there was Damon, who seems infinitely much more interesting than Stefan could ever be. Stefan and Damon are brothers and are mortal enemies ever since something happened way back then when they grew up. Damon is supposedly evil, but I have a feeling he may experience some development, which means he could become an interesting figure. That’s about the only good thing I can say about this series.

Elena on the other hand was a self-centered brat. Her friends were only there to support her, without any motivations or feelings of their own. There’s that one-dimensional evil bitch at school who is out to destroy Elena. Yawn. Nothing out of the ordinary.

In short, it all felt very underdeveloped. As if the story could have come to life, had more thought and investment been put into the characters. As it was now, I could not connect to anyone, and I certainly couldn’t connect to the romance of Elena and Stefan.

So yep folks, this was just about as bad as I thought. Despite its similarities to Twilight, it’s nowhere near the same league.

Do yourself a favor and skip this one.

Review: Evernight by Claudia Gray

21 Jun

Series: Evernight, book #1

Published: February 10th 2009 by HarperTeen

Details: Paperback, 327 pages

My Rating: 1/5

My Summary:

About Bianca who reluctantly enters the eery boarding school Evernight, meets Lucas and falls in love. Half way through, an important secret is revealed about the school. Shallow characters, contrived dialogues, fuzzily explained world-building, a romance that is more telling than showing. I could not even get through the book. Do yourself a favor and skip this one.

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A few chapters in:

There are two books out there that appear on literally every “what to read after twilight” list, and which I haven’t read. Evermore by Alison Noel and Evernight by Claudia Gray.

Ever since I started this blog, I have been debating with myself whether to read them or not, more out of curiosity than anything else, because lets’ face it. The reviews haven’t been all that great.

Then just recently, two things happened around the same time.

1) I stumbled upon a raving review of Evernight.

2) I realized that I might have mixed up the two books.

You see, I decided quite early on that Evermore didn’t seem like a book I wanted to read in the near future (judging by the reviews), and so Evernight was put in the same box, not having done much else than having a similar title (stupid of me I know).

However, it suddenly dawned on me that I might have just misjudged Evernight. That maybe, just maybe it was a good book and I had missed something?

Enough said. I started reading it and I’m now a few chapters in.

The story takes place at the boarding school Evernight. 16-year old Bianca has just moved there together with her parents who are teachers at the school. She is not very happy about having switched her nice and comfortable hometown to this eery and goth boarding school where she knows no one but her parents.

We enter the story when she is about to run away from the school. On her way through the woods, she realizes she is being followed by a young man. Terrified, she sprints through the underbrush and so does he, until he manages to overtake her. Only, we soon learn that he wasn’t actually chasing her, just trying to protect her. He thought she was running from someone else in the woods, and so decided that throwing himself over her was a good idea to stop the attacker. Say what??

But yes, you heard it right. And this is how we are introduced to Lucas, Bianca’s love interest.

You know, I really wanted to give this book a chance, but that first scene literally had me rolling my eyes. Can’t be a good sign. Still, I’m carrying on..

Unfortunately though, it doesn’t get much better. Bianca is shy and introvert, yet despite this fact seems to be making quite a lot of friends here and there, including within the “in crowd”. There is the love triangle, which I don’t mind as long as it is believable, see Nightshade. Here, not so much.

We get that the other guy Balthazar, also the most popular and handsome guy in school, has taken an interest in Bianca. Yet we are never treated to any conversation between the two of them apart from the occasional phrase here and there. Consequently, I’m having problems grasping who Balthazar is and why he is so into Bianca. All I know is that Balthazar is incredibly friendly towards everyone, good-looking and well, just all around perfect.

Lucas on the other hand is moody, behaves weirdly, frequently starts fights with everyone, is hot and cold towards Bianca and what not else. Yet he is of course who Bianca wants.

Why am I even continuing this book, you might ask?

Well, I was just about to dismiss it, when something unexpected happened about midway through, and this has sparked a bit of interest. I’ve decided to keep going a bit more.
 
 

 
 
After finishing the book:

As you can see from above, I  wasn’t very impressed with the first half of the book, but I kept reading anyway. I’m not gonna lie, it was a struggle, but I am stubborn about finishing my books. I nearly gave up halfway through, but then something happened that surprised me, and I decided to continue a little bit further. What if it did get better?

Well no, it didn’t.

I fell about 80 pages from the finishing line. Or rather, I threw in the towel. I was already skimming large chunks of the pages to get to the end as fast as possible. And when that happens, there is really no point in continuing. There are far too many good books out there for me to waste my time on something that I could have written better myself.

Because seriously. That’s how I feel about this book. It’s really not good. At all.

Geez, where do I even start?

The whole book was all telling and no showing. We are only told how Bianca and Lucas feel about each other, and so I never felt any sparks whatsoever reading about these two. Bianca kept saying that Lucas was the only person she could truly be herself with, yet judging from her conversations with other characters, she seemed just as comfortable with them as with Lucas.

Speaking of the other characters, they were all cut-out card board shallow. Let’s for instance look at Lucas’s room-mate Vic. He is this surfer dude who is always in a happy mood, only there to move the plot along at times when Lucas and Bianca needed someone to chip in with dialogue or help. But who is he really? What motivates him?

And that goes for the rest of them. I had absolutely no idea of who the other characters were,  except for the one characteristic each that they were given i.e.  Balthazar is friendly, Patrice is shallow and Raquel is scared.

The writing was so poor that it threw me out of the story a number of times. I felt as if I were reading the script of a soap opera series, that’s how juvenile and stiff it was.

