*exhales* First off, NO. I had to get that out of the way. I tried really hard to like Witch Finder. I went in with the lowest expectations possible, because several of my reader friends were reading it just before I did and warned me that it didn't look that good. A pity, because I still absolutely adore the cover. But, as it was a review copy, I went ahead and read it anyway. For the most part, I was not amused.
I received this review copy rather late and was in a bit of a reading slump, so to still have my review up reasonably on time, I read most of it in one sitting. A good thing too, because if I had put it down more than once, I can't promise that I would have picked it back up again. Reading it in one sitting also helped to engross me in the story, so much so that I was quite enjoying the middle part of it and debated whether it was worth 3 stars. But overall... no.
So Witch Finder promises us the story of a witch, Rosa, and a witch hunter, Luke, who is assigned to kill her as an initiation into a brotherhood of witch hunters. The plot, however, is stretched terribly thin. The beginning and end were rather boring and strayed into the realm of, "Huh? What?" Luke is on a mission to kill Rosa. You'd think there'd be more suspicion, plotting, etc., but no. He makes a couple attempts and quickly realizes he cares too much for Rosa, she's too much of an ordinary girl, for him to kill her. But where is the plot aside from that? I kept reading, trying to find it, but there was just no driving force to the story. A new plot arc is introduced in the last quarter of the book, and it was just really disjointed.
The world for that matter also made no sense to me. While it is our world in 1880, magic is in the world, and in the first couple chapters it's said that this is common knowledge. That fact is hardly used at all in the book. Sure, the witches are in hiding, and there's this secret brotherhood trying to kill them all, but ordinary people seem like they don't know witches exist, when according to the earlier chapters they should. And where do politics come in? There's some political body mentioned a few times, but no laws about witchcraft or anything. It was just so much missed potential. *sigh* The magic that is used in the book is also hardly noteworthy. Since Rosa has to be discrete about her magic around the house (given the normal human servants), the only spells we ever really see in this book are for things like starting a fire, mending some clothes, and making stains disappear. I mean really.
But for what it's worth, I did enjoy the romance between Luke and Rosa. It's the reason why I really enjoyed the middle of the book. I guess the way that Luke struggled with his fear of becoming a killer and his growing feelings for her did manage to touch my ice cold heart somehow. It wasn't instalove, really, although they do hop quickly to "I love you". That, however, I more or less accepted as part of the time period and of the dire circumstances they kept tumbling into. So I appreciated the romance, and it was probably the highlight of the book.
My largest issue with this book is the rampant and blatant sexism and female oppression. You might say, "Well, duh, Debby, it's set in 1880." Yes, I know, this is set in our world more or less (plus a tiny bit of magic) and that was basically the scene in the 19th century. Female oppression was a thing. It happened, certainly. But does that mean I want to read about it? Not exactly. Does that mean it should be blatantly shoved in my face like this? No. You're putting magic in this world, couldn't you have chilled a tiny bit on the living standards for females? Even if it's realistic, this crossed the line into serious uncomfortable territory.
So Rosa is from a family with good standing who recently lost all their fortune. Basically, their last hope is for Rosa to get married to a rich husband. They have their eye on Sebastian, another witch and long time family friend. Alexis, Rosa's brother, from the very start of the book commands Rosa around to do precisely as he says and more or less orders her to seduce Sebastian. Her mother basically does the same. Alexis is a prick and her mother actually slaps her for disobeying her. But Sebastian... oh, Sebastian, it turns out, is the hugest dick to ever grace this planet. On pretty much their first "date", he whips his dog to death for being disobediant. Rosa, after this, understandably is freaked the fuck out by him. She can hardly contain her fear. Her family tells her to get over it, because it was "just a dog". He then quickly, for whatever reason, decides that yes, he wants to marry Rosa. (Honestly I still can't understand this, because all throughout the book they mention that almost everyone knows that their family is broke, so why on earth would he want to marry her anyway? They don't have a good banter or talk much before he proposes anyway.) Then, he slips this ring on her finger that he magically tightens until she can never take it off. He starts referring to her as "his" and commanding her around.
Every second, she pretty much confesses that she's scared to death of this man. So after she gets engaged, she sneaks off to get some air and finds Luke. Luke has saved her life, and long story short, they kiss. Sebastian catches them, and BEATS HER TO A BLOODY PULP. He yells at her, screams that he'll kill her. This man is a raging psychopath. Words cannot describe the rage.
Do they break up after this? No. He doesn't leave her, even as he yells that he will not tolerate infidelity, and the reasoning is... he loves her? At least, that's what he keeps saying for the rest of the book. I'm still asking why. She has no fortune, which is public knowledge. She has reasonable looks. But he's wealthy as fuck. He surely could have found someone better. And then he could have gotten the fuck out of this book.
Like, did this happen, was it realistic in 1880? I'm sure to an extent it is. But that doesn't mean I want it in my books. Honestly, the book should come with a warning label, because there is some MAJOR abuse going on, not just from Sebastian, but also from Rosa's mother and brother. This was not at ALL what I was expecting from this book. It seriously made me uncomfortable, and every time I think about it since, I just have a hot flash of rage. No. Just no.
The ending also takes a major cop out. Not only does the villain stupidly reveal his plans to obviously let the two main characters escape safely, but how they escape happens in a toss up ~fade to black~. Thanks to Christina, I've found the apt term for this: Too Stupid To Die. If my earlier rage about female oppression wasn't enough, by this time I was just yelling, "FUCK THIS SHIT," but it was too late to DNF the book.
I can't. I just can't. Just no. I tried so hard with this book, and for a while it had me fooled, but that's only because the romance played off my emotions. At most I would maybe have considered giving it 3 stars at some point, but I just can't. While I thought it was an interesting and possibly accurate depiction of the time period, the late 19th century, it's a depiction that just makes me rage. Hence the long review. I just cannot with this book. Can. Not. No.
No one. Definitely no feminists. Stay away.
*ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you! This does not affect the rating or content of this review. Clearly.
Oh dear. After Eden, what can I say? Perhaps I can start with that I should have known better. I was tempted by the time traveling, the starry cover, which all hint to the kind of sci-fi I easily fall for. But I should have paid more attention to the obvious instalove inherent in the synopsis. I should have listened to my gut. While to a certain extent I really liked the sci-fi part of this, it was wrapped up in this sadly irritating instalove coating with a stupid main character.
I guess I might as well start with the main character, Eden, who fills me with feelings of meh. She doesn't have much of a personality to start off with, but quickly forms an obsession with the new boy in school, which really makes me roll my eyes. She's the jealous type, so when one of the other girls starts flirting with him she becomes a whiny, insecure little girl. Time after time, Ryan (the new boy) tries to convince her that her best friend, Connor is in love with her. Even when the evidence is pushed in her face (he hates any time Ryan is around, because he knows they like each other, and gets super snarky then; and the sheer fact that he names the planet he discovers after her - seriously, that's not strong enough evidence), she's just totally naive about it. So most of her narrations result in eye rolls and sighs.
And let's talk about Connor for a second too, because I have so much hate for him. He's supposedly Eden's best friend, but not once in this entire book does he act like it. Instead he's a whiny sore loser the whole time because of Ryan showing up. At a certain point, Eden says about him, "He's hard not to like." Really? I had no fucking problem at all not liking him. It came quite naturally in fact. And later she actually says, "Every time Connor spoke to me, I worried that it would turn into an argument." That's how their dynamic was throughout the entire book. So why in the world were they best friends at all? I mean, if you're going to label them best friends, you have to make it believable. At least at the beginning, show how strong their friendship was before Ryan showed up or something. Or throughout, show that although Connor is jealous he still cares for Eden. But no, he had to be a whiny little asshole to her all throughout the book. UGH.
As far as Ryan and the romance go... I don't have much to say. It was instalove. Ryan is just the smoldering, hot type. Mysterious because of the lack of knowledge of standard 21st century things. But that's about it. Can't say I picked up on more personality than that. He was a man on a mission, and that's about as interesting as he got. If the romance would have held off on the more obvious insta-attraction, can't ever stop thinking about him/her, stuff, I may have liked it. In fact, I kind of liked it at the end, though it's still a little too co-dependent than I would have wanted. (The ending... GRRRR MASSIVE GRRR.)
But seriously, dump this instalove, love triangle romance crap, and the sci-fi is so cool. So mild spoilers ahead, if you care about that kind of thing: but Connor is destined to discover an Earth-like planet in the future. In fact, it's the only planet that could be habitable for humans. But, it is inhabited by a parasite. During the first journeys to that planet, the passengers carry that parasite back with them to Earth, and it slowly starts killing the planet until the population in 2122 is less than one billion. So Ryan is sent back in time to stop Connor from discovering it. I mean. I mean. This is the kind of thing that has me jumping for joy. Love it, love the concept. Whyyyy must it be wrapped in this coating of annoying?
