Review: The Body Finder

May 21, 2011 at 10:24 pm (3 stars, review) (, , , , , , )

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Pages: 327, paperback

ISBN: 978075537895

Publisher: Headline

Release Date: November 11th, 2010 (First published March 16th 2010)

Genre: YA / romance / mystery / paranormal

Source: library

Premise:

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 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 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.

(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: The Book Depository / Amazon

So, the premise of this book is fairly cool. A girl who can feel the dead. What’s not to love? I’d been eagerly awaiting the Australian release of this book for months, and was rather jealous of everyone who’d read it in the US.

To start with, the writing. It felt awkward at times. For example, “The sound was getting stronger. Not louder, but stronger.” (pg 3). The redundancy makes the writing look dumb, and doesn’t help convey whatever message she’s trying to send across. It just looks silly. What makes it worse is that things like this litter the book, and gets really annoying. Another example, “The large mountain dwarfed the smaller ones that surrounded it.” (pg 40). What else can a large mountain do when it’s surrounded by smaller mountains? No need to state it like that.
In terms of writing, I feel that this book needs to be looked over by an editor a few times. The word “she” is used far too much for my liking. The start of about 80% of each sentence starts with the word “she”. It got to the point where I was close to proclaiming this a DNF.
Also, there were pointless paragraphs of useless bits of information or actions that didn’t add anything to the story. So much needed to be cut out.

There’s a lot of telling, and hardly any showing at all. It’s all “she did this, she felt that, he did something else, and as a result, she felt something.”  It felt weak and barely held my attention.

I’m really glad, though, that Vi’s parents played a part in this book, and have several scenes where they’re there for their daughter. If there’s one thing I hate about YA, it’s that oftentimes, the parents are absent, and the kids are left to their own devices. This was a nice change of pace, and it really helped with developing Vi’s character.

Concerning Violet, she is really creepily obsessed with her best friend. Even if she does like him, it doesn’t make her behavior alright. She gets mad if other girls like him, as if it’s something he can control.

Even worse, I don’t see what Violet sees in Jay. Jay deliberately tried to make Violet jealous, and was so sure that she liked him. Why?

“Because I did and there was just no way that you didn’t feel it too.” – pg 221.

Yeah, you read that right. Because he fancies her, he assumes that she would automatically feel the same. If only life were like that. And instead of being this nice guy, Jay is controlling, and doesn’t allow Vi any free will. He might have been seen as romantic to some, but I was sat there wondering what Vi saw in this controlling bastard. Sure, he might be doing what he does under the pretense of Vi’s safety, but at the same time, he’s enforcing himself as her protector, as if she needs his big, strong manly manliness to keep her safe. No, just no.

And I couldn’t help but notice that even before they became an item, Jay and Vi’s relationship was a really terrible one. Jay is supposed to be her best friend, yet he ignores her and ditches her on the slightest whim. He causes her internal pain by becoming rather chummy with other girls, and he knows what he’s doing the entire time! What kind of friend does that?

I’m not even sure what to say about her other friends. They tease her, anger her, are horribly bitchy to her and then expect her to laugh when they joke at her expense. Vi really needs to find new friends.

As for some of the positives about this book–fear not, there actually were things that I liked–the plot was really engaging. It was suspenseful and kept me on my toes. I wanted to know more about what was happening, and I wanted to become as immersed in this world as possible. Vi’s gift–or curse?–was really well done, though there were a few issues I had with it–like, what about the bugs that were to die each time someone stepped on grass, small stuff like that–but otherwise, it was planned out perfectly.

I’ll be definitely reading the sequel, and reviewing it too.

Cover Art: 3
Plot: 4
Characters: 2
Writing: 2
Level of Interest: 3

Total Rating: 3/5 stars

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Review: Wolfborn

May 12, 2011 at 1:02 pm (3 stars, Australian, review) (, , , , , , , , )

Wolfborn by Sue Bursztynski

ISBN: 9781864718256

Publisher: Woolshed Press

Date Released: December 1st, 2010

Genre: YA / paranormal / werewolves

Source: library

Premise:

Break the curse or howl forever.

Etienne, son of a lord in the kingdom of Armorique, goes to train as a knight with Geraint of Lucanne. Geraint is brave and kind, a good teacher and master – but he has a secret that he has kept from his family. He is bisclavret, a born werewolf. When Geraint is betrayed, Etienne must ally with the local wise-woman and her daughter, themselves bisclavret, to save his lord. But time is running out. If Geraint’s enemies have their way, Geraint will soon be trapped in his wolf form.