Then there was that surprise element that was thrown at us readers in the middle of the book, which I admit, at first sparked my interest only because I felt so dumbfounded. After the initial surprise had worn off though, irritation quickly followed.

Why?

Well, beware of spoilers:

For the whole first half of the book we are treated to Bianca’s insecurities and feelings of not belonging, and how eery she thinks the boarding school is. Then half way through, we find out that the reason why the school may seem a bit strange is because it is run by vampires. In fact, most of the students and teachers at Evernight are vampires, including Bianca!

We learn that (despite the first-person narrative), Bianca has known this all time along (while we readers had no clue). She was born a vampire, her parents are vampires, and she drinks blood every morning for breakfast. Yet, this little fact was deliberately not mentioned, so that it would come as a surprise to us readers later on. Once the surprise was out, vampire-related stuff was mentioned in just about every other sentence of the book.

I’m sorry folks, but that is just bad story telling. As I reader I felt cheated.

Moreover, I felt like I was reading about two different Biancas. In the first half she was a scared and shy girl, and in the second half she had suddenly become this self-assured strong vampire (or half vampire – whatever). The point is, I lost any concept I had of who Bianca was. Not the best character development if you ask me.

I could go on ranting (and believe me, there are things to rant about) but I think I’ve made my point clear. There are several books out in the series, Stargazer being the sequel. Needless to say, I won’t continue the series.

Review: Desires Of The Dead by Kimberly Derting

28 Apr

Series: Body Finder, book #2

Published: March 15th 2011 by HarperCollins

Details: Hardcover, 368 pages

Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

Sequel to The Body Finder about Violet who can sense murdered bodies. I thought her steamy romance with Jay in the previous book was really good. This one however was a disappointment. It felt like a filler, with no plot to speak of, and with a heroine who showed no backbone whatsoever, to the point that she started to bug me. Won’t continue the series.

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A few chapters in:

I remember reading The Body Finder and loving it, especially the budding romance between Violet and her childhood friend Jay, which was truly sweet. And so, when this sequel hit the shelves, I knew I wanted to continue their story.

Hence, here I am a few chapters in. Violet and Jay are now a couple, and as much in love as before. But troubles are closing in, and it comes from various directions.

Firstly, there are two new kids in school, Mike and his sister, and Jay has started to spend far too much time with Mike, to Violet’s dismay. Meanwhile, someone – a girl – is feeling angry with Violet for supposedly taking Jay from her and has started threatening Violet with various anonymous messages.

As if that wasn’t all, Violet has also found a new body. As you may recall from The Body Finder, Violet has the uncanny ability to sense murdered bodies, as they give out a special echo sound that only Violet can hear. Once discovering a body, the echo will keep bugging Violet until it has been given a proper burial-place where it can rest in peace.

Hence, after coming across this latest body, she places an anonymous call to the police so that it can be found. Problem is, her call is traced back to her, and before she knows it, the FBI has approached her for questioning. What will happen when they find out about her ability?

And this is as far as I’ve got.

Unfortunately, I have to admit I’m not feeling it yet with this sequel. Violet has started to bug me, because she keeps everything a secret, refuses to let anyone help her and in general is just too meek, quiet and gloomy for my liking. I’ve wanted to yell “get it together!” quite a few times already. Which can’t be a good sign. I’m especially frustrated with the way Violet treats Jay, who does everything in his power to keep her happy, yet all she does is pouts.

Moreover, the plot is not much of a plot yet, rather it’s screaming filler. Particularly the subplot about a psycho girl who dumps dead cats on Violet’s porch is a bit too over the top for me. It sounds more like Glen Close in Fatal Attraction than a little school girl who is jealous over another girl’s boyfriend, don’t you think?

In short, I’m trying to remember now what was so good with The Body Finder, because doubts are creeping in. Or maybe I’m being too harsh here, it may get better the more I read, let’s hope so..

 

 

After finishing the book:

Well, you probably have guessed it already from my little prelude above. I was not a fan at the beginning of the book and that’s unfortunately how it stayed.

My main issue is that a plot was lacking for about two-thirds of the book. Instead what we got was Violet, Jay and friends going on about their life. There were tons of descriptions of Violet’s best friend Chelsea’s infatuation with Mike which didn’t add to the story line at all. More than highlighting the fact that Chelsea just rivaled Vee in Hush Hush as the most obnoxious best friend ever in YA literature (I see a Top 5 List emerging). Geez what an irritating, self-centered brat!

Ok, with that out of the way, back to the topic at hand: the non-existent plot. Tons of passages are dedicated to Violet feeling this, and feeling that, that she should really say this and she should tell someone that, yet no words ever form in her mouth. Frustrating to say the least! Moreover, what really annoyed me this time around with Violet is that she seemed so fragile! It felt like a gust of wind could make her crumble, or a mean look could make her cry, you know what I mean? I wanted to shake her about 90% of the time, and shout ” Just get it together girl”!!

Then to top it off, we get to the “break-up” between Violet and Jay, happening over a phone call when Jay doesn’t immediately accept Violet’s accusation of someone he knows. Say what?? Now I understand that having no plot, we need to shake things about a bit, thus creating a bit of a turmoil between Violet and Jay seems like a good idea. Yet, that poor excuse for a break-up made me (if possible) even more frustrated with Violet than I already was. She really is impossibly difficult!

All right, so moving on. In the last couple of chapters a plot finally emerges. Unfortunately, it turns out to be so predictable it reads as a child story. Lots of foreshadowing. I felt like, three chapters away, I could have stopped reading and mapped out that whole conclusion myself. And get everything right!