Disappointment is the word, although my hopes weren't that high in the first place. I need a connection with a main character, and Eden just made me shake my head at her all the time. If anything, I've learned now which warning bells to listen to when it comes to reading synopses. A pity though about the instalove, because the sci-fi part of this was actually really cool. Oh, and Connor, GDIAF.
Sci-fi-lite fans who aren't turned off by instalove.
I start this review with the utmost trepidation because... well here's a book that pretty much every YA reader on the planet loves. It has crazy amounts of crazy fans and, well, I didn't think it was fantastic. It wasn't bad either. It did make me want to bash my head against the wall at some points (we'll get to that), but some other points were genuinely good. But did it have me jumping out of my chair, bursting with joy, ecstatic about the awesome? Far from it.
Let's add some context of my reading situation, because I don't want to lead you on. I am not a vampire fan. In fact, I'm pretty much a vampire hater. I get creeped out by them, I don't think sucking blood is sexy, it's just not for me. So I was planning to just avoid this, and never read it (as with all books with 'vampires' in the title/synopsis), but no. *tsks* My friends couldn't leave well enough alone. They were all like:
And the awesome Judith made me an offer I couldn't refuse (ha) by sending the book to me so I wouldn't even have to buy it or find some other place to borrow it. So obviously, I had to read it. But by that time I was curious. I mean, I might like it. I might hate it. Curiosity was getting the better of me. So while I was still very skeptical about it, I set off on my reading journey, deciding to liveblog it on Twitter (#vampirehaterreadsVA) to provide some LOLs or impressions.
My problem with Vampire Academy surprisingly is not the vampire aspect. Usually, I'm, like, vampires?
And I was scared, when I started reading, that already on page 3 there was a "feeding" scene. I thought it wouldn't end well. But the vampire aspect is rather tame, to be honest. As Rose herself is not a vampire but a Dhampir, a half-blood vampire bodyguard, that typical stuff is kept largely out of the picture. In fact, I quite liked these vampires. Much better than Twilight, in any case. These vampires are harmed by the sun, can wield elemental magic, and have an old fashioned monarchical, classist society. I do kind of dislike that their saliva is like a drug to the people they feed on, but... I managed to ignore that for the most part.
So what was my biggest problem with Vampire Academy? What made me want to throw the book across the room and bash my head against the wall sometimes? Rose. Yes, I know, you're all gaping at the screen right now. "How could she say that??? Rose is the most badass character ever!!!" Well, tough.
You should already be proud of me that it's not the vampire thing bugging me. But here's the thing with Rose. Everyone says she's badass. Sure, she's reckless, loud, honest and won't take shit from anybody. But. There's a fine line between being awesomely badass and being obnoxiously cocky and conceited. And I feel like Rose crosses that line many, many times. Some examples of what I mean:
The incident had given me a dangerous reputation, in addition to my smartass one. The story had gained legendary status, and I liked to imagine that it was still being told around campfires late at night. - Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Natalie was nice but also one of the most uninteresting people I knew. - Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
I knew I was pretty, but to Moroi boys, my body was more than just pretty: it was sexy in a risqué way. - Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
He was boring, yes, but safe. Just like Natalie. How come all the harmless people were so lame? - Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
I knew perfectly well that there weren't a lot of girls at this school who looked as good in a bra as I did. - Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Now, okay, you're all probably still glaring at me. Because, yes, to a certain extent it is refreshing to have a main character with a bit higher self-esteem than most. But when it's page after page of comments like this... Seriously, in some parts, on each page Rose was belittling different characters in her narrations, particularly Natalie - all the time. I got sick of her attitude. I wanted to throw the book across the room. It's a brand of cocky I can't take. Now, I want to be perfectly honest: had I not borrowed this book from Judith, and had it not had all this praise from everyone who's read it, I would have given up. That's how badly she pissed me off. All the time I was reading, I just kept thinking...
Luckily... I can say that she did seem to have grown a little by the end of the book. But I'm still extremely weary of her. She still needs a reality check and a slap across the face. (Also, the way she's so flirty and devil-may-care with her sexual reputation really bothered me for the fact that she was still a virgin.)
So I kept reading and kept reading... I didn't really know why. It's a really simple read, compulsively readable, one might say. I was sometimes annoyed by the juvenile narrations, but I set that aside, just because it read so quickly. But yeah, the writing style leaves more to be desired.
The plot never really hooked me either. I kept waiting and waiting to be sucked in or blown away, but it never happened. I had no clue where the story was going (and not in the good way, in the "where the hell is my plot?" way) and there was no real mystery sucking me in either. I was reading this just to read it because I'd promised friends I would. The plot was just... boring? average?
However, this negativity all out of the way, there were things I liked too. I liked Christian - he was probably my favorite character, because his devil may care attitude closely resembled my own attitude while reading this. I gradually warmed up to Dimitri, though I am not a screaming fangirl for him by any means. Lissa was really intriguing to me, and I think she's mostly why I kept reading, all things said and done. Her friendship with Rose was... interesting. I like it, for the most part.
The last quarter of the book was truly enjoyable though. Things finally started happening - interesting things (and not childish boarding school bitch wars). The romance between Rose and Dimitri certainly is hot. There's no getting around that. It definitely caught my attention, and I enjoyed it. And, as I said, Rose appeared to have grown a little. Action-esque plot things happened, some reveals were made, but nothing really blew my mind. It was fun to read, but, turning to the final page, I was still waiting to be wowed.
This is... a guilty pleasure read. Certainly, it has mass market appeal, proven by the screaming fangirls and glowing reviews. While it did have points of merit, I'm still not blown away. It was an all right read, but, to me, not really worth of all the hype. It's a fast and easily digestible read, there's hot boys, but Rose remains a stumbling block for me.
Will I continue with the series? I honestly don't know. I've heard it gets better and better, and the third book is particularly amazing, but I don't know if it's really worth my time if I'm not convinced here. And I don't know if Rose will really grow or if she will just continue to irritate me. Maybe I'll pick the second book up when I have cleared out my to-read list, have some free time, and want some nice romance on a rainy day. Because, yeah, I'd probably just be reading it for the romance.
Err... I don't know. I'm probably the black sheep here. Most readers would like it.
Altered came to my notice with only the highest recommendations from Amber (and Judith), and thus there was a considerable amount of hype and expectations built up for me. Did the book meet those expectations? Not entirely. However, all the same, Altered is an action-packed thrill ride with some pretty awesome characters. I did enjoy it immensely.
One thing really kept me from finding this the "asdfjkl; awesome" book I thought it would be, and that would be... Anna and Sam. Both characters, to me, were rather boring. Anna, as the main character, didn't really have that spark to make me love her. Though she certainly did prove she was strong enough to fight when necessary and wasn't a Mary Sue character at all, her - freaking - obsession - with - Sam drove me up the wall. It's not really instalove, since they have a history, and there is, admittedly, a reason for at least part of their undeniable attraction to each other, but the way she was constantly thinking about him just made me shake my head.
And why Sam anyway? Of the four boys, he is terribly boring. His personality can be summed up to the natural leader of the group with tons of drive and motivation and some recklessness. Other than that... sure, he's a bit mysterious too. But whyyyy is Anna in love with him? Seriously. I don't understand. Although, sure, Anna, you can have Sam, and then I can have the other three boys. Yeah, you know what, that sounds like a much better plan.
Because the remaining three boys were awesome and my main reason to keep reading. Cas is hilarious and charming. I love funny guys and every time he spoke he managed to put a smile on my face. Nick is the dark, skeptical one (and okay, I seriously ship him and Anna, despite wanting to keep him for myself). Trev is Anna's best friend, the rock, the intelligent, thoughtful one. The whole time I was reading I kind of felt pressured to choose a favorite and all three kept impressing me so much that I still have absolutely no clue who my favorite would be. (Probably Nick. I dunno.) But anyway, I loved the unique characterizations of each of the boys and how they supported each other throughout the book.
The plot was pretty darn great. It is full of action, constant motion, reminiscent of The Bourne Identity. Plot twists galore. Though they may not have completely shocked me at any one point, there were a few I didn't see coming. It made for a great reading adventure (quite literally, because it's like a scavenger hunt). This is the kind of book you keep feverishly reading because you want all your questions answered. I'm still a bit underwhelmed though, probably due to the hype and my high expectations. It was a good plot, but it didn't exactly wow me.
