In My Mailbox #11

June 12, 2011 at 4:49 pm (Uncategorized)

Happy Sunday, fellow bookaholics! In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren where bloggers showcase the books they received over the week.

I’ve been trying to abstain from buying any books lately, and I’ve succeeded, so yay for me!

This week I got:

The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch; I got this from the Book Depository during the sale they had, and it’s only just arrived. Yay! I love historical novels!

Huntress by Malinda Lo; I technically didn’t buy it, my boyfriend did. Thank you, boyfriend! I’m so excited to read this. I loved Ash so much, and am expecting great things from this.

Library:

The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman; I’ve been on a graphic novel/manga kick lately. And this has zombies! ❤ I’ll be reviewing this soon.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa and Gaku Tsugano; I’d heard that the anime was good, so when I saw this in my library, I snatched it up. Can’t wait to check it out. 🙂

Fruits Basket Vol 5 by Natsuki Takaya; I ❤ Fruits Basket. It’s the cutest ever! I seriously recommend that everyone check this out.

The Rose and the Beast by Francesca Lia Block; So, it’s fairly obvious by now that I ADORE fairy tale retellings, so I’m just super excited to get into this.

Wither by Lauren DeStefano; So, I’ve been hearing both good and bad things about this book, and I guess I just want to see what the hype is all about. Will be reviewing this.

The Eternal Kiss edited by Trisha Telep; I like anthologies, they’re really quick to get through. Plus, it’s awesome seeing how authors condense a story into just a few thousand words. Not really sure what to expect from this.

That’s my haul for the week. What did your mailboxes look like? Feel free to leave a link in the comments section. 🙂

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Review: Firelight

June 9, 2011 at 12:00 pm (4 stars, review, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Pages: 323, hardcover

ISBN: 9780061935084

Publisher: HarperTeen

Date Released: September 7th, 2010

Genre: YA / romance / fantasy / dragons

Source: library

Premise:

A hidden truth.
Mortal enemies.
Doomed love.

Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.

Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will’s dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She’ll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide.

(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: Book Depository / Amazon

I won’t lie. For a YA, this blew me away.

The writing is so vivid and descriptive, and it paints the perfect image in the readers head. It’s so engaging that it becomes fairly impossible to put down.  The writing was definitely my favourite part of this book, especially the first couple of chapters, when we see Jacinda in the wild, where she belongs. The descriptions of her surroundings are amazing, and her world is one that the reader can immerse themselves in.

Jacinda was a character that  really liked. She was strong, defiant and loyal. Her relationship with her sister is rocky, since Jacinda is a draki, but Tamra isn’t. Tamra’s jealousy got in the way of their friendship as they were growing up, because Tamra was the black sheep in the family and in the pride. But once they escape the pride and live amongst the humans, the tables turn. It’s Tamra’s turn to fit in naturally, and Jacinda is the odd one out. She doesn’t belong in the human world.

Now, regarding that, that’s where my problems lie.Their mother takes them to the desert to kill the draki inside of Jacinda, claiming it’s for her own good. She never once asked for consent in that matter, and the idea of slowly losing her draki actually bothers Jacinda a whole lot more than her mother expects. A friend of mine recently opened my eyes regarding consent in stories–particularly in the case of Tangled, when Ryder cuts her hair without consent. I didn’t think these little things mattered, but now, it really bothers me to see that.

That said, Jacinda’s relationship with her mother is strained. Jacinda tells us that whilst her father was proud of Jacinda’s draki, her mother was wary, as if Jacinda was “someone she had to love, but wouldn’t have chosen”. That’s why it’s so easy for her mother to decide to kill Jacinda’s inner draki. It’s kind of tragic, really, that their relationship is like this. It’s the cause for Jacinda’s rebellious stage, because she’s tired of her mother making all of her decisions.

All the characters here are selfish. Tamra and her mother have no qualms with killing Jacinda’s draki, just to have a normal life as humans, and Jacinda is doing all she can to keep her draki alive. I’m not sure if this is intentional or not, but I sort of love it. Their intentions parallel the others’, and it sort of works.