And Etienne has his own secret. The decisions he makes will change his life forever . . .

Inspired by a medieval romance, this engaging novel forces us to question everything we thought we knew about werewolves. (Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from:  Amazon (Kindle Only)

So, it turns out that this book is based on an old tale. And I’m sure all you faithful readers (what little I have) know by now how much I lve retellings. This alone bumps up the score for this book, even before reading it.

First up, the writing. There are some awkwardly phrased sentences, for example:

“An older woman named Lise ran the kitchens efficiently, as she had to in a place with so many mouths to feed.” -pg 6

“The sky was a pale gold colour, like those gold was backgrounds the Notzrian [fictional religion] priests put into their illuminated holy manuscripts.” – pg 189.

The second half of the first sentence feels awkward and unnecessary. The second sentence made me go”what?” several times. I mean, it’s not like I actually know what colour they mean since I can hardly compare it. The entire book is filled with similar awkward lines like that, that may have needed another pair of eyes to read over.
I can’t say that I’m a fan of the writing. Awkward phrasing aside, the writing seems to lack any unique voice and sounds rather plain. Though, despite that, it was easy to read and didn’t drag on like I expected it to.

Another issue with the writing was that there were a lot of exclamation points. Far too many to have been allowed.

There was a lot of mention of these fictional countries, but it was hard to keep track of them without a map. They ended up feeling like random words that had little meaning. It made for a disappointing read.

Now, whilst the writing wasn’t Bursztynski’s strongest point, the story triumphed with the magnificent world-building and lore. I love love LOVED the werewolf lore that Bursztynski crafter, where a wolf can only return to human form with his own clothes, and that by removing their clothes, they remove their humanness and are able to transform. It was so unique, and I found it to be amazing.

The story is the strongest thing about this book, and it is  actually quite fantastic. The story is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It has fairies, werewolves and magic, romance and political plots. Everything about the story was gripping, and I was up all night trying to finish the book. I literally couldn’t put it down because I just wanted to keep myself immersed within such a fantastical world.

Sadly, I can’t say the same about the characters. I felt very little voice and connection towards the narrator, Etienne, and his relationships witht the characters fell short. The romance between him and Jeanne did nothing for me, and it seemed fairly non-existant.

Oftentimes, Etienne would tell us something along the lines of “If I had known what would happen, I would have done this to prevent it.” For example, he says:

“If I had known then what would happen, I’d have lit a fire and cremated him!” – pg 117

Not only is it sloppy, it distracts the reader. I can understand that it’s a way to keep the reader hooked, sort of like a cliff-hanger, but it feels like a cheap shot. Readers should be hooked because of the story, characters or writing, not because of cliffhangers in the middle of each chapters.

If you want a good story, with a well-developed background and lore, then this is for you.

Cover Art: 4
Plot: 4
Characters: 2
Writing: 2
Level of Interest: 4

Total Rating: 3/5 stars

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Review: Nightshade

April 28, 2011 at 1:00 pm (3 stars, review) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Pages: 454, paperback

ISBN: 9781907410277

Publisher: ATOM

Date Released: January 20th, 2011 (first published October 19th, 2010)

Genre: Young Adult / paranormal / romance / werewolves

Source: library

Premise:

Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she’ll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters’ laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything–including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice? (

Buy it from: The Book Depository / Amazon

First things first: LOOK AT THAT COVER. It is beyond gorgeous, with those colours, and the flower and the font of the title. It just instantly drew me into it.

Now, the book started out confusing. I was introduced to characters and settings and rules that were hardly explained, leaving me feeling rather lost and confused for the most part. After a few chapters, I had to give up trying to act like I knew what was happening, and wait for everything to slowly be revealed (such as who the Hell the Keepers were and why they were held in such high regards and whatnot). That said, I did quite love Cremer’s world-building, and the myths that she wove into the story. They were very well developed and believable, but I nly wish that they weren’t so slowly revealed, because for most of the book, I had very little idea of what was going on.