Altered hit a lot of highs and lows for me. I loved the action and the mysterious plot. I loved the secondary characters: Nick, Cas, and Trev. But I felt nothing towards Anna and I disliked the romance. At parts I also felt like the plot could have been improved. Overall though, I did enjoy it and I'll probably check out the sequel too. But not liking the main characters and their romance is a massive stumbling block. So here's to hoping that Sam dies in Erased and Nick and Anna can happen! Can I get a what what? (JK. Though that would be cool. I almost want a love triangle right now, what is this?)
Full disclosure: I think I may have liked this more if I wasn't still on the coattails of my All Our Yesterdays high.
People looking for an action-packed thrill ride and awesome boys.
Holy crap! This book was awesome! Arclight is an astonishingly powerful debut by Josin L. McQuein. Even for someone who usually is weary of thrillers, this sucked me in and had me totally engrossed. With a great group of characters and an imaginative and beautifully depicted world, this book is a keeper.
Let me start right there, with the writing. I adore Josin L. McQuein's writing style. She describes everything with such gripping imagery and just has an amazing way with words. From the very first page, I was immediately impressed. And after having read some YA novels recently where the writing really was nothing to shout about, this made me so happy. You want quotable quotes? Read Arclight, seriously.
"You diminished me beyond words, and fractured me to less than nothing--a single voice pulled from the roar of the wind." -Arclight by Josin L. McQuein
The world she created was also amazingly creative and offered tons of opportunities for her to showcase that lovely writing style. The world is shrouded in the Dark, with monsters called the Fade terrorizing humans. It's hard to describe much more without me giving things away, but it's truly one of the more unique worlds I've read about lately. However, because the world was so complex, sometimes I felt it was hard to understand. While I really loved the writing style, at some points a little less embellishment and a little more clarity would have been appreciated.
I actually really loved so many of the characters, it's ridiculous. Marina strangely touched my heart. Though in the long run her personality may not be so memorable, I really sympathized with her a lot and ..yeah, she was really intriguing to read about, since most of the book covers the mystery of her identity. Tobin was really cool, at least for the first half, and dare I say it, a pretty swoon-worthy boy. But it's mostly about Rue. Rue is awesome. And Rue and Marina, it totally needs to happen.
That being said, the romance here is very light. It's mostly a background thing, and most of the book centers on the mystery/thriller aspect. I suppose one could say this is almost a love triangle, but it's a very complicated situation. However, I loved all of it. Like I just said: Rue and Marina. It touched my heart and it needs to happen. So give me the next book already.
The plot packed a punch with all its mysteries about the world, the Fade, and Marina's identity. I didn't want to stop reading, I just had to know the answers to all my questions. The plot is aptly twisty-turny, and that just makes for a really engaging read. (Also! It wasn't AS scary as I expected. Other bloggers claimed it would be best to read it in the daylight, but I was surprisingly not that scared - which is a good thing, for me, since I get nightmares easily.)
This was an awesome debut from Josin L. McQuein which gives me high hopes, not only for the sequel, Meridian, but also for the next books she comes up with. Her writing is just amazing and engrossing, and this world was extremely creative. This was just a great read! What more can I say?
Fans of thrillers, unique world building, and beautiful writing.
In the first half of this year I discovered a sub-genre I'm totally in love with: stories involving alternate/parallel universes. I adore Pivot Point to pieces and Parallel was surprisingly endearing and good. Then I made it my goal to read all the books in this sub-genre coming out this year, and Just Like Fate popped up on my radar. I was excited, and I wanted to love it, but it brought nothing new to the table (except maybe eye rolls).
Within 50 pages, warning bells went off for me. It was something I should have realized when I first read the synopsis, but the set up for the alternate timelines definitely didn't work for me. Basically, Caroline's grandmother (who she lives with and takes care of her) has terminal cancer and is dying. She's in the hospice, basically waiting to die, and on the fourth night Caroline is faced with a choice: to stay by her side for the night or to go, on her best friend's insistence, to a party. Thus the two timelines are created but... hold up! In one timeline, she really leaves her grandmother on her death bed and goes to a party?
Admittedly, there's extra justification in that, well, what are the odds that she'd die on that night (spoiler alert: she does), her sister's being a total bitch to her and she can't stand being in the same room as her for a second longer, and after three whole nights of staying by her grandmother's side she deserves a break. ... Ummm...
Yes, I should have realized this from the outset, by reading the synopsis. But honestly, the set up could have been more acceptable if she'd just... you know, been there every night for two weeks, and there still wasn't a sign of an end to come. Just simply changing it by that much would have made the whole "Go" storyline more plausible. Because now, the result is, I'm already rolling my eyes at this contrived plot, thinking it was the "easy way out" in terms of set up, which diminishes my interest to keep reading in the first place, and even when I do push on, I find myself scoffing at the Caroline in the "Go" storyline because I already hate her selfish behavior.
My dislike for Caroline as a main character also spilled over into the "Stay" storyline. I don't know. Possibly due to the bad set up for the timelines, I found it very hard to find a connection with her. Her personality lacked a spark, and I was just bored reading about her. She was so much a typical teenager in terms of jealous behavior, overreactions, parental detachment... I was gleefully happy when she felt guilty about leaving her grandmother and not getting to say goodbye to her because I felt that was righteous justice. Erm, yeah, and when you start thinking that way about the main character, it's pretty much a done deal.
Though there are separate timelines, this is not sci-fi at all, and totally contemporary fiction, with a focus on relationships, be they platonic, familial, or romantic. I do like that focus, and I ended up really liking the development of the relationship between Caroline and her sister, Natalie. In the "Go" storyline, Caroline ends up moving in with her estranged father to have a fresh start, and I really liked that too, as I related to that quite a bit on a personal level. Father-daughter relationships are just very dear to my heart, and I liked how this one was ultimately presented, including the addition of a surprisingly sweet stepmother into the equation.
The romance was... all right, but I barely felt the chemistry. In each timeline, Caroline is met with the interest of a different guy. While Chris, in the "Go" storyline, was definitely more charming and very lovable, I was torn since I was sworn to hate that storyline in the first place. Besides, he was charming as a character, but I didn't really feel the romantic chemistry. Joel, in the "Stay" storyline, was, quite simply, a prat and he angered me. Lots.
At certain points, Just Like Fate was such a walking, talking cliché that I was overwhelmed with eyerolling. From the mean girl who literally says, "I don't need a reason to dislike you," and beats up the main character, to the sister who, at the beginning at least, constantly looks down on everything Caroline does, to Caroline herself being the most juvenile, jealous girlfriend in the world... It was exhausting to read.
All things said and done though, at the end of the book, the message definitely came across. Much like the themes of Pivot Point and Parallel, certain points in life are fixed, but you do have some self-control over the choices you make, and it's the journey towards your "fate" that makes all the difference. I like that message, overall, I do... But since I've already read two books that struck that chord and did it better, I couldn't help but grow annoyed that I sat through 300 pages to get to that point. The journey to that message here? It was just plain boring.
Annoyance and boredom are the two prevailing emotions I had while reading this book. Though I did like certain aspects (the relationships between the characters and the eventual message of the book), when I look back on this book, the first thing I'll remember is how ridiculous and frustrating the set up of the timelines was. If you are interested in fate-related stories or alternate timelines, let this be your first foray into the sub-genre. If you've read others, like I have, this brings nothing new to the table.
Those very interested in the concept of fate.
A Midsummer's Nightmare is going on my favorites shelf. I read this heartfelt and authentic contemporary in one sitting, literally unable to put it down, and I felt the full spectrum of emotions while reading it. I laughed out loud. I cried (for real). This book holds a special place in my heart. Contemporary doesn't get any better than this.
Let me first focus on how relatable this plot was to me, because that is one of the things that really compelled me to keep reading until I was done in the middle of the night. My parents are divorced. It was not a friendly divorce. To this day my mother will still complain to me about my father, which makes my relationship with her strained at best. My father remarried, and though after the divorce the court decided I should live with my mother, I ended up pretty much running away from her in favor of my father. Divorce is a tricky subject, especially when it's a messy one. It messed me up pretty bad. And in A Midsummer's Nightmare it really messed up Whitley. But it was totally authentic. I knew everything she was going through. I knew how hard it was, having been through it myself. So that made this story extremely endearing to me.
This means that I loved the main character, Whitley. Not only did I love her authentic voice, but she had a pretty badass attitude as well. Though at the beginning she may come across a bit self-absorbed, she's clearly partying to escape and trying desperately to keep herself whole. I also related to how she shut herself off from having friends, after she'd been jilted by her old friends. But make no mistake, this is a character growth novel, and I absolutely loved it. As you continue reading, you keep peeling back layers of her personality and understand why she is the way she is. And she changes herself as well.
