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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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: 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: 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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