The characterisation is weird at times. Calla sometimes acts bipolar in her decision making. She’ll be totally against an idea, and will do anything to stand her ground, and then half a page later, she’ll give in and act like she was all for that idea in the first place. It was so annoying. It’s poor and awkward, and it hardly made her character more likeable, and believe me, I had a hard time liking her in the first place.

The love triangle is also something that needs work. Calla is drawn to Shay because he is mysterious (doesn’t that remind you of a certain sparkly vampire?) even though her relationship with Ren seems to be stronger. Ren is a bit of a dick sometimes (man, what is with all these bipolar personalities?) but they’ve shared moments where you can see a nice romance blossoming. In fact, it sometimes felt as if Shay was imposing on their relationship, and I often wanted him to fuck off because he’s useless.

The plot is slow and steady, and really only becomes intriguing after the first 150 pages. After that, there really is mystery. Shit hits the fan, and it’s hard to put the book down. By the end, all hell breaks loose, and you just need to know what happens.

Though, the ending kind of made me roll my eyes, when Calla chooses Shay on a whim, and runs off with him, and almost gets herself killed for his sake. Good work, Calla, you don’t look like Bella Swan at all.

The strongest part of this book was the world-building, but I feel that this book would have stood better if it hadn’t been a romance (sadly, pretty much all YA books have romance in them. ICK!).

Cover Art: 4
Plot: 3
Characters: 2
Writing: 4
Level of Interest: 3

Total Rating: 3/5 stars

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Review: Cinderella: Ninja Warrior

April 27, 2011 at 12:38 pm (3 stars, review) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Courtesy of Silver Dolphin Books

Cinderella: Ninja Warrior by Maureen McGowan

Pages: 320, paperback

ISBN: 9781607102557

Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books

Date Released: April 1st, 2011

Genre: YA / fantasy / choose your own adventure / fairy tale retelling / romance

Source: NetGalley

Premise:

In this fast-paced story full of adventure and romance, Cinderella is more than just a servant girl waiting for her prince—she’s a tough, fearless girl who is capable of taking charge of a dangerous situation. Seeking to escape the clutches of her evil stepmother, Cinderella perfects her ninja skills and magic talents in secret, waiting for the day when she can break free and live happily ever after. In a special twist, readers have the opportunity to make key decisions for Cinderella and decide where she goes next—but no matter the choice; the result is a story unlike any fairy tale you’ve ever read! (Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it now from The Book Depository / Amazon

I didn’t realise that this book was a choose your own adventure book until I opened it and started reading. Now, I’m not a fan of those kinds of books. I avoided them as a child, and, though this wasn’t as terrible as my childhood experiences, I will continue to avoid them as an adult. I decided to review this, as hard as it was, what with all the different possibilities. Plus, I wasn’t going to drop a book for a reason as petty as that. But, this will lower the plot rating significantly, simply because of my preference.

Right off the bat, the story starts awkwardly. At least, for me. There were a few instances where I just stared at the screen going, “wait, what? Really? REALLY?” because some things were just so unbelievable, such as when she trained herself to have uber ninja skills. Not only does the art of the ninja take years to master under the watchful eye of a sensei, but it is an ancient  Asian form of martial arts, and from what I could tell from the story, there is no mention of an Asian-esque land at all. Plus, I doubt it would be something that anyone, even if they did have magical powers, to learn out of some book.

The characterisation is odd and questionable at times. The characters switch from speaking formally and talking in a more modern tone. In the beginning, it was difficult to determine what period this was supposed to set it.
Though, thankfully, as the book went on, the characterisation sorted itself out, and proved to be rather enjoyable. The evil step-mother was truly evil, a queen bitch. She just loved tormenting poor Cinderella, and I took great joy in how accurate and realistic her horrid personality was.
Cinderella was sweet, was determined and was strong, which are exceptional characteristics in any story. She had a personal mission to be great, and to escape her step-mother’s prison of magic. Her story (or rather, stories) was moving, exciting and incredibly enjoyable.
Cinderella’s sisters, in the story that I read, were sometimes contradictory–sometimes being horrid to Cinderella, and sometimes backing her up against their mother. I don’t know, it seemed out of place at times, but at the same time, it felt right, as if they were learning their lesson, which I think is excellent, because character growth shouldn’t just be for the main character.

In the story that I read, the romance was astounding. I loved the chemistry, and felt it from the very beginning. They cheeky flirts between Cinderella and her love interest was adorable, and truly believable.