I also loved Nathan and the romance. Kody Keplinger is a master at creating romantic chemistry, guys, seriously. All the scenes that were even remotely romantic pretty much had me drooling. It was awesome. And Nathan is just an absolutely wonderful character: funny, nerdy, but hot and athletic, with a slightly mysterious past, and all around lovable. Though I wish that at some points he wouldn't have let his principles get in the way and just let the hotness happen... he was still awesome and the relationship was good the way it developed. I loved every second of it.
In this book, Whitley discovers what it means to be loved by family, which has been completely foreign to her since the divorce, friends, and, of course, Nathan. The friendship element also really touched my heart. Whitley befriends (begrudgingly at first) Harrison, a totally handsome yet gay guy living in Hamilton. He immediately wants to be friends with her - they just click, and throughout the book he's the best supporter she could have. It was absolutely beautiful.
What got to me most, however, was the relationship with her father. Because of the strained relationship with her mother, she put her father on a pedestal, but soon figures out there's things about him she didn't know. Long story short, and without spoilers, they have a confrontation scene and it totally made me cry. I don't cry during books. I can probably count the books I've cried during on one hand. And dammit is it hard to read with tears in your eyes! But it was beautiful and emotional and really hit the message home.
Kody Keplinger adds a second book of hers to my all-time favorites shelf. And make no mistake, if people were to ever ask me for contemporary recommendations, I would say Kody Keplinger first. With the authentic voices she gives her characters and her drool-worthy romance, she has become one of my favorite authors. A Midsummer's Nightmare was extremely relevant to me personally, and maybe not everyone will be as touched by it as I was, but either way, it's a great story with an awesome cast of characters and an important message. I loved every bit of it.
Everyone, especially readers with divorced parents.
When this book first came out in February, it had an amazing amount of hype. Praise was thrown around everywhere, this book was apparently just amazing, and one of the best things the New Adult genre had to offer. Soon afterwards it was picked up by HarperCollins to be published for real. All that buzz, all that hype, and the fact that I love Jennifer's Lux series, meant I had to read this one at some point. Ultimately, however, I'm not too impressed. It was good but not great, and I'll probably forget about it before too long.
This was my first foray into the New Adult genre, which many readers have either been praising the crap out of or been extremely skeptical about. I fall under the latter category. I appreciated the somewhat heavier topics covered in this book (rape, suicide, drinking, sex) and the college setting, which was a nice change of pace. But for all intents and purposes this felt very much like a young adult contemporary romance with some erotica thrown in.
At some points it just felt like Wait for You was trying too hard. And what do I mean by that? Something kept me from really being absorbed by the story, and that left me on the outside, looking in, ready to question anything. From pop culture references (Harry Potter, Supernatural, etc) to over-the-top cliché romance. The one thing I may just remember about this book was this really weird scene. Avery had gotten drunk, and Cam was in her apartment taking care of her. She throws up in the bathroom until there's nothing left, and he decides she needs to change her clothes to get into bed. But with the literal excuse of I don't know where you keep your clean clothes he instead takes off HIS SHIRT (so...yay... we can ogle his hot body again) and makes her wear it, cuing this awkward scene of him undressing her, but being modest about it sort of and turning around at points but... seriously? smh.
I appreciated the obvious struggles Avery was going through and her resistance to trusting people considering her past, and that ultimately made her story rather endearing. But in terms of personality, I didn't really connect with her. And Cam chases after her, asking her out almost every day for months. I honestly just didn't understand why and when he tried to explain it himself, the reason was basically that she was different and beautiful. But honestly, you don't chase after someone for so long without a good reason. I am a skeptic, I know, and I don't read pure romance often, but contrived romance like this is the reason why.
While I get some of the hype about Cam, in that he is wonderfully patient and supportive, hot, funny, etc... he bothered me at times too. Not just by how he was so completely smitten with Avery (without good reason), but his insistence on calling her "sweetheart". He first did so around the second or third time that they met. And then it just continued. It didn't sound natural to me, and every time he repeated it, I cringed. I dislike pet names. But in this case it also just clashed with the image I had of him and made the dialogue sound stilted.
Ultimately my frustration with Wait for You stems from how slow it moves. And I don't mean that I wanted to get to the hot, erotic scenes faster, that's not the point. I mean that Avery's resistance to trusting others was believable, but it dragged on for way too long, leading to too many almost-hot scenes before backing off again. It took too long for her to get that reality check she so desperately needed. And while they tried to keep what happened to her a sort of mystery that gradually unraveled, I basically had it figured out in the first quarter of the book. Knowing what happened to her but still waiting for that inevitable confrontation scene where it all comes out is just plain frustrating.
The New Adult genre may not be for me after all. I'm not one to shy away from sexy scenes, no, but I felt like this was just trying too hard. The romance was at times great and at times completely cringe-worthy. I will praise the realism and the effort to tackle some tougher issues, and ultimately I think a lot of readers in college (or later) will like it, as it is rather easy to relate to. But for me, this was purely a one-shot escapism book: entertaining for a while, but I'll forget about it soon. The characters and the romance were not amazing enough to get my praise.
18+ fans of contemporary romance.
*sigh* Inferno... There were good parts and there were bad parts. To be fair, Dan Brown delivers with another thrilling story that his true fans will love. However, it is not his best novel by any means. The most telling sign of that is that it took me about a month to finish reading this book. Now I love Dan Brown, for the most part. Angels & Demons is one of my favorite books ever and I really enjoyed The Da Vinci Code as well. However, The Lost Symbol disappointed me, I just felt it was very boring. Luckily, Inferno is better than The Lost Symbol, but that wasn't too hard to accomplish. I worry though that the conspiracy-driven thriller plot has been worn out.
Inferno opens differently than the other novels in the series in that Robert Langdon wakes up with amnesia. He has lost the past few days and finds himself in Florence, Italy, with only a vision telling him to "seek and find". He begins deciphering clues, as per usual, and gets caught up in a conspiracy revolving around Dante's Inferno (The Divine Comedy). However, him losing his memory was ultimately my biggest problem with this book. It had an extremely slow start, mostly because Langdon is lost himself, questioning everything, trying to remember. This then comes paired with a bunch of flashbacks as well, later in the novel, when they start revealing what exactly happened that he forgot. And then because of Dan Brown's tendency to write from multiple points of view when necessary, different characters had slightly different flashbacks that overlapped and... it felt like the story was completely being stretched too much and it was kind of over done. It was just exhausting, because with such an action-driven story, you want to move forward, and not keep looking back.
The actual conspiracy here was extremely intriguing, though. I love Dan Brown's ability to create a complex villain, who tries to accomplish something that we perceive as evil but from that character's view point with his principles, it could also be right. His ability to dive into the psyche of such characters is ultimately, I think, what will keep me buying his books. The involvement of Inferno and The Divine Comedy was brilliant. It's really inspired me to make sure I read it at some point. I love the history of the poem, the art built up around it, the symbolism... It's absolutely beautiful.
And another strength, of course, is that this book takes place in Italy. I love Dan Brown's descriptions and I'm in love with Italy, so this just made me want to go back there sometime really soon and explore the streets of Florence and Venice again. I also absolutely loved how much Italian was in the book - short phrases which are immediately translated, so it's not confusing. I actually ended up just reading them aloud because it looked so beautiful on the page and... okay, I want to learn Italian at some point so badly. tl;dr: I love Italy and Dan Brown totally exploited that.
While the beginning dragged and dragged until I put the book down for two or three weeks (yeah), the last third or quarter really kept me going when I got back into it. It was action packed. There were plot twists almost every other page or something at one point, and I was just constantly surprised. I mean, people you thought were good turned out to be bad, people you thought were bad turned out to be good, and then it gets like another layer above that. So the last third just reminded me of the kind of spark and addictive quality that first attracted me to Dan Brown in Angels & Demons.
The ultimate ending of the book, however, was a bit of a disappointment. It was a new, different kind of ending, and I respect the originality of it, and the fact that it's not always happily ever after. But even so, the ending just felt very unresolved. And that I don't like.
I think, looking back on Inferno, I'll more likely remember the struggles in the first half of the book than how impressed I was with the second half. However, it was still a good, highly entertaining read. It's not Dan Brown's best - so if you're new to him, I would still advise you to read Angels & Demons first. But, especially for lovers of Italy like me, this has enough substance to keep you entertained. So I'm a bit mixed.
Die-hard fans of Dan Brown and lovers of complex villains, conspiracies, and Italy.
