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Wither by Lauren DeStefano

March 23, 2011 1 comment

This book was actually just released yesterday!  (I received an ARC to review, but was not compensated in any way.  All opinions are mine.)

Doesn’t this book have one of the most beautiful covers?  I love it.  I think whoever designed did a gorgeous job.

I wish the story inside was as well done.  But before I get into that, here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden’s genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden’s eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.

I read a lot of reviews of this book on Goodreads and whatnot where people said they were turned off by 1) the child bride thing, and 2) the polygamy thing.

I have to say that those things didn’t really bother me that much.  After all, this is a dystopian novel– their society’s bound to be messed up.  I understand that, in their society, they have to do certain things to propagate the species.

When I received an ARC of this book from the publisher, I was so hopeful for the story.  The premise is so… promising.  It sounds like a great story, but I really feel like the author didn’t deliver.

The characters were underdeveloped, particularly Linden.  There were so many things that I just couldn’t buy.  I didn’t buy that Rhine wouldn’t tell Linden about how his brides really came to him or her suspicions about his father.  I also didn’t really buy that she would still want to leave after the estate had started to become her home.  Her attempts to escape seemed like the coward’s way out, a little.

I DID like the concept of the society, and the sisterhood between the wives.  But those things couldn’t make up for the rest.

I’m just so bummed about this book!  I really, really wanted to love it.  But I couldn’t even bring myself to like it.

And that’s just a shame.

Two stars for falling short of its potential.  Not a horrible book, but not good either.

Friday Favorite: Persuasion by Jane Austen

November 5, 2010 Leave a comment

This week’s Friday Favorite category is “Favorite Classic.”

I actually like quite a few classics, but I wanted to review one that is less popular or read, I guess.  So I’ve chosen Persuasion by Jane Austen.

I love all of Jane Austen’s novels, but Persuasion is probably my favorite (after Pride & Prejudice, of course).

Here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:

‘She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older – the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning.’ Anne Elliot seems to have given up on present happiness and has resigned herself to living off her memories. More than seven years earlier she complied with duty: persuaded to view the match as imprudent and improper, she broke off her engagement to a naval captain with neither fortune, ancestry, nor prospects. However, when peacetime arrives and brings the Navy home, and Anne encounters Captain Wentworth once more, she starts to believe in second chances. Persuasion celebrates romantic constancy in an era of turbulent change. Written as the Napoleonic Wars were ending, the novel examines how a woman can at once remain faithful to her past and still move forward into the future.

It’s a story about second chances, ultimately.  And whether or not to take them.  The power of persuasion is an obvious theme as Anne considers whose advice and feelings she should consider when making decisions.

I have read a lot of so-called “sequels” or spin-offs of Jane Austen, and one of my favorites is a series called Frederick Wentworth, Captain by Susan Kaye.  It’s Persuasion retold from Captain Wentworth’s perspective.  I really enjoyed it because, frankly, it’s nice to hear that men get as caught up in love as women do.  And that they worry about some of the same things.

Give Persuasion a read or a re-read, as the case may be.  You won’t be disappointed.

Love Jane Austen.  Love sweet, dutiful Anne Elliot.  Love totally swoon-worthy Captain Wentworth (check out the 2007 BBC film adaptation to see what I mean!).

Friday Favorite: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

October 29, 2010 1 comment

I’ve decided to start a new meme, so here it is: “Friday Favorite.”  Every week, I will tell you about a favorite from my list.  Maybe sometimes I will tell you about my favorite characters, favorite authors, or even my favorite episode of Modern Family. (Love that show!)

Today, it’s simple: one of my favorite recent-reads.

It’s The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting.  I love this book so much that I’ve added it to my All-Time Favorites list.

Here’s the blurb from Kimberly Derting’s web site:

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes that the dead leave behind in the world… and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find the dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay’s intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she’s falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer… and becoming his prey herself.