Regarding the romance, I’m sort of on the fence. The writing–as I said before–was fairly fantastic, and it especially shows in the uber hot makeout scenes. The chemistry between Will and Jacinda is just breathtaking, sexy and hot, and it makes me wish that it weren’t YA, so that I could read the hot sex scenes that would have arisen. But Will is an odd character. One moment, he’s sweet, the next, he’s controlling, telling Jacinda what to do. He acts like he has multiple personalities. Also, he sort of breaks into her house and makes her breakfast. It’s sweet that he makes her breakfast, I guess, but still really creepy that he let himself into her house without her permission, especially after knowing her for only a month. And by then, they ‘love’ each other, which I find unbelievable and hardly realistic.
What I liked between them was that this time, it was the girl who was different. It was a nice change, but unfortunately, didn’t stop her from constantly switching from “OMG I love him” to “But we can’t be together :(” and back in a matter of seconds. Ugh, just make your decision and stick with it, please?

I had a huge problem with Brooklyn and Tamra, though. Brooklyn was the stereotypical blonde bitch, who’s angry at the new girl because the hot guy likes newbie more than herself. Brooklyn attacks Jacinda in the bathroom, and when Jacinda fights back–with her fire power, though, so a bit dumb on her part–Tamra throws a massive hissy fit because according to her, Jacinda started that fight just to ruin Tamra’s chances of making friends. Just… no. Tamra didn’t even want to hear Jacinda’s side of the story. Tamra is the most selfish, bratty, conceited sister ever, and I feel really sorry for Jacinda.

Despite that, I’m still really excited to read Vanish, which is expected to come out this September. After the ridiculous cliff-hanger and the plethora of unanswered questions at the end, I’m itching to get my hands on Vanish.

Cover Art: 4
Plot: 3
Characters: 4
Writing: 4
Level of Interest: 5

Total Rating: 4/5 stars

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Review: Leviathan

June 7, 2011 at 12:00 pm (Uncategorized)

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Pages: 440, hardcover

ISBN: 9781416971733

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: October 6th, 2009 (First published September 22nd, 2009)

Genre: YA / steampunk / alternate history / adventure

Source: bought

Premise:

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it From: Book Depository / Amazon

The first thing I have to mention here is the cover and the drawings. The cover just draws you in, making you feel like a part of the story. I won’t lie, this cover is a million times than their revised cover: ICK.
And the drawings add this whole new aspect to the story. They’re beautifully done, and I could just stare at them for hours. They definitely added a lot to the story.

I should mention that the only issue I had with this book was the language. Bum-rag? Seriously? Now, I understand that this is a YA book aimed at the younger side of the spectrum, but it kind of ruins the flow of the story. It makes me roll my eyes and groan in pain.
Other than that, the writing was lovely and descriptive.

Now onto characterisation. I love Deryn. In summation, she’s a steampunk Mulan and doesn’t take shit from anyone. She has her dreams, and she follows them, despite her gender. She’s smart, independent, and just a little bit stubborn.
Alek was also strong. For a boy who’d just lost his parents and has a whole empire thirsting for his blood, he handles the situation snd himself quite well.

The two different views, the Darwinists and the Clankers, they added so much depth. The way they were described–from both perspectives–it was just amazing. Deryn and Alek’s views on the life of the other gave us so much insight. Alek thought that the Darwinist creatures were Godless beasts, and Deryn saw the Clanker machines as soulless pieces of metal. They each think that their own views are the correct ones, and it reminds me of certain religious groups, how they think they’re so correct, and that anyone who disagrees is wrong and soulless.

This is an amazing book, one that I would recommend to everyone. Though written for the younger side of YA, I think even adults can get a lot out of this. I’ll be reviewing the sequel, Behemoth, sometime soon.

Art: 5
Plot: 5
Characters: 4
Writing: 3
Level of Interest: 5

Total Rating: 5/5 stars

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Review: Magic Under Glass

June 6, 2011 at 1:43 pm (5 stars, review) (, , , , , , )

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Pages: 225, paperback

ISBN:9781408802120

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Date Released: February 1st, 2010

Genre: YA / fantasy / light steampunk / romance / faeries

Source: bought

Premise:

Nimira is a music-hall performer forced to dance for pennies to an audience of leering drunks. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to do a special act – singing accompaniment to an exquisite piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new life. In Parry’s world, however, buried secrets stir.