I knew from the moment I read Pivot Point in February that this would be good. Then I saw that cover and it turned into a must-have. Now I have read it, and my first real thought is that I should congratulate Kasie West because she has made her way onto my auto-buy list. I love her writing and her storytelling, and so, for the foreseeable future, I will be pre-ordering any book she comes out with. That's just how much I loved The Distance Between Us.
Right from the first chapter, I was in love with the main character, Caymen. She is absolutely - freaking - hilarious. She has a sarcastic mind that even beats my own, and her quips and one-liners constantly had me giggling and flailing. It made for some of the best dialogue out there and so many quotable quotes.
“Is that your subtle way of saying you missed me last week?"
"I've missed my hot chocolate. I just think of you as the guy who brings it to me. Sometimes I forget your name and call you hot chocolate guy.” -The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
She is one of my favorite characters ever—and definitely within the contemporary romance genre. Aside from her sarcasm, I loved her loyalty to her mother, and her difficulty to trust Xander. It all felt extremely real and authentic, and that is an absolute must for me in contemporary books. Kasie West makes amazing characters, that's for sure. And she also didn't disappoint by putting another awesome friendship in here between Caymen and her best friend, Skye. I loved the two together and it was definitely reminiscent of Addie and Laila (Pivot Point).
Then there's Xander Spence. Someone, bring me a fan. That boy is just so amazing. He's like.... what the love interest in This is What Happy Looks Like should have been. He is dreamy and swoon-worthy. I love his little crooked smile, his secret weapon. I love his obvious enjoyment of Caymen's sarcasm. I love his reluctance about his position - that he can still be down-to-earth at times. But he also needs Caymen. She grounds him.
That's one thing I loved about their romance—they complimented each other perfectly. They were just what the other needed. But the absolute best part was that this was a slow-building romance that was perfectly natural and never felt cliché or predictable. I'm not a contemporary romance girl (I keep saying that, but I have been reading a lot of them lately) mostly because straight-up romance will bore me with its cliché nature. That's not the case here. The Distance Between Us is everything I could ask from a contemporary romance. It is top notch. And I just loved it.
While the story does center a lot on the slow-building romance between Caymen and Xander, there's also more to take away from the story. Caymen is in the position to decide if she wants to delay college and take a gap year to help her mother with her struggling business or if she should choose for herself and make her own life. It was a truly touching tale of loyalty and complemented the romance beautifully.
And to that point, I think one of the things I love most about Kasie West's writing and storytelling is that she doesn't only focus on the relationship dynamics between the two main characters. Here she also looks at Caymen and Skye, Caymen and her mother, Xander and his parents, Skye and her boyfriend—and each of them is really interesting with well fleshed out characters. It makes for a well-rounded and authentic world that is hard not to love.
The Distance Between Us is the perfect light contemporary romance that will lift your spirits and leave you smiling. I'm trying really hard to find a negative thing to say about it, but I'm drawing a blank. I enjoyed every second of this book and loathed when it was over. Contemporary straight-up romance doesn't get any better than this. With amazingly lovable characters and the perfect pacing and relationship development, this is one of my favorite books now. Hats off to Kasie West. You did it again! Welcome to my favorite author and auto-buy list!
Anyone looking for completely adorable and perfect romance.
The Art of Wishing is a sparkling and original story that is just completely enjoyable. Practically from page 1, I was hooked. I was in the mood for something light and compelling, and this book certainly delivered. It's a refreshing take on the paranormal genre with heavy influences from the contemporary, and all around a stunning debut from Lindsay Ribar.
Now, as you can gather from the synopsis, this book is about a genie. Yes. Oliver appears before Margo and can grant her three wishes. I'm not a big paranormal reader, but this was such a refreshing and cute, adorable concept that I couldn't help liking it. It was entertaining from the get go. And genies being largely unexplored so far, I felt like it was much more interesting to gradually find out about the world, its rules, and the "creatures".
Margo was an extremely enjoyable main character, and since I've just read The Distance Between Us, I can't help but compare her to Caymen. Because, yes, she is that awesome. Though not quite as sarcastic as Caymen, Margo deals out her own fair share of wit, and for the rest she's an extremely realistic character. She acknowledges her own flaws and struggles through taking the high road in frustrating situations. She just felt very human and relatable.
Oliver was absolutely adorable. He was just... so sweet and dreamy. He made me giggle. I was literally giggling over this book in public, at the train station. And I regret nothing. Their romance was so cute and wonderfully paced. All of the squees.
He paused, his fork hovering just above his plate. He looked at the waffle in question, and then back up at me. "That was the real reason I decided not to change. Not because I didn't have time, although that was part of it. It was because I already liked, um, waffles." He laughed, squeezing his eyes shut for a second. "I'm sorry, I can't do this. This is a terrible metaphor. I already liked you, Margo, and I liked liking you, and I didn't want to risk ruining it." -The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar
So the story itself read mostly like a contemporary romance, which struck just the right chord with me. The paranormal elements mixed in worked rather well and made it even more enjoyable. My only disappointment, really, with this book was the ending. Without spoiling anything, I'll just say that I thought it would have done so much better by going in any other direction. It was the most cliché ending that, all throughout the book, I was hoping wouldn't happen. However, I do like that it didn't really end on a cliffhanger. This book could be read as a stand alone despite it being in a series. And I have no idea where the story will go next! But I am excited!
This is a solid debut novel from Lindsay Ribar. You can immediately tell her talent for writing and her involvement in the industry just by how this doesn't read like it's a debut at all. Solid writing, adorable characters, original concept, and all around enjoyable. If you need a light read to cheer you up, the perfect mix of paranormal and contemporary, definitely pick this one up.
Anyone in the mood for something different, and fans of contemporary romance.
I was duped into reading this book. Plain and simple. I was not alone. However, the warning bells didn't start to go off until I was already past halfway. The fact of the matter is, there are sock puppets promoting this book on Goodreads, and I feel like we need some honest reviews up there (and elsewhere in the reading community) to even the score. I sacrificed myself for you all.
To be honest, after the rage-inducing September Girls, I really didn't think it could get any worse. I thought that 0 orange rating was a one-and-only-time thing. I stand corrected. Now at first glance, if you have not yet heard about the shitstorm of drama surrounding this book, you're probably like, "Oh, that sounds harsh. Be fair, Debby. It's her debut." And to that I say, NO.
Here's what it boils down to. Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock (embarrassingly displaying a grammatical error on the cover) is plagiarism. It is 95% Harry Potter. Now some of you, with a more naive purer heart than me, probably think that's an exaggeration. That, particularly in the world of fantasy literature, novels almost always influence each other in certain ways. That I'm probably overreacting because Harry Potter remains my favorite series of all time. And to you, I say,
Let me talk you through it. At the beginning, it did not feel like a carbon copy, I'll give you that. Adela is a teen in the modern world, just going through high school, when one day she learns about a world on the other side of mirrors. In fact, a chimera escapes from that world and into her own and kills one of her peers. So far, so good. The writing itself was a bit amateurish, but it being a debut, I was understanding of that.
Then, things changed. After the death of Wilhelmina (and seriously at the names in this book), Adela learns about this world, Cielieu. Basically, the world consists of all manner of magical creatures, and she is one herself - a Volsin! SURPRISE. This means that in theory she would be able to control light. Whoohoo. However, the Volsin escaped from that world and into the non-magical world, because they were being hunted down by an evil dude, called Lord Voldemort Prince Delapeur. (SERIOUSLY. DELAPEUR. VOLDEMORT. I'LL JUST LEAVE THAT UP HERE FOR YOU.) (For those with no French knowledge, Voldemort - vol de mort = stealing from death; Delapeur - de la peur = of the fear.)
Now, why, you might ask. Why is this guy terrorizing everyone? Well now it becomes apparent that solid worldbuilding was not one of the goals in Adela Arthur and the Vaguey Vagueness. Power. That's a good enough reason, right? That's what's put out there at the beginning of the book, and never does it alter along the way. One dimensional villains, check. Prince Delapeur hunts down Volsin and strips them of their light, effectively killing them and absorbing their power for his own. And he killed Adela's parents. Oh and the other thing about Delapeur?
"We do not say his name here. We wouldn't want to give him that pleasure."
"There is this myth that he actually becomes stronger each time you say his name. He wants us to say it often and with as much fear as possible." -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
Hmm. That faintly rings a bell. Adela has a vision of Delapeur killing another Volsin, and then for some totally inexplicable reason, decides that it's best for her to travel to the magical world. Despite how her parents pretty much sacrificed themselves to bring her to safety. She feels like she needs to save the world. Or something. I dunno, even that wasn't explained well enough. So I was questioning it at this point, didn't see why she would go there (together with her bookworm best friend Hermione Hector), but I thought, okay, it'll be some kind of epic adventure thing.