Finally, the one and only thing that was good was the writing. Violet’s uncanny ability is described in such a way that even though it’s certainly weird and I have never encountered anything remotely like it before, it makes perfect sense as I’m reading it. As if the dead calling on Violet is the most natural thing in the world. No doubt due to excellent writing skills.

Nevertheless, I have no plans to continue Violet’s and Jay’s story. I’m not sure what is in store for them, no doubt another murder case to be unraveled and possibly one or two minor fights with Jay, maybe even Rafe making an appearance as another candidate viewing for Violet’s attention. All though that would be a shame, seeing as Jay is such a lovely guy.

Oh, I’m just guessing here. Like I said, this is the end of the series for me. After having read this sequel, I believe Derting should have left The Body Finder as it was (no doubt) originally planned: as a stand-alone novel.

Third book to be published sometime next year.

Review: The Dead Girls’ Dance by Rachel Caine

22 Apr

Series: Morganville Vampires, book #2

Published: April 3rd 2007 by NAL Jam

Details: Paperback, 238 pages

My Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

Second book in the Morganville Vampires series. Shane’s dad turns up in order to kill vampires, and gets Shane into trouble, which means Claire needs to save Shane. I enjoyed the first book, but here it felt too young adult. Simplistic plot, shallow characters and plot holes. Won’t continue the series.

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A few chapters in:

It’s been a while since I read the first book in the series Morganville Vampires, about 16-year old Claire who goes to Morganville to attend uni and finds out (first-hand) that the town is ruled by vampires. While I didn’t think it was fantastic I still thought it was a fun action-filled page-turner with the potential to become better as the series progressed. Which is why I thought I’d pick up the sequel.

I’m now a few chapters in. And it picks up just where Glass Houses left off, which is literally, in the middle of an action scene.

Beware of spoilers if you haven’t read the first book yet!

So, Michael is dead. Killed by that biker gang who stormed into the Glass House in the final chapter of Morganville Vampires. The leader of the gang is Shane’s dad, who has come back to the town in order to revenge the vampires for killing his daughter and wife. He mistakenly took Michael for a vampire, and hence had him killed too.

Needless to say, the other three house mates Shane, Claire and Eve are distraught and frantically trying to find a solution to their problems. And let me tell you, they have acquired a lot of problems. Half the town has turned into their enemies – vampires, police cops and now this biker gang.

They do have support from Amelie, the leader of all vampires, but if they screw up (for instance are linked to any vampire killings by Shane’s dad), that support would quickly be withdrawn. Hence, it’s a volatile security net, to say the least.

Despite this mess, Claire persists that she needs to go back to school, I mean , say what?? That would be the last thing on my mind (school nerd or not).

Moreover, I don’t know whether the writing of the book changed or my view of it (most likely the latter), but I’m noticing now that the language is very young adult. We’ve got phrases like “totally cool” in every second paragraph, and detailed descriptions on how to cook pasta for the first time (oh my god, it boils over!).

Which is fine, because after all, it is targeted towards young adult. As an older reader though, I’m starting to have a few doubts.

 



After finishing the book:

My first thought after having finished this book is this:

Meh!

It was not good, certainly not great, just.. meh. There was plenty of action but with plot holes huge enough to drive a truck through, and shallow cardboard cut-out characters. All written in a language way too young adult for me.

The strange thing is, I actually enjoyed reading the first installment Glass Houses. Strange indeed. I’m reevaluating that review now as I’m wondering if it really was as good as I thought at the time?

But I think I know why.

While reading that first installment, my curiosity was peaked because of the novelty of the whole world Caine introduced us to. Moreover, there was an actual plot, with Claire arriving as the new girl in town discovering everything on her own, meeting friends, creating enemies, finding love. I do remember that I was expecting more, yet forgave the first installment for its lack of depth in characters and world-building only because it was the first in a series, and I believed that it was to develop into something more complex in the following books.

Which obviously did not happen.

Instead, what we got was a filler with tons of action that had no other purpose than make the reader turn pages. In fact, the action scenes were so haphazardly thrown together, that it felt like the author just invented them as she went along, having Claire the heroine race around to try to save the day. It grew boring very quickly simply because there was never any thought behind Claire’s actions nor any dialogues (apart from the occasional “that’s gross!” Or  “totally cool!“). Just a lot of aimlessly running around.

As for the plot, I found it too simplistic. I need more layers or subplots to keep me interested. The story line was essentially Shane’s dad who showed up to kill some vampires and got Shane into trouble, which meant Claire and company needed to save him. That was basically it.

On finishing the book, nothing more had been revealed about the Morganville world than we didn’t already know. Amilie was still a bit of a mystery, Oliver remained the evil vamp who wants to take over in charge, Monica remained a super-bitch and Brandon was a jerk. Tell us something we don’t know!

Instead, what this book had me noticing was all the giant plot holes that seemed to have been overlooked. Of course, those existed already in Glass Houses. For instance, I remember questioning why Claire didn’t go home the second she found out  about the vamps in Morganville. But I went along with it for the sake of enjoying the story.

In The Dead Girls’ Dance however, I started wondering about a few other plot holes, such as why on earth people hadn’t tried harder to leave? And why no one else outside of Morganville knew about this deady secret? I know it’s (somewhat fuzzily) explained that anyone who leaves Morganville have their memories viped clean.

Should anyone recuperate their memory, the vamps supposedly had that person killed. How the vamps keep track of these “memory mishaps” is another thing. I mean, do they have vamp cops that go questioning every single former Morganville citizen to make sure that their mind manipulation works, or what?

