Review: Angel Burn

June 18, 2011 at 9:28 pm (4 stars, review) (, , , , , , , , )

Courtesy of Candlewick Press

Angel Burn by L. A. Weatherly

ISBN: 9780763656522

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Release Date: May 24th, 2011 (first released September 30th, 2010)

Genre: YA/ paranormal / romance  / action / angels

Source: galley from the publisher

Premise:

Willow knows she’s different from other girls, and not just because she loves tinkering with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into the future and know people’s dreams and hopes, their sorrows and regrets, just by touching them. She has no idea where this power comes from. But the assassin, Alex, does. Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows more about Willow than Willow herself. He knows that her powers link to dark and dangerous forces, and that he’s one of the few humans left who can fight them. When Alex finds himself falling in love with his sworn enemy, he discovers that nothing is as it seems, least of all good and evil. In the first book in an action-packed, romantic trilogy, L..A. Weatherly sends readers on a thrill-ride of a road trip – and depicts the human race at the brink of a future as catastrophic as it is deceptively beautiful.

They’re out for your soul . . . and they don’t have heaven in mind.

(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: Book Depository / Amazon

*Sorry I haven’t been updating in a while, I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather this past week. But I’m feeling better now, and will be updating a bit more often to make up for it.*

I’ll admit, I was rather skeptical about this book at first. I thought it’d be another stupid angel romance story with next to no plot and an abusive, angelic love interest, and a main character who was TSTL (too stupid to live).

Boy, was I wrong. Not only are angels not romanticized here, they’re actually the enemies, who steal something special from their victim, leaving them sick and helpless–a shell. There isn’t some long, drawn out and overused religious lore behind them, they just are. They aren’t God’s messengers. They aren’t heaven-sent. They aren’t the angels you’d expect. They became the perfect enemy, taking over the human world, leaving their imprint and making people of faith put all their trust to them, only to exploit them by feeding off them. What I loved most was that they founded a religion devoted to their worship, making people love them and trust them; it was a nice, ironic touch, and I loved it immensely.

Willow is different from other main characters that I’ve encountered. Right off the bat, we see how strong she is as a character, and she keeps getting stronger. She’s smart, cautious, real. And the way she cares for her mum, it makes me appreciate her more, because, for once, here is a YA main character who doesn’t ignore others for her love interest, especially her family. I love how she gets frustrated with her mother sometimes, because despite doing her best to help her, her mother is too far gone to do anything. Her frustration at her mother’s vegetative state is selfish, honest, real.

At first, I thought the psychic thing would be used to make Willow ‘speshul’, but she actually uses it properly, which is something I applaud. For example, when she see’s Beth’s choices, and what happened to her, she handles it maturely forthe situation and her character, and tries to help Beth as best as she can, even though she knows that it would be futile.

I loved the interaction between Willow and Alex. They had this chemistry together, and it was done really well. They were awkward towards each other, ad avoided interacting with each other because of who they were–Willow, the human/angel hybrid freak, and Alex, the protector of humans and killer of angels–and it brought a whole new meaning to the whole “I love you but I want to kill you” thing that’s so popular in YA romances these days. Alex actually has justification to try to kill Willow at the beginning of the book. He thought she was on the angel’s side, being half angel and what not. All his life, he had been taught that angels are evil creatures, and yet, he found himself stuck with a girl who was seemingly half evil. The way he reacted to her then was fantastic and real.

After a few days of knowing him, Willow tells us that she’s fallen in love with Alex. While this sort of insta-love usually bothers me, I’m willing to accept this, since they’d literally been stuck together for the last few days, getting to know each other and bond. And, oh how they bonded! Their chemistry was beyond delicious! It was addictive, and I wanted more of their shy flirting, of their awkwardness, everything.

Once they manage to finally declare their love, though, they turn into love-sick tweens, acting all cutesy and saying stuff like “I’d die without you”, and it’s enough to make anyone gag. It was a bit of a downer, after such a fantastic build-up. I think I’d rather stick with the teasing sexual tension than deal with twu wuv~! that feels forced and annoying.