Apparently, there are 8 different stories you could read with this choose your own adventure thing, but I didn’t have the patience to try out all the different combinations. Now, like I said above, this effects the score. While I can see the appeal, this is just a personal preference, and not something you should adhere to, though I have to admit: choosing your own path makes for an unpredictable turn of events, which is quite interesting at times. I would recommend that you give this a try, especially if you like the possibility of having different outcomes depending on what YOU choose, not what the author chooses (to an extent). This story uses this technique well enough for me to recommend it.

Cover Art: 3
Plot: 2
Characters: 3
Writing: 3
Level of Interest: 4

Total Rating: 3/5

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Review: Pegasus

April 25, 2011 at 2:33 pm (3 stars, review) (, , , , , , )

Pegasus by Robin McKinley

Pages: 404, hardcover

ISBN: 9780399246777

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Date Released: November 2nd, 2010

Genre: YA / fantasy

Source: library

Premise:

Because of a thousand-year-old alliance between humans and pagasi, Princess Sylviianel is ceremonially bound to Ebon, her own Pegasus, on her twelfth birthday. The two species coexist peacefully, despite the language barriers separating them. Humans and pegasi both rely on specially-trained Speaker magicians as the only means of real communication.

But its different for Sylvi and Ebon. They can understand each other. They quickly grow close-so close that their bond becomes a threat to the status quo-and possibly to the future safety of their two nations. (Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it now from The Book Depository

There is just one thing I hate about McKinley’s books: they’re usually very very long and read like a text book for the first 100 pages or so. Even in this book, there were actual excerpts from fictional texts, info dumping everything about this fantastical world, making it a chore to read.
The text excerpts also had an odd feel to it, and awkward wording, In an attempt to sound old, the word “the” was spelled as “thee”, which was fairly annoying and grammatically wrong. Even if it was done like that on purpose (which, I’d rather it was, since I refuse to believe that any editor wouldn’t catch something as glaringly obvious as that), it was done in a really tacky and there was no reason for it whatsoever.

It was hard for me to properly visualise the pegasi in my minds. They were described as having hands on the end of their wings, which kind of killed my vision of pegasi for the remainder of the story. She made a completely new creature and used it here, it was hardly a pegasi anymore. But still, I enjoyed how she developed them and made this world a part of who they are.

The names bothered me a bit. A lot of them were so typical in a fantasy setting, like Fthoom, Glarfin, Lrrianay and Fgeelaa (how the heck do you even pronounce them?). It made it really difficult to remember the characters and their roles. Because there were so many characters with these sort of names, I kept getting them mixed up.

And finally, the ending was completely rushed. Everything happened in the last dozen or so pages, which was a frightening change of pace, considering the incredibly slow writing style. Plus, that there will be a sequel annoys me a bit. I didn’t honestly think that there needs to be a sequel. Everything could have been compressed into one book, if only those pages and pages of backstory and lengthy descriptions were edited out.

Now, onto the good parts.

If you don’t mind reading a long, almost plotless story, then you’ll be blown away by the amazing world-building. If there’s one thing I admire about McKinley, it’s her astounding ability to create this magical, perfect world. Everything about this world is so perfectly crafted. From the backstory (which, I admit was delivered in a slightly sloppy manner) to the landscape, everything was carefully thought out.

Now, while there is next to no plot in this story, there is a great deal of character growth instead. The whole story revolves around the friendship of a young princess and her pegasus, and over the years, they mature, they grow. It’s actually quite a lovely journey. You can actually learn a lot from this friendship.

So, I’m not sure if I hated this book or loved it. I suppose I’ll let the rating decide for me:

Cover Art: 5
Plot: 1
Characters: 3
Writing: 2
Level of Interest: 3

Total Rating: 3/5 stars

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Review: Lost in a River of Grass

March 27, 2011 at 12:00 pm (3 stars, review) (, , , , )

Courtesy of Carolrhoda Books

Lost in a River of Grass by Ginny Rorby

Pages: 264, hardcover

ISBN: 9780761356851

Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab

Date Released: March 1st, 2011

Genre/themes: YA / adventure / survival

Source: Galley from the publisher

Premise:

A science-class field trip to the Everglades is supposed to be fun, but Sarah’s new at Glades Academy, and her fellow freshmen aren’t exactly making her feel welcome. When an opportunity for an unauthorized side trip on an airboat presents itself, it seems like a perfect escape—an afternoon without feeling like a sore thumb. But one simple oversight turns a joyride into a race for survival across the river of grass. Sarah will have to count on her instincts—and a guy she barely knows—if they have any hope of making it back alive.