Moreover, this series is placed in modern time, that is, in our current world of technology. Oliver, the evil vamp himself praises human technology as it makes it easier for vamps to keep track of humans. Yet, shouldn’t that very technology be a disadvantage as well? I mean, for one, there is the internet. Couldn’t any Morganville resident intent to reveal the vampire secret do so in a single chat or email? Or do the vamps control that as well? If they do, how?

It’s certainly not explained, and in order to believe in this world, I need to know how the vamps manage to maintain Morganville a secret. As it is now, it’s not clear at all, which makes it very unbelievable.

In short, in order to enjoy these books, I think you might have to suspense disbelief. You need to forget the how’s and why’s and just go with flow as Claire continues to land herself into trouble.

That, or there is the option to just quit reading this series altogether, which is what I’m about to do now. Two books were enough.

For those of you still interested, the third book is called Midnight Alley.


Review: Firelight by Sophie Jordan

5 Apr

Series: Firelight, book #1

Published: September 7th 2010 by HarperTeen

Details: Hardcover, 323 pages

My Rating: 2.5/5

My Summary:

First book in series which has been described as a Twilight with dragons. Starts out great with an exciting draki world, and a promising romance with a human boy. But as I read more, my interest fizzled out, since the romance didn’t capture me, and the heroine’s constant and monotonous inner worries got tiring. Won’t continue the series.

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A few chapters in:

Twilight with dragons. That’s how this novel has been described. At first, I wasn’t too interested, simply because dragons didn’t really appeal to me.

But then the reviews started pouring in, and after reading quite a few 5-star reviews about the incredible romance, I caved in. Dragons or not, if it has romance, I want to read it!

I am now a few chapters in. And let me tell you, there’s no slow build-up here. Already in the very first chapter we are provided with a thrilling action scene, with our heroine running from draki-hunters which results in a strange encounter with a beautiful boy.

Eventually, the facts are presented. The heroine Jacinda is a draki. That is, she looks like a human, but she can turn into a draki at will (mostly anyway). She lives with her mom and her sister in a secret draki society called The Pride. Ever since her father’s death, and the rise of the evil king Severin, life in The Pride has gotten more difficult. Which is why Jacinda’s mom one day decides to bring her girls with her and escape the society.

They end up settling down in a small town out in the desert, far away from The Pride. Jacinda and her sister Tamra start school, for the first time ever, and well, this is where I’m at now. Jacinda has just realized that, not only is school a strange experience, but the beautiful boy she met earlier also goes to this very same school..

I look forward towards Jacinda getting to know that boy, as I’m expecting the romance to be really cute.  However, I also feel that I may be too old for this book, that it is a bit too teen for me.

Well, only one way to find out!


 

After finishing the book:

Okay, so I just finished the book last night, and I can’t help but feeling a little disappointed. It started out so great, with an intense action scene and promises of a great forbidden romance.

But, as I read more, the plot sort of fizzled out.  The great premise and exiting build-up turned into a stereotypical  love-at-first-sight romance with a plot that at times got so cliché it had me rolling my eyes.

Now, if you think about it, it is weird that I reacted this way. Because if you know me – and have read my reviews – you know that I love romance. Especially when it’s hot and steamy, includes a supernatural twist and is sprinkled with a bit of danger.

Yet, this particular romance, though it contained all of the above elements, didn’t capture me. Strange indeed.

But I have a couple of theories as to why:

Firstly, the heroine. I could not connect with the girl, or worse, I actually found her annoying. It started out all right, but somewhere along the road frustration started to creep in as I had to follow her (as I discovered) very monotonous internal monologue.

I usually have no problems with inner monologues – in fact I like them because it gives me an insight into the main character and helps me connect with him/her. What I do have a problem with though, is when it gets too repetitious.

And Jacinda’s thoughts were just that, repetitious. She went on and on about the same issues (should or should she not see Will, how to keep her draki alive) for the entire book. Don’t get me wrong, I understood her issues. But having to hear those same thoughts over and over again got very tiring in the end. Especially since they never developed and she never reached any conclusions.  Just the same thoughts rephrased over and over again..and again..and again..yawn.

Secondly, the romance between Will and Jacinda was, yes I admit steamy at places. But it went way too quickly from “I’m attracted to you” to “You’re the love of my life to the point that I could die for you”. You know what I mean?

I like romances to build slowly. I like to feel how they gradually get to know each other and fall in love. Essentially I want to understand why they connect.

None of that materialized here.

Will and Jacinda shared a sizzling attraction. End of story.

I realized this after a while when it became apparent that.. hey, they never actually talk!? The few dialogues they exchanged (between their make out sessions and looking longingly into each others eyes) contained two or three sentences at the most, which by the way usually felt really contrived. I failed to see how that was love, or even a connection on any deeper level. Yet, Will declared his love after only a couple of chapters and yes, you guessed it, I rolled my eyes.

Thirdly, there were too many similarities to Twilight, so much that it actually bothered me a bit. At one point I couldn’t help thinking if she (Jordan) was trying to create a new Edward Cullen. Because seriously, there were too many incidents that pointed in that direction.

For one, Will is the unattainable gorgeous guy at school who hasn’t touched a girl until Jacinda comes along. Then, as soon as she does come along, he immediately starts stalking her, waiting by her house at 2 am in the morning, climbing in through the window, and (get this!) breaks into her house one morning to make her breakfast. When Jacinda happens to end up among other hunters, he turns really protective and growls.

And finally, just as I thought he could not get any more Edward-like, he utters the phrase: so the hunter falls in love with his prey.

Ring any bells?

All that said, what made it hard to connect to Will was not the Twilight similarities, but the fact that I knew nothing about him. Or rather, what I knew seemed too perfect. You know, not one single flaw. Which in my book always equals boring.