One of my main concerns with the book was the writing. It is narrated sometimes in third person, from the POVs of various characters, including the baddies, and sometimes it’s narrated in first person from the POC of Willow. I think that this is the only fault in the otherwise spectacular and gripping writing, but it wasn’t enough for me to drop the book–which I totally would have if it weren’t so OMG-worthy. The writing made it so impossible to put down, it was so action-packed. It will constantly keep you guessing.

This is a book that I would recommend for everyone. It isn’t your typical paranormal novel. It has a well thought out background, a gripping plot and plenty of action. Read it immediately.

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

Total Rating: 4/5 stars

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Review: Mercy

May 14, 2011 at 1:00 pm (4 stars, review) (, , , , , , , , , )

Mercy by Rebecca Lim

Pages: 280, paperback

ISBN: 9780732291990

Publisher: HarperCollins

Date Released: November 1st, 2010

Genre: YA / romance / angels / mystery

Source: library

Premise:

Mercy ′wakes′ on a school bus bound for Paradise, a small town where everyone knows everyone else′s business… or thinks they do. But Mercy has a secret life. She is an angel, doomed to return repeatedly to Earth, taking on a new ′persona′ each time she does, in an effort to resolve a cataclysmic rift between heavenly beings.

The first of a brilliant new series sees Mercy meeting Ryan, an eighteen-year-old whose sister was kidnapped two years ago and is presumed dead. When another girl is also kidnapped, Mercy knows she has to act quickly and use extraordinary powers to rescue her, even if it means exposing her true identity. (Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: The Book Depository / Amazon

The opening paragraph was interesting enough. It showed that the writing was clear and concise, but sadly, it was followed by this massive info-dump on what the main character looks like, and it turns out that she’s one of those “I’m pretty but I don’t notice it” characters, which makes me groan, since 90% of YA is filled with these characters. Then, she goes on to describe who I can only assume is a potential love interest, because he has far too many far-fetched descriptions like:

“He is tall, broad-shouldered, snake-hipped, flawless as only dreams can be. Like a sun god when he walks.” – pg 4.

To which I can only respond with WTF? what is with that? Why are all possible love interests described so weirdly. I don’t know. Personally, I find it off-putting, especially with odd descriptions like ‘snake-hipped’ and ‘sun god’. I don’t even know how to imagine snake-hipped. Anyone know?
Lim seems to have an interesting and poor way of describing people visually. They only seem to be described as beautiful and stunning, or disgusting and ugly and flawed. There is no middle ground, which makes me feel uneasy, a bit.
Also, the sentence structure was often repeated in a way that made Lim over-describe something. A couple of times per page, you can expect to see something like “Something COMMA synonym COMMA another synonym COMMA continue with sentence as normal.” It’s constantly used and feels unedited. It blocks the otherwise clear writing that could have made this book even more amazing, I think.

There are some parts I’m not so fond about. Pretty, popular girls are sluts and enemies, and the main character often describes other females with some fairly derogatory terms, such as bitch and slut. For the most part, Mercy is at the mercy (hehe) of a pretty, popular bitch who is a bitch just because she can. It’s fairly annoying and overused.

Now, those are the bad things. Onto the good.

The story is fairly fantastic. The premise holds so much promise, and it delivers. There are two major plot points: 1) that Mercy constantly finds herself in the body of a human, not knowing what she needs to do to be finally free and able to find the man she loves, Luc (or at least, she thinks she does) and 2) a girl had gone missing 2 years ago, and the girl’s brother is still out looking for her.

Both plot points intertwine, and at the same time, they feel completely independent of each other. The first is one that isn’t even close to resolution at the end of the book, whilst the second ends on a cheerful note. Both are executed quite well, in an engaging and exciting way. The story is the strongest part of the book, and it really shows and makes up for the writing.

This is a book that I really love, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel, Exile, which comes out in early June, and the third book, Muse, which comes out late October. Isn’t that great? You won’t have to wait long for the next installment! This makes me giddy!

