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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.

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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!

Hero by Mike Lupica

September 24, 2010 Leave a comment

I was lucky enough to win an ARC of Hero by Mike Lupica on LibraryThing.  It will be released on Nov. 9th.

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Fourteen-year-old Billy Harriman can feel the changes. The sharpening of his senses. The incredible strength. The speed, as though he can text message himself across miles. The confidence and the strange need to patrol Central Park at night. His dad had been a hero, a savior to America and a confidante of the president. Then he died, and the changes began in Billy. What Billy never knew was that his father was no ordinary man—he was a superhero, battling the world’s evil. This is a battle that has been waged for generations and that knows no boundaries. And now it’s Billy’s turn to take on the fight. It’s Billy’s turn to become a hero.

I liked this book, but I didn’t really think it was anything too special.  But the reason I may think that is 1) I’m not a middle-schooler and 2) I’m not a boy.  I think anyone who falls into those categories would really enjoy it.

At times, it really just felt like it was trying to be too Percy Jackson-ish, but with less adventure.  And while it did have some good surprises, I was left mostly disappointed.  The whole teenage hero thing is a good theme, but it fell a little flat for me.

Mike Lupica writes very popular YA sports novels, so I have no doubt that fans of his will like this book.

I just didn’t.  Sorry.

Three stars because although I didn’t personally like it all that much, I know there are a lot of people out there who will.

Radiance by Alyson Noël

September 14, 2010 2 comments

This was the first ARC I got before the actual publishing date.  I received it about two weeks before it was released on Aug. 31.  I was so excited.

I have already read all of The Immortals, Alyson Noël’s first series.  You can see my review of Dark Flame, the latest in the series, here.

Anyway, I got really excited when I heard that there was going to be a series about Riley, Ever’s younger sister.

Here’s the synopsis from Alyson Noël’s website:

Riley Bloom left her sister, Ever, in the world of the living and crossed the bridge into the afterlife—a place called Here, where time is always Now. Riley and her dog, Buttercup, have been reunited with her parents and are just settling into a nice, relaxing death when she’s summoned before The Council. They let her in on a secret—the afterlife isn’t just an eternity of leisure; Riley has to work. She’s been assigned a job, Soul Catcher, and a teacher, Bodhi, a curious boy she can’t quite figure out.

Riley, Bodhi, and Buttercup return to earth for her first assignment, a Radiant Boy who’s been haunting a castle in England for centuries. Many Soul Catchers have tried to get him to cross the bridge and failed. But he’s never met Riley…

Riley is a great character, especially considering the fact that she’s dead.  When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that Alyson Noël can get you to like a dead girl so much.

Radiance is aimed for a younger audience than The Immortals.  After all, the protagonist is only 12 (although she seems older, most of the time).  Anyway, it’s geared towards middle-schoolers, and is totally appropriate for that age.  It’s interesting, but doesn’t delve into topics that aren’t age-appropriate (such as sex, drinking, drugs, etc.).  And it’s relatively short; less than 200 pages.

While it’s not necessary to have read The Immortals to enjoy Radiance, I would definitely say that it made it a little better for me.  Mostly because I already knew and liked Riley.  But I liked her a lot more after reading this book.

It was really fun to read a book that hadn’t come out yet.  I felt so “in the know.”  It was interesting though, because they make sure you know that the book’s not in its final state and there might be some grammatical errors and blah blah blah.  Well, I noticed a big one right off the bat!

They spelled the author’s name wrong in the page header!  Every single page was like that.  I mean, sheesh, the author’s name is probably the WORST thing for an editor to have missed, don’t you think?  I haven’t seen the final version that’s in stores, but I’m sure it got fixed.

Anyway.

If you’re a fan of The Immortals, or even just a fan of Riley’s (I like her better than her sister, Ever), you’ll like this book.

Four stars for taking a character I already liked and making me like her even more.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

September 10, 2010 5 comments

Last week, Cassandra Clare came to my local library to do a signing as part of her book tour.

The Mortal Instruments (MI) series is at the top of my favorites list, so I had been waiting for this new book, Clockwork Angel.

Clockwork Angel is the first book in a new prequel Shadowhunter series called The Infernal Devices.  It takes place in 1878 in Victorian London, which is (obviously) such a contrast from modern New York City, where MI takes place.

Here’s the synopsis:

Magic is dangerous–but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by–and torn between–two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm’s length…everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world…and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

(By the way, you can read the first 100 pages here.)

Like I mentioned, I have been waiting for this book for a long time, and when I was in line with it, waiting to get it signed, I had this brief moment of panic when I thought, “What if it’s bad?  What if I don’t like it?”

I don’t know how I could have ever thought that.

I loved this book.  Loved it.  And it quickly earned a place on my favorites list.

I already loved the whole Shadowhunting world, but add witty and clever protagonists and steampunk villains, and what more could I want?

This book was quite funny.  A lot funnier than most of the MI.  Maybe because Tessa is really clever and doesn’t put up with flack from anyone, whereas in MI, all the wit comes from Simon and sometimes Jace.

I really liked the main characters and found them to be believable and lovable.  They’re really easy to like, although Henry is certainly high on my list because of his red hair.

I was happy to find that Tessa, the  main girl in the story, was so different from Clary (although she faces similar conflicts).  Although Will, who is an ancestor of Jace’s, seems so much like Jace at times, you wonder if snarkiness and self-destruction are inherited traits.  I don’t think it’s bad that they’re so alike, because it feels more like they’re supposed to be.  Because they’re two apples from the same crazy Herondale tree.

Meeting Cassandra Clare was awesome.  She was cool and funny and everything I hoped she’d be.  She had hot shoes and purple streaks in her hair that really made me think about dying mine, too.  I felt like a big dork, which I am wont to do when I meet people who are obviously so much cooler than me.  But Cassandra Clare was nice and cool about it.  So, thanks for that, Cassandra Clare.

Thanks for being cool to all the dorks out there who love you.

After that picture, I went home and started reading Clockwork Angel right away. I finished it the next day.

I have no self-control when it comes to books.

Thank goodness that her next book, City of Fallen Angels (MI #4), comes out in 207 days.

Five stars for being totally brill and living up to the hype.  Too bad Clockwork Prince (ID #2) doesn’t come out for another year.

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. 😉