Even Cassian (the son of the evil king Severin) seemed more interesting, and given the little page-time he had in the book, that says something.

In the end, what saved this book from a 2/5 was the intriguing beginning, a few steamy sequences involving Jacinda and Will, and last but not least the colourful descriptions of Jacinda’s draki. In fact, all the draki-stuff was very well portrayed.

All though I had never read anything even remotely touching on dragons before, and hence was a complete draki-novice, Jordan really captured these creatures well. To the point that I understood how hard it was for Jacinda to face that dreadful heat when her natural habitat was mist and mountains. I felt the steam rise up in her when threatened, and I enjoyed the relief when her wings finally unfurled.

But unfortunately it wasn’t enough. The characters are always a number one priority for me, and if I can’t connect with them..the rest falls flat. Hence, I won’t continue the series.

The next installment Vanish is to be released in September this year.

Review: Entice by Carrie Jones

19 Jan

Series: Need, book #3

Published: December 7th 2010 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Details: Paperback, 264 pages

My rating: 2/5

My Summary:

Third installment of Need series. Zara is now a pixie queen. Astley is her king, and she is on a mission: bring Nick back from Valhalla. I loved Need, but nothing could hold my attention here. This book was a mess. Juvenile, flat characters and a straggling plot. Won’t continue the series.

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A few chapters in:

As you may know if you read my review of  Need, I absolutely loved that book. Zara’s grief  and fears rang true to me, the novelty of the pixies was exciting and of course there was the steamy romance between Nick and Zara. Impossible not to get addicted!

Unfortunately the sequel Captivate did not reach the same amazing levels as Need. Why? Well, I was craving growth and resolution in Captivate, and it failed to deliver on those two points. Characters stayed the same (or even went more immature) and most of my questions were left unanswered. I still enjoyed reading it, and so I always knew that I was going to read Entice, in the hopes that this third installment would restore my faith in this series. Time to find out if it will.

I’ve now read a few chapters and I can’t say that I’ve noticed any magic a la Need just yet. On the contrary actually. But it may be too early to tell. Let’s hope so.

Entice starts just where Captivate left off with Zara and her friends heading off to the school dance. As you know if you’ve read the previous books, Nick is dead, or rather he was taken to a resting place for dying warriors, meaning he may in fact still be alive. Zara has gotten herself transformed into a pixie, in order to bring Nick back. Apparently humans are not allowed to that resting place, and so she had to change. Moreover, she is now a pixie queen seeing as Astley – the pixie king who appeared in Captivate – changed her.

Zara however does not care about being a pixie queen. Her only goal is getting Nick back. Yet she fears that Nick will no longer love her when he finds out about her change. Nick hates pixies.

As in the previous books, the pixies are now roaming the woods looking for boys to torture to satisfy their needs. Being a pixie herself, Zara can now finally help with protecting humans from these pixies, and at the dance she does just that, stopping a couple of pixies from kidnapping teens.

Astley keeps reappearing here and there, and he remains kind and patient. Yet he is not the most talkative guy out there. I would like him to let Zara in on one or two things on the pixie stuff, because seriously, it’s starting to get very vague here, and I need some answers! For one, why is there going to be a war? Where do all these pixie kings come from? Why do some of these pixies (the evil ones) feel the need to torture boys? Is that something they need in order to survive? Why boys in particular? And why do the good pixies not feel the need to do that? Oh, well there’s more, but you get my drift. Answers please!

Moreover, I keep feeling that Zara has gone slightly too immature for my liking. For instance, in the middle of a deep conversation with Devyn, she decides to squeal, jump up and roll around in the snow. Say what??? And that’s just one example. Let’s just say, I’ve been scratching my head quite frequently over the course of these first chapters.

In short, let’s hope for some character growth here.  And answers..I need answers..

 

 

After finishing the book:

Well, I finished the book last night. And did I get my most needed answers?

No, I didn’t. Worse still, I’m no longer interested in hearing them. I’m sorry all you fans of the Need series (myself included) but this book was a mess.

I think the main problem was the plot which was so haphazard that it felt as if the author was making it up as she went. The whole book was about rescuing Nick from Valhalla. Problem was, no one knew how to actually get to Valhalla. So chapter after chapter was essentially devoted to Zara and Astley trying to find ways to get there. And failing, over and over again. When action was needed, Zara or someone else got hurt. Or we got to know a bit more about Astley. But other than that, not much of a plot.

Sometimes the conclusion outweighs a non-existent plot (see Linger), but that did not materialize either. In fact, the conclusion just provided me with even more questions (to store with my other trillions of questions from the previous installments, thank you very much).

I had a problem with the characters as well. Zara seemed downright immature, and more often than not I struggled to follow her train of thought because it wasn’t coherent. It was grave one second, then squealing of happiness the next. Astley was probably the character I felt the most for, all though that’s not saying much. I did however wonder why he was so bent on Zara getting back her wolf. It felt as if he neglected everything else (an eminent war, leading and taking care of his pixies etc) just for the sake of helping Zara. I failed to see how that made a responsible king, which is supposedly what Astley was.

Unless he had other motivations for helping Zara, apart from his goal of Zara finally having Nick back so that she could stop missing Nick and start loving Astley instead. Yes folks, this was apparently Astley’s main motivation for helping Zara, believe it or not. A bit too goodie-goodie don’t you think?

So, back to the other characters, Issie, Devyn, Betty etc. They were all brilliantly drawn in Need, and to some extent in Captivate as well. In this installment however they were reduced to flat cut-out cardboard characters, only existing in the plot to worry and help Zara on her mission to Valhalla.