Unsettling below-stairs rumours abound about ghosts, a mad woman roaming the halls, and of Parry’s involvement in a gang of ruthless sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing young fairy gentleman is trapped inside the automaton’s stiff limbs, waiting for someone to break the curse and set him free, the two fall in love. But it is a love set against a dreadful race against time to save the entire fairy realm, which is in mortal peril.

(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: Book Depository / Amazon

I had been so excited to read this book, and it wasn’t what I had expected. In a good way.

The most important aspect about this book is the magical elements and the world building. It was done in such a way that, not only does it feel believable, it feels natural. From the Victorian-esque universe to the prejudice that Nimira has to face for her skin colour and background, and the slight hints of steampunk, it created this nice blend.

I really liked Erris and the way that he interacts with Nim when they’re first getting to know each other. Though the book is short–too short for my liking; I wish it had gone on for several hundred more pages–their relationship grows into something sweet. That said, I didn’t feel too much character growth on Nim’s part, which I feel was partly due to the shortness of the novel. Nim started off as a well-rounded character: strong, independent, dealing with the pressure of coming from a well-off background to being looked down upon because of her ethnicity and  occupation.

The political intrigue in this book was the bast part, I thought. It was all explained in such a way that didn’t make it seem dull, or like a history text-book, which I found most surprising. I haven’t come across too many YA books that deal with that sort of thing and come off natural like this book does.

Now for the magical aspect: the fey, the alchemy, how Erris works, it was so wonderful to read about, and I loved it. Everything was very well-thought out. This is a world that I would love to immerse myself in over and over again.

I can’t wait to read the sequel, Magic Under Stone. I have high expectations of it.
Also, the US paperback to this book came out on the 24th of May, and you can find info here.

Cover Art: 4
Plot: 4
Characters: 4
Writing: 3
Level of Interest: 5

Total Rating: 5/5 stars

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In My Mailbox #10

June 5, 2011 at 2:33 pm (Australian, In My Mailbox, Meme) (, , , , )

Wow, I am really bad at this whole ‘updating often’ thing. I swear I’ve been meaning to, but books got in the way.

Anywho, In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren where bloggers showcase the books they received over the week.

I got quite a few awesome looking books over the week, thanks to Book Depository. They had a sale that I just couldn’t resist.

Bought:

The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones; I write fantasy, so this looks like the greatest thing in the world when it comes to worldbuilding. I really can’t wait to get into this.

Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz; I’ve been seeing good reviews about this book everywhere, and I knew I have to get it.

The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw; Does this not sound like an amazing book? The premise is just beautiful. I’m expecting marvelous things from this book.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss; This may sound pretentious, but I love literary fiction. I love the directions they take, and what they do with words, because sometimes it’s not what one expects. I like unpredictability.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray; Miss America Pageants crossed with Lord of the Flies/Lost? Oh man, what could be better? So excited for this.

Entwinedby Heather Dixon; I love me some good fairytale retellings, and I’ll do anything to get my hands on them. Plus, look at the cover, it is gorgeous. I’m a sucker for gorgeous covers.

The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby; I’ve been eying this book for quite some time. Steampunk = love. How could I resist?

The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter; Man, this just looks so deliciously creepy, I so can’t wait to read this.

Library:

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn; I’d been recommended this by a few close friends, and I do love a well-written historical romance.

Fruits Basket, #4 by Natsuki Takayo; I own the first 3 in this series, and really love this series. It’s cute and adorable.

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell; I saw the movie, and I loved it. Hoping the book will be as cute and awesome as the movie.

The Struggle by L.J. Smith; After reading the first book, I concluded that the TV series is a million times better than the books, but I still want to finish the series, or at least see how far I can go.

Exile by Rebecca Lim; I read (and really liked) the first book. You can find the review for it here. Plus, it’s a book by an Aussie writer! There’s not nearly enough Aussie authors.

Enticed by Jessica Shirvington; Another sequel to a great book written by an Aussie author! You can check out the review I wrote to the first book, Embrace, here.

Fables: Storybook Love by Bill Willingham; This is the third volume in the Fables series, and I just love it! It’s an awesome twist on fairytales, and I just love it.