Lost in the River of Grass takes on the classic survival genre using one of the country’s most unique wild places as a backdrop. In this tense, character-driven thriller, Sarah must overcome prejudice and the unforgiving wilderness in a struggle to survive. (Taken from Goodreads)

Okay, so the first thing I noticed about this book was that it was written in first person present. Now, it’s really hard to pull off, mainly only if the story is very plot driven and filled to the brim with action, which, unfortunately, this book has neither. It starts off slow, which makes the first person present writing feel awkward and sluggy. Thankfully, though, it picks up a bit, but only several chapters later.

Personally, I’m questioning Sarah’s sanity and intelligence for ditching the safety of her field trip and going on a date with a strange, persistant guy she just met. Especially when he wants to take her out on a boat… in the middle of nowhere. Now, that just feels creepy, no matter how hot he may be or whatever.

I love the contrast between Andy and Sarah. They’re just so different from each other. He’s this cool, laid back country bumpkin who handles snakes and she’s scareed of all things creepy and crawly.

Sarah becomes incredibly annoying once they depart on their journey back, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as Andy’s frustration towards her gives just the right amount of comedic relief to lighten the mood of this otherwise serious story.

Their story of survival is really quite interesting. I’ve never really heard much about the Everglades and what goes on in there, but this reveals a lot of scary truths about nature.

Teapot, despite being just a duck, became my favourite character. The scenes where she’s described are vivid and provide enough detail to start to think of her as one of the main characters. Plus, because she’s such a sweet and innocent baby duckie, I had grown emotionally attatched to her. Everytime she was in danger, I was afraid for her safety.

Overall, an interesting story with great character development, but with a slow beginning.

Cover Art: 4 (do you guys see the gator hiding in the water? I didn’t see it until after I read it. It was awesome)
Plot: 3
Characters: 4
Writing: 3
Level of Interest: 4

Total: 3/5

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Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

March 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm (3 stars, review) (, , , , , , , )

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Pages: 310, paperback

ISBN: 9780575090859

Publisher: Gollancz

Date Released: March 10th, 2009

Genre: YA / Horror / post-apocalyptic / dystopian / zombies

Where I got it from: bought

Premise:

In Mary’s world there are simple truths.

The Sisterhood always knows best.
The Guardians will protect and serve.
The Unconsecrated will never relent.
And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future-between the one she loves and the one who loves her.

And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death? (Taken from Goodreads)

Okay, so I’ve been pining over the idea of a zombie book for ages. Finally, my prayers have been answered.

To start off with, it’s really unrealistic that a chainlink fence can hold off a hoarde of hungry, flesh-eating zombies. Really? A chain link fence? I once kicked a hole in one of those, and I barely broke a sweat. With that in mind, it was hard to keep up with the story. I know you’re supposed to suspend some belief with a story like that, but to suspend it that much is madness and simply ridiculous.

The story doesn’t really go anywhere for the first hundred or so pages, but we do learn a lot about the village and the Forest and the Sisterhood. While it lacks action, it is still interesting, and draws the reader in. Though, the fact that so much backstory was used makes for a poor writing technique.
At times, I noticed that it was difficult to understand what was happening, usually during a fast-paced scene. Ryan just seems to blunder forward, with her thoughts all jumbled up, giving us an incoherent scene that is near indecipherable.

The writing wasn’t impressive, but it managed to keep me on the edge of my seat for majority of the book, so the book gets bonus points for that.

I was a bit disappointed that the zombies weren’t a main focus, only a background tool for the village. It was interesting to have an insight to the well-developed world of the Village, but still, I opened up the book to encounter zombies, not to hear a rip-off of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village. Because that’s exactly what it was. I was hoping the zombies would redeem it, but unfortunately, no.

The romance and the character development were poorly written and virtually non-existent. The characters were hard to relate to, they acted randomly and out of character.

What I hated were the unresolved plot-holes. There were so many things left unanswered that it left me seething. Never had I been so disappointed in my life. Well done, Carrie Ryan, for making me spend another $30 for the sequel. Good money making technique.

