Review: Daughter of the Forest

July 11, 2011 at 9:54 pm (5 stars, Australian, review) (, , , , , , )

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

Pages: 552, paperback

ISBN: 9780330424417

Publisher: Pan Australia

Date Released: November 1st, 2008 (first published 1999)

Genre: adult/ fantasy/ romance / retelling / historical

Source:  library

Premise:

A beautiful retelling of the Celtic “Swans” myth, Daughter of the Forest is a mixture of history and fantasy, myth and magic, legend and love… To reclaim the lives of her brothers, Sorcha leaves the only safe place she has ever known and embarks on a journey filled with pain, loss and terror. When she is kidnapped by enemy forces and taken to a foreign land, it seems that there will be no way for Sorcha to break the spell that condemns all that she loves. But magic knows no boundaries, and Sorcha will have to choose between the live she has always known and a love that comes only once.

(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: The Book Depository / Amazon

It was about time that I started this book. I’d heard nothing but stellar reviews about this book. The fact that Marillier lives in Australia (albeit the Western part, which is literally desert)and being born in New Zealand made this even more irresistible.

When I first started this, I sort of really disliked it. My thoughts were “WTF is this? It’s so slow, nothing’s happening! I don’t care about her family! How do you pronounce that?” It takes some getting used to, because the writing is so thick and verbose. This is not a quick read. This is the kind of book you slowly savour, reading it and relishing in the beauty of the words. Everything comes to like around you, the smells and sounds of the forest, the hardships that Sorcha had to deal with, everything. By the end of the first chapter (which is 30 pages long, but feels like 300), I was loving it. I loved how the reader got to know every detail about Sorcha’s family, no matter how grizzly and dark it may be. I loved the relationships between Sorcha and her brothers, how they all felt real and different from each other, which I think is quite a feat when too many characters are introduced at once. You really get to know all the characters in such a way that they become important to you, and not only do you see a growth in Sorcha,  but in everyone else.

Sorcha is a very strong young woman; despite her gift for storytelling, she keeps silent, even when it costs her her life. She does all she can to break the spell that the Lady Oonagh cast on her brothers. She lives through her hardships, seemingly by herself, but she had Red to help her, and her brothers, who believe in her persistence and patience.

The story, based on the Celtic Swans myth, adds so much depth to such a fairytale. I absolutely love fairytales, and this one is one of the best that I’ve read so far. It still retains the magical properties of a fairytale, while having its own element.

This is a novel that doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff. There is rape, abuse, torture. It really feels like a kick in the gut. So why read it, then, if it’s so heavy? Well, there are also moments of hope and love–both romantic love and familial love.

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

Total Rating: 5/5 stars

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In My Mailbox #13

June 26, 2011 at 6:51 pm (In My Mailbox, Meme) (, , , , , , )

Hello, fellow bookaholics. It’s Sunday, and you know what that means!

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 haven’t been updating much, but I’ve been rather busy lately. I promise I’ll try to be better at updating.

Anyways, I’ve gotten my hands on quite a lot of books this week.

Bought:

Bought from The Book Depository

The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines

Imaginary Girls by Nova Rem Suma

Bought from a Borders sale

Falling Under by Gwen Hayes

Die for Me by Amy Plum

The Living Dead 2 by John Joseph Adams; Zombies + Short stories + a story by Cherie Priest = EPIC

Library:

The Goblin Wood by Hilari Bell

Juicy Writing by Brigid Lowry

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Mortal Kiss by Alice Moss; With a tagline like “What would you sacrifice for a kiss?” I’m not expecting much out of this.

–  M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger; I guess it’s about time I read this. Everyone and their grandmother has read this.

The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley; After recently reading Chime by this author, I had to get my hands on her other work.

The Cup of the World by John Dickinson

A Pocketful of Eyes by Lili Wilkinson; I’m fairly sure this is set in Melbourne. How could I resist?

A Novel in a Year by Louise Doughty

That’s my haul for the week. What did you guys get in your mailboxes this week? Feel free to leave a link in the comments 🙂

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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: 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: 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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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 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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In My Mailbox #8

May 22, 2011 at 9:35 pm (Australian, 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 got a lot of books this week. I managed to find a Borders that was closing down, so everything was 60% off. Then, my library managed to miraculously procure heaps of books. AND THEN, I decided to buy some cheap ebooks on my Kindle.