Fable & Reflections by Neil Gaiman; The 6th volume of the Sandman series, and I’m super excited to read this. 😀

What did you guys get this week? Feel free to leave a link in the comments section. 🙂

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Review: The Dark Divine

June 1, 2011 at 12:00 pm (1 star, review) (, , , , , , , , , )

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

Pages: 372, hardcover

ISBN: 9781606840573

Publisher:  EgmontUSA

Release Date: December 22nd, 2009

Genre: YA / romance / paranormal / werewolves / bad romance

Source: library

Premise:

A Prodigal Son

A Dangerous Love

A Deadly Secret

Grace Divine—daughter of the local pastor—always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared and her brother Jude came home covered in his own blood.

Now that Daniel’s returned, Grace must choose between her growing attraction to him and her loyalty to her brother.

As Grace gets closer to Daniel, she learns the truth about that mysterious night and how to save the ones she loves, but it might cost her the one thing she cherishes most: her soul.

(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: The Book Depository / Amazon

Warning: this is a very long and rant-filled review.

Let me just start off with this: I hate the cover. But that’s because I hate feet (they make me feel queasy). Especially the ones on the cover. Now I’m not normally one to nitpick on someone’s looks, but those feet look particularly yucky. Sorry, I’ll stop now.
Otherwise, the cover is pretty, with the purple fabric and the all around foreshadowing of doom and blackness.

The book starts off slow, and right from the beginning, I could tell that I was not going enjoy it that much. For starters there are some very deep Christian themes, and whilst I’m not against any religions, I’m not too much a fan of books that are heavily based on a certain religion, especially if the characters are stereotypical cut-outs. Example, Jude. He was so portrayed as such a good Christian, as such a gentle, sensitive and caring person (choosing not to play hockey because he doesn’t want to hurt any of the opposing players. PUH-LEASE!) that he no longer seems like a guy. He acts like a middle aged woman’s idealised version of the perfect gentleman. I was so glad to finally see him loosen up during the end of the book. He fights, he threatens and he no longer holds car doors open for ladies!! Hurrah, he’s finally manning up!
Even the rest of Grace’s family were incredibly annoying, and I just couldn’t stand them and the way they preached their Christian values. I think that was my main issue with the book and the characters and the themes: it was so preachy. It’s like Despain wanted me to convert. Ugh.
The only character I can find remotely interesting is Don, and that’s probably because, despite being insane, he’s the most well-crafted character. He actually acts like a real person. But it doesn’t make the book that much better.
Grace’s character, I didn’t really mind because she despite being incredibly annoying with her morals and with her goody-goody ways, she showed times of weakness. That provided some relief.
And, now for the character I hated the most: April, Grace’s supposed best friend. She seemed to have no purpose except to be the unsupportive friend, who spends the first half of the book pining over Jude, and the second half snogging him. As far as I could tell, she played no real part in the story, so I wonder why she was kept at all. She did nothing to further the plot, she was a bad best friend who ditched Grace the moment Jude showed any interest in her, and then she does nothing to improve Jude’s character growth, except by showing us that Jude loves kissing. Wow!
Another thing, the blurb on the back of my particular copy, written by Becca Fitzpatrick (author of Hush, Hush), described Daniel as a ‘bad boy’. I’m starting to question if Fitzpatrick actually knows anything about stereotypes, because she certainly does not know what a bad boy is. Daniel certainly isn’t a bad boy (and neither is Patch from her own novel). Daniel is instead overly confident, arrogant, smug, and suffers from horrible mood swings that make him agressive one minute, and cry whilst declaring his love for Grace (this actually happened) the next. He was more annoying than bad, and was incredibly hard to deciper. I found it difficult to feel sympathy for him and his past because of the way he portrayed himself.

Okay, that’s my character rant over and done with. Now, what was up with the font?!?I probably should have mentioned this earlier in the review, but it was completely bolded. Has anyone else who’s read this book noticed this or is it just my copy?
It was incredibly distracting, and made my eyes hurt a bit if I read it for too long. It was just frustrating having to take breaks every few minutes because of the headaches that the unnecessary boldness. Why not just have normal, unbolded font?