Here’s what I really loved about this book:  Violet has a really whack-jack kind of ability, but she’s actually pretty normal.  She has a normal high school life, that is actually totally relatable.

(It really bugs me when I read a story and the high school scenes seem far-fetched, too serious, or just unrealistic.)

The high school interaction felt just like my own high school experience.  Not like I had some creepy, weird ability or anything, but just like… it totally could have taken place in my high school.

Anyway, I love Violet and I love her best friend, Jay.  My best friend in high school was a boy, too, so I really love that element.  Their relationship is very natural and easy, despite Violet’s morbid finds.

Another thing I really liked about this book was that the identity of the killer wasn’t totally obvious to me.  I actually had no idea until the very end.

Five stars for this book because I couldn’t stop thinking about it for DAYS afterward.  One more thing to love: a sequel, Desires of the Dead, is scheduled for release in March 2011!

100th Book! Torment by Lauren Kate

October 26, 2010 2 comments

I made it!  I read 100 books this year!  Actually, 101.  (I finished another one today.)

My 100th book was Torment by Lauren Kate, the sequel to Fallen.  I actually liked it a lot.  It was kind of strange, because I didn’t like the first one all that much.  Fallen was just okay for me.

Anyway, here’s the blurb for Torment from the author’s web site:

Lucinda is sure that she and Daniel are meant to be together forever. Now they are forced apart in a desperate bid to save Luce from the Outcasts–immortals who want her dead. As she discovers more about her past lives, Luce starts to suspect that Daniel is hiding something. What if he has lied to her about their shared past? What if Luce is really meant to be with someone else?

I’ve always been really intrigued by the idea of (and mythology of) angels.  I’m just really fascinated by them, and images of them make me really happy.  I think that’s (a small) part of the reason why I like The Mortal Instruments.

I also think that because I like TMI so much, I had a hard time liking Fallen.  But Torment solidified and separated the story for me a little better, and in general, I got to know and like the characters more.

However lame this sounds, Torment was good.  I can’t wait to see what comes next!

Three and a half stars for being good, but not great.  Although I have a feeling the next book, Passion, will be great!

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

August 31, 2010 1 comment

This is definitely one of those paranormal/modern fantasy/young adult/romance books that I mentioned in my last review.  I don’t remember how I heard about it, probably just came up on a list like, “If you like Twilight, you might like this” sort of thing.

Anyway, however I found it, I’m really glad I did.  I loved this book!  It had a great premise, a lot of mystery and just enough romance with (of course) a hot boy, to keep the pages turning faster and faster.

Here’s the synopsis from GoodReads:

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father–an elusive European warlock–only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Sophie is a great YA character.  She’s got the right amount of teenage angst without being whiny (like, say, Ever Bloom!), she cares about her friends and she’s got a lot of courage.  She’s pretty sarcastic and funny, too.  You can’t help but like her (and want to be her friend).

A friend of mine says she likes YA books best when the guy in the them is “hot and rich.”  If that’s you too, then check out Hex Hall, you won’t be disappointed.  Archer Cross (cool name, huh?) is the unavailable (at first) crush of Sophie’s who is always on her side when the kids and teachers give her a hard time.

If you’re a fan of this genre, you’ll be a fan of this book.  I can’t wait for the next book in the series, Demonglass, which comes out in March 2011.

Four and a half stars for being awesome, but not quite a favorite.  I’m going to have to wait for the rest of the series before I decided that one. 😉

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

August 24, 2010 1 comment

Linger is the second book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series.  The first book, Shiver was released last year.  I heard about it from my good friend, Jenni Elyse.  This another one of those paranormal/urban fantasy/young adult/romance (PUFYAR, for short I decided) books that are so HUGE right now.

Here’s the blurb from Maggie’s website:

In Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabel, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love—the light and the dark, the warm and the cold—in a way you will never forget.