Okay, this one's on me, and I should have read the synopsis better, but they cross into Cielieu and then... go to school. ..Yeah, no, go to the extremely dangerous world, and THEN start from scratch learning about your new magical powers. Much more logical than staying in the relative safety of the real world where your grandfather could mentor you. But I digress. They go to school! What's their school like? It's a castle. A magical boarding school. The students, Volsin, are split into four different, hmm, houses, shall we say, according to their type of light. The four are: Sapphire Falls, Emerald Dens, Golden Hives, and Red Diamonds.
Those colors look familiar, you say? Hmm, wouldn't know why. In case you're wondering, Golden Hives = Gryffindor, Red Diamonds = Slytherin, Emerald Dens = Ravenclaw, Sapphire Falls = Hufflepuff. Shuffling around the colors makes it not be plagiarism right? Even though the personalities are still pretty much the same? No? Oh. Okay.
As you may expect, Adela is a *gasp* Golden Hive. And for the rest, about this school:
"Before everything happened, you had to be at least eleven to enter the Castle of Light." -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
But this light magic makes no sense, and the worldbuilding around it is terrible. Obviously, we couldn't have had wands and regular witch/wizard magic. So Volsin have light in one of four colors according to their true nature, which sorts them into their houses. What can this magic do? Apparently, almost everything but it makes no sense. They can create arrows out of light, and attack that way (because, you know, light has physical properties), and they can create discs out of light on which they can then stand and float away. But some people also have additional, special powers, that are not related to light at all - like that Adela can see the future, and Jeremy can read peoples memories. It's extremely confusing, and all throughout the book, it felt like at any moment, some new magical power or property could appear, all at the author's convenience. But clearly, we're not meant to question any of it. I think Adela herself says it best.
Adela would have questioned how they'd gotten the tree in there, but she remembered that she was currently flying on a disc of light and about to go to a magical dining hall where the scenery changed daily. It had taken a lot of effort to stop questioning the things she once thought were impossible. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
The teachers in this school are referred to as Lords and Ladies. Because, you know, Professor would almost make you associate this book with Harry Potter, and we can't have that. The headmaster is Lord Elderberry, full name being Elwin Alfred Carnell Alvar Elderberry V. Nothing like Dumbledore at all, no. I mean, here, let's look at some dialogue to prove it:
"Even one light in the dark is helpful," lord Elderberry stated as the star-covered ceiling above them dimmed until only one solitary star remained. "And when there are thousands of lights in the darkness, you forget there is darkness at all." With each one of his words, another few stars among the thousands began to shine brighter. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
"Hope, even in the darkest of times, is something you may find strength and comfort in." -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
Lord Elderberry frowned. "Prince Delapeur. His name is Prince Delapeur, and if you feel so adamant about your cause, you should not fear saying his name. He is a Volsin with power that no one can understand. What we cannot understand, we fear, and that is how he gets his power, because we all give him fear to feed upon." -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
I digress. But, hmm, Adela should have a nemesis from an opposing house too, right? Yeah. Let's just, for the hell of it, make her a Red Diamond. Cue the introduction scene.
"I am Scarlet Danewort of the Red Diamonds, and I wanted to personally welcome you, on behalf of all the Diamonds, to the Elpida Castle of Light. Our families were close, and I believe you would like to spend time with a light of higher stature." She sneered toward Fallanita with the last part of her statement before smiling at Adela once again.
Adela had to hold Fallanita's arm with one hand, gripping her books with the other, in order to keep her from attacking the beautiful blonde. "Thank you, but I think I'll just sit with the Golden Hives." Adela smiled politely. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
Anyway, so Adela's starting out at school, and the plot line disappears. She's going to classes, and the amateur writing kicks it up a notch. It was extremely hard to follow, because often, without any explanation being given, a new chapter would start out months after the previous chapter. And that would only become apparent halfway through the chapter when they reference a previous event and noted that it was a couple months ago. ... Okay...? But anyway. This school is so original, I mean, they have birds carrying messages, totally original uniforms, the Forbidden Stygian Forest, moving pictures, screaming books, and a sport that everyone's obsessed with and they have interhouse competitions in. What, you don't believe me?
"Message for miss Arthur," the bird sang so softly Adela almost missed it.
"I accept," Adela replied. The baby Roc froze and plucked out one of its own feathers and let it fall to the ground before flying out the window, leaving red shimmers in its wake.
Fallanita picked up the feather before it touched the ground and handed it to Adela. The moment Adela's hands came in contact with the feather, a familiar voice rang out clearly. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
She could handle the white button-down shirt, the gray sweater, and the sweater vest with the letters GH embroidered on the breast. What she couldn't handle was the skirt. [...] Adela grabbed her white cloak, seamlessly perfect by a suitor elf. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
"Stygian Forest?" Hector hissed though his teeth. "How in the world did we get in the one place we're never supposed to go in?" -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
When she first opened the white book, she didn't find anything odd. That was until she touched one of the pictures. The minute she did, the image leaped off the page and came to life over the book, like a movie. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
She opened her book and a shrill scream erupted, causing her to squeal in return. She snapped it shut. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
See, if we take the essence of Harry Potter, but then go BEYOND that, it's probably not really plagiarism. Right? No? Okay. Let's focus on the last thing I named in a bit more detail: the school sport. It's called Natorbi. (Quidditch was taken.)
They were all starry-eyed by Natorbi, reminding her of Fallanita. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
"If all the lights are equal and none is better than others are, then why do the Red Diamonds think they're superior?" Adela frowned.
"They have been the Natorbi champions since, like, forever," Fallanita complained angrily. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
Okay, but so, we can't have Natorbi resembling Quidditch. The sport, however, is part of the shoddy worldbuilding. It's absolutely full of shit. It's an underwater sport, apparently. They take some kind of breathing pill so that they... can breathe. Adela literally gets onto the team, before even really knowing anything about the sport, by simply swimming to the bottom of this ball of water and then swimming through a ring. She set a record. Yep. To be fair, the ring is apparently spinning and for some magical reason, Adela just knows what to do to figure out the rate of spinning and when it's safe to cross. But yeah, she's just so special. Why?
"Your mom was Natorbi champion all four years! She won the Natorbi cup her twelfth year, and the Golden Hives have not won again since she left." -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
Let's just take a moment there to consider four years -- twelfth year, whaaaat in the world. Oh and they're allowed to enter the school when they're eleven. This is more of the shoddy worldbuilding I was talking about. Okay, now resume about how Adela is a legacy.
"Don't be nervous. It's in your blood." Elthin smiled, giving her a pat on the back and adding himself to the long line of people who kept reminding her how great her mother was. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
For the rest, this sport was extremely hard to understand, but from what I gather, they're in teams of five, and the game starts with them swimming to the bottom and through their own rings. After that, there's a ball or something that they're only allowed to kick with their feet, and they have to try to get that through the other team's rings, whilst defending their own. Balls through rings. Nope, this is nothing like Quidditch. Well, due to it being underwater, it can apparently defy the laws of physics, and that's new.
The moment he kicked, Adela stole the momentum from the speed, flipping forward and kicking the ball straight into the golden ring. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
Adela realized the ball went in the opposite direction it was kicked. [...] Adela swam up and kicked left, sending the ball spinning right. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
By this logic, I would have to assume that if she kicks the ball forward, it would go backward. ...Which is interesting. I doubt that was the author's intention, but by this point, I'm way too aggravated to spend even 5 minutes trying to figure this out. Oh and during the one game we see played during the book? Adela faints. Nothing like Harry Potter at all.
At 80%, we're reminded that, oh yeah, there's a plot. And I mean, aside from the one-dimensional baddy passively lurking around in the shadows. Long story short: since Adela crossed into Cielieu, everyone's been impressed by her because she's supposedly the one who can beat Delapeur. Why? We don't know. They never literally say prophecy, but most likely, that's what it is. So when they hear Adela Arthur, everyone just gasps and stuff. Her parents were apparently some of the most powerful Volsin in the world, so that could be part of it. Just. Yeah. She's the chosen one.
Anyway, when he absorbed the light of his last victim, Delapeur (I'm rolling my eyes each time I type his name, fyi) gained the power to somehow penetrate the minds of other Volsin. ... That doesn't sound too familiar. Since he knows Adela has returned to Cielieu, and he knows she's rumored to be able to beat him, he wants to hunt her down. So he penetrates her mind and threatens her and stuff. This happens over Christmas and she's terrified, and the teachers are concerned, so...