It would have been interesting if at least one of these characters had provided some resistance to the Valhalla mission, or at least doubts, because there were reasons to doubt. They had no idea what they were doing – if Nick was even alive, and all the while people were dying in Maine. But the whole group just kept cheering on Zara and encouraged her to move on. Boring!

Lastly, I was getting seriously irritated at all the questions not being answered, which made me wonder if even the author knew the answers to them. As you know if you’ve read any supernatural fiction, it’s the how’s and why’s that make a great world-building great. Small details are weaved together into a logical pattern and suddenly you are presented with a world-building which feels intricate and most importantly: believable.

In Entice, the world building of the pixies is as haphazard as the plot, with plenty of details, but all lacking explanations, and never weaved into a whole picture.  Consequently, I had a hard time believeing in the world that Jones had created. Never a good sign.

In the end, I just gave up. I did get to the last page, but not without effort. And unless the next installment receives skyrocket high reviews, this is the end of the pixie road for me. No more squeeing Zara White for me, I’m done!

The next installment to be published sometime this year.

Review: Old Magic by Marianne Curley

7 Dec

Series: No, stand-alone

Published: February 26th 2002 by Simon Pulse

Details: Paperback, 317 pages

My Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

Stand-alone novel about Kate and Jarrod who time travel to medieval England in order to prevent a curse to be casted on Jarrod’s family. First half of the book dragged, but it got slightly better in the second half – the time travel section. My main problems were Jarrod who was a wimp and the simplistic plot & writing, which was too young adult for me. Probably ok for younger teens.

A few chapters in:

Witchcraft, time travel and romance. A (gasp!) stand-alone book, almost never heard of in the young adult paranormal genre these days. And finally, written by Marianne Curley, an Australian author I’ve been curious about for some time.(She is also the author of the highly acclaimed The Guardians of Time Trilogy.)

All of the above, combined with the fact that it was standing there literally waiting for me while I was browsing the library shelf for something to read, made me pick it up.

I’m now a few chapters in, and while it’s an OK read, I’m not feeling completely converted just yet.

Kate is a witch. Meaning, she knows how to cast minor spells such as turning on the radio in the next room or fast-forwarding the minute-hands on the clock. Her speciality however is to get inside people’s heads in order to sense their general feelings.

Witchcraft runs in her family, all though the only family she’s ever known is her granny with whom she lives. Her mom abandoned her when she was only an infant. Because of her and her granny’s abilities, they have a bit of a reputation in the small town of Ashpeak where they live.

One day in school, Jarrod, the new guy arrives. Kate immediately senses that something is different about him. When Jarrod is being teased by the other guys in class, a storm is suddenly conjured up out of thin air, throwing things around within the walls of the class room. What Kate suspected before is confirmed. Jarrod has some serious magical powers.

Problem is, he is not aware of it, and he refuses to listen to Kate, who he believes is one crazy witch.

This is as far as I’ve got. I’m liking the fact that we’ve got alternating POV’s following both Kate’s and Jarrod’s thoughts. Yet, like I said before, I don’t feel any pull towards it. Hoping to feel it though, as I read more.

After finishing the book:

On finishing this book, I had a similar feeling to when I finished A Great and Terribly Beauty by Libba Bray. That the writing was good, but the story failed to pull me in, and in both cases I suspect it was because I am considerably older than the target audience.

As for the review:

Well, as I mentioned, the first half of the book dragged, to the point that I almost gave up. We are given Kate’s background story of being an outcast, due to being a witch, in the small village of Ashpeak where she and her grandma live. Enters Jarrod, the new guy in town, and he and Kate start a wary friendship. Wary because Jarrod – spineless as he is – is too afraid to acknowledge outcast Kate in school – as to not lose popularity himself.

They do however get to know each other better (off school) and as they do, Kate realizes two things. 1) Jarrod has powerful magical powers and 2) His family is unusually accident-prone, to the point that she suspects a curse has been placed upon them. After this realization, she repeatedly (and I mean literally repeatedly) tries to convince Jarrod to see this truth, while Jarrod repeatedly denies it. And this goes on..and on..and on..and on..until I was ready to throw the book into a wall.

Then just as the book was about to fly, Jarrod finally makes up his mind to follow Kate on a time travel to meet with his ancestors in medieval England in order to prevent the curse (which they believe was casted around that time era).

Here the pace picks up, and I gathered enough interest to keep going. Kate and Jarrod visit the ancestors Lord Thorntyne and his family at their castle – and are welcomed in. Not long after, it’s made very clear who the source of the curse is. There is this illegitimate brother – Rhauk – who lives in a neighbouring castle called the Blacklands (sounds evil anyone?), and who is looking to revenge his lost inheritance with a curse. The question is now, will the clumsy wimp known as Jarrod gather enough strength and magical powers to beat the powerful magician Rhauk, thus destroying the curse in the process?

Well, as much as I want to avoid spoilers, I can’t pretend the ending was a surprise. And believe me, as you are reading it you will know the end way before time as well. The plot was as predictable as a child story. I would have needed more subplots or twists and turns to keep me interested. This was simply put, too simplistic.

There is also a romance between Kate and Jarrod, which never pulled me in either. Kate was such a strong and mature girl, and I couldn’t fathom how she could ever be interested in Jarrod, let alone go through so much trouble to save him and his family from a curse.  She mutters herself quite a few times how she thinks that Jarrod is a spineless wimp. So I found it hard to believe in the romantic connection that they supposedly shared. Granted, Jarrod does change towards the very end, but it was a bit too late for me.

The Bottom Line:

All that being said, the book wasn’t completely bad, meaning I’ve read worse. It did redeem itself slightly towards the end. And, like I said when reviewing A Great and Terrible Beauty, had I been say 14 years of age, chances are I would have loved it.