Cover Art: 3
Plot: 2
Characters: 2
Writing: 3
Level of Interest: 5

Total Rating: 3/5

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Review: Lord Foul’s Bane

January 28, 2011 at 3:11 pm (3 stars, review) (, , )

Lord Foul’s Bane by Stephen Donaldson

Pages: 438, paperback

ISBN: 9780345326034

Publisher: Fontana

Date Released: February 12th, 1985

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Where I got it from: borrowed from friend

Premise:

He called himself Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever because he dared not believe in the strange alternate world in which he suddenly found himself. Yet he was tempted to believe, to fight for the Land, to be the reincarnation of its greatest hero.

This book, I was excited for, and loved it at the beginning, but slowly started to hate it. In all honesty, towards the end, I was just hating it and wanting it all to end.

It tells the story of Thomas Covenant, a man who has leprosy in our world, and is shunned from society, and therefore must keep to himself and depend on only himself for survival. I found this concept so marvellous and interesting; he was the kind of protagonist that I admired, because he had some sort of physical disorder that held him back. And because of this, I thought that I would love this novel. I was wrong.
The beginning was good enough, but after he gets magically transported to a place called The Land (what an ingenious name /sarcasm), where he gets healed by a friendly 16 year old girl. Like literally, she and The Land cured him of his leprosy. And then he ends up raping her because he can finally feel sensations in his penis again. That sort of made me feel sick.
And for the rest of the novel, Covenant whines and bitches about how he’s a leper (he’s sceptical about being healed, despite being able to feel his fingers, toes and penis), and warns people to keep away from him. It ends up being quite annoying to read on every second page the phrase “Don’t touch me! I’m a leper!”.
I don’t know, halfway through the novel, Covenant’s whinging got too annoying for me to handle. That’s about when I started wishing for the end to hurry up.

Donaldson’s prose was somewhat complex, as if trying hard to be poetic, and throwing in random big words. Honestly, it seemed as if the man had a thesaurus next to him as he was writing away. It was slightly off-putting. But still, at times, it sounded quite beautiful. A lot of the time, it reminded me of Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings, in terms of the writing style and basic plot (both have magical rings, giants, fortresses built into mountains, creepy cave-dwelling things, horses are worshipped etc.), but that didn’t bother me too much, because I suppose in most epic fantasies, you’ll have overused cliches and whatnot.

As much as the book annoyed me, I shall be attempting to read the rest of the series. That’s another 9 books, I think? Wow.

Cover: 3
Plot: 3
Characters: 1
Writing: 2
Level of Interest: 3

Total Rating: 3/5

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Review: Shiver

January 26, 2011 at 4:32 pm (3 stars, review) (, , , , , )

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Pages: 392, hardcover

ISBN: 9780545123266

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Date Released: August 1st, 2009

Genre: Young Adult / paranormal romance / werewolves

Where I got it from: library

Premise:

the cold.
Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn’t know why.

the heat.
Sam has lived two lives. As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace…until now.

the shiver.
For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it’s spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human—and Grace must fight to keep him—even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future. (Taken from Goodreads)

I was highly anticipating the relsease of this book. To say the least, I was highly disappointed in the final product, despite hearing of the alluring premise and the worked up hype that this book has recieved.

Firstly, the writing style. While some aspects of the writing was crafted beautifully, other parts were quite… purple. The mild purple prose annoyed me to some extent, and often slowed down the pacing of the story, leaving me disinterested and forcing myself to plow through certain chapters.
Also, I thought that the constant use of lyrics that Sam thought up was not needed. Most of the time, the lyrics were boring and left me rolling my eyes at the sappiness. They were just unnecessary and added nothing to the story, I thought.
Another thing that annoyed me was the short chapters. Some were just a few lines in length, mostly from Sam’s point of view, and they were all the same: generic messages explaining how much he loved Grace.

The story was too lovey-dovey for my liking, and the apparent love wasn’t even developed. Over the course of a day or so, Grace and Sam went from strangers to in love and unable to bear to be away from each other for more than a few seconds. That’s not love. That’s obsession. I’m getting quite sick of most YA romances speeding up the falling in love process. It’s not realistic, otherwise.
Also, Stiefvater made the common mistake in YA romances: she made the parents disappear for long periods of time, allowing for Sam and Grace to sleep together and be all chummy. From what I could tell, her parents actually cared for her, but they had their own jobs they had to do, like every single other parent on earth, but Grace has the nerve to complain to Sam about her parents not caring and not spending enough time with her, when 2 or 3 chapters before (read: literally the night before), she rejected her mum’s request to hang with her and watch a movie. And right after she finishes whinging to Sam, her parents come home, being all nice and caring and wanting to spend time with their daughter, but she dismisses them like the contradicting, spoilt brat that she is.