I don’t want to say too much about this book in case you haven’t read Shiver yet (and I haven’t figured out how to do that cool spoilers thing where you make the text blend in with the background).

The one thing I really want to say about the book is this:  In Shiver, Grace’s parents are totally absentee, couldn’t care less about their daughter, basically adult roommates.  They let her do whatever she wants, expect her to fend for herself, and are rarely home at the same time as her.  Now, in Linger, they’re suddenly in-her-face, high strung, overprotective, and totally forbidding of anything she wants to do– especially be with Sam, the one stable thing in her life? 

I just don’t buy it.  I don’t buy the sudden about-face of her parents.  They lived for sixteen years as one type of parents and then radically change their ways when Grace gets a boyfriend.  I really just can’t believe it.  I had such a hard time believing it that it almost made me angry.

But maybe that’s the point.  Grace doesn’t believe it either, and it makes her mad too.

So maybe Maggie Stiefvater is a genius and got me thinking exactly how she wanted me to.

Who’s to say?

But I really liked Linger.  I thought it was a well-written, well-thought-Shiverout sequel.   was, in itself, a complete story with a definite conclusion, but Linger really explored the ramifications and possible aftermath of the events that took place in Shiver.

That sounds kind of confusing, so I hope you get the gist of what I mean.

Shiver = really good.
Linger = also really good.

So.

If you enjoy a good PUFYAR, this series is for you.  Also, this is one of only two series I’ve read strictly about werewolves.  No vampire, faeries, mermaids, princesses or anything.  The other series is The Dark Divine by Bree Despain, which is also awesome.

Overall, I give Linger four stars for being really good, but not super-amazing-fantastic-bangarang.  (My husband is trying to bring that word back; let me know what you think about it.)

More reviews are hopefully coming soon, but I’m on vacation right now (which is why I missed Fab Five Friday), so…

No promises. 😀

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

August 1, 2010 1 comment

The Sugar Queen is the last book of Sarah Addison Allen’s that I read.  She’s only written three so far– Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen and The Girl Who Chased the Moon.

I liked The Girl Who Chased the Moon, so then I read Garden Spells. I REALLY liked Garden Spells.  And I LOVED The Sugar Queen.

Here’s the blurb:

Josey Cirinni is sure of three things: winter is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and her passion for the man she loves is best kept a secret, even from him. Josey has grudgingly settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, but her one consolation is the secret stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she keeps in her closet. One morning, she opens her closet for a sweet, but finds Della Lee Baker hiding there instead. Della Lee is a local waitress on the run who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother. Under Della Lee’s guidance, Josey is soon living in a world where the color red has startling powers, and passion is so real it can make eggs fry in their cartons. And that’s just for starters.

I just don’t even know where to start with this book.  I loved it.  I loved the magical elements of this book.  Maybe I just related to Josey.  I don’t have a secret stash of goodies, but I wish I did.  And I wish I could make a sandwich like Chloe.

And I wish that books just showed up whenever I needed them.  That has got to be the coolest magic ever.  I really liked Claire’s ability to cook foods that could do certain things in Garden Spells.  But books that follow you around and give you advice?  So cool!

The main protagonist, Josey, is 27.  But she’s been shut up in her house playing dutiful daughter to her aging Southern belle mother.  So she kind of acts more like a teenager.  That may be another reason this book appeals to me– it’s got a little YA attitude hiding in it. 🙂

Just like her in her other two books, Sarah Addison Allen builds a believable small town in North Carolina.  In this book, it’s called Bald Slope.  Now Bald Slope doesn’t really exist, but you wouldn’t know it by reading this book.  I actually looked it up on Wikipedia after I was finished reading.

Nope.  Not a real place.  But I believed that it was.

Sarah Addison Allen is such a talented writer.  She’s my best find this year, and you’ve haven’t read her– you’re missing out on some delightful storytelling.

Five stars because I can’t say enough good about this book.  I loved it, and I’ve added it to my favorites list.