As for now, I’m contemplating whether to read more of Curley’s books. Her trilogy The Guardians of Time has received high praise but after reading this debut novel of hers.. let’s just say, that trilogy just moved down a couple of notches on my TBR-list.

Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

13 Oct

Series: Gemma Doyle, book #1

Published: July 4th 2005 by Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

Details: Hardcover, 403 pages

My Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

About Gemma, who after her mothers death is sent to a boarding school in Victorian England, where she befriends a group of girls with whom she starts a secret club and uses forbidden magic to enter a magical world. For me it lacked in characterization, none of the characters were likable, and so I didn’t care about the book. Possibly ok for teens.

A few chapters in:

Harry Potter for girls. That’s how some people have described this book. I have also heard it’s very young adult – as in – you may need to actually be in your teens to appreciate this book. In short, I’ve heard a lot of various opinions of this series, some less flattering than others. But seeing as it’s recommended by a huge amount of people, and seeming similar to Harry Potter (which I loved), I thought I might as well check it out.

I am now 100 pages in, and I’m stricken by how similar this is to Immortal (note that Libba Bray published a few years previous to Immortal). We have a grief-stricken girl, arriving at a haunting, old private school, not getting the warmest welcome. The click of popular girls treat her badly, and her only friend so far is her room-mate who is a plain and ordinary girl, also poor and an outcast as she was sent there on a scholarship. There is a necklace, passed on from the dead (or sick) family member, which seems to hold secrets in regards to the heroine’s hidden powers. There is also a diary, written by someone else entirely, who experienced the same confusing powers as the heroine, but years previously. Oh, and there are visions as well, and strange dreams. And not to forget, a dark mysterious boy who lingers in the area, watching our heroine, but with unknown intentions.

Did I miss anything? That’s as far as I’ve got, but the premise really does share some striking similarities with Immortal, just saying.

Am I liking it so far? Sort of. I’m not completely captured, possibly because it got me bored reading the same story yet again. I also understand reviewers saying it’s aimed towards young adult only. It feels as if I may be too old for the target audience here. That being said, it’s well written, and I have a feeling it might get better. Let’s see what happens..

After finishing the book:

So what can I say? I wasn’t captured in the beginning and I’m sorry to say it stayed that way throughout the novel.

As I said earlier, Gemma the protagonist is sent to a boarding school in England after her mother’s death. There, she befriends three other girls and they form a secret club, first as a joke but as Gemma’s powers are revealed, it grows into something far more serious and eventually spirals out of control.

So why did it not capture me? I have one word for that: characterization. I didn’t care one bit for Gemma or neither one her three friends. They were immature, stupid and irresponsible, all of which I could have forgiven them in the beginning seeing as they were only teenagers. But there is no growth! Gemma keeps trusting these girls, and I can’t for one understand why, seeing as how they behave in various situations in the book (torturing an animal and having their best teacher at school fired among other things). Gemma might be a nice girl but she is too weak. She seems to know right from wrong, but keeps making stupid decisions anyway due to peer pressure (basically whenever the other girls whine).

It’s hard to care about the book when you are not invested into neither one of the main characters. I’m all for rounded characters portraying both good and bad traits, but these girls seemed to portray flaws exclusively. I would have loved for these four girls to eventually bond and care  for each other as in a true friendship. That never realized though as they were all too absorbed into their own personal goals to truly care about one another.

There is also a weird sort of romance in the book, made up almost entirely by sensual dreams. I’m not sure of why Gemma starts dreaming about Kartrik, seeing as they don’t share one single good moment together. He’s basically threatening her or being plain rude every time they meet. There is also not much of an explanation to why Kartrik made the effort to follow Gemma from India, and incorporate himself into a Gipsy community in her proximity, just to be able to watch her and advise her not to do magic. It seemed a bit too far-fetched to me, but sure, maybe there are explanations in the following two books, what do I know?

The ending fell flat as well. I don’t even think I fully comprehended it. Why was the villain suddenly defeated? What happened? There was a lot of rushing and swivelling and then suddenly Gemma got away. Or maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention, because to be honest, at that point I had all but given up on the book.

The Bottom Line:

All this being said, and to Bray’s defence, I may be too old for the target audience. Or rather, I know for a fact that I am. If I had read this book at say, the age of 14, chances are I would have loved it. But as it was now, at the age of 32, this book did not deliver. I won’t continue the series.

Review: Immortal by Gillian Shields

4 Oct

Series: Immortal, book #1

Published: August 4th 2009 by HarperTeen

Details: Hardcover, 368 pages

My rating: 1/5

My summary:

Don’t waste your time. It had a good premise about a girl who is sent to strange and haunting private school Wyldcliffe and meets mysterious boy. But the writing is poor, the characters one-dimensional and the plot predictable and full of holes. I never got into the story, and couldn’t care less what happened, not even towards the end. Possibly ok for teens under 15.

Synopsis:

Wyldcliffe Abbey School for Young Ladies, housed in a Gothic mansion on the bleak northern moors, is elite, expensive, and unwelcoming. When Evie Johnson is torn away from her home by the sea to become the newest scholarship student, she is more isolated than she could have dreamed. Strict teachers, snobbish students, and the oppressive atmosphere of Wyldcliffe leave Evie drowning in loneliness.