"If I were going to make you feel better, I would tell you Lord Aspen is very good with mind defense. That's why Lord Elderberry wants Lady Fern to take over his classes next semester so he can teach you." -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
Special... mind.. defense... classes... *sigh* (And let's not even start about how this professor is apparently dropping ALL his classes to teach her. But then when she shows up a bit late for a lesson he's like, "I'm busy.") But anyway, it's Christmas, and Adela is one of the few students who stays at the castle, while the others go off to their families. Aww. How sad. She doesn't have a family. Luckily, the school is so accomodating, in their magical dining room, they ditched the round house-specific tables for the holiday, and instead...
In the center of the room was now only one large round table where everyone sat together, whether they were Golden Hive, Red Diamond, Sapphire Fall, or Emerald Den. Underneath each tree seemed to be enough presents for everyone on the naughty and nice lists - plus the elves. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
Also not at all like Harry Potter. Anyway, specially for the holiday, Adela gets introduced to this magical drink - "a mug of steaming gold liquid", which is called Jumble cider. And then she gets a mysterious gift, a clock, with a note that says:
"Your father found comfort in this. Maybe you shall as well." -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
Now, on to the end. After a few months of passively trying to figure out the clock and going through mind defense classes, bizarre things start happening... Adela is ultimately pulled into a maze, where Prince Delapeur is waiting for her with his scary black cloaked supporters. They do battle, and since she's so perfectly awesome, chosen, and special, she somehow calls upon the light of all the Volsin in the world and defeats him. ...for the moment. DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNNNNNN. Oh and then she faints. And wakes up in the hospital. If that sounds incoherent, trust me, it's not far off. I barely understood what was going on, but by that point, I was too aggravated to care.
The author pulls off a last Hail Mary with some plot twists regarding the true identities of a couple of characters, which is in fact different from Harry Potter, but it came way too late in the game to impress me. I just rolled my eyes, once again. It would set up a sequel that could be way different from Harry Potter, but the world remains the same, and I will not be putting myself through any more of this misery ever again.
On the side of this bizarre and at times totally absent plot, of course, there's an attempt at romance. Even a subtle love triangle, between Adela, her bookish best friend Hermione Hector, and the mysterious and dark guy from the Red Diamonds, Draco Jeremy. The emphasis is on the Jeremy angle, and starts off with a bang, because Jeremy can experience Adela's memories himself if he... kisses her. Isn't that romantic. (And yeah, how does this power work? Where does it come from? How is it related to this whole control over light thing? The world will never know.) Their romance is a bit like:
Jeremy sighed, "If I help you, will you leave me alone?"
"Sure, Jeremy. If you help me I will leave you alone so you can continue brooding and glaring at the world." There was something about Jeremy that brought out the worst in her and she didn't like it. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
With clunky dialogue and scenes totally void of chemistry, my response is the following.
Let's take a look at some of the other brilliant dialogue in this totally not pathetic excuse for a novel.
"Hasn't anyone ever told you not to simply walk into Dragon's Landing?" Lord Myrtus yelled at her. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
Adela pretended to be hurt. "Hector Pelleas, you bite your tongue. One is never too old to indulge in the sport of throwing snow."
"Just because you say it with an accent doesn't make it true." He laughed at her. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
Where did it say she was talking in an accent? wtf.
"It's on," he replied.
"Like Donkey Kong," Adela told him, only to have him stare at her oddly. Once again she realized no one else understood her other-side-of-the-mirror humor. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
There's a line between being "inspired by" (which the author also completely denies, or, well, tried to) and plagiarizing. Judyann McCole bulldozes that line. With every copied element of Harry Potter, my heart sank further. Towards the end, I was literally rolling my eyes every other page. Even if I would take the blatant copying out of the equation, what we're left with is still a shoddy book with lackluster writing, clunky dialogue, cardboard characters, and some of the worst world building ever. It's Harry Potter without all the spark that made the series as successful as it is today.
But to be clear: the plagiarism is what does it for me. I do, in fact, hate this book. I hate that someone may be making money off of copying our queen, J.K. Rowling. Did you really think you could get away with this? The sock puppets on Goodreads claimed they didn't see the parallels. Well, you would have to be blind, or unable to read, and have absolutely no knowledge of Harry Potter, books or movies, to not see them. They're blatantly obvious. I felt like I was being slapped in the face with them. And it all just pisses me off.
But if this all isn't enough to convince you that you should avoid this book for the rest of your life, there's more drama surrounding it. You've seen me say sock puppets. It goes further than you may expect. Check it out, and be amazed and crushed at the same time, courtesy of Steph at Cuddlebuggery.
For the rest, about this review, bravo if you've read all of it. It is my longest ever. But it was necessary. If it's incoherent, I'm sorry about that, but not sorry enough to fix it. Now that the rage is out of my system, I'd like to move on. If you think I was too harsh, I quite frankly just don't care. I'm honest, this is my reviewing space, and this was my experience with this book.
For heaven's sake, no. Not even if you've never heard of Harry Potter. Just no.
Throne of Glass is one of those books that has had a massive amount of hype. People fell in love with it last year, and if you look around the book blogosphere now, tons of bloggers are raving about its sequel, Crown of Midnight. Because they all have ARCs. Bitches. So I'm late to this party and MAN I feel bad because why did I put this off for so long? This book is just as epic as everyone makes it out to be. It's one of my favorite series now.
This book started off with a bang. None of the slow, massive worldbuilding info dump starts that are typical to high fantasy books. No. We are greeted with an awesome main character. Celaena made me fall in love with her within the first 10 pages. She's highly intelligent, skeptical, snarky, and just all around awesome. She's pulled out of the slave mines according to the deal presented in the book's synopsis, and off she goes on her adventure. I was immediately captivated, wanting to know more about her past, her talent as an assassin, and the world of Erilea. (And, of course, about Chaol.) I loved getting to know Celaena throughout this book, and there was such character depth to her that I just kept growing to love her even more. Especially her bookworm tendencies and her fighting skills continuously impressed me. Awesome.
The story itself is fantastic. I loved every little bit of it, and putting the book down was painful. Celaena takes part of this competition to be the King's Champion, which entails training, battles, and human psychology, in a way. Add to this a side of mystery and intrigue, as there is a series of brutal murders in the castle. Fantasy elements galore, which I won't really go into to avoid spoiling you. And then... the romance.
This freaking romance. It's not a big part of the story, because there's so many other sides to the plot, but I seriously enjoyed it. Let me put it out there: this has a love triangle. I know, you're groaning, and usually I'd be with you because, ugh, love triangles, seriously. But... no. Even this, Sarah J. Maas masters. I can't help it. I have feelings for both guys. I started out only being for Chaol, but then Dorian grew on me. I think I'm still more on the Chaol side of things, but I am pretty torn. And that's what it takes to make a good love triangle: it's not an easy or clear cut choice. I found myself in Celaena's shoes and I didn't know any better either. The romantic-esque scenes with both guys just killed me.
What I love so much about both guys is mostly the character depth they were given as well. I love Sarah J. Maas's characterizations. She just gets me. Instead of Dorian being the handsome prince, with no other dimension to his personality, you slowly really get to know him as well: what his principles are and how he struggles with his father. And then Chaol... Chaol has a hard shell but has those rare moments when he allows Celaena to get a glimpse of who he really is... He is one very intriguing man and I cannot wait to learn more about him.
The writing style was fluid and captivating, which made this an even more compelling read that was hard to put down. The tests and battles toward the end of the book are absolutely action packed, and I may have snuck in some reading at work because I couldn't help myself. I was addicted. And after it was all over, I had difficulty picking up the next book to read, since I still have to wait for Crown of Midnight. All signs point to this being a must read.
I've thought long and hard about whether there's any kind of flaw I can point out and considered the light comparison to The Hunger Games (but there were enough differences) or the pretty predictable plot twists (I loved the execution anyway), but... they never really bothered me while reading. So you know what?
The bloggers raving about this series are not wrong. Throne of Glass is epic. Sarah J. Maas's beautiful writing created an awesome world with brilliant characters, all of which had tons of depth. The story packed a punch with thrilling action and fight scenes. Add a side of political intrigue and addictive romance (in spite of its love triangle nature), and yeah, we can call this a Debby Book™. Minus half an orange just because I would have liked to have had my mind blown with plot twists a bit more.
Everyone. Just. Yeah.
Poison by Bridget Zinn is a truly enjoyable little fantasy story. It has some great characters (and one AMAZING one) and was easily digestible all around. When push came to shove though, this book never really did anything to stand out and wow me. That's not to say that it's bad... but I did wish for more. It had way more potential. But I don't regret reading it, because what was written was definitely good.