I really couldn’t stand the structure of the book, with all the subheadings that said things like (and I’m not lying here, this is taken right out of the book) “An hour and a half later” and “after lunch”, or simply, “later”. NO. JUST NO. One simply does not put that in books. Readers aren’t that dumb that they need that sort of indication to know that the next scene is occurring ‘later’. Instead of having a heading that states “The next morning”, Despain could have simply written: The next morning, Grace woke up. See? Simple and effective. The subheadings were a big indication of the poor writing skills. Not only that, but the sentence structure was off, nothing flowed well, the writing was not unlike that of a twelve year old girl who suddenly decides that she wants to write (nothing wrong with that, but such a girl would essentially improve with her writing as time progressed.)
Despain failed to properly engage me, her reader, and I felt bored and found myself skimming through the pages at some points. Her foreshadowing was poorly used, and the hints she dropped were far too obvious to be called hints. It took all the mystery from the novel.

Now, onto the main thing: the plot.
The paranormalcy happening in the book was confusing, tedious and obvious. It turned out that Daniel was a werewolf, but I guessed that in the first chapter, although, it felt as if Despain was trying to decide between creatures: angels, demons, werewolves (oh my!). It felt as if she couldn’t make up her mind about which creepy creature would work best for her novel, so she would constantly switch ideas, and when she finally decided on a combination of the three, and called it werewolves. It made her story look poor, unstructured, unorganised and as if no thought had gone into it.
There even came a part when she tried to infuse all these creatures to make one super-creature. That’s when I totally lost it and decided that I hated this book.

So, to sum this book up in one word: ATROCIOUS. Don’t read it, it’s of worse quality that Twilight. Even the romance in this book is worse than Twilight. It was a painful read. When I finally finished the book, I rejoiced and vowed not to read the next books in the series.

Cover Art: 2 (feet, UGH. This is just a personal issue, though)
Plot: 0 (what plot?)
Characters: 1
Writing: 0
Level of Interest: 1

Total Rating: 1/5

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Review: The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Arrival of The Mysterious Men in Black

May 30, 2011 at 2:00 pm (4 stars, review) (, , , , , , , )

Courtesy of Bancroft Press

The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black by Eden Unger Bowditch

Pages: 339, hardcover

 ISBN: 9781610880022

Publisher: Bancroft Press

Release Date: March 15th 2011

Genre: Middle Grade / mystery

Source: galley from the publisher

Premise:

n 1903, five truly brilliant young inventors, the children of the world’s most important scientists, went about their lives and their work as they always had.

But all that changed the day the men in black arrived… (continued on the Goodreads page)

Buy it from: The Book Depository / Amazon

First things first: wow, I was really impressed with the writing. From the very first page, it lured me in. It has this mesmerizing quality that makes this book feel so magical and almost impossible to put down. The writing works well for this MG book (it’s described as YA on Goodreads, but none of the characters are close to teens, and the writing is MG-y). This is the kind of book I wish I had when I was growing up. The writing falls short near the end of the book, but otherwise, is still enjoyable.

The characters feel so real. They’re kid scientists with the ability to create great things. I’m sure some people would find a problem with the little insertions of each child’s life, but I quite liked it. It gave me a insight as to what these kids were like before they were taken from their parents by the men in black. Sort of watching them grow up, so to say. This is especially effective for Faye, who was a horrid, spoiled brat at the beginning. I honestly thought that I was going to hate her, and I worried for a while that she’d remain that way and ruin the book. But, instead, she grew a whole lot. We saw the reasoning behind her brattiness in the first place, and we also see her learn to have friends, and to treat people like, well, people. It’s quite a remarkable change, and I really applaud it.

My second favourite character was Wallace. He’s the character I felt most sorry for. He has a tragic past, where his mother had passed away when he was young, and with her, all the love and affection he ever received. His father had incredibly high expectations of him, and never let him forget it. Amongst all the pressure, Wallace seemed close to cracking. His sweet, secret relationship with his teacher (don’t worry, not THAT kind of relationship), Miss Brett showed just how much his mother’s death had affected him, and it was a bit saddening.

My one issue is the chapter titles. There are two chapter titles for each chapter, and it doesn’t really feel necessary. It feels a bit like overkill. Though, I suppose it’s because I don’t really care for chapter titles.

This is a great book if you want to read something mysterious, or about nerdy kids. Something like Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks.

