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: Behemoth

June 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm (4 stars, review) (, , , , , , , )

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

Pages: 485, hardcover

ISBN: 9781416971757

Publisher:

Date Released: October 5th, 2010 (first published September 25th, 2010)

Genre: YA / steampunk / historical

Source: library

Premise:

The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers.

Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan‘s peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory.

Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what’s ahead.

(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: Book Depository / Amazon

To start off with: I hate the cover. It is such a disaster compared to the masterpiece that was the original Leviathan cover. What went wrong? If I were some random browsing the aisles of the YA section of my local bookstore, I would have shrunk back in disgust, and quickly averted my eyes, as if the horrific cover might somehow infect me. In fact, that’s exactly what happened when I did encounter this book. I had heard news of Behemoth‘s release, and I eagerly went forth to buy the book, which I had pictured would be similar in majesty and beauty as Leviathan had been. But no, I was met with this monstrosity. Once again, I ask, what went wrong? What were Simon Pulse thinking? I actively avoided buying this book for almost a year, until I managed to get my hands on it for $1 when a Borders was closing down. Even then, I was reluctant. Was I willing to pay $1 to have this accident of a cover sit next to my beloved copy of Leviathan? Finally, I caved in, but only because I had already borrowed it from the library and loved what was between those frightening covers.

And this is coming from a hardcore fan of the first book. I had waited impatiently for over a year to read Behemoth. I loved the first book so much. I reread it several times.  And you know what the worst thing is? That the cover for Behemoth would have been even more stunning than it was for Leviathan. Here, have a look. Aren’t you just seething with rage? It’s beautiful, isn’t it. I don’t understand what Simon Pulse were thinking. They had potentially lost a customer (me) and maybe many more with their hideous reboot covers. (and to be brutally honest, I don’t know who’s who on the reboot covers. Whoops. :-/ )

Now, cover rant aside, I loved this book. If I thought Leviathan was good, then this is just a work of art, meant to be savoured.

This book deals with a lot of emotional baggage, from Deryn’s experience with her father dying a few years earlier, to her developing crush on Alek. But, poor girl, she can’t reveal her feelings to him without revealing her true identity! And with that came a fresh and delightful dose of drama. Especially when a new girl enters the picture, causing jealousy to spark from poor Deryn. The results were completely unexpected and hilarious, and I couldn’t have been more pleased at the maybe-love-triangle.

And while Deryn is struggling to hide her true identity, so is Alek. He’s in a new world, filled with the enemy. At any moment, he could be found and killed. The similarities between the experiences of Alek and Deryn make this a great tool to understanding their characters and their motives. They mirrored each other in so many ways, and it was awesome reading about their characters.

The plot is just as exciting as it was in Leviathan, with explosions starting right off the bat (if you’re into that sort of thing). And after that, there’s non-stop action and suspense all throughout the book, making it literally impossible to put down. I sat with Behemoth in my hands for four hours, braving a grumbling tummy and neglected housework. It will leave you completely hooked and wanting more.

The writing is  amazing, but, it still uses the annoying over-used vocabulary like bum-rag and such. Thankfully, the descriptions make up for it. Everything was described so vividly that it was really easy to imagine what was happening, and what everything looked like. This is especially amazing in the completely new setting of Turkey, where everything feels surreal, exotic and wild. The city actually felt like a whole new character, just like how the Leviathan felt like a character in the first book. For that, I applaud Westerfeld. It’s hard to pull off a setting like that, and to make it feel like a living, breathing characters with its own flaws and characteristics.

And, lastly, I have to give an honorable mention to Keith Thompson, whose artworks also feature in this book. Once again, they have left me speechless with their precise beauty. They certainly add depth to an already fantastic book.

I’m eagerly awaiting Goliath, but, unless they go back to the original covers, I probably won’t buy it. The cover just looks bad. I’m very picky with my covers, as you can see. But August can’t come soon enough.

Cover Art: 0
Plot: 5
Characters: 5
Writing: 4
Level of Interest: 5

Total Rating: 4/5 stars

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In My Mailbox #12

June 19, 2011 at 6:34 pm (In My Mailbox, Meme, Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Well, it’s that time of the week again, fellow bookaholics! Yep, it’s Sunday, which means it’s time for In My Mailbox. In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren where bloggers showcase the books they received over the week.

I got quite a few books this week. A few from an Angus and Robertson that had a super amazing sale (so amazing that I bought 4 books for just $18! *swoons*) (here in Australia, A&R are owned by the same company that owns Borders, and since Borders is completely shutting down here in Aus–yep! you heard that right! *sobs*– A&R are having sales as well), and quite a few from The Book Depository, and finally, several from my library.

Bought:

Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier; I got this from A&R for just $5! Justine is an Aussie author, so I’m excited to read it and showcase it here.

White Time by Margo Lanagan; I’d heard many things about Margo Lanagan’s work, both good and bad–the bad is mainly how Lanagan doesn’t shy away from hard issues, which I think is a good thing–and I’m excited to read it. I got it from A&R for $5.

Black Juice by Margo Lanagan; Got it for the same reason as mentioned above. It was also $5. *squeals*

Clarity by Kim Harrington; I was fairly excited to read this book until I had heard some less than stellar reviews from people whose opinions I trusted. But when I found it in A&R for $3.50, I quickly snatched it up. I don’t care if I end up hating it, it was cheap, and that’s all that matters. 😛

The following books were obtained from The Book Depository.