Despite all these negative comments, I did enjoy the story a bit. I loved how Steifvater explained how werewolves transformed from human to wolf with the change of the temperature. It was an interesting take on the werewolf legends. The story was enjoyable, though, I’m glad I didn’t spend $30 for a hardback ( I have not been able to find a paperback of this book ANYWHERE). Thank god for libraries, I guess.

Cover: 3
Plot: 3
Characters: 2
Writing: 2
Level of Interest: 3

Total Rating: 3/5

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Review: Beautiful Creatures

January 23, 2011 at 2:05 pm (3 stars, review) (, , )

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Pages: 563, paperback
ISBN: 9780141326085
Publisher: Penguin Books
Date Released: December 1st, 2009
Genre: YA paranormal romance
Where I got it from: bought
Premise:

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything (Taken from Goodreads)

I started reading this book with high expectations, thinking it to be a worthwhile read, because it was advertised with such vigour in all the bookshops I visited, and I was recommended this book by almost every writer and reader on the internet. So I took the plunge and read it. And you know what? I should not have listened.

I enjoyed how it wasn’t your typical paranormal creature, like a vampire or werewolf, and the use of Casters (a fancy term for witches) made it interesting. The world of the Casters, and their mythology was interesting and a refreshing change from other paranormal creatures. The history of the Caster’s was written well in depth, and it provided a lot of interest on my part.

The book itself, though long and sometimes tiring, was interesting, fun and a delight to read. I spent my long and boring bus trips to uni reading this, and it provided much needed entertainerment. It was just one of those books that was hard to put down because of how deep it pulls you in.

Onto some of the negative aspects of the novel now.
Though male POVs in romance novels are refreshing and the most interesting, it is incredibly hard to pull off properly. It seems almost as if Garcia and Stohl had never even spoken to a teenaged boy in years, and that Ethan Wate’s character is their own fantasies of what a guy should be like. Majority of my friends are teenaged males, and I think that I therfore have some knowledge of the way that they act, and what they think. Ethan doesn’t act in any way like a teenaged boy; he is more of a representation of middle-aged woman, at least, that’s the impression I got from his personality. It was due to this that I had a lot of trouble settling in with the book, and quite frankly, it left me bored and dissatisfied.

I was also annoyed at the Twilight-esque pace that their love formed. Ethan had been in love with Lena even before he met her, and from the very beginning, the reader has to endure pages upon pages of him droning on about how much she means to him. Also, I don’t really think that it matters what she wears everyday. That sort of stuff is acceptable during the moments of the formal or her party, but for everyday wear, it really isn’t neccessary. There were some moments that I thought that Ethan as secretly gay, because of his closet fascination with clothes.

One last thing that bothered me was the lack of climax, much like in Stephanie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn. I was actually very interested in the last hundred or so pages, because I really couldn’t wait to see what the Book of Moons would choose for Lena. Would she become Dark? Or would she become Light? I just had to know what was in store for her. Imagine my disappointment when I found out that Lena had done something that had made the moon disappear (or something like that. Garcia and Stohl had their moments where things weren’t explained very clearly, I found. Another drawback in the novel.) and she wouldn’t be chosen.
Near the end, it was revealed that Lena would be able to choose for herself, which piqued some interest in me, due to the consequences, but as I mentioned, the moon had disappeared, and nothing happened. A very boring and abrupt end to the climax that kept me on my toes.
Though, I was glad to find that there would be a sequel by the poem/song that Ethan found on the very last page, which explains that Lena would have to choose on her 17th birthday. I definitely will be getting the sequel when it comes out, as I really want to know what Lena will choose, her family of Lights, or Ethan. Hopefully, she’ll make the right choice and choose her family, instead of acting like a typical love-struck stupid teen.

I doubt it’ll happen, though.

Cover: 3
Plot: 2
Characters: 2
Writing: 3
Level of Interest: 5

Total Rating: 3/5

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