Cover Art: 2 (one of the downsides of the book. I have no idea what’s going on in the cover)
Plot: 4
Characters: 5
Writing: 4
Level of Interest: 4

Total Rating: 4/5 stars


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In My Mailbox #9

May 30, 2011 at 1:17 am (In My Mailbox, Meme) (, , , , , , )

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren where bloggers showcase the books they received over the week.

I’ve been a bit absent over the last few days. and  really apologise for it. Life has been getting in the way of reading and talking about reading, and I’ve had next to no time to myself. 😦
But never fear, I’m back for now, and promise a lot of posts in the next few days. 🙂

Bought

I stopped by a Borders that was closing down, and to my surprise, they had some pretty awesome sales. Each book was $2, unless you bought more than 10, and then they’re $1 each. How awesome is that? So I ended up getting 13 books, which would have cost me $249, all for just $13! So so so epic.

Anyways, here are the books:

Bloodsong by Melvin Burgess; I read and reread this book often when I was younger. And I’ve had a hard time finding this in stores, so I was extremely lucky to find it.

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link; This looks so cool, an anthology of creepy, weird stories. I think I’m growing quite fond of short stories.

Darkwater by Georgia Blain; The premise to this is just fantastic. I love stories that have a mystery that happened several years before. And the cover is just wonderful.

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marrilier; I almost died when I saw this for $1. I love this book, and I love Juliet Marrilier. She’s a master with words. If you haven’t read it–or her other work–then I totally recommend that you do so.

Siren by Tricia Rayburn; Yeah, I got this book from the library last week, but yay, now I finally have it.

Shade by Jerri Smith-Ready; I’ve heard SO MANY good things about this book, and the sequel which recently came out. I am so ecited to finally have my hands on this book, and to finally read it.

Love is Hell by Marr / Westerfeld / Larableister / Zevin / Stolarz; I’d read a few other books in this series of anthologies, and found quite a few gems. Can’t wait to read & review this one.

Vacations from Hell by Bray / Clare / Gray / Johnson / Mylnowski; I’ve read this once before, and quite liked most of the stories in this part, so I’m really glad to have found it.

Love is the Higher Law by David Levitahn; I’d read a few of Levithans colabs with Rachel Cohn, and quite liked them. I’d been wanting to get one of his solo works for a while now. So yay. 🙂

My Sowrdhand is Singing by Marcus Sedgewick; Oooh, a thrilling vampire story! This excites me. I’m so sick to death of all these romanticised vamps, so this looks like the book for me.

X-isle by Steve Aguarde; Expensive hardcover for just $1? Hell yeah! I hardly know what it’s about, but it looks cool.

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld; I love this series so much, but the kid on the cover has always made me wary of spending $30 on it. Yay for Borders!

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King; I love nonfiction about writing, and I’m in the middle of editing a novel, so I need all the help I can get. (Bought from The Book Depository)

Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning; I saw this, and knew that I just had to get it. I love the series so much.

Library:

Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin; The cover looks really good, and it sounds interesting. Can’t wait to read it.

Chime by Franny Billingsley; I’ve been wanting to read this book for AGES. The cover is so pretty, and the story sounds AMAZING.

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch; This looks like a really cool mystery. And it’s got WIZARDS. Hell yeah!

Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor & Jim Di Bartolo; I’d heard nothing but great things about this book. I absolutely can’t wait to read this book. *so excited*

Lights out in Wonderland by D.B.C. Pierre; I have been seeing this book everywhere lately, and I guess it’s the next big thing in literary fiction. I wanted to see what the fuss was all about.

So, those are my books for this week. What did you guys get? Feel free to leave your links in the comments section. 🙂

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Review: A Taste of True Blood

May 24, 2011 at 10:46 am (Uncategorized)

A Taste of True Blood: The Fangbanger’s Guide by Leah Wilson

Pages: 262, paperback

ISBN: 9781935251965

Publisher: SmartPop

Release Date: June 29th, 2010

Genre: non-fiction / essays/ anthology / paranormal / vampires

Source: library

Premise:

True Blood, Alan Ball’s critically acclaimed television adaptation of Charlaine Harris’ bestselling Southern Vampire mysteries, is HBO’s most-watched show since The Sopranos, averaging over 12 million viewers an episode in its second season. Thanks to its large, dedicated fanbase, it won the People’s Choice “Favorite TV Obsession” award in early 2010.