The World Above by Cameron Dokey; I have to admit, I love the Once Upon a Time series. I’m going to start slowly collecting them. I hope they bring out more, because there just aren’t enough out there! 😛

Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Society by Carolyn Turgeon; The premise of this book sounds so fun! And it’s about fairy tales! I love fairytales!

Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon; I hadn’t realised that I got two books from the same author, I only got this because it has mermaids! I love mermaids!

The Girl Who Was on Fire edited by Leah Wilson; I love The Hunger Games and I love essays on modern works.  So how could I resist this?

Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis; I’ve been hearing such fantastic things about this book everywhere, so I knew that I would have to get it. Plus, the cover is so cute and awesome! I hope to review this soon.

Library:

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson; Can you believe that I’ve never read a book by Anderson? I really should start now.

Betrayed by P.C. & Kristin Cast; Okay, I hated the first book, but I still found the urge to read the next book in the series. I’m a masochist.

The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer; I’ve been in the mood for stories with Norse mythology in them and found this. Hopefully, it’s good.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller; I liked Frank Miller’s story-telling technique in Sin City, even though the views on women are sometimes fairly offensive. Plus, I like the Batman world (even though I hate Batman. He has no super powers therefore isn’t a real superhero, IMO).

Fables: March of the Wooden Soldiers by Bill Willingham; This is the 4th volume in the Fables series. I loved the first 3, and really can’t wait to read this one.

Fables: The Mean Seasons by Bill Willingham; I’ve been in a very graphic novel sort of mood lately. This is the 5th volume in the Fables series.

The Sandman: Brief Lives by Neil Gaiman; I love love love the Sandman series. This is the 7th volume. I really can’t wait to get into this.

So, that’s what I got in my mailbox this week. What did you get this week? Feel free to leave a link in the comments.

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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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In My Mailbox #10

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

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

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

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

Bought:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Library:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: The Dark Divine

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

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

Pages: 372, hardcover

ISBN: 9781606840573

Publisher:  EgmontUSA

Release Date: December 22nd, 2009

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

Source: library

Premise:

A Prodigal Son

A Dangerous Love

A Deadly Secret

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

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

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

(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: The Book Depository / Amazon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total Rating: 1/5

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Review: The 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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Review: The Dust of 100 Dogs

May 3, 2011 at 11:12 pm (5 stars, review) (, , , , , , , , )

The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King

Pages: 320, paperback

ISBN: 9780738714264

Publisher: Flux

Date Released: February 1st, 2009

Genre: YA / fantasy / adventure / historical / pirates

Source: library

Premise:

In the late seventeenth century, famed teenage pirate Emer Morrisey was on the cusp of escaping the pirate life with her one true love and unfathomable riches when she was slain and cursed with “the dust of one hundred dogs,” dooming her to one hundred lives as a dog before returning to a human body-with her memories intact.

Now she’s a contemporary American teenager and all she needs is a shovel and a ride to Jamaica. (Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: The Book Depository / Amazon

This is a book I truly loved. The writing was a masterpiece, and I was unable to put the book down. The words seemed to flow so well and since it was written in first person, it allowed a strong connection with the main character. The writing is often emotional and violent, but also beautiful and captivating.

The story itself was a gem. The basic plot consists of a poor Irish girl/pirate, who got cursed to live the lives of 100 dogs before turning back to a human. Did you read that? PIRATES. OH MY GOD. How can that not sound like a great read? Plus reincarnation? Wow, just wow.
The story switches between Emer/Saffron’s first life, her present life, her memories as dogs, and the point of view of a creepy, perverted bisexual man who constantly chastises himself for being interested in males.

This story encounters a lot of interesting themes. For example, sexuality. In one of Emer’s recounts as a dog, she told a story of a male dog who had sex with another male dog, and how this sort of stuff was normal for dogs. It didn’t matter about the sexuality, it just mattered about relieving the tension. She points out that if a creature as simple as the dog can be able to have sex with members of the same gender and be fine with it, then it would make sense for humans–who have proclaimed to be far above all other creatures–to embrace this sort of behavior. Fred Livingstone, he is bisexual, yet he feels ashamed about this, and this ties into the story of the gay dog.

What I hated was how rotten Emer (or rather, Saffrom) was towards her parents. She didn’t seem to realise that her parents–especially her mother–cared deeply for her and want the best for her. With her vast intellect, she could have done anything she wanted, an her parents were trying to help her embrace that. But there were so many instances where she thought these horribly malicious thought, like cutting her mother’s eyes out, or slicing her ear off for absolutely no reason. It just made me wonder if she learned nothing in her 100 lives as a dog. And it didn’t make her seem strong, just bitchy and ungrateful and unable to grow. It gave me very little reason to sympathize with her for the most part of the book.

He story as Emer was rather epic, how she survived an invasion on her hometown, while the rest were slaughtered like animals. She ended up trying to fend for her own while she reached the Caribbean, and from there, her journey to becoming this frightening pirate. It showed great character, and she built lots of relationships with the other characters. She really grew in those pages, in her first life.

This is a story that I really loved, and I recommend that everyone read it. It might not be suitable for the faint of heart: it rape scenes and animal cruelty, and some rather graphic imagery. So approach with caution.

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

Total Rating:  5/5

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