So, Poison basically tells the story of one extraordinary pig who gets swept up in an adventure when this girl, Kyra something-or-other, recruits her for a dangerous mission. Along the way she falls in love and gets in all kinds of hijinks due to her cuteness.
I'm joking. Breathe easy, don't worry, the synopsis didn't lie to you. But for me, Poison's major selling point is, in fact, a pig. Kyra, Master Potioner and assassin on a mission, gets a pet pig, Rosie, on her travels due to its hunting prowess. The pig, a tiny little creature, is the cutest thing ever and had me CONSTANTLY awww-ing at this book. I was freaking obsessed with the thing. It was the reason I was reading. It was totally all too cute. I just. I can't.
I normally don't even care for animals in books - much less pigs. But this pig slowly but surely ruined my life with its cuteness. I can't even explain it at all. But my experience of this book was bound to the pig. Pig gets attacked? I SCREAMED AND TEARED UP. Pig reunited with Kyra? TEARS OF JOY TOO CUTE I CAN'T. This is not logical at all. This pig has seized my heart. That's it.
*cough* okay, but admittedly.... there is more to this book than just the pig. In terms of characters, I really liked Kyra, Fred, and Ariana. Kyra, the main character, is intelligent and brave, reminiscent of Celaena of Throne of Glass. Fred is hilarious, charming, and all around wonderful, just like a love interest should be. The banter between the two of them started off as TRULY AWESOME but that sadly petered off towards the end. I was really, really rooting for them in the beginning, but when Kyra more or less comes to terms with her feelings for him, it became a bit too sappy (with a side of jealousy). Now, Kyra's relationship with the pig, Rosie, was the absolute best thing in the world.
The story itself was really intriguing at the beginning. It was exciting, it moved quickly, it had this mystery element I was really digging. Mostly, it reminded me of Throne of Glass which I just read and loved. So I was enjoying it. But the end made it fall a bit flat. Each conflict was resolved in the simplest way possible, akin to someone in a series of duels winning each one with a one-hit kill. Before the end I thought this would definitely be between 4 and 5 stars, but at the end, in retrospect, despite my love for Rosie, the book just wasn't that amazing.
Thank you, Bridget Zinn, for giving me my #LitPet. I absolutely love Rosie, and her cuteness will stay with me. The rest of the book was good as well, despite my reservations about the ending. It makes me sad that you were taken from this world before you got to wow us with more of your writing, because I can tell you were extremely talented and had a lot more to offer us. Still, I'm glad I got the chance to read this book. It really lifted my spirits and made me smile.
Fans of fast-paced, light fantasy.
Ho - ly - crap. Are you reading this series yet? If not, get on that stat. Whereas I loved Throne of Glass and only had one minor issue with the whole book that ultimately didn't take away from my enjoyment at all... Crown of Midnight does it so much better. This book is amazing. I loved every second of it, and putting it down was physically painful. And writing this review is even more painful, because... how am I supposed to achieve a good review without spoiling anything? Ugh.
Crown of Midnight is split into two parts. The first focuses on Celaena adjusting to her role as the King's Champion, taking out the targets and.... the romance. Chaol and Celaena. I can't with them. So perfect. Seriously. This romance is amazing, and I don't say that often. Think perfect build up, perfect tension, perfect banter, perfect feels, and I still don't come close to doing the two of them justice. You need to read this love story. It's just... extraordinary. Thanks to them, my standard for romance is soaring through the roof. It's called OTP. I can't get enough of these two. Let's go on a mini-GIF adventure!
At the end of part one and into part two, the action kicks it up a notch. My hesitance with Throne of Glass was that it never really shocked me. Crown of Midnight fixed this. Think plot twists, thrilling action-packed battles, intrigue, mystery, and a story that for a while you really don't know where it's going - in a good way. I can't go into it for fear of spoilers so... magic, demons, secrets, DEATH, vengeance. That's how I can sum up the plot. At parts, it totally ripped my heart up. I had tears in my eyes. I was gasping, screaming, furiously turning the pages. The ending kind of broke my heart and at the same time made me absolutely desperate for the next book. WHY MUST IT BE A YEAR? *cries*
And the very, very end (as in, very last page)? I totally called that halfway through, but mostly because I considered it while reading and thought it would be so awesome if it happened. And it did. So it wasn't too surprising, but I was cheering with my fist in the air. All in all, the plot was awesome and addictive, and I loved every bit of it.
Across the board, Chaol, Celaena, and Dorian get more and more depth as characters. I love reading about each of them, because it's really this gradual progression of getting to know them. It's wonderfully crafted. And it's not just our heroes, but also the side characters and villains. I love how Sarah J. Maas crafts her characters. I couldn't call a single one of them one-dimensional. That's major talent right there.
The writing is still super fluid and compelling, and the world building keeps improving!! Of course I can't really get into that either, for fear of spoilers. Umm... magic, lineage, politics, and more. asdjfkl; I'm sorry this review is such a fail. But just, just... read this book. Start the series. Get to this book. It's worth it.
Well. I somehow managed to keep that spoiler free. But sadly this very badly represents the book. TL;DR: THIS BOOK IS AWESOME READ IT *KEYBOARD SMASH*. Then repeat that 203845 times. That's this review. Summed up. Celaena is one of my favorite main characters of all time. Celaena and Chaol are one of my favorite couples of all time. This series is one of my favorites of all time. That's reason enough to give it a shot, right?
YOU. YES, YOU.
A special thanks x 1 million to Judith, who managed to stumble across this book in Amsterdam before it was released officially and deigned to buy and ship me a copy. You are amazing. You don't even know.
Why does Shut Out get so little love? Admittedly, next to Kody Keplinger's other two books, this one doesn't have that same spark of omg-flipping-awesome. But it has a lot of merit, and just like her other books, I enjoyed this romance a whole, whole lot. To think I was expecting it to be really average due to the ratings of my friends... sad! Prospective readers, do not fear! Kody delivers again!
Shut Out is another edition of Kody Keplinger clearly proving to the world she knows just what it's like to be a teenager and what teenagers think/talk about. This book focuses on... sex. At least from my experience in the States (and keep in mind that I lived in ultra-conservative Texas), talking about sex is such a taboo that it only has a seriously negative effect on teens. They don't know what the expectations are. Stereotypes get thrown around. Slut-shaming becomes completely normal. Double standards are created. Kody again manages to tackle such a crucial issue for teens in a beautiful story. And I loved reading it. It's one of those stories that I feel is just really really important.
"Because I want to know what's normal." She hesitated and then looked down at her bare feet on the tile. "I want to be normal, but no one talks about sex, so how should I know what normal is?" -Shut Out by Kody Keplinger
Arguably, of Kody's three works so far, the romance and the love interest in this one are the most appealing. Cash is amazingly sweet and hot and... amazing. Their romance suffered a tiny bit from Lissa's naiveté, but her reactions and doubts blended really well with her personality to the point where I didn't mind it too much. But let's focus on the good things - and there are many. They work together in a library. There are admittedly hot scenes in a library. They bond over books. This is a book nerd's dream come true, seriously. And all around it's just totally sweet. There are these scenes with just the simplest things, like holding hands, that completely melted my heart. Admittedly I have something with hand holding...
Anywayyyy. Kody also has a gift for writing secondary characters who create strong friendships. Here, Chloe is the best friend who is open about how much she loves sex. She's really inspiring and challenges the other characters to think about their prejudices, and all throughout the book, she is a perfect friend to Lissa. Then there's also Ellen, who admittedly has her issues with Lissa but proves that, in the end, friendship is a lot stronger than petty high school drama. I just love how Kody portrays friendships. They're just so healthy and strong.
Lissa's character and growth throughout the novel was also very dear to my heart. I could relate to her control-freak tendencies. I sympathized with her situation with her dad, her anxiety due to the loss of her mother, her insecurity in her relationship with Randy, her realization that she needed to stand up for herself and speak up... She wasn't a strong main character, she wasn't a badass, she didn't go through a tremendous growth story full of twists and turns, but she just felt really real. I couldn't help but have deep respect for her.
Overall, I really enjoyed Shut Out. Of Kody's three works, it is admittedly perhaps the least special, least memorable, but I did find it to be an important story, and the romance was completely adorable and hot. And let me just stress that this being my least favorite of Kody's books doesn't mean much - she is a brilliant author who is definitely on my auto-buy list. I don't think she could possibly write a book I wouldn't enjoy and find merit in. Great job, Kody! (What am I to do now that I am out of Kody Keplinger novels to read? SAD DAY.)
P.S. I will be rereading that library scene. Often. Like a lot. Tons. Okay.
People tired of slut shaming, and in the mood for some sweet and hot romance.