A Taste of True Blood: The Fangbanger’s Guide gives those fans something to savor between episodes—and whets their appetite for more. Covering the show’s first two seasons and released just in time for the third…

…A Taste of True Blood also includes a quick reference guide to the show’s first two seasons.

(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: Book Depository / Amazon

I wish I could write an essay-length review on each of the essays in this book, but that would just be going overboard, and would probably bore you all to death. Instead, I’ll just keep this review short and sweet (which would seem to be a first for me…) and post a small summary on some of the essays that I found to be worth mentioning.

Now, before I start, I just have to add that I’m a massive fan of the show, True Blood. And I’m a fan of the book series (I’ve only read the first two, though. Whoops…). I love everything about it, how it’s a good trashy show that I can watch when I’m in a bad mood; and how you can watch it with an analytical eye and see the social commentary in terms of treatment of minorities (in particular, gays) in today’s society.

Some essays I loved most:

Vampire Porn [Daniel M. Kimmel] discusses the grotesque opening title that we’ve all grown to know and love (or loathe), analysing different themes depicted in the 90 seconds, like racism, bigotry, sex, and the setting of the south. It’s given me a whole new insight to the opening title, and I no longer shy away from the graphic parts, instead, looking at them with awe and a critical eye.

SOOKEH! Bee-iil! [Maria Lima] is the second essay, and addresses how Bill Compton went from hot to not. Totally hilarious, will keep you wanting more. I mean, even that title is hilarious.

And while I can’t remember the name of the essay, the last one is written by Ginjer Buchanan, the editor of the Southern Vampire Mysteries series, and talks about the differences between the show and the books, where each season spans for 12 hours, yet manages to perfectly reveal everything that happens in the books, all the while slowly taking on a new direction (for example, the inclusion of Tara as a main character in the show, whereas she was just a very minor character in book 2).

If you’re a fan of the series, or just really like seeing social commentaries and analyses of TV shows, then this book is for you. Topics range from Freudian theories to Marxist theories to the Southern setting. And while I don’t always agree with the essays, I find that it does give me a new perspective on the show.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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Review: The Replacement

May 23, 2011 at 4:00 am (2 stars, review) (, , , , , , , , , , )

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Pages: 375, paperback

ISBN: 9780857071385

Publisher:Simon & Schuster

Date Released: October 1st 2010 (first published September 21st 2010)

Genre: YA / paranormal / urban fantasy / faeries / romance

Source: library

Premise:

Mackie Doyle is the Replacement. Thought he lives in the small town of Gentry, Mackie comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement – left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is slowly dying in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass guitar or spend time with an oddly intriguing girl called Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place – in our world, or theirs.

(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: Book Depository / Amazon

Okay so I was a bit reluctant at trying this story out. On the one hand, the premise sounds awesome. I mean, the main character is a boy AND a changeling, which makes me really curious. On the other, I’ve heard some less than spectacular reviews about this book, and I was worried that the MC wouldn’t sound like a boy–like Ethan from Beautiful Creatures and Sam from Shiver. Thankfully, he doesn’t sound like a girl, but that might be the only good thing about him.
It seems that most of my problems with this book stems from the characters, so expect a lot of ranting about that.

From the very beginning, I found that the writing was awkward. It was purple, it was fragmented at times, and sometimes, it just didn’t make sense at all. It was as if the writer was trying too hard to craft her words. Underneath the awkwardness, I could see bits and pieces that stood out, but they were overwhelmed by the flower-y, tryhard lyrical prose. An example of the awkward prose:

“[Emma was looking] lonely as a lighthouse. Sad as a nun.” -pg 40

Now, I’m not sure that nuns are particularly sad about what they do. In fact, I would think that they’d be happy, since that’s sort of what they’re devoted to.

There were a lot of things to the story that left me confused. For starters, Mackie’s sister, Emma, somehow remembers the event of her brother being replaced. I forget what age she was supposed to be at the time, but it’s still highly unlikely that she would remember it. And on the very unlikely occasion that she were to remember it, why on earth would she believe it to be real, even several years after it happened?When I was her age, I was certain that I was adopted and that my parents were either royalty or faeries. Doesn’t mean that it’s true. It just seems unlikely that she’d believe it so much. It makes this whole issue so unbelievable, and every time Emma mentioned it, I rolled my eyes and scoffed, “yeah, right.”
And why does Mackie believe some random creep that tells him he’s dying? Especially when that creep corners him in a club. If I were Mackie, I’d think the guy was high or drunk, and I’d try to avoid him, not, y’know, believe him.