Bought

From top to bottom:

Snow by Tracy Lynn; I love the Once Upon a Time series. And this has to be one of my favourites. It has slight traces of steam/magicpunk, and it stays rather true to the story. And, thanks to the Borders sale, it was only $4. How could I possibly resist a book so cheap? Even better, I had a very had time finding the books from this series in Australia,so, I would have gotten this book even if it weren’t on sale.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Ice by Sarah Beth Durst; I read this book ages ago, borrowed from the library, and loved it. (In fact, you can find my review for it here), so when I saw it on sale at Borders for $8, I had to buy it.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Basilisk by N.M. Browne; I remember reading this book years ago, and loving it, so I decided to get it. It was cheap, so why not?
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

–  Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink; This book has caught my eye from the moment it arrived here in Australia, but for some reason, I’d been very hesitant in getting it. I love the cover, it has these shiny silver patterns that give it this weird feeling.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository  / Amazon
(if you get it from The Book Depository now, you get to save almost 60%! It’s not even $5 in AUS currency)

Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink; I also got the second book in the Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy, because it was there and it was cheap.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Fury by Shirley Marr; I’d constantly see this book in bookstores, and was always intrigued by it, but never went ahead and bought it. It looks like a really interesting book, and I love the covers. Also, at the beginning of each chapter, there’s a small picture of a mask, and I just love the concept of that. It makes me wonder about the relevance to the story.
Find it on: Goodreads
(Because it’s an Australian book, I’ve had trouble finding it online; it doesn’t exist in Amazon, and it’s unavailable on Book Depository. So if you’re interested in getting a copy of this book, you might have to search hard, or get a friend in Australia to supply you with a copy)

The Black Swan by Mercedes Lackey; This looks awesome. The cover is amazing, and it’s a retelling, which I’m sure all of you know by now that they’re my favourite kind of story. I can’t wait to start reading this!
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Gwenhwyfar by Mercedes Lackey; Another Mercedes Lackey book that looks awesome. I think it’s about time I read some of her stuff.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Masques by Patricia Briggs; This book looks cool as. Fantasy with werewolves. Can’t wait to get this book started.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

–  Wolfsbane by Patricia Briggs; The sequel to Masques, because I get addicted to series far too easily.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

The Saga of the Renunciates by Marion Bradley Zimmer; I love sci-fi, and apparently this has LGBT characters, which is fairly cool. Plus, it’s so big, that it kind of makes me excited. When it comes to books, size does matter. ;P
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Heritage and Exile by Marion Bradley Zimmer; A big book for a low price. This is the kind of thing I live for. 🙂
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Library:

Not only did I go overboard with books from Borders, I went nuts in the library.

Falling Under by Gwen Hayes; With the recent influx of Greek retellings in YA, I supposed that I should check out a few of the newcomers. The cover is absolutely gorgeous, and the premise actually sounds pretty good.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

How NOT to Write a Novel by Sandra Newman & Howard Mittelmark; I love books about how to write, and this looks like it’d be a great, funny way to learn how not to write.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Thyla by Kate Gordon; This book is about a girl who’s found in the bush with no memory whatsoever. Plus, it’s set in Australia, and I’m a fan of those.
Find it on: Goodreads / Amazon (kindle edition)

Siren by Tricia Rayburn; So, I’ve been eyeing this book for months. Mermaids? Awesome as! Dark, mysterious cover? Heck yeah! I can’t wait to read this.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves; I’d heard a lot of good things about this book, and it’s finally out in Australia, so as soon as I saw this, I just had to grab it.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Mice Gordon Reece; Wow, this looks awesome. A thriller that features what looks like a strong relationship between a girl and her mother.
Find it on: Goodreads / Amazon

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan; The format of this book just looks amazing. It’s all set like a real dictionary, with words that are relevant to the story. I’d like to see how it pans out.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier; I read the first book of this series, Daughter of the Forest, and absolutely loved it.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

The Search for WondLa by Tony Diterlizzi; This is a Middle Grade sci-fi/fantasy book with such wonderful pictures. I really can’t wait to get into this.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Cold Magic by Kate Elliot; So, I’d heard a whole heap of good things about this book. Plus, it looks like it’s a steampunk, and I love those with all my heart.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

The Devil Wears Plaid by Teresa Medeiros; I really like historical romances sometimes. And this one sounds rather exciting.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening by L.J. Smith; So, I’d recently been watching the TV series, and am really loving it. I figured I might as well read the book series.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Marked by P.C. & Kristin Cast; I’ve been hearing a lot about this series, so I guess I should see what the fuss is all about.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon
(You can get Marked on Book Depository with 60% off, which is a great deal)

E-Books

Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz; I got this from Simon & Schuster’s Galley Grab.
Find it on:Goodreads

Blood Red Road by Moira Young; Also from S&S, I’ve heard a lot of great things about this book, so I’m excited to finally read it.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

The Witches of Santa Anna: The Complete Set by Lauren Barnholdt & Aaron Gorvine; I got this, the first 7 books in this series off Amazon for 99cents. So, if you want seven books for a dollar, I’d recommend that you go get it now, before the offer no longer stands.
Find it on: Goodreads / Amazon (Kindle)

The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer; I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about this book, a retelling of The Persephone & Hades myth, but with a twist: Hades is a woman. I can’t wait to read it.
Find it on: Goodreads / Amazon

So, that’s my haul for the week. Um, a lot, eh? *laughs nervously*

What did you guys get in your mailbox during the week? Feel free to share your links in the comments. 🙂

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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: 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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