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

Total Rating: 4/5 stars


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Review: Embrace

April 15, 2011 at 5:49 am (3 stars, Australian, review) (, , , , , , , )

Embrace by Jessica Shirvington

Pages: 382, paperback

ISBN: 9780734411846

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Date Released: October 14th, 2011

Genre: YA / romance / paranormal /angels

Source: library

Premise:

Violet Eden is dreading her seventeenth birthday dinner. After all, it’s hard to get too excited about the day that marks the anniversary of your mother’s death. The one bright spot is that Lincoln will be there. Sexy, mature and aloof, he is Violet’s idea of perfection. But why does he seem so reluctant to be anything more than a friend?

After he gives her the world’s most incredible kiss – and then abandons her on her front doorstep – Violet is determined to get some answers. But nothing could have prepared her for Lincoln’s explanation: he is Grigori – part angel and part human – and Violet is his eternal partner.

Without warning, Violet’s world is turned upside down. She never believed in God, let alone angels. But there’s no denying the strange changes in her body … and her feelings for Lincoln. Suddenly, she can’t stand to be around him. Luckily, Phoenix, an exiled angel, has come into her life. He’s intense and enigmatic, but at least he never lied to her.

As Violet gets caught up in an ancient battle between dark and light, she must choose her path. The wrong choice could cost not only her life, but her eternity… (taken from Goodreads)

Buy it now from The Book Depository

So, this may be the one angel novel that I actually enjoyed for the most part, even though I use the word ‘enjoy’ very loosely because I had a few problems with the text.

The story itself was interesting, that Violet is actually a half angel who has to fight evil angels that had been banished from heaven. For the most part, her characterisation is fairly believable, for instance, when she finds out what she really is. The angel mythology is well thought out, and is incredibly interesting. At times, though, it does get too much, as if  Shirvington is just going all out, throwing every idea at her readers, but still.

My main problem with the book were the not-so-subtle hints at rape. No, not the physical rape (to an extent) but rape as in mind-control, and practically full-on manipulation. See, there’s this one character called Phoenix, who we’re supposed to love because he’s hot and a bad bot and misunderstood because he’s an angel (I’m seeing a pattern here…) who we find out can manipulate people’s feeling, and that’s exactly what Phoenix does to Violet. He manipulates her feelings so that he hates her Angel Partner and crush, Lincoln, and to fall for Phoenix. And with her newfound passion–that he forced onto her without her realising–he sleeps with her, taking her virginity. And it turns out he was just using her. Good as!
BUT! I just have to add that Violet isn’t as passive as most other YA characters would be in her situation. When she finds out, she’s relatively mad. She’s filled with shame. She hates him for betraying her like that. Her reactions are fairly spot on for the most part, so that made my respect for her character go up.

Violet’s characterisation is pretty well done. Violet actually seems to grow a bit as the story progresses–when she embraces, it certainly shows a great level of maturity–but I can’t help but wonder if her growth and relationships–especially with her father and her supposed best friend–could be expanded. Her father is one of those ‘busy parents’ who is hardly ever present in the story, and Violet’s best friend is only there to talk about boys.

Now, the writing was fairly fast-paced and quick to read, so you can probably knock this book off in just a few days, or something, depending on how fast you read. I quite like books that are fast paced, especially in this sort of genre of un-serious books.

The story was quite predictable; I had essentially guessed everything before the halfway mark, but it was still a fun, light journey.

I’ll be eagerly awaiting getting my hands on the second book, which has been recently released in Australia.

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

Total: 3/5 stars

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Review: Fallen

April 9, 2011 at 12:43 pm (2 stars, review) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Pages: 452, paperback

ISBN: 9780385618021

Publisher: Doubleday

Date Released: December 17th, 2009

Genre: YA / paranormal / romance / angels

Source: library

Premise:

Seventeen-Year-Old Luce is a new student at Sword & Cross, an unwelcoming boarding/reform school in Savannah, Georgia. Luce’s boyfriend died under suspicious circumstances, and now she carries the guilt over his death with her as she navigates the unfriendly halls at Sword & Cross, where every student seems to have an unpleasant—even evil—history.