My biggest problem with Mackie was that he was a loner and a major emo, and blamed other for it. He blames his popular best friend, Roswell, for his awkwardness around people and his inability to effectively communicate. He blames his father for people having expectations of any kind of him, and the list goes on. Everything wrong about him, Mackie points fingers and shifts the blame to someone else. Which is ridiculous and disgraceful. Maybe if he actually tried talking to people instead of actively avoiding them, he’d have more friends and wouldn’t be seen as a freak (but actually, he does seem to be popular, despite what he says. I mean, he made out with the most popular girl in the school. I’d think that one has to be pretty high up in the school’s hierarchy to be able to do that).
And I really really really hate how Mackie constantly whines about the threat of being lynched for being different. Um… what? As far as I can tell, Mackie is not black, nor does he like in the 1940’s. People do not get lynched for having quirks, not in this era. He has nightmares and is told a story of a guy who was lynched for being different… IN GODDAMN 1930! Every time he mentions that, I just want to hit him with the book, and tell him to shut the fuck up and to stop being such a drama queen. I swear, 85% of this book is is Mackie angsting over how he’s different, and 10% about Tate, while the other 5% is actual plot.

Speaking of plot, for the most part, it doesn’t exist because of the ANGSTING. Most of the time, there’s severe angsting for several pages, with maybe a paragraph or two of actual plot developments, and then back to angsting. I wonder if Yovanoff knows that angsting =/= character development?
And because of the lack of plot, there won’t be much in this review on plot.

Now, back to the characters.

What the hell is wrong with Tate? Why is she so convinced all of a sudden that Mackie knows something–anything–about her sister? He’s never given her a reason to suspect him of anything, yet she won’t get off his back. She just keeps harassing him, and it makes me want to hit her with a mallet. She is such a disgusting character. She makes rude comments and sarcastic gestures towards girls who act ‘girly’ and not as ‘tough’ as her, as if wearing pink is a sign of weakness. She’s a horrible person, and from the beginning, her attitude made me hate her vehemently. And she constantly goes on to insult Mackie, while at the same time, demanding that he help her. Why should he, when she’s constantly demeaning him? This is a case of abusive relationships, but with the tables turned. And Mackie is weak against her, and is passive whenever she says something insulting.
Being tough doesn’t make a character strong. And I don’t see Tate as strong, just as a person who needs an attitude check.

And then there’s the relationship between Tate and Mackie that seemed to pop up out of nowhere.When Mackie told Tate that he liked her, I was surprised. Up until then, he showed signs of liking Alice–even going so far as to find out that she has a tongue ring, kekeke–, and hating Tate. And why the hell would Tate be such a horrid person to someone she liked? What had changed? They showed no romance, not even any friendship. It felt like Yovanoff suddenly decided that she wanted Mackie and Tate to be together, so she made them both do an about-face concerning their feelings. And um… what’s with the part where she gives him a handjob behind the churchyard, soon after? It didn’t do anything to further the plot, and hardly did anything to develop their relationship and selves. If I were an editor, I would have cut it.

I do have to admit, though, that I really liked the character of Morrigan and the other fairies. They acted so mystical, so all-knowing, yet so cryptic, almost like I imagine fairies would really be like. Their descriptions were fantastic, and I believe that the story greatly improved once they were introduced. In fact, I was almost my wit’s end and was thinking of dropping the book, just as the fairies were introduced.
The fairy lore that Yovanoff had created was fantastic, and it’s a shame that the rest of her story didn’t seem to follow suit.

So, no, I didn’t really like this story. I found it to be a waste of time. Yovanoff needs a better editor, and better beta readers, ones who know what a plot is, and that wangsting is NOT character development. At all. Ever.

Cover Art: 2 (why is there a light shining from his ass?)
Plot: 2
Characters: 2
Writing: 2
Level of Interest: 2

Total Rating: 2/5 stars

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