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Review: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

31 Dec

Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls, book #2

Published:  July 13th 2010 by Scholastic Press

Details: Hardcover, 362 pages

My rating: 3/5

My summary:

A continuation of Sam and Grace from Shiver. Sam is now cured, but as spring approaches Grace starts feeling unwell. While beautifully written, the pacing in this book is off and I’m still not connecting with Sam and Grace. I did however like the new addition Cole. Overall, okay read. Third installment Forever to hit the shelves next summer.

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A few chapters in:

If you’ve read my review of the first installment Shiver you might know that I didn’t outright love that book. I thought I was going to devour it, as the story seemed to be right up my alley with an Edward-Bella type of a romantic couple set in a paranormal environment (with werewolves instead of vampires). Problem was, Sam and Grace did not resonate with me in the same way that Edward and Bella did. Why? I don’t know. I just know that I didn’t care for them as much as I should have.

That said, it was beautifully written, with an intriguing and original plot that included well-rounded secondary characters (Isabel especially), and so I always knew I wanted to return to the wolves of Mercy Falls. The question was only when.

Well, the time has now come to delve into the sequel, and I’m already a few chapters in. Some time has passed since we left them in Shiver. It’s still winter but there are early signs of spring. Like in Shiver, there are alternating POV’s. This time however, two more POV’s have been added apart from Sam and Grace, namely Isabel and a new character Cole. Cole is one of the new werewolves that Beck recruited just before changing to a werewolf himself, presumably for the last time. Consequently, we don’t know much about Cole, except for the fact that for some reason he must have willingly agreed to become a werewolf, or else Beck wouldn’t have recruited him.

As the spring approaches, so does the time when Cole and the other new werewolves will shift back to their human forms. Sam, who is now amazingly cured, is waiting for them, hoping that their transition will go well. Meanwhile, Grace is struggling with headaches and a hot temperature. Something is not quite right, which is most likely stemming from when she was bitten all those years ago. Why that should surface now, I don’t know, but I’m sure there is an explanation.

I’ve just got to the point now where Isabel and Cole meet. And let me just say, that this is starting to get really interesting. If their first meeting (where sparks literally fly) is any indication of the rest of the book, I’m guessing I might just devour this sequel, the way I never did with Shiver. Let’s hope so!

 


 

After finishing the book:

Well, I’ve finished it. And I’m sorry to say, just like with Shiver I felt it was lacking. I was momentarily gripped when Isabelle and Cole met, but as that relationship sort of fizzled out, my interest in the book did too.

Mostly my problem with Linger (as well as Shiver) is my inability to connect with the lead romantic couple Sam and Grace.  This is a very subjective thing I know. But given the fact that it doesn’t take much for me to swoon over romantic couples (Bella & Edward, Cabel & Janie, Jace & Clary, Valek & Yelena) to name a few, it is quite strange how when I read about Sam tossing and turning in bed because he misses Grace so much, my reaction is: yawn. Why is that?

It may be because I’m missing sparks and passion. I don’t for a minute doubt that they love each other very much, but it’s all so careful, quiet and lovey-dovey. Which, once again, some might like to read about, but I need something with a little more life in it. That’s why I loved the new addition of Cole, because he brought some life and sparks to the story, that previously only Isabelle had provided.

My other main reason for yawning my way through this book was the non-existent plot. Already in the first couple of pages, we get a hint of what is to happen to Grace. Yet it takes all of the 400 pages to get there. And in between? Not so much, really. Cole’s background story is told, and there is the friction between Grace’s parents and Sam. But other than that, it felt like I read about all the four of them basically going on about their life, doing mundane things like calling each other, turning a pillow in a bed, driving their car, looking at the wolves, pondering and questioning and worrying.

It helps of course that these mundane events are told in the words of Maggie Stiefvater, who can make a trip to the bathroom sound like poetry. She is extremely good with words, there is no denying that. Unfortunately though, no amount of beautifully phrased prose can save a non-existent plot (in my view).

I have to say though that the ending was quite spectacular. I loved how Cole stepped up to the plate when it really mattered (Cole’s my man!), and the whole explanation behind the werewolf curse was interesting as well.

Did those last 10 pages make up for the rest? Not really. But a good ending always leaves you intrigued, and so I may actually pick up the third installment Forever, to be released next summer.

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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: Fade by Lisa McMann

5 Aug

Series: Dream Catcher, book #2

Published: February 10th 2009 by Simon Pulse

Details: Hardcover, 248 pages

My rating: 4.5/5

My Summary:

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

My Full Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Wake by Lisa McMann

5 Aug

Series: Dream Catcher, book #1

Published: March 4th 2008 by Simon Pulse

Details: Hardcover, 210 pages

My rating: 4.5/5

My summary:

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

My review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out Cabel’s side of the story

Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

5 Aug

Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls, book #1

Published: August 1st 2009 by Scholastic Press

Details: Hardcover, 392 pages

My rating: 3.5/5

My summary:

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

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

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

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

My thoughts:

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

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

So, did I love it?

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

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

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

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

But I wasn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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