Evie’s only lifeline is Sebastian, a rebellious, mocking, dangerously attractive young man she meets by chance. As Evie’s feelings for Sebastian grow with each secret meeting, she starts to fear that he is hiding something about his past. And she is haunted by glimpses of a strange, ghostly girl—a girl who is so eerily like Evie, she could be a sister. Evie is slowly drawn into a tangled web of past and present that she cannot control. And as the extraordinary, elemental forces of Wyldcliffe rise up like the mighty sea, Evie is faced with an astounding truth about Sebastian, and her own incredible fate.

Gillian Shields’s electrifying tale will dazzle readers with suspense, mysticism, and romance.

My thoughts:

I feel terrible for what I am about to say, but there’s no way around it. I did not like this book.

I actually had a bad feeling about this one only one or two chapters in. It starts with the heroine Evie arriving to Wyldcliffe boarding school, and in the first two chapters her background information  is thrown in, meaning all the events leading up to her being sent there are explained in between the lines. Usually that type of info is weaved into the story so that I hardly even notice it’s there. Here it was done in such a clunky way that it felt as if lights went on blinking – background info coming!! – every time anything was added, detaching me from the story because of the sheer clunkiness of it.

But I kept reading..don’t ask me why but I did.

About the plot. Well, it  has been done before. Girl arrives at a boarding school after the loss (or sickness) of a family member, only to find out that things are not what they seem at said school. She meets a handsome boy with a dark mysterious past. Somehow all the secrets (of the school and the boy) are linked to her past, and most likely also linked to the dead (or sick) family member.

Even though the plot is a far cry from original it could have been saved with good characterization and writing. This is where it falls short. Now, firstly let me explain: I don’t have the best skills in determining the writing in a book. Usually it goes something like this: “Wow this is something I know I could never achieve myself = great writing” or “Hmm this is something I could have written myself = pretty bad writing”.

This book however (and take into account folks that I am not a writer nor an English native speaker), I could have written better had I tried it myself. It was that bad!! Some phrases had me literally cringing. Not once did I feel it transported me into the story, rather, the writing made me detach from the story as I couldn’t help but notice how awkwardly some sentences were put together.

On top of this, the characters were one-dimensional cut-out from cardboard, with one personality trait each, if even that. I had no interest whatsoever in Evie, the heroine as she had no personality. Her so-called epic romance with the mysterious Sebastian could not hold my attention either. Their romance was all telling and no showing. They were supposedly so in love, yet I didn’t feel it anywhere, not even the slightest.

Also, it didn’t help that I knew where the story was heading as early as a third into the book – no surprises there. Needless to say, I had a hard time finishing this book. In fact, I didn’t. I quit with only a few chapters left. That, if anything, is saying something about how badly executed it was.

If you want to read a similar book, but better accomplished in terms of writing, read “A Great and Terrible Beauty” by Libba Bray. But whatever you do, don’t waste your time on this one. There are so many much better books out there.

Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate

9 Aug

Series: Fallen, book #1

Published: December 8th 2009 by Delacorte Press

Details: Hardcover, 452 pages

My Rating: 2.5 /5

My Summary:

Luce is a girl with some unusual problems, who is sent to reform school by her parents. There she meets two mysterious guys, Daniel – who she feels she knows from before, and Cam. Who can she trust? Plot involves fallen angels. Well written, but very slow pace and too many question marks left hanging at the end. Overall, just OK.  Sequel Torment out soon.

My Full Review:

This book has got some mixed reviews, but is generally recommended by Twilight fans, so I decided to read it and see for myself.

Synopsis:

There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.

My thoughts:

I liked the premise of this book as it was a bit different. Luce is a girl who’s been having some unusual problems for the last couple of years (explained in the book), culminating in a terrible accident involving the death of a boy in her school the previous summer. Consequently she is sent to Swords and Cross, a reform school for troubled kids. And this is where we are introduced into the story.

Along with Luce we get to discover the strict rules of the school, the strange atmosphere lingering at the school grounds as if there are secrets lurking around. We also learn more about the other troubled kids. Luce gets to know two seemingly nice girls, acquires one girl enemy for reasons unknown to her, and attracts the attention of two mysterious and good-looking boys, Cam and Daniel.

Luce is unsettled by quite a few things. She is still dealing with guilt from what happened the previous summer, and she is also trying to get used to the idea of having been sent to this reform school. However, Daniel is what unsettles her the most. His behaviour is strange, to say the least, yet she can’t shake off the feeling that she has known him before, and she is intrigued to find out more about him.

This very premise goes on for most part of the book. As a reader, you are left with the feeling that no one can really be trusted, and that there is something more going on, something supernatural. Somehow this involves Luce and Daniel, and possibly someone else, but who?

All though the book is really well written, I found the pace a bit too slow. It is slowly building up towards the big finale, but it just takes ages to get there and I struggled to keep up my interest as I was reading. Especially since I saw what was coming miles ahead.

I know this book has been compared a lot with Hush Hush seeing as they both share the same theme. However, even though Hush Hush was not as beautifully written as Fallen, the former grabbed me more. I literally could not stop reading it. With Fallen, I had no problems whatsoever leaving it for a few days, even towards the end. It just didn’t stick with me the same way. I believe it was because of combination of two things: the pace was too slow and I could see things coming from miles away. The latter meant that I had to wait for ages for our heroine to figure out the same things I had known all along. It made it slightly..boring..for lack of a better word.

The Bottom Line:

So, would I recommend Fallen?

Well, it wasn’t all bad. But it is very “putdownable”. Not a book that will sweep you away. Yet sort of enjoyable because of the atmosphere Kate has created. However, the ending dragged the grade down, as there were to many loose ends left hanging. I felt like I was taken through all that slow suspense and build up only to end at..oh get the next book and you’ll find out. Speakin of which, there is a sequel Torment out soon, which I may read..or not.

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: 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.