It’s only when she sees Daniel, a gorgeous fellow student, that Luce feels there’s a reason to be here—though she doesn’t know what it is. And Daniel’s frosty cold demeanor toward her? It’s really a protective device that he’s used again . . . and again. For Daniel is a fallen angel, doomed to fall in love with the same girl every 17 years . . . and watch her die. And Luce is a fellow immortal, cursed to be reincarnated again and again as a mortal girl who has no idea of who she really is. (Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it now from The Book Depository

I have to begin this review by stating that I did not enjoy this book at all. It struck me as a generic copy of Twilight, or Hush, Hush, as the craze seems to be lately.

The writing was plain, and it had no redeeming qualities to speak of. I thought that the point of view didn’t seem right. As much as I hate to say this, I think first person would have worked better. I mean, I’d hate to be any closer to Luce than I already was, but the third person  just felt awkward as I tried to trudge on. The use of third person lost any potential voice that would have otherwise been given to us.
Also, the phrase “Oh my God” is often used. Now, in third person, that just sounds sloppy and trashy. Like I said, better off suited for first person.

The chapter titles are easily forgettable, and often didn’t seem to hold any relevance to the chapters themselves. After a while, I ended up ignoring them completely, because they were just a distraction.

Now, onto problems with the story:
The setting was odd; it was set in a sort of school-slash-detention center for troubled teens. The students are forced to wear black–what the heck is wrong with Ms. Kate? Sure, make the students who have mental problems or aggression issues wear black, and force them to take random pills for the sake of it.
Now, I’m very knowledgeable in the ways of therapy, pills and the treatment of people under extreme stress, but Lauren Kate doesn’t even seem to have the basics. When it comes to pills, there’s a lot of trial and error in trying to find the right kind, but Luce seems to just have been given some random pills from some seedy guy in a back alley way (well, not quite, but she might as well have), not a real doctor who actually knows what he’s doing.
In fact, everything that goes on in this place–this asylum, just about–is insane. I literally just can’t understand the stupidity of it all.

So, after Luce moves to this new school/asylum, she sees this uber hawt guy. Who gives her the finger when he sees her, clearly indicating that he’s not interested. This guy is Daniel, the man who will steal her heart. So, instead of ignoring him, or hating him for being a dick to her without even getting to know her, she goes through his school files to search for information on him, searches his family history on the internet, and actively stalks him until he finally caves in from her pressure. No joke! Fallen is essentially telling girls that it’s okay to stalk the love of your life–even though he doesn’t know it–in order to gain his affections.

The story itself was hardly anything original. It was a dark, wannabe-goth version of Twilight with angels, and the main character is the creepy stalker instead of the love interest. Although, the love interest hardly makes things right.

The whole concept of Daniel and Luce’s reincarnation, and how they’re supposed to be together for eternity just bothers me. It takes away all the choice in relationship. Luce and Daniel hardly have any choice in anything pertaining to them. They might think it, because they do get together but even in the second book–and if you haven’t read it yet, then SPOILER ALERT–Luce finally figures out that she has a choice, but it’s far too late for that. That time and time again they’ve been together through time, unable to be with anyone else. There’s just something wrong with the idea that they’re forever stuck with each other. At least, that’s just the way I see it.

The story picked up in the last fifty pages or so, but by then, I just wanted it to all end. I was sick to death of everything that was happening.
When Miss Sophia, the apparent bad guy, tries to kill Luce and tells her how much of an idiot Luce is, I found myself nodding along, agreeing with everything the old woman was saying. Which is not a good sign, just sayin’.

So, would I recommended this book? Sure, if you want to read a long and tiring book about a girl who is TSTL. Not gonna lie, though, it was all of the above that made the book hilarious to read.

I suppose this just wasn’t for me. This is clearly not a book you should read if you analyse everything you touch, but I could totally see it becoming a big hit with the younger, Twilight influenced crowd.

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

Total: 2/5 stars

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